Monday, December 14, 2009

Superstition in Angola: Its Effects

Africa' cultures are anchored in spirituality; not in just Christian beliefs.  Animist beliefs in the supernatural are the basis of many Angolan superstitions or folk beliefs, just the same as the common superstitions here in North America.

For example, in Angola, the twitching in your lower eyelid signals that you will soon be shedding tears or when the upper eyelid twitches, it’s a sign you will meet someone unexpectedly.  Or additionally, when you you encounter a dead snake across the road is suspected as a sign that that fate will come to that person.

Though taken very lightly here in North America, the reaction to superstitions in Angola has real and tragic results. For example there is a growing trend in Angola of children being accused of witchcraft since there are so many superstitions against witchcraft.   What is the basis of this?

Unfortunately for many areas in Africa and elsewhere in the world, misfortune seems to be striking with vengeance. Particularly in country like Angola where the people have been scarred by war, famine, economic collapse, death, and HIV infections, there are many “why me?” questions to be answered.  Essentially,  'when AIDS or a disaster begins to kill, someone in the family gets blamed for it.' Other children in Angola have been accused of transforming into animals and eating crops at night. Yet scientific analysis found that late rains had caused poor crop yield during that period.

Some common traits in children accused to have witchcraft are: stubbornness, learning disabilities, physical disabilities such as epilepsy, unruly behavior and not taking school seriously. Many of these traits deemed “witch-like” are usually considered normal adolescent behavior in the West. Children suffering from disease such as AIDS and malaria are also prime targets of witchcraft accusations. Once accused of witchcraft, a child is punished, beaten, starved and sometimes killed to “cleanse” her or him of supposed magical powers. (UNHCR/Open Forum Report 2009)

As Christians, it is exciting to know that salvation through Christ can free Angolans from the bondage of these beliefs and free children from such accusations.  We look forward to bring this message once again to Angola.

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