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Last Updated: Friday, 7 July 2006, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Do you believe in witchcraft?
Traditional healer
People in Zimbabwe are now allowed to practise witchcraft as long as they do not use it to cause harm. Do you believe in witchcraft?

Zimbabwe has lifted the ban on the practice of witchcraft, repealing colonial-era legislation that made it a crime to accuse someone of being a witch or wizard.

The new law recognises the existence of the supernatural and effectively legitimises many practices of traditional healers, but only if they are used for good.

In Malawi, some government ministers are pushing for witchcraft to be accepted under the constitution.

Do you believe in witchcraft? If so, do you think it should be recognised under your country's law? Is witchcraft part of your life? Are you a witch or a wizard? Please tell us any witchcraft stories.

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

You do not need to believe that witchcraft exists, every African for all I know has had an encounter with these vices so to speak. Real witches or wizards do not hide that they are such! The only sad part is they cause a lot of fear in people of its secrecy.
Noel Sichivula, Lusaka, Zambia

Witchcraft is a true thing in my society. A witch is simply an evil person aiming to destroy other people's lives spiritually. Witchcraft should not be recognised in any form as it is not good within the society.
Yero Sam, Bansang, The Gambia

Witchcraft exists worldwide in all societies and cultures. There are two kinds: white and black witchcrafts. White is when it is used for good purposes and black is the reverse. It should be left up to every government and its citizens to decide what type suits them the most.
Thomas Doharty, Hamburg, Germany

I have to laugh when someone asks me whether I believe in witchcraft. It's like asking whether I believe in atoms or x-rays or that the Earth is round. I am a Wiccan that practices magic for personal growth and knowledge so that I may better the world around me. Magic is indeed real, and those who say otherwise just haven't studied magic or been around the right people. There is no such thing as "the supernatural", nothing is above nature.
Richard Brownbear, Wilkes, U.S.A.

I have seen the powers of witchcraft at a local African Tribal Art Museum, and there is not a doubt in my mind that it exists. I see no problem with it being recognised because I know that it is real.
Starr Kelly, Portland Maine, USA

Witchcraft is a barbaric art and it should be abolished by all democratic nations. As a man of God I do not see it necessary to even practice witchcraft in modern society or even primitive society.
Mohammed Konneh, Monrovia, Liberia

Witchcraft in all its form is the practice of what can hardly be interpreted naturally, not because the mystic is too tough to unravel, but because it has such secrecy which a few understand. I do believe in it, but at the same time hold strongly that there is a force above it, that is, The Cosmic (god).
Epizitone Anabi, Gothenburg, Sweden

Witchcraft is like a religion. So many people believe in it. I would not say bad things about the entire practice because there are good sides and bad sides of it. Witchcraft has the same value any other religion has.
Stanley Ian Hawk, Nigeria

Witch craft exists, just like God. Whether you believe in it or not does not change its existence. If you were born in Africa especially, you most probably have seen it growing up.
Rosie, Kampala

Back in my home in Sierra Leone, we know witches to be bad people. I now wonder, after hearing about Zimbabwe whether they are capable of doing good. The worst thing is that witches exist in your family, and that member of your family who is a witch is the first person to harm you and see that nothing goes well for you.
Malvis Sannah, Old Jeshwang, Gambia

Witchcraft has been there for as long as we have existed, even in the old times people practiced it. It is only now that more people have their eyes open and are using it in so many a way that is has brought most of our countries development down. They use it at work, to be promoted even to win some benefits and to blind fold the co-worker. Yes witchcraft does exist, but where there are good angels, you will find bad ones too.
Kobe, USA

I believe that witchcraft is not of God whether used for good or evil. A cousin of mine cast spells on her brothers and sisters when she was 9 years old, and the spell is still working up on today.
Olayinka Olorntuyi, London, England

When some witches in my community were known to be the cause of less-infrastructural development in my village, they were all rounded up and killed in the market-square. Even the Bible detests witchcraft practise. Read Leviticus 20:27.
Bob Eshikena, Asaba, Nigeria

Even God in the bible Exodus 22:18 said "Thou shall not suffer a witch to liveż. In my community if you are caught, you are given the jungle justice, which is death
Jacob Ekele, Kogi, Nigeria

Witchcraft is an optional part of the Pagan religion and is just as valid as Christianity (or any religion for that matter). The ultimate divine power may be set but the journey to reach it is not. A true Witch (if you use the traditional meaning) uses their power for good. Those so-called spells are the same as any prayer, just a little more elaborate because we use the power of the earth and our own energy. I am a witch, and I am proud.
Christine, Hampshire

Witchcraft existence is real, but their existence is a direct opposition to God-Almighty which every right-thinking human being should condemn. So for the Zimbabwean government to come out openly to support it is to call for judgement of the Almighty God. They should be ware.
Victor O. Egbuta, Abuja-Nigeria

This is for real in the African context because of the hatred one has for the other.
Ikeh Elekwachi, Aba, Nigeria

All people who have practised witchcraft will burn in Hell as indicated by the Bible. They may be able to do some wonders and magic but the raging fires of hell are ready for them.
Apenisa, Baghdad, Iraq

Witchcraft should be banned along with all references to the darker side including Charmed, Buffy and Angel. The supernatural? Are we teaching our children that evil is acceptable?
Faith, London, UK

Just because a major religion (Christianity) feels that "witchcraft" is evil, doesn't make it so. There are many religions that are older than Christianity. Christians were persecuted early into their religion's formation by the Romans, but from then on, they have been determined to put other religions down. While I believe this is a political move, and I don't like Mugabe's government, religious freedoms should be allowed no matter where. If you want a "dark spot" on a religion, try the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition of the Christians.
Chris, Canada

For witchcraft to exist (essentially magic), you need to be able to understand it, and if it does not make sense to the uneducated, they call it magic. You could say the same for physics, but the key difference is that it is repeatable, witchcraft is not.
Jeff, Limerick, Ireland

My answer is simply based on these four words - faith, power, work and wonder. I will not let witchcraft into my life because I do not have faith in it.
Plato Owulezi, Nigeria

In Africa it is believed that the dead are not living but they exist. I in particular am confused between magical practices and witchcraft. Are the two synonymous or the same depending on the context? Why is it that in the west it is Magic and in Africa witchcraft?
Njungbwen Olando, Bamenda Cameroon

Yes I am a 'witch' or 'wizard' but only in the true original meaning.
Michael Okai, London
First of all the word 'witch' has its origin in the word 'wise' and the word craft has its origin meaning 'art' or 'skilful'. So if you are saying should a wise and skilful art be practiced in Africa, my motherland before European influence, then yes. 'Witch craft' is our spiritual science that is very powerful for the African people which has been suppressed because of Europeans' fear of it. It allowed us to communicate with the forces of nature and our ancestors. It should be recognised but the stigma has to be removed from our minds that is just a negative practice. We can no longer identify with our natural spirituality. I accept that it can also be used negatively but a majority of the time it was for positive means, for instance (birth, crops to grow, to make it rain, to heal a relationship). Witchcraft is a natural part of my life, I call on my ancestors for guidance, respect of nature, protection for my children etc. Yes I am a 'witch' or 'wizard' but only in the true original meaning.
Michael Okai, London

Witchcraft exists and only affects those who believe in it. If you believe God exists then while not believe witchcraft or an evil power also exists. In my village, most people have stopped thinking about witchcraft and that is how our lives have improved.
Raphael E, Kumamoto, Japan (Ugandan)

It is folly for any government anywhere in the world to legislate for or against beliefs - and witchcraft is one such.
Mduduzi Mathuthu, Cardiff, Zimbabwean

Yes I believe in witchcraft, because I have seen it at work.
Promise Hanson, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Yes I believe in witchcraft, because I have seen it at work. In my hometown there are rain-makers. During ceremonies they come to the organisers of the ceremony and demand money and threaten to disrupt the show with rain. If you refuse to pay, a bright weather suddenly turns dark and without warning a heavy rain starts to fall. Once you pay they stop it. They are all witches. How do you explain a situation where a man threatens another that he will die the next day, and the man actually dies the following day without any physical attack or poisoning. You might call it coincidence, but what if he does the same to another.
Promise Hanson, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

Someone who says witchcraft is a propaganda or does not exist is digging his/her own grave. The proliferation of traditional witch doctors is just to tell us what a witch or wizard can do. The law court cannot prove it, hence our governments should not recognize it. They are bloody witches and wizards in Africa ready to destroy anything good for the society.
Eric Mbumbouh, Bamenda, Cameroon

To me witchcraft sounds like fairy tales although so many people in this part of Africa believe in it. I don't believe it does exist.
Stella Omubo-Pepple, Nigeria

Whether I believe in it or not is inconsequential; it affects all our lives in one way or another
Chi Primus, Cameroon

Do you believe in witchcraft? What a question? Whether I believe in it or not is inconsequential; it affects all our lives in one way or another. Unfortunately, witchcraft in Africa is mostly associated with destructive events. It is no secret that witchcraft is intricately linked to Satanism and mysticism. In my community, we observe witchcraft on a daily basis in various shapes and forms.
Chi Primus, Bamenda, Cameron

Witchcraft is evil and against the Almighty Creator, God. All those indulging in it should stop it in the interest of their life and hereafter.
A.I. Babatunde, Akure, Nigeria

What is the difference in believing in witchcraft and faith?
Bruno, Belgium/Kenya<
What is the difference in believing in witchcraft and faith? Aren't they the same? People will try anything to become healthy when sick, to become rich when poor ... to be right in times of need. And why again focus on Africa when the topic is witchcraft. People in the rich north will do the same things. Burning candles, herbal doctors, ... the list is long. People are people all over the world. All people have the same basic desires. Why talk about Africans? Diversity among Africans is higher then outside Africa. Why is the ban lifted in Zimbabwe? Politics of course, the same all over the world.
Bruno, Antwerp, Belgium Mombasa, Kenya

There is no doubt that witchcraft is a dark patch on African culture
Nnaji, Chidozie Charles, Nigeria

It would be wise to verify what the motive of the Zimbabwean government is. If it is trying to defy and despise western values by promoting practices that will be detrimental to the people of Zimbabwe, it had better think twice. In every culture, there are retrogressive and dangerous practices and there is no doubt that witchcraft is a dark patch on African culture. It is therefore advisable for the government to retrace its steps to avoid plunging the nation into a chaotic abyss.
Nnaji, Chidozie Charles, Jigawa State, Nigeria

We are caught between, one, the reality that witchcraft exists and secondly the almost impossible task of proving the same in a court of law
Pacharo Kayira, Malawi/Sweden
In Malawi, traditional leaders have been advocating for years for the legal recognition of witchcraft. Presently accusing someone of witchcraft or presiding over a witchcraft cleansing ceremony is a criminal offence. I think we are caught between two issues here. One, the reality that witchcraft exists and secondly the almost impossible task of proving the same in a court of law. This is made even worse by the fact that most traditional medicine men who claim to have supernatural powers are conmen. As such their evidence in court would be utterly unhelpful. I can predict mayhem in Zimbabwean courts. As for Malawi, I don't foresee any changes in the law soon.
Pacharo Kayira, Malawian studying in Lund, Sweden

Zimbabwe is right to lift the ban. I would love it if my country Malawi would also come up with some laws on witchcraft. I agree that it will be very difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt how these supernatural powers work. Many kids are being trained to be witchcrafts by some individuals not only in our villages but also in our town and cities.
Dixie Makwale, Lilongwe, Malawi/USA

Keep away from poison and witchcraft becomes completely useless. After all, if it counts for anything, at least an African team would have won the World Cup.
Emeka Obiodu

No. Fun as it would be, there's no evidence for the existence of real-life magic. I don't know whether you wait for countries to grow out of such craziness or try to help them along, but such delusion can't be healthy.
Andrew, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK

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