Strange Incidents of Witchcraft in Zimbabwe

Map of Harare ZimbabweIn Zimbabwe, two young women were found without any clothes on in the front yard of a home in Chinhoyi – some 70 miles away from their home in Harare. When asked how they arrived they revealed that they traveled by flight – a metaphor perhaps for spiritual transportation – to take them the distance. This is akin to the European traditions of witches on broomsticks. The concept and magical rituals behind instant transportation or flight are believed to be practiced worldwide.

In local belief, the flat, traditional hand-held winnowing basket is equivalent to a witch’s broomstick in Western fable.

Officials said a Chinhoyi court on Wednesday set another hearing for July 11 to hear medical reports and testimony from tribal healers.

It is unfortunate that the Associated Press report refers to this as a “tribal superstition,” when it is just as legitimate a spiritual belief and practice as any. This is the unfortunate view that many take toward witchcraft – even those who adhere to various beliefs rooted in witchcraft. It is also unfortunate that the two women will face court and a fine for practicing a traditional African belief system. However, with every cloud there is a silver lining. The positive indication, although slight, is that the government of Zimbabwe is interested enough to provide both medical and psychiatric evaluations, as well as the testimony from tribal healers. This will allow the determination to be made if the event is genuinely witchcraft and, despite not having the religious freedom to practice in Zimbabwe, it will build the increasingly growing base of scientific evidence for the supernatural.