By Dr Masimba Masimba| Zimbabwe now limps under a heavy frenzy of spiritualism and strong belief of witchcraft. Sadly Zimbabweans of all walks have taken witchcraft seriously. So many things which happens are now attributed to witchcraft.
If you get rich your community will explain your riches as use of some witchcraft associated ritual(kuromba).
If any person dies no matter what was his ailment he is said to have been bewitched. The most painful thing is that any deaths in the family or in the village the oldest person in that village is blamed and accused of witchcraft. According to the mindset of many people in Zimbabwe the most ugly old and dark in complexion are always the perfect suspects.
It is a sad situation to see people being dragged to a corner or brought before an angry crowd accused of being responsible for bringing the misfortune which is upon the village.
It is sad because Zimbabweans from ministers to a man in the street believe in witchcraft or getting money from some supernatural powers.
If anyone gets old and starts to hallucinate people are quick to say that person is a witch.
Hallucinations are experiences of perceptual force that are experienced in the absence of any actual external stimulus. They are generally resistant to voluntary control. Whilst traditionally associated with mental disorder they are now known to be common in the general population. They not infrequently have spiritual/religious content. But to a random Zimbabwean this condition is turned and the person is labelled a witch.
Spiritual experiences, including religious and mystical experiences, include a wide range of experiences, amongst which are perceptual phenomena such as hallucinations, which are of spiritual/religious significance.
Many old people are subjected to cruel torture they are tricked into confirming the witchcraft they are not aware of.
Everything which is not understood by a Zimbabwean it is given a spiritual definition. We might define spiritual experiences as in some way involving a relationship with the transcendent. Unfortunately Such experiences are necessarily subjective. We cannot know about them unless the person having them is willing and able to attempt to describe them. But sadly there are fake prophets who who pretend to explain hallucinations. Both the experiences themselves, and any written or verbal account of them necessarily involve interpretation, and this interpretation is vested in the witch doctor or a prophet. Experience is not separable from interpretation. From the very time of having the experience onwards, prior assumptions about the world, including spiritual/religious assumptions, both shape the experience and become incorporated in accounts of it.
People in Zimbabwe have failed to be themselves they want someone to interpret.
The concept of revelation generally includes some idea of communication with the Divine – whether directly or via some intermediary such as a saint, angel, or other spiritual being. Communities now stampede to get a spiritual clarification of some mysteries or dreams or literally want to know more about their future. Revelation or spiritual proclamations may be public, and thus shared with a community of faith, or else private and of significance only to the individual concerned. When it occurs by way of voices and visions, revelatory experience has usually, historically, been considered in some way or another as ‘supernatural’ or miraculous.
This mentality of some sort of super powers in the beyond world has resulted in many Zimbabweans running to the spiritual persons for revelation or clarification. There is no event in life which is not explained spiritually. This is a belief which has divided and destroyed families and relations.
The fake prophets and witch doctors have made Zimbabwe a nation under thousands blankets of paganism.
Old ladies and old men with dementia are dragged and paraded in-front t of communities and crowds accused of witchcraft.
Those suffering from dementia or mental health are all presented as candidates for witchcraft.
Many people who are accused of witchcraft turn to be suffering from dementia. Their lives are turned upside down and are left to be labelled as witches.
Some because of mental health say a lot of things which are confused as confession. Spiritual highs and mental breakdowns are both products of the same evolved brain system granting us the power to transform.
Dementia is a disorder which manifests as a set of related symptoms, which usually surfaces when the brain is damaged by injury or disease or by age. The symptoms involve progressive impairments in memory, thinking, and behavior, which negatively affects a person’s ability to function and carry out everyday activities. Aside from memory impairment and a disruption in thought patterns, the most common symptoms include emotional problems, difficulties with language, and decreased motivation. The symptoms may be described as occurring in a continuum over several stages. Consciousness is not affected. social relationships in general.A diagnosis of dementia requires the observation of a change from a person’s usual mental functioning and a greater cognitive decline than what is caused by normal aging. People who suffer from dementia are the ones who suffer more from accusations of witchcraft.
A story is told of a prophet who interpreted what a patient was seeing. He had seen a moon and explained that there will be a good time ahead. When he snapped out of his psychosis one night with a sudden realisation: the giant cross he saw covering the Moon, which he previously interpreted as a clear sign of impending catastrophe, was actually a visual illusion caused by the wire screen outside his hospital window.But the interpretation by these prophets is catastrophic. They will accuse the patient of witchcraft. Or that he has been bewitched.
The prophets claim that by virtue of their uninterrupted contact with forces that other people cannot perceive they then are the only ones who are able to see our future. But having seen and witnessed similar accounts of this nonsense by prophets the visions and revelations are far from unique.
Some prophets feel so close to God, believe to be inspired by His Spirit that in a sense they think that they are God. Some prophets claim to see the future, plan the Universe, save mankind; th utterly and completely immortal.
What is going on with our country with our people. These prophets must never be allowed to practice.
Many people are accused of being witches because they have worked hard and they have become rich. People do not have any explanation of wealth so they just say(munhu akaromba) meaning one has voodoo or juju
Unfortunately the man who cursed Zimbabwe should be dead. You will see the elite of the country believing that they will be rich by prayer. Some believe that they will be rich by using voodoo. No wonder why our industrial buildings are turned into churches.
The most knee shaking thing is when a person is accused of witchcraft because he has lost his mind. Pressure is piled on him so that he utters some form of confession.
It is natural that people do suffer from dementia due to age. Zimbabweans persecute the old and the mentally ill accusing them of witchcraft.
There are some social media YouTube stations who make money out of broadcasting and parading the vulnerable as witches.
Zimbabwe laws on witchcraft are governed by the Witchcraft Suppression Act. This Act is called the Witchcraft Suppression Act, 1957. The Act was amended so as to make it an offence for a person who pretends to exercise supernatural powers, to impute the cause of certain occurrences to another person; and to provide for incidental matters.- THE amendment of the Witchcraft Suppression Act has been welcomed as resonating with Zimbabwean culture and tradition. But this has opened doors to total abuse of the vulnerable. The new Act has become the free ticket to abuse of people suffering from mental health. The new Act that took effect in July 2014 is a culmination of years of intense negotiations, now recognises that there is, indeed, the practice of witchcraft that had been deliberately downplayed by the successive colonial governments. Traditionalists say the amendments show that the country was finally waking up to calls from the people who felt the Witchcraft Suppression Act was stalling the genuine development of African culture in the country. It has become a norm that people who do not understand the effects of mental illness accuse the afflicted of witchcraft. Until the amendment, it was a criminal offence to brand anyone a witch or wizard or to accuse someone of meddling in the supernatural, even where there was tangible evidence. This had given communities some sanity until the amendment.
The amended sections read: “Whoever accuses a person of witchcraft means to indicate that the person (is possessed by a spirit or) used non-natural means (witch-finding) to cause death, injury, disease or inability in any person. “Any person who engages in any practice knowing that it is commonly associated with witchcraft, shall be guilty of engaging in a practice commonly associated with witchcraft if having the intention to cause harm to any person. “Such practice inspires in the person against whom it was directed, a real fear or belief that harm will occur to that person or any member of his or her family, and be liable to a fine not exceeding level ten or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or both.” To an extent the witchcraft act as amended supports the idea that witches are real. This gives the fake prophets to accuse the vulnerable without impunity. In the new amendments the spoken words shall not constitute an act of witchcraft for the purpose of this section, unless accompanied by or used in connection with other conduct commonly associated with witchcraft. “For the avoidance of doubt, it is declared that any person who assists another person to commit the crime of engaging in a practice commonly associated with witchcraft, by giving advice or providing any substance or article to enable that person to commit the crime, shall be liable to be charged as an accomplice to the crime.
This section make it clear that social media led by YouTube activists do breach the law every time. They should be arrested. The amendment also criminalises the hiring of witch hunters an d those convicted will be fined or jailed for periods of between one and five years. Analysts said it was good that the new amendment disqualifies murder, assault or any other crimes against an accused as it could be used to mete undue punishments on people before they could be tried in the courts of law. While amending the witchcraft suppression Act was a giant step in recognising the cultural belief of the majority of the people in the country it has give unscrupulous people to take advantage of the vulnerable. As custodians of the country’s culture, we should see the amendment as a step in the right direction towards asserting our culture that has been trampled upon by successive colonial governments, but there are notorious people who take the amendment as a weakness. The government must deal firmly with bogus traditional healers, exorcists and witch-hunters or tsikamutandas.it is sad that the amendments made to the Act now recognises that witchcraft exists and was in practice in the country. It must be appreciated that there is the recognition of witchcraft as a social phenomenon that is in practice in the country and that it should never be recognised in the negative sense but also in the positive.
We are in the quandary because it is correct that by rejecting the existence of witchcraft, whites managed to destroy one of the tenets of African traditional beliefs as a way of disenfranchising the blacks of their religious bedrock,” said one analyst. Many Zimbabweans have been pressing for the amendment of the Witchcraft Suppression Act so that the country could recognise the existence of this phenomenon which was made illegal by colonial governments. It now remains to be seen whether the amended Act would bring out or not, some of the traditional values that have been suppressed for many decades under the colonial Witchcraft Suppression Act for the good of the society.
What we see now is the total abuse of the law along with its vulnerable people it is meant to protect.
We should realise that certain types of mental disorder and certain types of religious experience are alike attempts at reorganisation. The difference lies in the outcome. Where the attempt is successful and some degree of victory is won, it is commonly recognised as religious experience. Where it is unsuccessful or indeterminate, it is commonly spoken of as ‘insanity’.
We should know that Witchcraft, is a perceived facility to summon evil spirits and demons to do harm to others, this is linked to religion to the extent that the medieval Church had powers to punish those who dabbled in magic and sorcery. Its priests were able to exorcise those who had become possessed by malign spirits. And in our African culture the witch was punished by death or some form of torture.
It is sad that I’m this day and age many people still believe that witchcraft, rather than the workings of God’s will, offered a more convincing explanation of sudden and unexpected ill-fortune, such as the death of a child, bad harvests, or the death of cattle. Witch-hunting became an obsession in some parts of the country and many people have been made to believe it.
Colonial Parliament passed the Witchcraft Act which defined witchcraft or accusing another of witchcraft as a crime punishable by imprisonment.
Formal accusations against witches who are usually poor, elderly women has reached a peak in Zimbabwe and it must be stopped.
Many people in Zimbabwe now suffer from mental health. In their suffering they either become spiritual leaders or may be accused of witchcraft.
Many spiritual gatherings are led by unstable minds.
Many people have been accused of witchcraft by the finger of the mentally unwell.
The country is rolling very fast towards self destruction.
Mental health must be taken seriously and treatment must be recommended.