Belief in witchcraft stymies logic, progress of blacks

Mapula Nkosi That's Life
A vintage voodoo doll.
A vintage voodoo doll.
Image: 123RF/ Bjoern Wylezich

My friend's aunt was right that there are two kinds of black people when it comes to witchcraft.

There are those who believe in witchcraft and spend their lives constantly looking over their shoulder trying to guess who has bewitched them every time they get into trouble. And there are those fervent churchgoers who claim they don't believe in sorcery but go to church religiously to fortify themselves against evil spirits.

This is the reason why dubious tent churches grow and thrive by taking advantage of people's insecurities. What is sad with this deep-seated belief in witchcraft is when families get torn apart by a whiff of suspicion that a certain uncle, aunt or gogo is a witch responsible for their run of bad luck.

There are many families who are totally disintegrated today because they took sibling rivalry too far, spreading malicious rumours that their relatives are bewitching them.

After years of her daughter trying to find work and failing, a woman who lives next to a friend's house testified at their church recently that she believed that her own sister, her daughter's aunt, was bewitching her.

According to her, her younger sister's four children were jealous of the social work degree that her only daughter achieved as the education of the four went no further than matric. She believed it was not by accident that the four found employment ahead of her more qualified child. It all boiled down to sorcery.

Not too long after, the idling graduate fell pregnant and trouble multiplied when she gave birth to a child with a heart defect. Under the strain of having to support her emotionally depressed child and a sickly grandchild, the woman started hopping from one church to another trying to get salvation from what she was convinced was a bad spell cast on her by her own sister.

When one of her nieces working for the department of social work knocked on their door a few years ago to alert her aunt about an internship opportunity that her cousin could explore, she viewed the good Samaritan act with suspicion and stopped the jobless daughter from applying for the post.

There are many relatives today who do not talk to each other anymore as they blame witchcraft for all their problems, with the "witches" being their relatives.

I recall, in our matric year, a very brilliant classmate who once failed to show up to write a crucial maths test. When our teacher asked her the next day why she missed her test, to the shock of everyone in class, she started crying, saying her father bewitched her.

She claimed her hands were swollen and her eyes were painful as a result. Of course this being such a sensitive matter, the teacher referred the problem to the principal and after days of deliberations, she was allowed to write the test on a Friday.

And, the poorer we are the more fervent we are in our belief that all our worldly problems are as a result of bad spells cast upon us.

You would wonder what a witch is going to gain by targeting someone who is not even a threat to their existence.

When it comes to our belief in voodoo, nothing ever makes sense.

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