Witchcraft Is Not Africanized BY AGBA JALINGO 


In Old English, “Wicce” means “witch.” The word, “Wicce” further has its roots in the old German word, “Wicken.” While the word, cræft, is equally an Old English word originally meaning “power or physical strength.” Cræft could also be interpreted to signify possession of inexplicable knowledge, wisdom, and resourcefulness. The term is as well derived from the Old High German word, “kraft.”

So “Wicce-Cræft”, or witchcraft is not Africanized. It is not an African word. It did not originate from Africa. Rather, it has generic meaning not just to the Anglo-Germans, but the entire Europe and in fact, all civilizations. It is a cultural phenomena with evidential history cutting across all civilizations and epochs. All civilizations have their pre-religous ethos and practices. Europe has a pre-Christian era. The Arabs have a pre-Islam era. China has a pre-Bhuddist era. India has a pre-Hindu era. Every culture on Earth contains some aspect of symbolic gestures or ritualized behavior performed either by an entire group or by a select few individuals, before adopting their current religions.

In Europe for instance, the practice of witchcraft was the dominant culture until it was overtaken by global consensus on the belief in One God, as well as the burgeoning influence of the Catholic Church, which led to a craze fuelled wave of witch hunting and trials across the continent during the middle ages. For two millennia, European folklore and ritual have been imbued with the belief in witchcraft and till date, witchcraft continues to play a role in European societies and imaginations.

It was the Malleus Maleficarum, (Hammer of Witches), a 1486 treatise written by Austrian priest, Heinrich Kramer and German priest Jakob Sprenger, at the request of Pope Innocent VIII, which reigned as the second-best-selling book in Europe for more than two centuries, that united the Church and the State, in providing a framework for identifying, capturing, prosecuting, and punishing witches.

But since the 1940s, new witchcraft movements have emerged in Europe, seeking to revive and reinterpret the continents’ pre-Christian practices in a search for spiritual authenticity in a rapidly changing world. Wicca, an English neo witchcraft group, pioneered by Gerald Gardner, stands out as one of the most influential of those movements. Stregheria is an Italian sect that celebrates early Italian witchcraft. Its adherents say that their tradition has pre-Christian roots, and refer to it as La Vecchia Religione, the Old Religion.

Religio Romana, is a modern reconstructionist religion based upon the ancient faith of pre-Christian Rome. The Asatru tradition is also a reconstructionist path that focuses on pre-Christian Norse spirituality. The movement began in the 1970s as part of a revival of Germanic witchcraft culture. Many Asatruar say their practices are very similar in its modern form to those that existed hundreds of years before the Christianization of the Norse cultures. Hellenic Polytheism, rooted in the traditions and philosophies of the ancient Greeks, is another path that has begun a resurgence following the Greek pantheon, and often adopting the religious practices of their ancestors.

It is in the light of this global resurgence in the search for cultural authenticity, and its imminence in Africa, that I will like to end by quoting, theologian, Dr. Mary Nyangweso Wangila, a J. Woolard and Helen Peel Distinguished Professor in Religious Studies at East Carolina University, from her book: “Witches” of the Twenty-First Century: Invoking the Relevance and Resilient Character of African Spirituality in Changing Times”, where she argues that, “the resurgence of practitioners of African spirituality in Africa and the African diaspora, commonly known to some as “witches” in the twenty-first century, as demonstrated in practices and lyrics of the millennials such as Beyonce, Banks and Nokia is not only illustrative of the ability of African spirituality to evolve and adapt, it speaks to the centrality of African identity in the African experience.

“Drawing from experiences of Africans in the sub-Saharan region and those in the African diaspora, I argue that the general assumption that relegating African religious beliefs and practices as “savage,” “primitive” and “uncivilized” and therefore destined to decline is disproven by resilient manifestations of African spirituality in modern society.”

She further concludes by acknowledging the, “disadvantage that these religions experience due to their lack of the proselytizing instinct that their monotheistic peer religions like Christianity and Islam possess, their persistence not only speaks to an Afrocentric character that is central to Africans everywhere, it is also an illustration of the basic fact that all social phenomena is bound to evolve and adapt. Resilient vestiges of African spirituality are indicative of how irreplaceable and un-erasable core African values are and how they speak to an identity that cannot be traded for another.”

Yours sincerely,
Citizen Agba Jalingo.


Development Consultant, Writer, Editor-In-Chief/Publisher @theluminenews.com, Public/ Motivational Speaker, Public Affairs Analyst/Commentator, Social Mobilizer of high repute.

View all posts by Elijah →

Leave a Reply