Compiled by Frank Garriba in Abuja, Nigeria, and Abenseka Jude in Bamenda, Cameroon
Gabriel Olayinka, 40+, Accountant, Jalingo, Nigeria
I strongly believe that witchcraft exists, and anybody still doubting its existence should come to Africa where it is very common.
In Africa, the practice of witchcraft is not a hidden thing; that is why we even have people we call witch doctors, who try to unravel the mystery behind the unseen power of witches and wizards and sometimes try to prevent them from operating.
People die in Africa as a result of witchcraft, which makes the impact of the practice very negative. If some of the things witches and wizards do are done to build instead of destroy, Africa would have been a wonderful place today. Unfortunately, the sole purpose of the practice is to kill and cause misery to families, even though some people claim witchcraft is also used by Africans for protection.
Witch doctors are believed to invoke and communicate with spirits, which engage in such activities as abstract travelling and causing harm to human beings. To be able to get involved in witchcraft practices, people get initiated and function in cult groups, either located on campuses, hidden shrines or dark places.
As a Christian worker, I have listened to testimonies from people on how they were victims of witchcraft, either consciously or unconsciously, and their experiences have remained traumatic to them as individuals and as families.
We can resolve the problems that witchcraft causes in society across Africa through prayers, getting close to God and depending on Him every day of our lives.
It is important that we be inquisitive and ask questions before engaging in any strange and suspicious activities anybody or group of persons introduces to us. We must also avoid getting involved in secret or night activities that might involve animal and human sacrifices and warn our children to choose their friends wisely – friends who must be known to the family.
Most importantly, we must visit only conventional doctors and report any suspicious elements or groups to the competent security authorities. When perpetrators of witchcraft are identified and arrested, they should be punished to serve as deterrent to others. This means that various governments must put in place stringent laws that punish witchcraft practices, for whatever reason.
Ngongba Assumpta Lum, 37, Bamenda, Cameroon
Witchcraft is the belief in the supernatural that often brings ill-luck. The manifestation of witchcraft is varied and cuts across different cultures and peoples. People who believe in witchcraft feel that those who practice it have extra powers to control things and people around them. Usually, they work on the psychology of the weak and feeble-minded and tele-guide their actions.
Personally, I do not believe in witchcraft, although I understand it exists. With a deep and firm faith in God, I don’t think I could be swayed by the intrigues of witches. To resolve whatever problems posed by witchcraft, I advise everyone suffering under its attack to accept Jesus Christ and receive baptism.
Louis Kiru, 43, Bamenda, Cameroon
Yes, witchcraft does exist and the only solution to it is to employ the services of a person who is highly spiritual because witchcraft is a spiritual issue.
Kayeba Njinjoh, 45, Bamenda, Cameroon
I hear it does exist, but since I have never been a victim, it’s difficult to conclude or even give my opinion about it. I think the first problem is to prove first before you can be able to resolve it. Assuming that it has been proven then it should be either considered a civil or criminal matter and treated as such.
Abenseka Jude, Bamenda, Cameroon
Yes, I think witchcraft exists. In fact, I believe it does. I don’t know what issues are referred to here. If it is witchcraft itself, then that would mean examining it as a completely negative thing. And if we consider it thus, then I think those who practice the craft should be sensitised to use it for personal development without trying to bring down others who do not practise it, yet, are making progress in life.
In the typical African setting, the practice of witchcraft is principally to bring down or even eliminate those considered as rivals; those developing their community and themselves. Jealousy creeps in and then through the practice of witchcraft, their good deeds are brought to an end. The irony is that the witch or wizard remains in the same position; not developing and not wanting to allow those who can to develop. As a Christian, I think prayers too should be employed because it is the key to every problem, no matter how long it takes to resolve.
Jacqueline Aza, 39, Bamenda, Cameroon
As a Christian, I would say it does not exist. It’s just a belief in something. On the other hand, I will say it does exist when you live certain situations; it depends on the mindset of the individuals, whether they belief in witchcraft or not. But as I said, when you belief in something, it works out, either positive or negative. The mind-frame of a person counts here, and culture or mentality too is another important and relevant issue that determines if we believe in witchcraft or not.
Honore Fon, 35, Music Producer, Bamenda, Cameroon
I think witchcraft exists. If it didn’t exist, it wouldn’t be such a big issue in Africa. To me, witchcraft is some peak of hidden scientific knowledge and wisdom of facts used in combination with a high-level of psychological tuning of both the practitioners and their subjects that creates a mysterious impact on the ignorant but is well understood by those who are aware of its workings.
Actually, once explained and understood, these practices would no longer qualify as witchcraft, which is why those who hold the secrets cling so tight to them. When Zingraff brought his matches and lit them in Bafut (North West Cameroon) many decades ago, he was considered a wizard as long as his acts were not understood.
Today we all use boxes of matches to conjure tricks and are not considered wizards because everyone knows how they work. I think the big issue here is ignorance. Ignorance of scientific facts and their inter-relationship and inter-use with psychological theories and psycho-tuning. This is why the more enlightened and mentally emancipated people become, the less they are victims of witchcraft. Self and scientific knowledge as well as critical thinking is strong enough to free people from victimisation or witchcraft.