Believe it or not, witchcraft is practiced by many communities in Kenya and other African countries. The witch-doctors commonly referred to as (waganga) openly advertise their services to the public mainly through ads printed on A4 papers and stuck on poles or nailed to fences. This dark science is mainly sort after by people seeking assistance in the matter of business, money, infertility or people seeking love (the infamous Kamuti). Some seek to exact revenge on their adversaries while some just seek witchcraft for unfathomable reasons.
Despite the widespread acceptance by some Kenyan communities, witchcraft has its dissenters too. On Friday21st October villagers of Samogara woke up to a rude shock when unknown people broke into the homestead of an elderly woman, beheaded and burnt her to death. Not so long ago in Homa Bay ,another elderly man narrowly escaped death after he was saved from a mob that beat him up and were about to lynch him on the suspicion of bewitching two people and killing two others. In Didza, Ganze district another elderly man was hacked to death a month after his wife had also been killed by a mob of youth accused of practicing witchcraft.
Among other vices in our culture, the killing of witches has continued to happen in Kenya and other African communities. The victims who are usually the elderly men are women are either hacked to death, burnt at the stake or lynched inside their houses .The perpetrators carry out these heinous activities in broad daylight with audiences bigger than those of political rallies .This act which can be considered as mob justice continues to happen where the people act as the prosecutor, the judge and the jury and condemn the people suspected of witchcraft to death as their families and relatives watch helplessly. But is condemning a person to death without a trial fair? Are any of these people really guilty of witchcraft? Is there any irrefutable proof of their involvement with the dark magic?
According to the Kenyan constitution, Witchcraft is illegal. The WITCHCRAFT ACT 67, LAWS OF KENYA, ARTICLE 3 states that, Any person Professing knowledge of the so called witchcraft or the use of charms, who advices any person applying to him how to bewitch or injure person, animals or other property, or who supplies any person with information purporting to be means of witchcraft shall be guilty of an offense and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.
I personally don’t support witchcraft practices among our communities; if anything I completely abhor the practice. However I strongly believe the laws of our country were created for a good reason. I do not support the use of unorthodox and retrogressive ways to punish these people. Some of the victims of the lynching are just innocent men and women wrongly accused of practicing witchcraft by people holding personal grudges with them and rally ignorant people to back up their claims. Most of these disputes involve money, property or love. Do you see the irony? Some of the wrongly accused people are elderly people who chose to live their sunset years in isolation and sometimes have quirky and eccentric interests or odd and eccentric behaviors .They are accused to be agents of Lucifer and sent to an early grave.
It’s about time Kenyans respected the Laws of the country and not took matters to their own hands. Despite the fact that no one would want be a victim of witchcraft practices or want to live next to an agent of the devil, we should allow the court of the law to determine their guilt or innocence and punish them accordingly. Everyone deserves the right to a fair hearing.