This is a topic that I have been interested in since I knew I was coming to Namibia and read past volunteer blogs.  All year, I have been trying to collect information on the subject but it hasn’t been easy.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Namibian’s definitely believe in witches and witchcraft.
  • If you are a witch, you don’t admit that you are.
  • In the area that I am living, there are at least two known witches.
  • Witches are active at night and don’t sleep.   Some of my learners have even said that this is why they don’t like going out at night.
  • Witches can put curses on families or individuals.
  • Curses are believed to be the cause of the recent death of a grade 3 girl at my school as well as a grade 8 girl that died last year.
  • Witch doctors are witches who have learned to use their powers to help people.

So many questions!  I have such a hard time wrapping my mind around this topic.

Based on what I have read online, belief in witchcraft is common in many parts of sub-Sahara Africa and more so in the rural areas.  In many areas, witchcraft accusations may be a direct reaction to the increase of AIDS-related illness and death.  Socially, it is much easier for a community to explain death by witchcraft than by AIDS.  Of course, this doesn’t help reduce the spread of AIDS or the belief in witchcraft!