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Witchcraft Belief and the Killing of Children in Tanzania

February 22, 2019












Author: Isakwisa Amanyisye Lucas Mwakalonge

Numbering: Issue 1.B, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain:

Individual Publication Date: February 22, 2019

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,924

ISSN 2369-6885

Keywords: children, Dar es Salaam, killing, Isakwisa Amanyisye Lucas Mwakalonge, Tanzania, witchcraft.

Witchcraft Belief and the Killing of Children in Tanzania, East Africa[1],[2]

Nyambanitu Scott Douglas Jacobsen In-Sight Publishing African Freethinker

From January to February this year  2019, it has been reported that around 10 children have been killed in Njombe Region in South West (aka Southern Highlands) Tanzania, for some children, their bodies had been found thrown at the forest nearby, with their pharynx part of the throat in their neck cut, and or private parts missing. Rumors from ordinary citizens there say these ongoing killings occur because the killers need private parts and human blood for rituals. It is because of witchcraft beliefs that they will use for making them rich, successful in business and political achievement since this year 2019 is a year for local government elections and next year 2020 there will be a general election. Therefore it is said and believed by those ordinary people that probably these children killings may be connected to these rising political temperatures by politicians, but these are just hearsay information, it should not be considered as official ones. However, the government of Tanzania through its different departments concerned has been releasing official information about this sad saga. For instance The Regional Police Office  in Njombe Region  through the Regional Police Commander (R.P.C.)  issued  an official statement that confirmed the killings of ten children in the Region in these past few days of January 2019, and the Police force is  apprehending about 28 suspects in relation to the crime, and the investigations are still going on, that the Police force in the Region is doing its  best to make sure the situations return to normal.

The Regional Commissioner of Njombe Region has come out in public to condemn the killings, saying the causes of these killings are witchcraft beliefs, whereby the murderers believe that they can use dead human body parts to get rich and breakthrough in business while some of them believe they will be successful in their political carriers. The Legal and Human Rights Center based in Dar es Salaam (L.H.R.C. ) a Non-Governmental Organization advocating for Human rights in Tanzania issued a statement of condemning this killing because it is a violation of Human Rights. The Spokesperson of the organization added that Human rights reports in Tanzania indicate that prior to every General Election here, a year towards, terrible killings happen and once elections are over the situation returns to normal. Therefore the organization’s statement somehow connects this butchery with some political ambitions, though that spokesperson did not say directly that the killings are connected to the upcoming General Election, she said experiences through Human rights reports do indicate so.
She further said that in the first half of the year 2018 from January to July 2018, nearly 6373 children have been the victim of acts of torture – “Vitendo vya ukatili” – here in Tanzania. This is according to their Human rights report which compiled the status of Human rights in Tanzania from July 2017 to July 2018.

The Inspector General of Police of Tanzania had an official visit to Njombe Region where the killings happened as a head of Police force in Tanzania. While in Njombe the I.G.P. said the causes of these killings is Witchcraft Beliefs, that through the dead bodies those Killers and those who sent them may use some parts of the dead and their blood for rituals to get rich and success in life. He further warned that The Police Force will make sure that those responsible will be brought to Justice, because they are criminals. The IGP further added that there is a need for the Police force as an institution to start a campaign of giving education to the public telling them that witchcraft beliefs are outdated in this 21st century, that they are no longer valid for making someone be either political or business successful. The IGP asked other sectors and professionals to join their efforts and air their voices to condemn this barbaric acts and get involved to educate the public to abandon this witchcraft beliefs of killing one another, for the expectations of being rich through taking away the life of innocent citizens.

Forest Scott Douglas Jacobsen In-Sight Publishing African Freethinker

In the Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania at Dodoma central Tanzania where the Parliamentary session is going on, members of the Parliament got a chance to ask the Government about such saga and measures taken by the Government.  The Government through the Minister of Home affairs admitted about the occurrence of the killings of 10 children in Njombe Region, the Minister told the Parliament that the Governments is making efforts to make sure that the situations return to normal. The Minister further insisted that causes of such killings are not only witchcraft beliefs but also it is due to some kind of revenge between one family and clans, however, the ministry of home affairs has already sent a special team of experts from the Police force for further investigation on the matter.
On another development, the chief of Wabena people, the ethnic of Njombe has come out too and condemned the atrocities. He says the area has never experienced such acts before. On his part, he says he and his team associates (that includes traditional medicine men – “Waganga asilia” and the paramilitary – “Polisi jamii” / “Mgambo”) will do everything on their part to make sure such incidences do not happen again, saying they will also pray traditional way in the forest. He added that this recent incidence might have been caused by the emergence of unchecked charlatans who were playing tricks, in Swahili “Mazingaombwe”, claiming to heal or do divination to people in that way. In Tanzania, the Chiefs have no formal role to play as the government abolished chiefdom-ship far back soon after independence in the 1960s, to centralize power to the monolith central government but they are recognized informally as influential bodies traditional-wise and are consulted, get involved at such times of crisis.

This whole situation has caused a general panic to the people, locals of Njombe. There are fear and suspicion. People close their business early, everyone forced to guard, escort their young ones, to and from schools. There has developed suspicion to any stranger seen close to the children, also incidences of mob justice for any suspected, and it has backfired to the point where good Samaritan cannot help a child in need, fearful that his helping hand might be seen as wanting to take the kid away. This was pointed out by one taxi driver. On the other side, children have been told to run away from any stranger approaching them, even those who might want to help them. It has become a catch 22 situation.

Rocks and Water Scott Douglas Jacobsen In-Sight Publishing African Freethinker

During the burial of some of those kids in different occasions, the church pastors came with sermons that “there are those healthy and energetic individuals who don’t want to work, they simply want a short cut to be a success”. That “these are the ones causing trouble and miseries to others”. Another pastor said education was the cause – lack of it. He went further and asked the people to adopt “Kupanga uzazi” –  Swahili for spacing in their matrimonial relations so that they bring in to the world children they can afford to send to schools for education – implying ending up not believing in superstitions. Njombe is the area zone where Christianity Lutheran church from Germany was first established in the area during colonial (Germany) times over 100 years ago.

It is becoming a trend In Tanzania to witness abnormal killings of human beings in recent years. For instance some few years ago Tanzania has been infamous for Albino killings due to witchcraft beliefs and it was thought that Albino body parts could be used to make rituals to make someone get rich. Also, events of killings and taking away human skins, for rituals which were thought could make someone rich, but that wave went away. Again another wave came where older women with red eyes (the result of lifelong firewood use for cooking – its smoke affecting the eyes of women) were being suspected and got killed in large numbers the areas of Sukuma Land in the lake zone Regions of Mwanza and Shinyanga. Currently early this year it is now the killings of children in Njombe – southwestern Tanzania.

The Freethinkers secular Humanists organization in Tanzania Jichojipya-Think Anew on its part says that this scourge has to stop now. The society must be educated on the better and modern scientific methods of how anyone can become successful, be it in politics or business, in the normal rational /civil way without supernatural and irrational believes associated with these sacrifice killings. More so Jichojipya thinks it should be supported so that it embarks on a program to re-educate the society to rethink on its supernatural beliefs, and embrace rationalism, scientism, positivism and humanism outlooks in interpreting everyday phenomenon in the society and in nature.  It is time overdue, a herculean (hitherto pending) task that must be done. Let us all do something…re-educate the populace away from irrational and supernatural thinking. That needs to start NOW.  We all be the solution to this part of human barbarity of the 21 century, that very age of predominance of scientific explanations and technological breakthroughs…ooh what a paradox!?

Lucas is a Teacher, Historian, Lawyer, and an Advocate of the High Court in Tanzania.
Email- +255754326296

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Teacher, Historian, Lawyer, and an Advocate of the High Court in Tanzania.

[2] Individual Publication Date: February 22, 2019:

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Mwakalonge I. Witchcraft Belief and the Killing of Children in Tanzania, East Africa [Online].February 2019; 1(B). Available from:

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Mwakalonge, I. (2019, February 22). Witchcraft Belief and the Killing of Children in Tanzania, East AfricaRetrieved from

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): MWAKALONGE, I. Witchcraft Belief and the Killing of Children in Tanzania, East Africa African Freethinker. 1.B, February. 2019. <>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Mwakalonge, Isakwisa. 2019. “Witchcraft Belief and the Killing of Children in Tanzania, East Africa.African Freethinker. 1.B.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Mwakalonge, Isakwisa “Witchcraft Belief and the Killing of Children in Tanzania, East Africa.African Freethinker. 1.B (February 2019).

Harvard: Mwakalonge, I. 2019, ‘Witchcraft Belief and the Killing of Children in Tanzania, East Africa, African Freethinker, vol. 1.B. Available from: <>.

Harvard, Australian: Mwakalonge, I. 2019, ‘Witchcraft Belief and the Killing of Children in Tanzania, East Africa, African Freethinker, vol. 1.B.,

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Isakwisa Amanyisye Lucas Mwakalonge. “Witchcraft Belief and the Killing of Children in Tanzania, East Africa.” African Freethinker 1.B (2019):February. 2019. Web. <>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Mwakalonge I. Witchcraft Belief and the Killing of Children in Tanzania, East Africa [Internet]. (2019, February; 1(B). Available from:

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