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!