Tendencies of human sacrifice have always been in the deep set of cultures around the world, where the legend of patriarch Abraham being handed a sheep instead of slaughtering his son is the perfect background on the prevalence of the practices. What sets Africa apart from the rest is the lack of an internal mechanism to check these trends.
During the period up to independence there were at least two checks against acts of violence related to witchcraft, one being the power of chiefs as they could banish someone accused of such practices to the satisfaction of the chief.
Usually the death penalty was beyond the power of traditional rulers, but their decisions could affect someone’s standing in society, and even banish the presence of such a person, in which case witching was present but under strict guard. It was a pattern similar to Europe where witches – doubling up as Freemasons in certain parameters - engage in a club of ‘gnostics.’ They want to know what lies behind the curtain of death, etc.
As a result of the disconnect between the modern and the traditional on the one hand, and then the formal and the occult on the other, governments since independence have been poor at exercising real power against occultism and its misdeeds.
Apart from traditional chiefs, the colonial state recognized witchcraft and punished it, whereas post independence governments, picking up from liberal sociology in most Western countries, have tended to treat accusations of witchcraft as based on ‘beliefs’ that witches exist, wishing to explain such conflicts differently. The result is the gradual urbanization of sorcery and human sacrifice to become a common trait.
Within the SADC region, Tanzania and Malawi picked up global infamy for killing of albinos, which has in the global chronicle been seen as a specific problem and one that scores of non-governmental organizations assisted by state agencies worked to solve.
Yet albino killings were only the tip of the iceberg of human sacrifices, which obtain or pick up a different picture each passing day or year.
There was for instance a spate of killings of bald headed people in some regions, then it was dark skinned people being hunted, and little over three months now there were killings of small children in Njombe region. These deaths provoked headlines, like albinos.
While chroniclers were talking about 18 murders in a population of 10,000 albinos in Malawi for instance, there is a traditional euphemism that albinos scarcely live to old age; some people (oral tradition of sorts, as no properly conducted research is available or popular in that regard) will say that albinos mostly tend to disappear at a certain moments.
For one with minimal exposure to occultism, it would imply that an albino was likely to be hypnotized in broad daylight or evening to follow an individual, where he or she would meet with a grave fate. As families ostracize albinos for all intents and purposes, word might just go around that the person shall disappear.
It would in occult terms follow that the killing of albinos was a turn of mood at a spiritual level, where for some reason blatant demonstration was needed that the sacrifice had been conducted, which can be interpreted at different levels, all of it hypothetically.
Scripture contains references to this kind of situation like in the Revelation where the text says ‘there was a war in heaven, Michael and his angels confronting the great serpent of old,’ which was then thrown into the world, etc. Killing of albinos denigrates African cultures, and eases the way to reforms, as land formalization and individualization that has started in Tanzania scraps tribal land where all this practice is based. Urban areas are planted cells for maladies deeply rooted in many tribal rituals.
While it has been relatively easy – but it took decades and blatant exhibitionism on the part of occultists needing body parts for this to be noticed at the political or law and order level – it has become impossible to link accidents with the same rituals. Yet testimonials are there for all to see or hear but since we are in independence rather than the colonial period, they will not be taken seriously as they can’t be produced as affidavits or evidence in court.
When 32 children died in a ghastly accident on a school bus, eye witnesses said there was scant blood on the spot, something noticed and gesticulated upon in FM radios and forgotten; it isn’t a law enforcement issue as state organs are paralysed when it comes to pursuing occultism. Nearly everyone is involved in this mess as people seek relief from healers not just for diseases but success in life.
For once, it appears that of all the world’s regions - and most are affected by occultism and ritual murder in various ways especially in South Asia and the Middle East, not to speak of Central and South America - it is SADC region spiritual movements that appear to provide a real solution.
Listening to FM stations starting from midnight to early morning exposes one to a series of preachers, apostles or prophets seeing right into human bodies for the negative things planted causing diseases, the sort of claims that until recently would make a government official laugh with disdain.
It is not just a matter of seeing demons but destroying those who send them, in which case if this movement gains speed, Tanzania will be cleared of half of its witches in 10 years time, and the process of evangelization is such that not so many new ones will be created.