Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande

Essay by mahamjavaidUniversity, Bachelor'sA, March 2010

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Reflection Paper # 2

Topic: Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande.

Witchcraft, for the Azande is 'ubiquitous' (Evans-Pritchard, 18), it is ever present in all aspects of their life, from 'fishing' to their 'technology and language' (Evans-Pritchard, 18). Evans-Pritchard explores the affect witchcraft holds over the sub Saharan tribe of Zande. In the reading he comes up with two purposes that witchcraft hold in society. The first one being the "relation between men and unfortunate events" (Evans-Pritchard, 18) and the second one is the belief that it "regulates human conduct" (Evans-Pritchard, 18). These beliefs may seem irrational at first, but upon further reading we realize that such beliefs prevail among other cultures as well, as this paper will discuss later.

The Zande concept of witchcraft is not simple to understand. If a granary crumbles down because termites ate it up, it not the fault of witchcraft.

If a boy 'knocks his foot on a stump of wood' (Evans-Pritchard, 20) and hurts it, it is not the fault of witchcraft. If a potter's pot splits from the middle it cannot be blamed on witchcraft. However, the fact that the granary collapsed while there were innocent people sitting beneath it, points to witchcraft. The fact that the boy's foot did not heal on this occasion, while at other instances 'the nature of cuts is such that they close instantly'(Evans-Pritchard, 21), points to the 'play of supernatural forces' (Evans-Pritchard, 19). And the fact that the experts potter's pots rarely ever split and yet this particular pot did split points to witchcraft. So in other words, to the people of Zandeland, witchcraft is what may be called 'coincidence' in the West. Witchcraft is their explanation of why particular...