Satanism, witchcraft real or perceived

HARARE - Modern folk considers witchcraft to be a perception and satanism to be the “dark side of Christianity”, but for many Zimbabweans, both witchcraft and satanism are equally evil and satanic.

For the majority of Zimbabweans of Christian descent, witchcraft and satanism both oppose God’s teachings and are demonically inspired and thus should not be judged differently.

This is in contrast to the world’s view that draws distinction to the two forms of religion which have their own distinct sets of beliefs and practices.

But Zimbabweans have never cared about semantics.

If anything, anything that boarders on the margins of magic, sacrifices and dark arts should be grouped in one.

It’s from this stand point, that angry and furious parents besieged two schools last week, bringing classes to a halt.

It started off on a chilly June 25 Monday morning when more than 200 parents mobbed a Sunningdale school administration block, baying for the blood of the learning institution’s deputy headmistress whom they accused of practising satanism.

The parents alleged that some of the learners had to be pulled out of school due to witchcraft-linked or satanism activities.

The impromptu protest was triggered by a child who had manifested — speaking and acting as if possessed by a demon — earlier at the school, while some parents said snakes were being sighted at the school and alleged satanists were gathering under a tree within the school yard, which the parents wanted chopped.

“Since the beginning of this term, three children have died and others are manifesting because of satanism,” a fuming parent claimed.

The deputy headmistress, only identified as Marawa, strenuously denied the allegations, with classes resuming after intervention by officials from the Primary and Secondary Education ministry.

Sunningdale legislator Margret Matienga told the Daily News that the ministry should take the matter seriously to avoid any more alleged loss of life.

She said the issue of satanism is, however, difficult to prove considering that people do not have evidence.

Before the dust settled, another pack of disgruntled parents besieged Molife Junior School in Domboshawa demanding school fees refunds and the ouster of the headmistress on allegations of satanism.

The parents alleged that mysterious incidences at the school had led to mental illnesses and unexplained deaths of students at the school.

In February this year, officials at Maramba Secondary School in Mutawatawa and St Joseph Secondary School in Rusape ordered the closure of the two institutions following a satanism scare.

It was alleged that students at the schools were initiated into satanism after receiving money and gifts from a classmate.

In July last year, pandemonium rocked Nyanyadzi High School in Chimanimani after angry parents stormed the institution, accusing four teachers of initiating 10 students into satanism.

Educationist Takavafira Zhou said while there are instances of witchcraft in society, there was more to the finger pointing than what met the eye.

“I think in Zimbabwe there are a lot of issues. One is perception, if you think someone is a witch you will ultimately see them as a witch and then the blame game begins. You wonder how some of the people who have stayed at a school for more than 30 years without any accusations all of a sudden become a witch. There is also the issue of polarisation, if some said at a political rally that they should be out of the school, they are then hounded out on frivolous grounds. Yes they could be genuine concerns, if people have issues they should take them up with the authorities,” Zhou said.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) president Obert Masaraure could not rule out that high poverty levels had left the country clutching at straws.

“The shocking levels of poverty in our country have led to this unfortunate upsurge of parents blaming teachers of witchcraft,” he said.

“The material conditions of our citizens should be improved. In the interim the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education must facilitate dialogue meetings between teachers and community members.”

Education expert Robson Chere said parents should seek more robust forms of engagement to get to the bottom of their suspicions.   

“The trend is regrettable and very unfortunate. Witchcraft and satanism are very difficult to prove. In any case the issue of parents besieging schools over satanism claims is highly discouraged and any alleged wrong doing from teachers and school authorities should be properly addressed so that litigation will take place thus avoiding disruption of learning process. The school environment should be safe to both learners and educators,” he said.

Historians and culturists canvassed by the Daily News on Sunday said the phenomenon of witchcraft and satanism were not just mere bed time stories but remained difficult to eradicate because cases were difficult to prove.

“The methodology used by witches or satanism does not make sense to Western science therefore whatever one cannot prove is dismissed as superstition,” said traditional healer Joshua Chigwido, whose patients call him Sekuru Nehanda.

“These things will continue to be a problem because our legal systems do not address challenges of witchcraft or satanism. In fact, one can actually be sued for calling someone a witch. As such, more cases continue to emerge and will remain unresolved. Those who can will continue to seek refuge from traditional leaders.”

On witchcraft and Satanism whether they are distinct and real will remain a debate for many Zimbabweans.

But one thing is certain; more schools will continue to be besieged over these two highly misunderstood convictions.

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