Angola: The belief in witchcraft still worries the local Church.
Anastácio Sasembele - Luanda, Angola with Vatican News English Africa Service.
Fr Bonifácio Tchimboto, Director of the National Commission for Biblical Pastoral Care of the Bishops’ Conference of Angola and São Tomé (CEAST), in an interview with Vatican News, said that the practice, belief and fear of witchcraft is still a great challenge not only to communities but also to pastoral care, and academia in Angola and elsewhere in Africa.
Villages paralysed with fear
The belief in witchcraft is enough to retard a community’s development, paralyse a village with fear and ultimately cause strife in families, says Father Tchimboto who is a Biblical scholar, theologian and a post-doctoral fellow in African Studies. He is a priest of Angola’s Diocese of Benguela.
Father Tchimboto is also currently parish priest of S. Pedro do Liro, in Lobito, where he divides his academic research with pastoral ministry.
Witchcraft: A convenient explanation
In Angola, as in other parts of Africa, the belief in witchcraft is still rife. The topic is sensitive and generally not open for public discussion. Most of those accused of witchcraft are inevitably shunned by society and usually banished from the village. Sometimes being suspected of witchcraft in a village can lead to violence or even death.
Although witchcraft is not recognised in the penal codes of many African countries, those accused are often at the mercy of mob or communal (in)justice.
The sad truth is that sometimes when a community cannot explain a misfortune, the unfortunate and most convenient route is to accuse someone of witchcraft.