Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

May the Devil Take Yours Bones: Curses in Tanzania

To ward off curses, witchcraft and evil spirits, the use of protective symbols such as wearing or hanging a talisman called Gurudumu is common practice.

In Tanzania, witchcraft superstitions are deeply rooted in the cultural beliefs and traditions. Witchcraft superstitions such as albino witchcraft and curses are powerful beliefs throughout certain parts of Tanzania.

A talisman called Gurudumu
A talisman called Gurudumu.

Albino Curses and Witchcraft in Tanzania.

There is a strong belief in the existence of albino witches who are thought to possess magical powers. This belief has unfortunately led to the persecution and violence against albinos, as some people seek their body parts for use in witchcraft rituals. Some traditional beliefs and superstitions associate albinism with supernatural or magical powers.

This misconception fuels the demand for albino body parts, as they are believed to possess mystical properties that can bring wealth, success, or protection from harm. In certain communities, there is a belief that using albino body parts in rituals or traditional medicine can bring about positive outcomes or supernatural abilities.

The belief in albino magic has led to the targeting and mutilation of albinos for their body parts. Some areas in Tanzania where attacks on Albinos have been more commonly reported include the Lake Victoria region, Rukwa region and the Mbeya region.

The Lake Victoria region including areas such as Mwanza, Shinyanga, and Geita, has seen a higher incidence of attacks against albinos. Factors such as poverty, traditional beliefs, and proximity to mining activities have contributed to the vulnerability of albinos in this area.

The Rukwa region, particularly areas like Sumbawanga, has also experienced cases of albino attacks. It is believed that this region's proximity to neighboring countries contributes to the illegal trade and trafficking of albino body parts.

The Mbeya region, including towns like Mbeya and Songwe, has also witnessed instances of violence and discrimination against albinos. Poverty, superstitions, and cultural beliefs have played a role in perpetuating harmful practices against albinos in this region.

Explanation of Tanzanian Mikosi or Curses and Mchawi or Witch Accusations.

Many Tanzanians believe in the power of curses. It is believed that someone can place a curse or mikosi on another person, leading to misfortune, illness, or even death. People may consult traditional healers or witch doctors to counteract these curses.

Witchcraft accusations are not uncommon in Tanzania, particularly in rural areas. If someone falls ill, experiences a streak of bad luck, or encounters unexplained phenomena, they may be suspected of being a witch. Accused individuals may face ostracism, physical abuse, or even be killed as a result.

Which doctor or traditional healer helping a patient

To ward off witchcraft and evil spirits, people in Tanzania may use various protective measures. For example, they may wear or hang amulets, charms, or protective talismans in their homes or on their bodies. These objects are believed to possess supernatural powers that can offer protection.

One common protective talisman to ward off the devil taking your bones in Tanzania is the Gurudumu. The Gurudumu is a circular amulet that resembles a wheel or a disc. It is typically made of metal, wood, or a combination of materials. The amulet is often engraved or adorned with intricate symbols, patterns, or inscriptions that hold significant meaning.

These symbols can include religious or spiritual motifs, such as verses from the Bible, Quran or prayers, as well as traditional African symbols. The Gurudumu is believed to possess protective and spiritual powers. It is worn or carried by individuals as a means of safeguarding against negative energies, evil spirits, or malicious intent.

The talisman is often considered a personal item and may be worn as a pendant, bracelet, or carried in a pouch or pocket. The use of the Gurudumu is deeply rooted in cultural and spiritual beliefs in Tanzania. It represents a connection to ancestral traditions, religious faith, and the desire for protection and well-being.

The amulet is believed to act as a shield, offering a sense of security and warding off harm or misfortune. When unexplained misfortunes or tragedies occur within a community, people may seek someone to blame. In some cases, individuals may be accused of witchcraft if they are perceived to have caused harm or brought about these negative events through supernatural means.

Accusations of witchcraft can arise from personal conflicts, envy, or rivalries. When individuals experience jealousy or harbor resentment towards someone, they may use witchcraft accusations as a means to harm their reputation or seek retribution.

Why People Use Curses and Witchcraft to Harm Others.

Tanzania, like many African countries, has cultural beliefs that encompass witchcraft and supernatural forces. Some communities hold beliefs in witches or sorcery and may attribute unexplained phenomena or illnesses to witchcraft, leading to accusations against individuals.

A talisman called Gurudumu

People who possess unique physical characteristics or exhibit behaviors that deviate from the norm may be viewed with suspicion. These differences can be misunderstood and associated with witchcraft or supernatural powers, resulting in accusations.

Unfounded accusations of witchcraft can be motivated by economic factors. Individuals may falsely accuse others of witchcraft to gain personal or financial benefits, such as acquiring property, land, or inheritance.

Curses and witchcraft are used as a means of seeking revenge or causing harm in response to personal conflicts or grievances. When individuals feel wronged or believe they have been treated unfairly, they may turn to these practices as a way to retaliate against those they perceive as their enemies.

Moreover individuals may use curses and witchcraft to exert control or manipulate others. By instilling fear, superstition, or a sense of vulnerability, they aim to gain power or dominance over their intended targets. This can be driven by personal gain, jealousy, or a desire to assert control over others.

Belief in curses such as may the devil take your bones and witchcraft often arises from a genuine fear or belief in supernatural forces. These beliefs may be deeply ingrained in cultural or religious traditions, leading individuals to perceive curses and witchcraft as real and potent forces capable of causing harm.


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