[ l i z n o t
GENDER AND WITCHCRAFT KILLINGS
March 27, 2000: Tamric
Agency - Dar Es Salaam - In few months ago the Catholic Church of Tanzania
expressed its intention to establish radio programs in areas mostly affected
by Witchcraft-related killings. Through their broadcast programs
the Church members would appeal to the community to get out of their beliefs
that woman with red eyes, is a Witch and therefore must be eliminated.
The radio would broadcast
religious programs to predominantly Pagan population, especially Shinyanga
region in northern Tanzania where more Witchcraft-related killings are
being reported, says Reverend Norbert Kija also coordinator of the project.
Last year in September
the Shinyanga Regional Police Regional Commander, Mr. Wolfgang Gumbu reported
that 256 old women were murdered in connection with Witchcraft suspects.
Efforts to curb the
situation ends in vain as officials say that Witchcraft killings cases
are very complicated and that it is very difficulty to produce the evidence.
Mwanza region, also
in the northern part of Tanzania face similar incidences. Authorities
in those regions have been asking the people to assist the police to curb
the situation which, they say is affecting national development efforts.
Reports in another
regions including its neighboring Tabora in the western part of Tanzania,
show that more than 500 people, most of them women, were killed in various
Witchcraft incidents during the last four years.
Research under a
sponsorship of the Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA) reveal that
in 1997, 399 people in Shinyanga region had been killed on Witchcraft beliefs
system. Of these 90 percent were old women who were suspected to
REPOA says that 1233 people were killed for the same reason during
the same period. Shinyanga, the region whose residents are farmers
and animal keepers, accounts for 32 percent of all murders. According
to them, 43 percent of the victims were killed due to Witchcraft suspect.
Researchers say that
the causes of women Witches killing as being reported by their respondents,
is superstition followed by lack of education.
According to the
researchers, the level of development among the people seems to influence
the killings suspected Witches in Tanzania.
REPOA's research and of the organization of women media workers in
Tanzania (TAMWA) reveal that most of the people being killed in Lake region
of Mwanza and Shinyanga are old women.
The suspicion of
being Witches is by looking at their eyes and if found red, they were automatically
associated with Witchcraft practices. Further more, these old women
were lonely or staying alone in their huts.
The analysis by the
two organizations shows that these women live in huts without windows while
using firewood for their sources of energy. "Naturally if you
stay too long in a smoke hut while blowing fire now and then to make the
flame, the eyes will be red," observes a report by
Women Witches identification
starts at the family level where social relationship has already worsen.
Many stories from the field in Mwanza and Shinyanga in particular say that
normally the suspect Witch is a grandmother whose grand children have died
for various reasons. Some may have died due to lack of nutrition or other
medically diagnosed causes. But the father of the dead children go
out to seek information on the cause from the revealer who generally does
not fail to identify the Witch.
Experience have shown
that most of them tell their clients that the Witch is within the family
and the best way is to eliminate her for she may continue killing other
children of the family. Then the revealer tells the client amount of heads
of cattle to be sent to someone secretly after which the execution would
take place. "The seers is the one who contract killer,"
the REPOA explains.
to the REPOA old women killings in Lake Regions of Tanzania is a process
whose main actors are the relatives, the revealer and professional hired
killer. In the process of seeking the cause of the death of the little
one, a situation, filed with tension, frustration and anxiety, the culprit
is identified. "Takes its origin fertility in the psychological
need to provide an outlet for repressed hostility, frustration and anxiety.
It provides a way to explain serious misfortunes and render those who suffer
them blameless in the eyes of society," says the
Elsewhere in Africa,
Witchcraft beliefs is a daily talk in Tanzania. The government is
aware of that, but existing laws fail to define Witchcraft.
The legal system
persecutes a person caught with the believed Witchcraft paraphernalia or
if proved that such a person has caused death to some one.
It deals therefore
with the outcome rather than the causes itself. In media Witchcraft
killings cases are being reported, but as always the case, they treat like
any other crime. Other studies shown that Witchcraft killings are not only
rampant in Tanzania but go increasing in Africa the whole despite the opinion
to introduce Witchcraft ordinances in the past. Not only in Africa,
researchers say that Witchcraft is a worldwide problem, and that in other
countries like Holland, England, Scotland similar beliefs had existed and
that an estimated 200,000 to one million suspected Witches were burned
to death elsewhere in the world, especially in western countries.
Copyright (c) 2000
TOMRIC Agency. Distributed via Africa
from thelizlibrary editor: In 2005, and again in December 2006, more than
six years after this article originally was published and distributed by
the TOMRIC Agency and then republished on this website in 2000, we were
contacted via email by Sonja Tiscenko [sonja-at-repoa.or.tz] of the REPOA,
who now claims that the research report of REPOA that repeatedly is quoted
and otherwise referenced in the above article, essentially never existed,
was never published by them.
writes "During 1999 REPOA provided
a grant for research to an independent researcher. The practice is that
the research work undergoes a review process before it is eventually published
by REPOA, on behalf of the researcher - it is never claimed to be a work
by REPOA. In this case the researcher's work did not meet the standards
required for publishing, therefore the work was not published by REPOA."
(email of December 4,
2006 to liz-at-argate.net)
notwithstanding, something was published somewhere, unless the references
and the details cited were fabricated entirely, which does not make sense
since it obviates much of the news article. We believe it is possible,
albeit unlikely, that the article was written from an unauthorized press
release or information prematurely sent out by the researcher. The article
is badly written, but this could have been from a less-than-fluent translation
into English. Additionally, the disclaimer now from the REPOA could be
attempted revisionism in response to pressure from political or religious
entities. Importantly, the news article containing these various references
was widely distributed worldwide in 2000. In 2005, when the REPOA first
contacted us to complain that they had been misquoted, we were unable to
obtain any evidence that the REPOA had issued any timely statements or
press releases following the original distribution of the article disputing
the alleged quotes as fabricated, or claiming that the cited report "was
not published by REPOA." The first indication that REPOA takes this
position came a whopping five years later.
made repeated requests of the REPOA for additional evidence and assistance
to verify what constitutes a very belated assertion years after the fact
that these statements did not actually came from the agency or any report
or press release by the agency. The REPOA has not directly responded to
these requests with anything helpful. While it is impossible to "prove
a negative," credible evidence might be: an explanation of what document
the quotes attributed to its report may have come from; the contact information
for the original researcher, writer, publisher, and/or distributor of the
article; a copy of the "unpublished" research along with detailed
explanation as to why the research "was not published" by the
REPOA (assuming it was not); an explanation of the long intervening delay
in taking action to deny the article. To date REPOA has provided no credible
evidence other than to repeatedly write to say that "it didn't say
that". And the original newswire article now has disappeared into
do not know what happened in the intervening years, or what politics or
policies or personnel or public relations posturing may have changed in
the government of Tanzania, or in the REPOA. Revisionism occurs too often
to take the REPOA's current statements at face value without more. We therefore
have made a choice to leave the article on this website as-is and intact,
inasmuch as we believe that the apparent lack of action by the REPOA in
2000, and the agency's failure to produce any evidence that it took action
at the time article referencing the REPOA originally was disseminated around
the globe are facts that carry more weight than the REPOA's unsubtantiable
denial now, and we had no reason to doubt the veracity of the article at
the time it was provided to us, in March of 2000.]