Beliefs and practice of magic and witchcraft is a phenomenon that has captured the minds of millions since the beginning of history. These so called witches have caused fear, hatred, interest, widespread panic and variety of other emotions in other people from all over the world. Every society and civilization on this planet have all some form of witchcraft in their history, witchcraft itself ha e deep history of its own causing it to be recognized in literature and modern society.
Beliefs in witchcraft is a common phenomenon in some developing nations, particularly, Tanzania as well as sub-Saharan Africa. This belief has a very pronounced effect on the day to day lives of the believers. It burdens the economies of the societies where the belief is endemic.
An incredible 93% of Tanzanians believe in witchcraft, compared to only 27% in Kenya, 29% in Uganda and 37% in Nigeria. That’s according to a recent survey on religious belief in sub-Saharan Africa by the Pew Research Centre. Out of 19 countries surveyed, Tanzania has by far the highest belief in witchcraft, with only Cameroon (78%) coming close.
Other findings of the same survey support this, with Tanzanians also believing strongly in evil spirits, juju, curses, and the ability of spiritual people to offer protection and the value of sacrifices to ancestors. In all these cases, more Tanzanians believe in these things than in any other country surveyed.
All of this raises two important questions. First, why are these beliefs much more widespread in Tanzania than in the other countries? And second, what impact does this have on Tanzanian development?
CAUSES OF BELIEFS AND PRACTICES OF MAGIC AND WITCHCRAFT IN TAZANIA
i. Ignorance and lack of foresight among Tanzanians
Due to lack of foresight and critical thinking among many Tanzanian citizens both literate and illiterate, it leads to the spread of belief in witchcraft among Tanzanian societies. Generally, the lower the education level and household income, the more likely it is for a person to believe in witchcraft, even among the most educated those who say they believe in witchcraft rate their lives worse than those who don’t.
Belief in witchcraft is a form of ignorance. A few make a profit from the fears and ignorance of others - spreading fears and then selling solutions - while society as a whole is held back. That this form of ignorance is so much more widespread in Tanzania than elsewhere in Africa is very worrying - another major challenge to be overcome.
ii. Ever growing economic hardship, inflation and abject poverty It is rated that more than 85% of all Tanzanians are earning less than 1 $ (us dollar) per day. That is less than 1400 at the current rate, because of the lower house hold income and economic hardship among many Tanzanians it is more likely for the poor people to engage in beliefs and practice of magic and witchcrafts as a short cut and easy way to get money or wealth.
iii. The massive spread of witchcraft Movies/Films from Nigeria For the past ten (10) years, the Nigerian witchcraft movies/films have been a great centre of attraction and attention to youth, elites and common people in Tanzanian societies. Through these movies/films which have been promoting the witchcraft culture among many Tanzanians. An example of these movies/films are as follows;- “The billionaires club, The end of the wicked, Married to witch, The price of sacrifice, Women’s cot 1&2, Desperate billionaire”. These movies affects peoples mind and change their altitudes and engage into witchcrafts.
iv. The killing (murder) syndrome of innocent people
In Tanzania, particularly in Lake Victoria Regions which are Mwanza, Mara, and Shinyanga. Within these regions it has been reported that there is an increase of people killed in connection to witchcraft belief and practices, particularly elderly women’s and fewer men. Not only that but also the killing of albinos...