WITCHCRAFT IN AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION
The belief in witchcraft is a universal thing, however, it has disappeared from many countries of the world, but it still exists in some parts of Africa till date. The fear of witches in the African society is so dominant that it has almost changed the life style of the traditional African, the people are so afraid that some has sort protection from other means outside African Traditional Religion, this scenario has lead to the growth of other religions in Africa.
The origin of witchcraft can be traced to fallen angels (children of heaven), according to The Book of Noah, written many hundred years before Christ explains that “…. And the angels, children of heaven, saw and lusted after the daughters of men and said to one another, come let us choose from among the children of men and beget us children. And all the other together took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and defile themselves and they thought them charms and enchantment, and the cutting of roots and made them acquainted with plant”. It is believed that the children from this marriage gave rise to witchcraft.
The of acquisition of membership of this cult is in many ways, among them are foetal initiation, i.e. the foetus of an unborn baby can be initiated through the mother or others, but they must be close members of the unborn child’s family. Another way is through food given to anyone by a member of this cult, the food substance must have been contaminated by which ever medium they want to use, also people could be initiated through the personal effects like clothes, trinkets etc, these could dome as a gift and once the unsuspecting person puts it on automatically he or she is initiated. Adult could of their own accord join for any reason ranging from the quest for power to fear of the unknown and the quest for vengeance, but it is very difficult to initiate an adult.
There are two types of witches, these are the black witch and the white witch. The black witch is the one that does evils in the society, they use their powers for evil purpose and every negative thing, on the other hand the white witch are considered to be good, they are the witch doctors, they use their powers for positive things.
Witches and wizards operates mostly at night, their meeting place is called the coven, their they decide what to do and which kind of havoc to commit. They could change to animals such as owl, cat, dog, bat, goat etc, while they are as sleep their spirit would change to any of these animals, but their body would remain in the room, a room mate could not gain consciousness until the spirit of the witch has poses back the body.
This cult is so powerful that they could do anything, ranging from causing natural deserters to killing, causing poverty, changing people’s luck. The African Traditional Religion (ATR) is been mistaken to rely on this cult because most priest of ATR claimed that they are witch doctors. It is true that in ATR we worship the almighty God through local divinities like ogun, Igbe, olokn, songo and the ancestors, there is also ritual sacrifices, this is where the witch cult is associated with ATR.
ATR as a religion that is practiced with the sole aim of worshiping a supreme being through his servants, does not include witches and wizards, witchcraft as a religion is on its own and not part of ATR, this is because at one point the members of this cult are physical being and at some other times they are spiritual being, the source of the power of this cult is from the negative force, but what the ardent of ATR worship and their source of power is from the almighty God, a positive force.
Most African attribute disabilities, diseases, infertility, etc to machinations of witches and wizards, thus, members of the cult are the most hated individual in the society, it is a common belief that once a member will remain a member for life no matter what, nut a confessedwitch might not be able to inflict harm any more.