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Day June 28, 2009

witchcraft is but a euphemism for rubbish

Dr Muwanga-Zaake,

 1/6 You seem not to be sure whether to condemn or to condone so-called witchcraft.  And by the way, witchcraft is but a euphemism for rubbish. Why? Even when you peer into the kit bag of a “witch doctor”, all you see there is absolute rubbish: scales of a pangolin, snail shells, teeth of a hyena, porcupine spines, claws of a crab, cow dung of a leopard, skull of a victim of kwarshiorkor and all such manner of zoological collectibles. Gasiya peke yake!

 2/6  The basic fact is that, where man’s capacity to comprehend and/or tame the forces of nature suddenly ends, the belief in the supernatural immediately begins.  As man increases his mastery of nature, his belief in the supernatural diminishes.

 3/6  Belief in the supernatural is packaged in all sorts of ways.  All of them belong to the domain of superstition.  They range from what we call religions, including your Chrisitianity , to your so-called witchcraft.  In terms of man’s ability to cope with the forces of nature, Christianity and witchcraft lie on the same continuum: only varying degrees of superstitious content.  So, apposing Christianity with witchcraft is neither here nor there.  They are first cousins.  The difference is that, one has been divested of as much superstition as possible.

 4/6  And by the way, what do you mean by an “African belief”?  Do you mean belief in the occult?  Witchcraft and other forms of crude superstition are a characteristic of society that is backward, like Uganda is now.  There is nothing African about superstition.  Between the 13th and 19th centuries as many as 1 million people were executed in Europe for the crime of witchcraft. I am sure you have heard about the Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1661-1662.  You may also have heard about the trials of “witches” in the German hinterland of Rothenburg in the same period, going on even as recently as 1750.  In that town, as many as 400 “witches” were executed in one day during that time. In the USA , you may have heard about the witch hunts in Salem and Massachusetts . In England, the last person to suffer death for so-called wtichcraft was in 1684, although there is a case of a lady living in Hertfordshire village of Walkern, a few miles North of London, who narrowly survived death as recently as 1712 after being accused of being a witch….I think her name was Jane Wenham…she was saved by the intervention of Queen Anne….and so on….Note that the major victims were always women, particularly the poor and largely the widows, and trials were not only in religious courts, but also in secular ones.

 5/6 So, do not be racist or biased in other way you as you look at human superstition.  Whenever and whereever the level of science and technology is abysmal, witchcraft and religion come in to fill the gap.  There is nothing African about it, and we should not base on Africa ‘s current backwardness to infer that manifestations of backwardness are a preserve of Africans only.  The irony with you Professor is that, you then go a head to base on Africa ‘s current predicament to weave up some strange notion of your African Nationalism…or what ever one may call it.

 6/6 But, but, but, now how about you the Professor of Chemistry who then goes ahead to assert that, “The record of African spiritual leaders healing and successfully praying for rain are obliterated or never perpetuated.”? You as a scientist should be in the forefront of demystifying superstitions and dispelling such fallacies as “rain-making”, but here you are telling us about the so-called African spiritual leaders.  You Professor of all people, know the hydrologic cycle; you know the Bergeron Process of how rain forms and falls; you know that, the only way man can induce rain is by CCNs or cloud condensation nuclei.  You studied those facts in Chemistry and got a PhD, you teach them, and then you come here at UAH to tell us that, sijui, “African spiritual” this and that, should be perpetuated!  Does PhD mean “Pure head Damage”? How doesn’t someone rule you people for 50 years non-stop? How, how? That when some scary-looking self-important old chap in need of dentures in some village in Bulemezi throws cowries in the air, spits to the west, puffs to the North, walks to the road junction on his hands and slaughters a white hen facing south….then the rain will turn up! Professor Muwanga-Zaake want that to be perpetuated!  That is the myth that a 21st century Professor of chemistry wants to perpetuate, in the name of African nationalism.  Now, don’t you really see where Africa ‘s problems lie?

 Lance Corporal (Rtd) Otto Patrick


Do you believe in witchcraft?

messages on witchcraft are outright unbalanced? Some people focus on witchcraft – but is it more heinous than burying people alive, by, I presume, religious people? So, possibly, another important question is ‘ Has religion affected some of these people?’. Obviously, the murders believed in witchcraft although their religious backgrounds are not clearly stated.

what qualifies as witchcraft

Although I have been accused of being pedantic on this forum, I think we have a problem in defining a witch. It appears to me as though anybody with powers, which cannot be scientifically proven or which are not acceptable in the Christian doctrine, to cause havoc is a witch, especially in Africa where religions local belief systems to establish themselves. The record of African spiritual leaders healing and successfully praying for rain are obliterated or never perpetuated. Indeed, we have been assimilated into despising our beliefs as backward or witchcraft.

There are double standards applied in Africa. An African belief is subjected to scientific proof, otherwise it is backward or witchcraft. A biblical or foreign belief is never subjected to scientific proof. So we are told – Jesus walked on water, changed water into wine, fed millions with merely 5 loaves, etc. but we are not allowed to question these acts on the basis of science. I have no problem in believing the miracles Jesus demonstrated. However, for example, let us note that there is no scientific explanation for walking on water without sinking other than a belief in supernatural being.

Havoc is reported in enforcing religions, including Christianity for example. Would Samson who prayed until a whole building killed people where he was apprehended qualify as a witch? Or should we include biblical personalities (Moses is one) who prayed for the suffering of the Egyptians until the Jews were allowed to go back to their land.

The topic of witchcraft is indeed a can of worms, albeit an unfair one, which is selectively applied to any belief that is not Christian or non scientific. Ultimately, I think the question is unfair in perpetuating a complex that renders every happening, which neither Christianity nor science approves, as witchcraft. I.e., the question presumes a belief in Christianity and science as the only acceptable spiritual and knowledge systems.

Dr.Johnnie Muwanga-Zake

The Way Forward for Uganda

Fellow Ugandns,

I believe that all Ugandans are focused towards the 2011 elections, with much anticipation for eventual everlasting peace in our country. While many think that the change of government from the governing NRM/O to another party will bring peace to Uganda, others think that a mere change of the governing party will not bring peace.
As I contemplate the possibility of peace and stability, I am one of those who donot believe that a mere change of the governing party alone will ensure peace and stability.The entire populace is confused. Many have turned to the Church, Mosque and other places of worship as a refuge to the seemingly never-ending troubles of our Mother Land. I am told that even President Yoweri K. Museveni has become a Born – Again Christian.
By turning to God’s Congregation as a place of confort, I remembered what I saw in my childhood that turned the peoples’ mentality to a positive one, for sometime.
About June, 1964 a less known organisation known as The Jehovah’ Witnesses had announced that on that particular day the World would end. In our township of Kilembe the Churches, the Mosque and other places of worship were full beyond capacity. The World was supposed to end at 14.00 Hrs. We were told that a strong wind would blow everything off the face of the earth, except the ”saved ones” and those who confessed their sins before the time of the end. Every slight wind passing by would bring tremendous fear. 14.00 Hrs came and passed. So were the subsequent hours. Shortly before midnight, my mother told us, the children to go to bed, saying that God must have changed His mind. The whole area was quiet, except the prayers that could be heard faintly from time to time. After that day, the entire community became so harmonious. Well, the harmony was short lived.Two years later, 1966 the news came that the Prime Minister of Uganda, Apollo Milton Obote had ordered the army to attack the Palace of the Kabaka of Buganda, who at the time was the President of Uganda. Since that time Uganda has experienced violence with short intervals, as the governments changed.
After many years of violence in our country, the Church, the Mosque and other places of worship have become the refuge to the millions of people, many of whom wish that the Creator would soon intervene. No wonder, the Pastors, Moalim, Sheiks and Gospel musicians are busy consoling the populace.
Let us refrain from acts of intimidation and thoughtless threats. Let us encourage dialogue among the politicians and political parties for the good of our country. The fact is that the entire country is suffering, despite the argument that some areas have suffered and continue to suffer more than others. Even those who seem happy are infact scared for their lives. Peace is lacking in the entire populace and the violence exhibited in the name of ”National Security”, is in reality an act of fear for change, in self defence.
I hear in some quarters that President Museveni has imposed himself on the people and that he wants to rule for life. In other quarters I hear that President Museveni is tired of the presidency and that he is forced into it to protect those who may face the Law for atrocities committed before and during the NRM/O administration, should he step down.
With all these arguments mentioned above, I ask the question; Will the mere change of government, from NRM/O to another party bring peace? Is there any party really capable of defeating the NRM/O in the forthcoming elections? The NRM/O continues to prove that they are invincible, come the 2011 elections. I note lack of unity in all opposition parties. It seems that the opposition is trying to form a ”Unity of Convenience”, simply to defeat the ruling party in the forthcoming elections. Have we all forgotten what happened when we united for convenience, simply to drive Idi amin and his regime out of power? The violence we have experienced since the fall of Amin, is a result of that ”Unity of Convenience”.
The best way out of our despondency I believe, is that the fund which should be used to administer the 2011 elections, be used instead to establish the Trurh and Reconciliation Commission. After the establishment of the T.R.Commission and its deliberations, Uganda will have a fresh beginning filled with hope for prosperity and harmony, for the good of our Nation. Unless we find a way to put the past behind us, Uganda will never be peaceful.
BJ. Rubin.
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