The idea of witchcraft is buried deep in the psyche of those living in the Central African Republic and every year hundreds are charged with the practice for which the punishment is execution (although there are no recent reports of this punishment being carried out) however most are sent to prison with jail terms averaging about four years. In some local prisons about 50% of the prison population is taken up by those accused of witchcraft. For many more it is not a police matter and villagers take suspected witches into their own hands acting as judge and jury. People get buried alive and find their homes torched. One local prosecutor even noted, "I find that sometimes sending an accused child or woman to prison offers the best solution in protecting the person from mob violence, which often leads to death".
Instead, organisations like the United Nations are attempting to improve the situation by training residents about their human rights and raising awareness of legal assistance, however such help is fairly meaningless when an accused is confronted by an angry mob or when the courts are minded to believe the accuser against the accused however preposterous the supposed evidence against them is. Many accuse others of witchcraft when they fall ill, believing that they have been cursed. In all probability, however, they have an HIV/AIDS related illness. Witch doctors flourish offering to immunize villagers against the practice by selling 'herbal vaccinations' or charging high fees to carry out exorcisms that normally involve the brutalisation of children who are simply scapegoats for these normal occurrences. One ten year old recounted his story after he was sent to live with his aunt and uncle and their children. After his cousin fell ill, "for two weeks, my uncle beat me every single day. He called me a witch. He said there was a beast living inside of me. In the end, I ran away. I had a broken arm and my head was bleeding from the blows of a machete." The child added, "Iím not a witch. I don't know what a witch is."
A human rights worker in the country commented "Witchcraft is so widespread that campaigning to abolish the legal recognition of the crime is pointless". The issue of witchcraft in the Central African Republic has taken a more sinister turn of late with increasing numbers of children being accused of the practice; some reporting that this involves literally thousands of children. The video (below) explores Central African witchcraft in more detail.
CAR Witchcraft: Volunteer in Central African Republic
CAR Witchcraft: Street Children
CAR Witchcraft: Child Sponsor CAR
CAR Witchcraft: Central African Republic Profile
Details of current volunteer work
opportunities in each of the
countries of Africa.
Discover all about Africa, its tourist
attractions, history, people, culture
and daily life there.
A treasure trove of African
resources from webcams to
free downloads and news.