The belief in witchcraft is arguably the biggest contributor to underdevelopment among blacks.
The idea that someone can bewitch another person, cast a spell on them or turn their fortunes through some supernatural magic, has stunted intellectual progress in black people.
Sadly, in many parts of the country – rural and urban – the idea of witchcraft remains so ingrained in black psychology that it’s a default explanation for many ills.
People don’t take full responsibility for their failings. There is always someone to blame: the witch.
And the solution is simplistic: consult a witch to counter the spell of another.
This backwardness knows no particular class. Very few blacks can claim that they don’t know a family, a community member or distant relatives who are steeped in this kind of beliefs.
You need only visit the countryside at weekends and you will see the latest German sedans, the toys of the black middle class, parked near small houses or huts in poverty-stricken rural areas for so-called “consultation”.
People leave their splendid homes in the suburbs and drive all the way to hear what the future holds for them and their families.
Invariably, they will be told that “someone” is behind their recent misfortunes in relationships, careers or finance-related matters.
And the logic goes, that “someone” possesses the power of determinism over all fate – ranging from illness to death.
It is never explained how that that “someone” would have acquired such supernatural powers of determinism.
The simplistic belief that another human being possesses supernatural powers outside scientific methods that can be tested in a laboratory, has prevented us, blacks, from fully appreciating and accepting scientific discoveries.
It has resulted in blacks looking for simplistic and fictitious solutions to some of their problems.
Let’s face it: many blacks believe that a car accident cannot happen because of a mechanical or the driver’s fault. Someone must have been behind it.
Witchcraft by its very nature is anathema to the scientific methods used to construct a car.
Now it would be strange that this product of proven science could be made to overturn by unproven powers.
A driver’s mistake or lack of experience must have been caused by some jealous neighbour who has consulted a witch to make the driver lose concentration.
You cannot just get sick because of natural causes. Someone must be behind the illness.
You cannot just be fired for misconduct at work. A mean relative must have consulted a witch to frustrate your career progress.
A student cannot just fail an exam simply because he didn’t study hard enough. No. Someone “interfered” or “tampered” with her books.
Human beings ascribe to someone the power to shape or determine another person’s fate.
When you are convinced that the person has used those powers against you or a member of your community , you murder them.
In some cases, some people don’t wait for others to ascribe to them the powers; they go public with their claims of being witches.
Samuel Ndadza from Venda claimed on a television programme that he had been a witch.
Predictably, residents who believed him bayed for his blood and burnt down his house. He had to go into hiding.
According to the Witchcraft Suppression Act of 1957 it is a criminal offence to pretend to have supernatural powers or even solicit the services of a witch finder in identifying someone as a wizard.
The Act also makes it an offence to advise any person how to bewitch another.
This law is premised on understanding the limitations of human beings; that they are incapable of determining each other’s fate through supernatural powers.
Only physical harm or nourishment – that can be scientifically proved – can translate to bad or good outcomes.
Had witchcraft spawned some institutional developments that could be evidence of helping black civilisation, it would be easy to give it the benefit of the doubt.
But unlike religious faiths that have created institutions like churches, that resulted in the development of other institutions such as the rule of law, states and even companies, witchcraft has nothing progressive to show.
And given many significant developments in world history – modern medicine, the industrial revolution, and the digital revolution – in which witchcraft played no role, blacks should have rejected it long ago.
The only outcome of witchcraft and those who validate it by claiming to be fighting it are the barbaric murders.
People are killed for their body parts which are harvested to be sold to witches. Those who are suspected of being witches are also killed.
Blessed Benedict Tshimangadzo Daswa contributed to black civilisation by refusing to participate in witchcraft-related activities, a move that led to his death.
His beatification by the Roman Catholic Church should send a message to all black South Africans that belief in witchcraft is backward and is derailing our development.