I have been struggling for hours in search for a ‘proper/befitting’ title for this article. The reason why finding an appropriate title has been such a big deal for me this time is because the subject of the write-up is something that has always baffled me. And as such, I want to be able to pull many readers to have a look at this particular piece.
Africa has developed in so many ways with the socio-economic sectors being frontiers to the 21st century development of the continent. Certain parts of Africa have seen tremendous political developments where improved political discourses are held each day.
In spite of the 21st century developments, civilization and globalization, one aspect of the lives of many Africans continue to live in the medieval era, untouched and uninfluenced by the beauty of science, the opened mindedness and free-thinking of this century.
Fettered by fears, lack of education and our inability to fully embrace science or question things, superstition remains a robust and unchallenging force controlling the lives, minds and beliefs of many Africans.
In Africa, superstitious beliefs are held by almost every person you will come across. Even the very educated elites to some extent are incarcerated in their dark days by these beliefs. There is a little bit of such beliefs engulfed in the minds of all.
You may find it difficult to come to terms with the fact that, the religious leaders of Africa are the strong holders of the many dogmatic superstitious beliefs.
Though many African religious leaders (Pastors, Mallams,Imans etc) do not practice or positively portray superstitions, they work tirelessly, pray hard and put mechanisms in place to fight or conquer the deeds of those (witches flying on brooms, wizards vanishing from end to another, dwarfs, fetish priests giving out black magic, etc) who engage in superstitions.
The fact that religious leaders believe they have to fight, pray against or conquer these superstitions in itself is a strong credence that, to them, these things are real, exist and have real power to do what we envisage they do. Otherwise, why will you pray against the activities of witchcraft if you do not believe they are in action?
In Africa, nothing in life happens genuinely. No one dies without his or her death having been caused by another through some dubious means. Accidents are never attributed to faults or incompetence of the people in charge or machine failure, they are always orchestrated by certain superstitious powers.
Holding solid superstitious beliefs and practicing them in the face of contradictory evidence is not uncommon in Africa. Even though this baffles my thinking faculty, it is the unfortunate ordeals that these believers bring to bear on others that worry me most.
Imagine a distressed mother who has just lost her pregnancy (miscarriage) having been confidently told that her aged grandmother or mother in the village bewitched her, and used her unborn baby for the witchcraft annual party that was held somewhere in the bush in the middle of the night.
The miscarriage may be devastating but the thought that your own mother or grandmother fried your innocent unborn child for a party is immensely diabolical.
It is not only the everyday people who buy into the several superstitious beliefs in Africa, many graduates attribute their inability to find their dream jobs to the evil activities of their relatives or people who do not wish them good.
It may shock you to know that, medical doctors who cannot help their patients frequently throw out sentences like ‘we cannot find what is wrong with you, your illness may be caused by some evil or dark powers so it is better to go and seek alternative help’.
And I am sure you know that, the help such patients are being encouraged to seek is from people who are deeply buried in superstitions. I think it is safe to say that, even some medical doctors refer the sick to these superstitious believers/practitioners…What does this tell you? They all believe in it too.
The reason why in the face of contemporary human development and civilization, dogmatic superstitions remain astronomically relevant in Africa is that, it is a long connecting chain of beliefs held by both the illiterates and the literates. Who then has the audacity to question or undermine such drivel beliefs?
If anything has enslaved the minds of Africans beyond emancipation, then it is the countless superstitions that have blocked our minds from tasting logical reasoning, mental freedom and seeking the beauty of opened mindedness and the excellence of today’s science.
The last time I saw anyone fly on a broom stick for thousands of miles to cause harm or kill another was not in Harry Potter, but in the mind of a certain African.