MY TAKE ON THIS: With beliefs like these, forget development

Wednesday October 15 2014

Peter Nyanje is the News Editor  of the Weekend

Peter Nyanje is the News Editor  of the Weekend editions of the Citizen 

By Peter Nyanje,

On September 28, residents of Mwitikira Village in Bahi District, Dodoma Region met to discuss incidents related to witchcraft at the village.

The meeting determined that one of the villagers was the one behind the incidents.

Ultimately, the meeting passed a sentence and without hesitation the villagers went to the accused hut and set it ablaze, killing her and her son.

Several days later, seven people were burnt to death at Murufiti Village in Kigoma Region.

The police move to arrest 23 people in connection with the incident cannot be taken as a concrete step towards resolving such murders because that is what we are used to.

In the past law enforcers have arrested numerous people in connection with murders related to witchcraft beliefs but that has not helped in abetting the incidents.


The killing of these nine people in less than a month clearly shows how police efforts to contain these murders have been fruitless.

On the other hand, annual reports by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) show that number of people killed on witchcraft related incidents has been increasing each year.

Nonetheless, there is no scientific or even logical explanation that killing people suspected of being witches helps to reduce witchcraft in the societies. Continuation of such killings also shows that efforts employed to create awareness among Tanzanians, especially in rural settings, on witchcraft, has not helped to improve the situation.

Killing old people and albinos on witchcraft beliefs, is one of the things which has tainted Tanzania image internationally.

But such incidents have also continued to subject rural communities to poverty. This is because people who believe in witchcraft to the extent of killing their fellow villagers, have no capacity to think big and redeem themselves from poverty.

In fact, they look at  a successful person  in their community as a witch because they believe that he has accumulated his wealth through bewitching others. Therefore, in the mind of such people, development is an enemy.

This situation has continued for many years and it is high time now the government reviews its tactics in containing it.

 Wrong and outdated beliefs among Tanzanians is among major factors which impede development, notably in rural areas.

There is only one thing which can redeem the rural communities from this situation and that is education. The government might employ other measures, such as taking legal actions against the suspects but that will not give us a lasting solution, we have so far noted that despite arresting many people, charging and sentencing them after being found guilty of killing based on witchcraft beliefs, things have not improved.

But, I am sure that if education is given chance, it will enlighten the rural communities and they can clearly and sensibly see how they have been misusing their meagre resources dealing with the problem.

Education will make people understand that witchcraft, which they have been using as an excuse to kill their fellow villagers, is a wrong creation of themselves.

This awareness will not only help in reducing or stopping the unnecessary killings, but it will also help the rural communities get new light on why they have continued to languish in poverty.

The awareness will help the rural communities understand that it is their wrong perception of successful among them which is the major factor holding them back.