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Original Research - Practical Theology

A pastoral examination of the Christian Church’s response to fears of and reactions to witchcraft amongst African people in the Limpopo province of South Africa

M. Elijah Baloyi
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 70, No 2 | a1317 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v70i2.1317 | © 2014 M. Elijah Baloyi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 August 2012 | Published: 24 February 2014

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M. Elijah Baloyi, Department of Practical Theology, University of South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

Amongst other things, African culture (societies) has been characterised by its perception and fear of witchcraft. Even though the belief in witchcraft is an old phenomenon, its growth is revealed and to some extent mitigated by videos, films and accounts and stories of church ministers. Whilst some Christian worship services have been turned into witchcraft-centred campaigns against witchcraft, a second group perceive witchcraft as a way of getting rid of one’s enemies and a third group see it as the root of human misfortune. Indeed ministers (including preachers and pastoral caregivers) are almost ‘measured’ by their ability to successfully ward off demons (believed to have been sent by witches), as a yardstick for determining whether they are good ministers with a good following or congregation. The first group of people attend church to pray for protection against ‘the enemy’, the second group approach native doctors to protect their households from attacks by witches, and the third group rid themselves of witches by burning them along with their personal belongings. This article investigates the impact and consequences of a fear of witchcraft amongst Christians in African societies, particularly those in the Limpopo province of South Africa. It also offers pastoral guidelines for a theological response to witchcraft and its life-threatening influence on people in the affected communities.

Keywords

Witches; witchcraft; sorcery; zombis; tokoloshy; sangomas

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Crossref Citations

1. Unpacking the downside of sustentasie on African theology and theologians: a need for contextual black theology as a liberative ingredient for the black Reformed churches
Elijah Baloyi
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies  vol: 72  issue: 1  year: 2016  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v72i1.3161