Monday, May 3, 2010

"Witchcraft holds out against modern age"

I found yet another recent article from the African press on the survival of Traditional religions (this one is from Kenya -- previously I have posted about articles coming from Tanzania, Uganda, and Togo, as well as another one from Kenya). This one makes no mention of the recent Pew report on religion in Sub-Saharan Africa, unlike the other articles I have already posted about.

[The remarkable photo to the right of a Kikuyu woman is from Eric Lafforgue's gallery at flickr, I originally found the picture accompanying a 2009 interview with Kenyan singer Avril Mwangi, who is Kikuyu, conducted by Senagalese blogger Yayemarie.]

This particular article is especially open and unrestrained in its hostility to Traditional African Religion. Most of it is based on interviews with Christians who express their concern that the Church isn't taking this "threat" seriously enough. [UPDATE: I later discovered that many of these "quotes" were actually recycled from media coverage of a 2007 "Symposium" on "Witchcraft as a Pastoral Issue", held at Catholic University of East Africa.]

The reason I am posting the entire thing, as is, is to give an unfiltered look at the contemporary prejudices toward Traditional religions among many Africans: ranging from those who say that Traditional religions are the work of Satan, to those who declare with a wave of the hand that "it only exists in people's minds." Sound familiar???

The article is co-authored by Julius Sigei and Geoffrey Rono, and it is from the Sunday, April 18, 2010 edition of the Kenyan Daily Nation:
Witchcraft holds out against modern age

Posted Sunday, April 18 2010 at 21:00

The practice of witchcraft persists even in communities that have made the transition to a modern society.
Referred to as “black magic”, “juju” or “evil art”, witchcraft is defined as the wicked use of supernatural powers. It is also described as using sorcery with malevolent intent.

Religious authorities are now increasingly acknowledging its existence.

According to Mr Michael Katola, a theology lecturer at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, witchcraft is real and is destroying the Church.
“It is not superstition. Many communities in Kenya know these powers exist,” Mr Katola says in the website Catholic Online. He says the Church continues to dismiss witchcraft as mere superstition, unwittingly advancing it. “Christians who suffer because of witchcraft are often dismissed by priests as superstitious. And because they do not get help there, they seek out witch doctors or join the mushrooming evangelical denominations offering healing and deliverance,” he says.

Sister Bibiana Munini says that Christians consult diviners and magicians because the Church does not pay much attention to integral healing.
She says if the Church continues turning a blind eye, it would lose to the devil.

Pastor James Akula of the Deliverance Church says witchcraft casts doubt on success.
“Success is looked at with suspicion,” he says. New breed Pastor Akula says a new breed of witches and wizards has invaded the church. “They move around with Bibles, ostensibly praying for people but they do not open them. “This has brought a lot of confusion to the Church because they come in the name of Christ,” he said, adding: “Some pastors indeed practice witchcraft.”

Mr Samuel Kipsang, a postgraduate student of theology said the existence of witchcraft is backed by the Old and New Testament. He quotes from Samuel 28: 6-19 where King Saul disguised himself, visited a witch and beseeched her to bring him Saul’s spirit.
“Demons are used by Satan and Christians should not be filled by their spirit,” he said.

Some people, however, do not believe witchcraft exists.
Mr Joseph Mutai, a teacher, said it only exists in people’s minds. “It was meant to instill fear so that people would refrain from doing bad things,” he said, adding that it was impossible to convince people who believe in witchcraft that it does not exist.

Among the Kipsigis, a sub tribe of the Kalenjins, certain families and clans are known to practice witchcraft.
“Women from families known to be witches rarely get married,” says Mrs Martha Tanui, a teacher in Sotik.

Ms Edna Chepwogen, a clinical officer at Tenwek Hospital in Bomet says she has seen patients who were operated on to remove stones and metal objects believed to have been put there by witches. “How they get in, I don’t know, but I think witchcraft is for real.”

Other posts on Traditional African Religions:
200 Million African Pagans
Togo's Voodoo Fetish Markets Do Brisk Trade
"Africa became Christian by Submission not by Conversion"
"The first thing Christianity did in Africa . . . ."
You might be Pagan if .... (Part Deux)
You might be a Pagan if ....
Every picture tells a story
More On Traditional African Religions

Traditional African Religions Continue To Thrive
Fela Kuti and Traditional African Religion
Secret Knowledge, Sacred Knowledge (on Candomble)