Many Zambians believe in witchcraft and casting of spells, no matter what their education and religious backgrounds are. I personally don’t think that these things work but know that they are practiced because I have seen some people do it. For example, in college some girls would smoke some herbs while mentioning the name of a man they are attracted to. They believed that the man would start thinking of and be attracted to them as well. I never found out whether this worked.
Witchdoctors (not herbalists) prey on people’s beliefs and advertise their services as shown below with many make a good living out of their businesses. How do you bring back a ‘lost’ lover – by casting a spell on him/her, that’s how.
People are also afraid of being bewitched and will try everything in their power to ‘evade’ supposed witches’ evil actions towards them. Years ago, I came to DC for a seven month assignment before going back home. When I got back I visited my parents and had interesting conversations with several of my parent’s neighbors which went:
Neighbor 1: Hi Zambian Lady. It’s been a long time since I last saw you, so how was Livingstone (a city in Zambia)?
Me: Livingstone? I was not in Livingstone.
Neighbor 1: Yes, you were. Your mother told me that you were working in Livingstone for some time.
Me: Oh yes, I was in Livingstone and came back a week ago. It was fine.
I met another neighbor a short while later who said:
Neighbor 2: Hello, ZL. Your mum told me that you were in Zimbabwe. How was your stay there?
Me: Zimbabwe was good. All went well.
Other neighbors asked me about various other places that my mother had told them about. By now I knew what was going on though I did not understand it. I later had a conversation with my mother.
Me: I met some neighbors who asked me about various places I had allegedly been to. Why did you give them wrong locations?
Mum: You expected me to tell them you were in DC?!! I gave them wrong information so that they would target wrong places and their juju would not find you. Not everyone has the best interests at heart for you, my daughter.
I then understood what was going on. Do I believe that witchcraft or casting spells work? No, but I know that people practice them. It is so sad to see how much people are impeded from enjoying their life to the fullest. I look at the west and see people (the majority of them, anyway) living freely with no fear of a witch attacking them or being under spells.
Another advert in the local papers about services offered by a witchdoctor. Part of the advert is just about ‘innocent’ herbs another is all about casting spells but the third one is something else – women wanting bigger bottoms and men wanting bigger ‘you know what’? What do you make of these adverts?
I don’t think that the fear of witchcraft and casting of spells will ever go away because it is embedded in the culture. Many who do not believe in them are careful not to say so publicly just in case….. Isn’t that interesting? They don’t want to tempt fate. An interesting thing is that some people have agreed that they bewitched someone (let’s say A) and A falls sick. However, upon exams at a hospital A is found to have cancer, so you wonder how sorcery = cancer. I would say it just a coincidence but I know many people would beg to differ.
What do you think of witchcraft and casting of spells?