Connecting with the Future:
The Salem Witch Trials
Right about now, after reading the heading above,
youíre probably thinking, "The Salem Witch trials? What does that have
to do with the future?" Actually, it has a lot to do with the future. By
now, in the 21st century, most of the world has accepted that witches
are non-existent, non-real, superficial, and superstitious. Most of the
world. Not all.
Letís focus on South Africa. Since 1990, more than
2000 cases of witchcraft-related violence, including 577 killings, have been
reported in a remote, northern corner of South Africa alone. In many parts of
the world, certain court cases and trials have been referred to as witch trials,
but none actually deal with witchcraft. At least, most of them donít. Here are
a few stories that occurred recently involving witchcraft:
- 42-year-old Violet Dangale was driven from her home
by her relatives 3 ĺ years ago. Her relatives claimed she was a witch and
had grown rich from the work of zombies, or the "living dead" as
they are known in that area. Now, penniless, she is in hiding, and she currently
lives in a tent she received from the local police.
- 75-year-old Francine Sebatsana and 55-year-old Desia
Mamafa were burned to death on pyres of wood in the small village of Wydhoek.
Wydhoek is in the same province as the village where Violet Dangale lives.
Francine and Desia were executed after being denounced and "exposed"
- Noledzane Ernest Maduba reportedly murdered his 11-month-old
baby, planning to use the body parts as muti, or ingredients for bewitching
potions and compounds. He did this in the pursuit of magical power, according
to the charges against him in Venda High Court. He has also been charged with
forcing his wife, Helen, to assist in the killing of their child and to drink
the babyís blood as well.
- Ndweleni Collbert Ramagoma, a nanga, or traditional
healer in the village of Vondwe used to earn quite a large sum of money by
helping the sick and distressed. He believed in polygamy, and had 4 wives.
Today, all but one of his wifes have left him. His house and many of his possessions
have been burned. All this because a neighborís son kept his father awake
one night chanting the name "Ramagoma". The father then accused
Ramagoma of bewitching his son, and organized a witch hunt against him.
- This particular modern witchcraft case actually takes
place in Ethiopia. An Ethiopian court sentenced the owner of a flour mill,
a sorceress, and her friend to death for murdering a seven-year-old girl.
The flour mill owner, who was struggling to be able to put bread on his table,
sought advice from the local sorceress, who said that the only way out of
his problems was to sacrifice a suitable girl child, and then sprinkle her
blood on the flour of the mill and mill house. The sorceress them paid for
people a grand total of $2.40 each (yes, thatís it!) to kidnap such a child
and take her to the flour mill owner. The four kidnappers were sentenced to
life in prison, all for the price of $2.40 each. A friend of the sorceress,
who had taken part in the killing, was also sentenced to death.
Though the world we live in today is a much smarter
one than in the 1600s, many nations still harbor various superstitions that
can lead to injustices. As the world changes, however, people are becoming
more enlightened about the wrongs of witch-hunts, and other witchcraft-related
violence. The lessons learned from the Salem Witch Trials and other witch
trials in the 17th century have helped the world put an end to
many witchcraft-related injustices. Thus, the Salem Witch Trials are actually
a very important connection with the future.