Table of contents
Definition of terms
The origin of witchcraft in Africa
Types of sorcery, magic and witchcraft in Africa
Behavior of witches
The merits of witchcraft in Africa
The demerit of witchcraft in Africa
The people’s response to witch craft
The bible responds to witchcrafts
The people’s view of witchcraft in Africa has totally washed away the correct concept of sorcery, magic, and witchcraft in Africa. The definition of witchcraft and magic varies from place to place and region to region. So many discipline view witchcraft and magic from different perspective; in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers.
The definition, origin, merits, and demerits of sorcery, magic, and witchcraft has been a subject of debate among philosophers, anthropologist, mythologist, and of recent theologians.
Hence, the researcher after studying through the mind of other scholars gave an accurate and precise definition of sorcery, magic, and witchcraft in Africa context, it origin and types. The researcher went as far as explaining the merits and demerits of witchcraft, and the people’s and biblical response to witchcraft and sorcery.
DEFINITION OF TERMS:
Sorcery: According to Daniel Offiong, sorcery is defined as the application of materials, potions, and medicines for the purpose of deliberately engaging supernatural powers to bring harm to an enemy. (Offiong, 2009,63). More so, the Encarta Micro software defined sorcery as “the practice of attempting to communicate with the spirit of the dead in order to predict or influence the future”. In order word sorcery is the application of supernatural power and devices in order to monitor the future and work for or against somebody.
Magic: according to Frazer, magic is defined as “the primordial form of human thought; it consisted in making either spatiotemporal connection for which case it was reffered to as sympathetic or contagious”, ( 1992, 184). On the other hand, magic could be defined as a supposed supernatural power that make impossible things happen or give somebody control over the forces of nature. J.B Pratt observed that “magic is those supernatural devices employed to gain ones end without the help of spirits or gods”. (1889, 344).
Though, sometime magic and sorcery are used interchangeably and it is often difficult to draw a clear distinction and different between sorcery and magic. Words like enchantment, divination, and necromancy are also used as synonyms for sorcery and magic.
Witchcraft: witchcraft could be easily defined as an involvement, practice, and usage of magical power and sorcery. Witchcraft is an act, a practice, an action or behavior of practicing sorcery and magic. Those that practice witchcraft are reffered to as Witches and wizard; in Africa language they are called Amusu, voodoo, ifot.
THE ORIGIN OF WITCHCRAFT IN AFRICA:
Though an average African do refer to magic and witchcraft as this modern and new technology which we cannot really give an accurate information of how they operate in Africa, but understanding magic this way is not really balanced, B.T Maduwuko asserts that, “before the arrival of white magic, African has been engaged in magic and witchcraft but in a more primitive and traditional way”. (1994, 656). It is important to note that before the invention of aircraft, Africans have been flying on air through the help of Africa magic. Africans have been flying inform of bird, and sometimes they change to cat, and even dog. So tracing the origin of sorcery, magic and witchcraft to the arrival of white men and white magic to Africa is a wrong assertion.
As a matter of fact it is too hard to give an accurate and definite date of when witchcraft started to be practice in Africa. In fact, sorcery, magic, and witchcraft is as old as Africa, it influences the Africa culture, the Africa norms and worldview, they mentality and as well as they believe.
TYPES OF SORCERY, MAGIC, AND WITCHCRAFT IN AFRICA:
In Africa, witchcraft is practice in so many ways and for so many purposes. Magic is grouped in types according to the purpose of practicing such magic, sometime witchcraft is practice for the sake of production, and sometimes for destruction, while some others use witchcraft for protection purpose. So in this context witchcraft could be grouped in three main types which includes; productive witchcraft, destructive witchcraft, and protective witchcraft.
Productive/sympathetic witchcraft: Witchcraft could be said to be productive if the purpose of practicing such magic is genuine.
In Africa, witchcraft is of great value because most of the successful business men in Africa use witchcraft in drawing customers to themselves, and in having uncommon favour in their businesses and life endavours. More so, Africa use magic in farming and fishing; a proper and normal use of witchcraft in farming and fishing increases the farm product of that year. Africa uses witchcraft in sending rain to their farm land when rain ceases to fall. Africa uses magic in healing diseases as sickness. This type of witchcraft is used in making enquiring from the spirit of the ancestor over the causes of the problems the present generation is passing through and the best way to solve the problem, through this type of witchcraft witches look into the future and foretell the this either fortune or misfortune that is coming on someone’s way. Though people hardly view Africa magic and witch craft from this perspective but it is important to note that Africa practice this genuine type of witchcraft.
Destructive/homeopathetic witchcraft: witchcraft is referred to as destructive witchcraft when the purpose of practicing such magic is evil and wicked. This type of witchcraft is too common in Africa than any other type of witchcraft practice in Africa.
In Africa, witchcraft is used to send sickness and poison to somebody, it is use in breaking peoples marriage and business, Africa magic is used in making people insane and out of consciousness. This type of witchcraft is used in taking peoples wives, land, and property, and in cursing or sending bad luck to somebody. Africa uses destructive witchcraft only on somebody they assume to be their enemy. This type of witchcraft is well known and commonly practice in Africa either to achieve a selfish interest or for vengeance over something the person affected has done to you before.
Protective witchcraft: This type of witchcraft is the one practiced with the purpose of protection and prevention. This type of witchcraft is not practiced mainly to cause harm to somebody nor is it practiced to draw uncommon favour to yourself, rather it is practice to prevent people from harming you with they wicked witchcraft. Sometime this type is practice in business place and home to cause harm to any body who want to harm you either by stealing your property or by poisoning you. Africa refers to this type of witchcraft as the best type of witchcraft because in the Africa context it is just taking a protective and preventive measure against the evil ones.
Maduwuko rightly observed “that witchcraft is of great benefit to Africa and at the same time the worst thing that has happened in Africa”, (1994, 344). So witchcraft in Africa is of types and practice for different purposes.
BEHAVIOR OF WITCHES:
Witches are people who get themselves involve in witchcraft, and this witches have several behaviours and life style which includes;
1. Their can transfer far and near: Africa witches could easily travel to a far in an unusual speed to carry out an assignment for or against somebody.
2. They can change to any animal or anything: Africa witches can change to any thing or animal of their choice while on an assignment.
3. They can transfer the soul of man to animal: Witchcraft in Africa context do transfer the soul of human being to animal like goat, fowl, or sheep and if this is done what ever happens to the goat is what will happen to the man. If they kill the goat and share the meat, it then means that they have killed the man and have shared the man’s body.
4. They do sacrifice human being or other animal to the gods. This sacrifice is done as the price they have to pay in other to retain they spiritual and magical power.
THE MERITS OF WITCHCRAFT IN AFRICA:
It is important to note Obukezie’s view on the merits of witchcraft in Africa, “starting from the day Africa started placing less value on witchcraft, Africa started recording immeasurable number of social decadence and debauchery, corruption and profligacy, and the worst of it all is that the is no way to measure and control it”. (1786, 454). One of the importances of witchcraft is that it is use to check and control the evil and social decadence in the land.
Witchcraft serve as a means to consult the territorial spirits and ancestors either to inquire the cause of they problem or to ask the ancestors for they intervention in the problem the living ones are passing through.
Witchcraft is important in Africa because it is a way of commanding the favour of the gods and ancestors on the business of the people, and they financial well being.
Furthermore, witchcraft is of great importance to Africa medically because it with this Africa magic and witchcraft that they diagnose disease and cure them.
When Africa magic and witchcraft was of high esteem in Africa, there was no much disease and illness in the land because Africa magic provided ways of reducing and checking diseases.
THE DEMERITS OF WITCHCRAFT IN AFRICA:
Though witchcraft has some advantage, but it still has some disadvantages which are as follow;
1. It is a threat to the people’s economy.
2. It is a threat to the safety of the people and land.
3. It is used by wicked people in administrating injustice in the land.
4. It is used in taking from others what belongs to them.
THE PEOPLE’S RESPONSE TO WITCHCRAFT IN AFRICA:
It is important to note that Africa always see witchcraft as the major source of they poverty, misfortune, childlessness, unfruitfulness, crime, and wickedness in the land. Any form of suffering, pestilence, and destruction in the land is traced to witchcraft.
So, whenever a witch is caught in Africa, they are been stoned to death or killed by any mean after giving them some levels of punishments that they demand as customs and tradition, while banishes anyone found to be a witch instead of killing them.
THE BIBLE RESPONSE TO WITCHCRAFT:
In Christianity, sorcery came to be associated with heresy and apostasy and to be viewed as evil. Jewish law views the practice of witchcraft as being laden with idolatry and necromancy; both being serious theological and practical offences in Judaism. Although Maimonides vigorously denied the efficacy of all methods of witchcraft, and claimed that the Biblical prohibitions regarding it were precisely to wean the Israelites from practices related to idolatry, according to traditional Judaism, it is acknowledged that while magic exists, it is forbidden to practice it on the basis that it usually involves the worship of other gods. Judaism does make it clear that Jews shall not try to learn about the ways of witches (Deuteronomy/ 18: 9–10) and that witches are to be put to death. (Exodus/ 22:17). In fact, it justifiable to trace the beginning of the fall of king Saul to the moment he visited a witch for enquiry.
And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee. And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die? ( 1 Sam 28:8)
The New Testament condemns the practice as an abomination, just as the Old Testament had (Galatians 5:20, compared with Revelation 21:8; 22:15; and Acts 8:9; 13:6), though the overall topic of Biblical law in Christianity is still disputed. The word in most New Testament translations is "sorcerer"/"sorcery" rather than "witch"/"witchcraft".
Sorcery, magic, and witchcraft in Africa from the perspective we view it has advantage and disadvantage. Before the advent of Christianity and modern civilization, God used Africa magic as a way of administrating health, orderliness, peace and tranquility in the land. Though, some witches out of wicked and selfish ambition used this witchcraft against the people of the land. Whenever and however witchcraft is mention in Africa today it connote evil to the people, and Africa through Christianity is as result of our understanding of witchcraft doing all they could to eradicate sorcery, magic, and witchcraft in the land.
Offiong, Daniel, 2009. Witchcraft, Sorcery and Magic in Africa, Ipaja Lagos, Apex book limited.
Frazer, J.G. 1992. The Golden Bough. New York, Macmillan.
Pratt, J.B. 1889. The interpretation of Culture, New York, Basic Book.
Maduwuko, B.T. 1994. Ancient Africa Religious, Enugu, Ike publisher.
Obukezie, Chidi. 1786. A guide to Religious study, Awka, Lumen press.
Encarta Macro soft word, 2008 version.