Books

Mike Ormsby: Child Witch Kinshasa

It’s spring 2002 and Frank Kean is training journalists in troubled Congo. When he learns that religious zealots are persecuting so-called child witches, his reporter’s instincts kick in. Why so little news coverage of these ‘exorcisms’? He is determined to break the silence.
In a remote village, Pastor Precious arrives to battle Satan. Twelve-year-old Dudu faces a torrent of accusations and is forced to flee, far from home. The quick-witted boy swears he is not a witch, but evidence suggests otherwise. When Frank meets Dudu in Kinshasa, he sees an opportunity to help a vulnerable and wary street kid, even if it means crossing the line and making promises he may be unable to keep. But can they trust each other in a crisis? Child With Kinshasa is the first part of a two-volume novel, where fear and friendship collide in the shadow of a relentless civil war. The story continues in Child Witch London.
“I read this book during a recent trip to Nigeria, where I have worked to help children accused of witchcraft for over 10 years. I found the book thoroughly gripping, well informed and, in general, a fantastic read. It isn’t easy to capture the true issues behind why people accuse children of being witches but Mike Ormsby does this incredibly well. He also captures the shear horror of this issue in a humane, down-to-earth and, surprisingly funny way. It would make a great read for anyone and everyone but most especially those working in the fields of international development, street children and child protection in the UK and Africa would benefit from reading it. I’m really looking forward to the second part of the book, which will focus on the UK side of the issue”. Review by Gary Foxcroft, Executive Director, WHRIN

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Mary Devey – The killing of Adam: A victim of Human Sacrifice

This story is about Adam and about the many African children who fall prey to sacrifices and ritual abuse everyday. It is the story that tells you child ritual abuse flourishes right before our eyes and that authorities as far as Mozambique and Kenya, while desperate to contain its lethal effects, still lack the ability and know-how to contain its cancerous growth formations within the human populace. The trade is strong, the criminals are astute and the law has yet to pay heed to its extinction. For Adam, the story of his life was cut short brutally at a very young age, the very tender age when children are supposed to enjoy their childhood and when he should have been properly cared for by people he looked to for support and love. He is one of the few the media uses to tell the story, his story, and the reason why we should say no to child ritual abuse.  Buy the book here.

Book Review: The Science of Spirit Possession – Part 1 of 2

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Katherine Luongo: Witchcraft and Colonial Rule in Kenya, 1900–1955

Focusing on colonial Kenya, this book shows how conflicts between state authorities and Africans over witchcraft-related crimes provided an important space in which the meanings of justice, law and order in the empire were debated. Katherine Luongo discusses the emergence of imperial networks of knowledge about witchcraft. She then demonstrates how colonial concerns about witchcraft produced an elaborate body of jurisprudence about capital crimes. The book analyzes the legal wrangling that produced the Witchcraft Ordinances in the 1910s, the birth of an anthro-administrative complex surrounding witchcraft in the 1920s, the hotly contested Wakamba Witch Trials of the 1930s, the explosive growth of legal opinion on witch-murder in the 1940s, and the unprecedented state-sponsored cleansings of witches and Mau Mau adherents during the 1950s. A work of anthropological history, this book develops an ethnography of Kamba witchcraft or uoi. Click here for more information.

Norman Miller – Encounters with Witchcraft: Field Notes from Africa

A renowned authority on East Africa examines the effects of witchcraft beliefs on African culture, politics, and family life.

Encounters with Witchcraft is a personal story of a young man’s fascination with African witchcraft discovered first in a trek across East Africa and the Congo. The story unfolds over four decades during the author’s long residence in and many trips to Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. As a field researcher he learns from villagers what it is like to live with witches, and how witches are seen through African eyes. His teachers are healers, cult leaders, witch-hunters and self-proclaimed “witches” as well as policemen, politicians and judges.

A key figure is Mohammadi Lupanda, a frail village woman whose only child has died years before. In her dreams, however, she believes the little girl is not dead, but only lost in the fields. Mohammadi is discovered wandering at night, wailing and calling out for the child. Her neighbors are terror-stricken and she is quickly brought to a village trial and banished as a witch. The author is able to watch and listen to the proceedings and later investigate the deeper story. He discovers mysteries about Mohammadi that are only solved when he returns to the village three decades later.

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Jean La Fontaine: The Devil’s Children: From Spirit Possession to Witchcraft: New Allegations that Affect Children

A number of cases of serious child abuse have resulted from beliefs that children may be possessed by evil spirits and may then be given the power to bewitch others. Misfortune, failure, illness and even death may be blamed on them. The ‘cure’, nowadays called deliverance rather than exorcism, is to expel the spirits, sometimes by violent means.

This book draws together contributions on aspects of possession and witchcraft from leading academics and expert practitioners in the field. It has been put together following conferences held by Inform, a charity that provides accurate information on new religions as a public service. There is no comparable information publicly available; this book is the first of its kind. Eileen Barker, founder of Inform, introduces the subject and Inform’s Deputy Director goes on to detail the requests the charity has answered in recent years on the subject of children, possession and witchcraft. This book offers an invaluable resource for readers, whether academic or practitioner – particularly those in the fields of the safeguarding of children, and their education, health and general welfare.

Find out more about the book here