Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

Harvest of brute superstitions


One day in Chikwawa, a man, inebriated or sober, walked all the way to his grandparents’ home with one purpose: to cleanse them of witchcraft, a belief that still is not proven scientifically.
He accomplished his mission. By the end of it, two senior citizens, a 96-year-old and another aged 86 years—who happened to be of his own blood—were mercilessly hacked to death in a gory act that can even scare the devil away.
It is not the only blood-filled incident in recent times. Two years ago, also in January, some kindred organised themselves in Neno on a similar mission. In a fit of brute anger spurred by superstitions, the villagers of Neno descended on four of their elderly kinsmen, clobbered, scythed and hewed the lives of the four who they accused to have killed one of their own through some imaginary magic lightning .
It has not been easy growing old in Malawi. A Help Age International report sums it all: Malawi is among the top 10 worst places to grow old in. Obviously, the killings of old folks on suspicions of witchcraft are among the factors that make this place hell for old people.
But where have we gone wrong? When the four were killed in Neno, the government and rights group came to life and suddenly remembered that our Constitution does not recognise witchcraft and that there is that National Policy for Older Persons to be implement to the letter. But when the four were buried and the wreaths on their tombs wilted, everyone forgot the fight and went to slumber.
And because we forgot and never wanted to take that incident seriously, the nation is, again, in sorrow after the recent killings in Chikwawa.
The government and all those concerned must accept that they have failed to civic educate people that, as far as the country’s Constitution is anything to go by, witchcraft only exists in the figment of imagination of lawbreakers whose lives are driven by superstition.
The government and all those concerned must be jerked into action and strongly condemn and punish—within legal limits— all perpetrators of violence against the elderly on suspicion of witchcraft.
This incident in Chikwawa must be the last. We must put an end to these barbaric acts; otherwise, if we allow the bloody seeds of superstition to bloom and mature, the harvest will be mangled bodies of our sages.

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