Trial by ordeal reportedly kills six in Nimba County, Liberia

Changes come slowly, if any, in Liberia. I know this relatively sparsely populated West African country and its 5.5 million people pretty well after following events and developments in this fascinating and sympathetic country since 1975. I have posted earlier on the topic of trial by ordeal, commonly called ‘sassywood trial’ in Liberia, which of course is forbidden, outlawed, but unfortunately persistent in local culture and the minds of superstitious people. See e.g. my post of August 29, 2020, on a woman in neighboring Grand Gedeh County who had died after reportedly taking ‘sassywood’ to clear her from witchcraft accusations.

Nimba County is located in northeastern Liberia and borders French-speaking Guinea and Ivory Coast (at least, the official language, of course the various ethnic groups speak their own languages). It cannot be ruled out, rather it is to be expected, that age-old traditions such as trial by ordeal also occurs in neighboring countries where the same ethnic groups including the Dan, also known as Gio and Mano, live.

Liberia: Trial By Ordeal Reportedly Kills Six In Nimba County

Published: July 24, 2024
By: Jerry T. Myers, FrontPageAfrica

GBLOR DIALAH, Nimba – A woman identified as Golon Kruah, a resident of Dialah Town, reportedly died after consuming a substance given to her by an Ivorian traditional witchdoctor, Gweh Genlaly. The witchdoctor was brought to the town by local citizens to cleanse the area of witchcraft activities.

Gweh Genlaly administered sassywood to the woman after she allegedly confessed to being involved in witchcraft activities that had claimed several lives and caused suffering to others. According to an eyewitness who spoke on condition of anonymity, the sassywood was given to the deceased overnight. She died hours later and was immediately buried before the arrival of security personnel and local district leaders, who were alerted about the incident in the morning.

The Acting Paramount Chief of Gblor Clan, Oksen Troh, said he had earlier warned the witchdoctor and the youth hosting her in the community against administering sassywood. However, they violated his order and went ahead with the ritual overnight.

Mr. Troh explained that his refusal to allow the administration of sassywood was based on instructions from the County Administrative Officer, who had banned trial by ordeal in Liberia. After his objection, the citizens wrote a resolution to Mr. Daniel Zekpeh, the County Administrative Officer, during his visit to the clan. Zekpeh instructed them to give the document to Troh, but it was not given to him due to his strong opposition to sassywood.

Troh said late on Monday night, they brought a document to him to sign, authorizing them to administer the oath to Golon, but he refused. He was shocked to hear that a woman had died in the community after being given sassywood overnight, prompting him to call the police and the district commissioner.

Acting Paramount Chief Troh disclosed that Golon’s death brings the number of people who have died in Gblor Clan after taking an oath from the witchdoctor to six. He clarified that previous incidents were concealed and not reported to the police by the community, and he could not report them because he was not in authority at the time. (italics added by the webmaster FVDK.)

“In the first place, Gweh working here is not a bad thing, but I received an order from my CI [County Inspector] the other time. He told me that I should tell Gweh not to give an oath. She must cut sand, she must arrest witchcraft, she must treat people to get well, but she must not give an oath because the oath she gives can kill somebody, and Liberia law says nobody should kill someone. So Liberia law doesn’t agree with that oath,” Mr. Troh explained in Liberian colloquial.

He said upon learning about the woman’s death, he immediately informed the district commissioner of the incident and was instructed to inform Gweh and her followers to keep the body of the woman until authorities arrived to conduct tests before burial. However, to his surprise, the town hurriedly buried the woman before the district commissioner and the district coroner arrived.

Meanwhile, the ten men who signed the document authorizing Gweh to conduct the sassywood have been invited for questioning.

Trial by ordeal, known as ‘sassywood,’ is banned under national law but is still regarded as a legitimate form of justice by many Liberians. In this ritual, a suspect is subjected to intense pain and judged based on their reaction. Sometimes, a hot metal is used on the person’s leg, if it burns, they are found guilty. Sometimes poisonous liquid is used. If it kills the person, they are judged to be witch.

The UN has repeatedly warned that the practice undermines efforts to improve human rights in Liberia, as the country attempts to recover from 14 years of war.

Many legal specialists and human rights activists argue that the reliance on customs such as trial by ordeal—often harmful and even deadly—is due to the decrepit state of Liberia’s judicial system. They also contend that not enough is being done to restore the sector, which was left in tatters by the war.

Source: Liberia: Trial By Ordeal Reportedly Kills Six In Nimba County

A cry from Zimbabwe: Time to take a stand against ritual killings

In light of the countless reported cases of suspected and proven cases of ritualistic murders in Zimbabwe and of my previous post ‘Staggering number of ritual killings in Zimbabwe‘ of February 5 this year, the cry to take a stand against these ritual killings is not surprising and absolutely justified. I absolutely support this cry. The article was published by The Chronicle, a Zimbabwean online-newspaper, earlier the week.

I wholeheartedly recommend reading the article and fully support he author (authors?) plea.

The article merits widespread distribution and attention. For these reasons I reproduce it on the present site – below – though unfortunately the screenshots I took from the protected original article are not very reader-friendly. The interested reader is advised to use the link to the original article (under ‘Source’ below).

As explained elsewhere, my experience of many years of reading and archiving articles and reposts on ritualistic murders in Africa has taught me that many internet articles disappear in cyberspace after an indefinite periode of time. Hence I decided to copy and store them for the benefit of future researchers and interested readers. Of course, with apologies to the authors and publishers of the articles concerned. That’s why I always include in my posts a link to the original article giving credit to the source.
(webmaster FVDK)

A cry from Zimbabwe: Time to take a stand against ritual killings

Published: June 26, 2024
By: Chronicle, Zimbabwe

Source: Time to take a stand against ritual killings

Tanzania: Child’s father, priest arrested in ritual killing of girl with albinism

A shocking report on an innocent girl’s brutal death at the hands of unscrupulous, superstitious and criminal people. The crime took away the life of a young Tanzanian girl with albinism, and was committed in the Kagera region in north-west Tanzania.

Kagera region is bordered to the east by Lake Victoria. The region borders Uganda to the north, Rwanda and Burundi to the west, and the Tanzanian regions Kigoma to the south and Mwanza to the east. The region covers an area of 35,686 km2 and has a registered population of 3 million people according to the 2022 national census.

Unfortunately, Tanzania has a bad reputation as it comes to the treatment of people with albinism including discrimination, violent attacks and brutal murders having the highest number of reported attacks of all African countries. The girl’s murder is yet another example that this scourge has not disappeared or diminished in this East African country.

Meanwhile I commend the authorities for their swift action leading to the arrest of nine individuals suspected of involvement in the killing for ritual purposes of Asimwe Novath.
May her soul rest in peace.

Tanzania: Child’s father, priest arrested in ritual killing of girl with albinism

Screenshot – for illustration purposes, see the original article

Published: June 20, 2024
By: The Citizen – NTV Kenya

Police Force has successfully apprehended nine individuals, including an Assistant Parish Priest and the biological father of Asimwe Novath, who are suspected of being involved in the murder of the child with albinism.

The child was abducted from her mother on May 30, 2024, in Bulamula village, Muleba District, Kagera region, and her body was found on June 17, 2024, in Makongora village, missing some of its parts.

A statement released by Police Spokesperson DCP David Misime explained that following the incident, the Police Force, in collaboration with concerned citizens who detest such inhumane acts, launched an intensive manhunt from May 31, 2024, until the night of June 19, 2024.

During this period, nine suspects were arrested with body parts believed to belong to Asimwe Novath, which were found stored in plastic bags as they sought a buyer.

The arrested suspects, who detailed their involvement in this incident, include the child’s biological father, Novart Venant, Desideli Evarist, a traditional healer residing in Nyakahama, and Elipidius Rwegoshora, the Assistant Parish Priest of Bugandika Parish.

Rwegoshora is alleged to have approached and convinced the child’s father to engage in the trade of human body parts.

He is also accused of finding the traditional healer and covering all the related costs.

Other suspects include Dastan Kaiza from Bushagara, Faswiru Athuman from Nyakahama, Gozibert Alkadi from Nyakahama Kamachumu, Rwenyagira Burkadi from Nyakahama Kamachumu, Ramadhani Selestine from Kamachumu, and Nurduni Hamada from Kamachumu.

The Police Force has issued a stern warning to individuals who indulge in superstitious beliefs, including fortune-telling, and persuade each other that they can attain wealth through such means, urging them to abandon these practices.

Source: Tanzania: Child’s father, priest arrested in ritual killing of girl with albinism

South Africa: superstition in Vhembe District, Limpopo Province – ‘vampire’ who attacks old lady killed by angry mob

Warning: the following story and accompanying photo may upset people because of their graphic nature (FVDK).

I post the following article ‘as it is‘: I have virtually no comments – neither do I confirm the truthfulness of the incident reported nor do I present or suggest my belief in the superstition which forms the base and background of the alleged act, bizarre as it is.

Interesting though (and justifying its inclusion on this site) is the reference to a 2015 study of ritual murders in Vhembe, South Africa. Vhembe is situated in the Northern part of Limpopo Province, sharing borders with Zimbabwe in the north, Mozambique through Kruger National Park in the east and Botswana in the north west. Limpopo Province is notoriously known for its ritualistic murders and superstition.

Map of Limpopo Province with municipalities and districts. Source: Map of municipalities in Limpopo

Reportedly, Dr Alunamutwe Enos Randitsheni wrote a thesis on ritual murders – ‘muti’ murders – while doing his PhD at the University of Venda, and actually said that evil people who believed in such weird practices, such as sucking out someone’s blood, did in fact exist. (italics added by the webmaster FVDK).

“They don’t only exist in Vhembe, but they exist all over the world, and most of them perform these rituals for various reasons but mostly for personal gains,” Dr Dr Alunamutwe Enos Randitsheni alleged, adding that the Tshivenda name for such people was madzhavhathu (cannibals). According to Dr Alunamutwe Enos Randitsheni, most victims are women, children, and people living with albinism.

‘Vampire’ who attacks old lady killed by angry mob

Published: June 7, 2024
By: Zoutnet, South Africa

A wave of fear and panic has gripped Vhembe District as reports of alleged vampire attacks have surfaced, leading to tragic and violent responses from local communities. In a recent shocking incident, a man accused of being a vampire was beaten to death and burnt by residents of Shikunduville in the Saselamani area.

The tragedy unfolded on Sunday, 26 May, when a man, after reportedly biting an elderly woman on the mouth in Shikunduville, was accused of being a vampire. The woman’s screams for help drew the attention of other members of the community, who rushed to her aid. In their attempt to rescue the victim, the crowd turned their fury on the alleged attacker.

Despite their assault, the man continued his attack, displaying unusual resistance to the beating. The escalating violence culminated in the community’s beating him to death and subsequently burning his body. The traumatic event has left the residents of Shikunduville deeply unsettled and fearful.

The chairperson of the SANCO branch in Saselamani B, Mr Solomon Mathonsi, said the community was still living in fear. “I was at church that Sunday, so I did not see the incident as it unfolded. I was told that the deceased, who worked at a local farm, was going to send money to his family in Mozambique when he started fighting with one of his relatives. He ran away and tried to get inside a neighbour’s house, and a dog attacked him, which forced him to run to another neighbour. He allegedly threatened her that he would bite her and rape her. He attacked her severely, injuring her face, and she looks scary now. Her mouth looks like it is about to be removed, and she appears as if she was attacked by a vicious animal. When the mob was fighting against him, he was roaring like an animal. He looked like he was possessed by evil spirits. We are now left in fear, both young and old,” he said.

According to the police spokesperson in Vhembe, W/O Vuledzani Dathi, the police in Saselamani opened a murder docket after a 29-year-old man was allegedly killed by the community in Shikunduville. He confirmed that the man had been accused of attacking an elderly woman on Sunday, 26 May.

“The police went to house no. 401 in Shikunduville and found the owner, Mr Sam Maceke. The deceased was lying on the ground, wearing black shorts and a black T-shirt. He had injuries on the face and legs. He was tied up with a rope. Mr Maceke told the police that his mother, old lady Nwajaki Priscinah Chauke, was bitten on the mouth by an unknown male person.”

Dathi said the community members had assaulted the male person and tied him up with a rope. “He died at the scene of the crime. He was later identified as Surprise Maluleke of Maineville, a Mozambican with no passport or legal documents. He is said to have been born around 1995. He was taken to Tshilidzini Hospital’s Forensic Pathology department. No arrests have been made so far, and anyone who can assist the police in apprehending the culprits may contact the investigating officer, Sgt Gunguva, on 082 664 6843,” Dathi said.

A 30-second video of old lady Nwajaki Priscinah Chauke narrating how she was attacked started circulating on social media on Wednesday, 29 May. In the footage, Chauke, who can be seen sitting down, wearing a yellow ANC T-shirt and drinking water, said, “He did this to me because he was roaming around my yard. When I asked him what he was looking for, he quickly turned, pushed me, and got inside my house,” she said, speaking in Xitsonga.

The injured lady is currently recovering from her wounds at home.

The incident incited a lot of fear among community members in Vhembe, with many wondering whether creatures such as vampires really exist in Vhembe.

Dr Alunamutwe Enos Randitsheni, who based his thesis on ritual murders in Vhembe while he was doing his PhD at the University of Venda in 2015, said that, during his investigation, he had found that evil people who believed in such weird practices, such as sucking out someone’s blood, did in fact exist.

“They don’t only exist in Vhembe, but they exist all over the world, and most of them perform these rituals for various reasons but mostly for personal gains,” he said. He said the Tshivenda name for such people was madzhavhathu (cannibals).

He added that most of their victims were women, children, and people living with albinism.

The old lady, Nwajaki Priscinah Chauke, who was attacked by an alleged vampire at Shikunduville. 
Photo: Video screen shot.

Source: ‘Vampire’ who attacks old lady killed by angry mob

Nigeria: Police burst organ harvesting syndicate in Rivers State

The criminal nature of ritualistic killings goes without saying. Ritual killings are a crime and ritual killers are liable to prosecution. People who kill other people for ritual purposes usually do it for specific reasons related to their personal situation: to gain (more) power, prestige or wealth. The ‘engine’ of their criminal behavior is a combination of greed and superstition.

However, there are also criminals who use this combination of greed and superstition of other people as an income-generating model. They specialize in murdering innocent people for the sole purpose of harvesting their organs which then are sold for ritual purposes. A gruesome crime.

This what happened in Rivers state. The police in Rivers State, a state in the Niger Delta region of southern Nigeria, tracked a criminal syndicate that has been specializing in murdering e-hailing cab-drivers and harvesting their organs which were subsequently sold to unscrupulous individuals who wanted these organs and body parts for ritual purposes (‘money rituals’).

Unfortunately, the phenomenon of ‘money rituals’ is widespread in Africa’s most populated country, Nigeria. This is also the reason why the Federal Government recently imposed a ban on ritual killings in Nollywood movies in an attempt to curb the popularity of this phenomenon which is basically a crime based on superstition.

Rivers State, also known as Rivers, is located in the South-South geopolitical zone of Nigeria. The Federal Republic of Nigeria is divided into six geopolitical zones commonly called zones.

The six geopolitical zones of Nigeria

Rivers State is Nigeria’s 8th most populous state with an estimated population of over 7 million (2024). About half the population lives in Port Harcourt, the fast growing state capital and centre of the booming oil industry. Rivers is characterized by its many ethnic groups and its linguistic diversity. With a surface area of 11,077 km2 it ranks 26th (out of 36) on the list of Nigerian states by area.  

Police Burst Organ Harvesting Syndicate In Rivers, Trail Fleeing Members

Organ harvesting suspect

Published: June 2, 2024
By: Itode Akari – Independent, Nigerią

PORT HARCOURT – The Police in Rivers State have arrested a member criminal syndicate, that specialises in murdering e-hailing cab drivers and harvesting their organs for ritual purposes in the state.

The arrested suspect, a 35-year-old graduate of political science from the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education, identified as Anthony Chima, confessed to have recently lured an innocent cab driver into his gang’s ambush, where the driver was waylaid before he was murdered in cold blood by the gang.

A statement signed by the Public Relations Officer for the Rivers State Police Command, SP Grace Iringe-Koko on Sunday, stated that the suspect was arrested following an investigation into the mysterious disappearance of one e-hailing cab driver on January 10, 2024, identified as Oghenevwarhe Barry Akpobome.

According to the police, a member of the syndicate confessed to have posed as a passenger to lure the unsuspecting driver to a remote area in Aminigboko community, Abia/Odual Local Government Area of the state, where other armed gang members laid an ambush and pounced on the driver, bound him both arms and legs, gagging his mouth and eventually killing him for the purpose of harvesting his organs.

The statement reads, “In a shocking turn of events, the Rivers State Police have uncovered a disturbing criminal enterprise that has been targeting Uber drivers in the region. The investigation was sparked by the disappearance of one such driver, Oghenevwarhe Barry Akpobome, leading to the arrest and confession of 35-year-old Anthony Chima, a political science graduate from the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education.

“According to Chima’s testimony, he was recruited into a gang that specialized in luring cab drivers into ambushes, stealing their vehicles, and ultimately murdering them for ritualistic purposes and organ harvesting.

“Chima revealed that he was brought into the fold by a friend, Amfoh Abu, who introduced him to the gang’s armourer, a man known as “Reason,” and the notorious ringleader, “General Effizy,” a prominent figure in the Greenland cult and a seasoned kidnapper.

“The chilling details of Akpobome’s demise emerged as Chima recounted the events of January 10, 2024. On that fateful day, he was summoned to Reason’s residence and instructed to call a driver whose number he had previously collected. Posing as a passenger, Chima then lured the unsuspecting Uber driver to a remote area in Aminigboko, where he and Reason were met by General Effizy and four armed gang members.

“The driver was forcibly removed from the vehicle and taken to Effizy’s shrine, where he was bound, gagged, and ultimately murdered. Chima’s involvement in the gruesome act was confirmed when the police, following his confession, recovered the victim’s skull and a locally fabricated Beretta pistol from Effizy’s residence.”

Iringe-Koko quoted the state Commissioner of Police, CP Olatunji Disu to have advised citizens of the state and drivers to be circumspect while boarding passengers to remote areas in the state.

She noted that while the police continues to trail fleeing members of the syndicate, emphasising that the case serves as a stark reminder of the dangers that lurk in the shadows, and the importance of vigilance and cooperation between law enforcement and the public in maintaining the safety of all citizens.

“This disturbing revelation has sent shockwaves through the community, prompting the Rivers State Police Commissioner, Cp Tunji Disu, to advise both citizens and Uber drivers. He urged them to exercise caution when boarding or transporting passengers, especially to remote or potentially dangerous areas.

“The investigation is ongoing, with the authorities still searching for the fleeing suspects involved in this chilling criminal enterprise. The case serves as a stark reminder of the dangers that lurk in the shadows, and the importance of vigilance and cooperation between law enforcement and the public in maintaining the safety of all citizens. Meanwhile, the suspect would be charged to court immediately.”

Source: Police Burst Organ Harvesting Syndicate In Rivers, Trail Fleeing Members


Police arrest gang known for killing cab drivers, harvesting body parts for rituals

The arrest of one gang member exposed the sinister activities of the gang in the state.

Published: June 4, 2024
By: News Agency of Nigeria – Pulse, Nigeria


Police nab Rivers’ syndicate targeting ride-hailing drivers for ritual purposes

“The driver was forcefully removed from the vehicle and taken to Effizy’s shrine, where he was tied up, gagged and gruesomely murdered.”

Published: June 4, 2024
By: News Agency of Nigeria – Peoples Gazette, Nigeria


Police Uncover Gang Targeting, Killing Car-Hire Drivers In Rivers

The Rivers State Police Command has arrested some members of a criminal gang suspected to be murdering car-hire drivers and stealing their vehicles. 

Published: June 5, 2024
By: Daily Trust, Nigeria

Nigeria: again on the ban on money ritual and other vices in Nollywood movies

On May 25, I posted the news that the Nigerian federal government had announced a ban on money ritual, ritual killing and other vices in Nollywood movies. This morning I read a very interesting editorial comment on this decision in a Nigerian newspaper which I like sharing with you. The editorial provides us with more insight in the background of the federal government’s ban, in particular I cite:

“Nigerian movies have generally tended to present false narratives, (….). They have glamorized voodoo, conveying the impression that it is the only source of wealth, and thus misleading the country’s army of impressionable, often jobless youths who have, by their own admission, not only learnt bad habits from the movies but put them into practice, sometimes landing in the clutches of the law and lamenting their poor choices. “

Moreover, the Tribune Editorial places the ban in a historic perspective and appeals to film makers to take their responsibility in a modernizing society such as Nigeria’s. It concludes:

“(…) movie culture should be dynamic. (…) the content of Nigerian films should be in tandem with the paradigm shift in the society. The idea, however, is not just about issuing a ban, but more about the state of enlightenment and development of those involved in the industry.
Their production naturally would not just portray their creative predilections, but also their level of consciousness, which makes it important to raise the consciousness of movie producers and practitioners, such that they would key into the idea of using their films to portray the limitations of rituals and not seek to glamorize them. Indeed, with the right kind of consciousness, films and movies are some of the best ways to help change society and correct anomalies. (…)”

Well said!

The ban on money ritual, other vices in movies

Published: May 31, 2024
By: Tribune Editorial Board

WORRIED by the accustomed negative trends in Nigerian movies, the Federal Government recently placed a ban on the promotion of money rituals and vices in Nigerian films.

Disclosing this during a National Stakeholders Engagement on Smoke-Free Nollywood held in Enugu, Enugu State,  an event organised by the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) and the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), the Executive Director/CEO  of  the NFVCB, Dr Shaibu Husseini, said that the country was currently confronted with an industry emergency requiring bold and ambitious actions from all parents, guardians and stakeholders.

He said: “I am delighted to announce to you that the  Minister of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, pursuant to Section 65 of the NFVCB Act 2004, has approved  the regulation. The minister has approved the Prohibition of Money Ritual, Ritual Killing, Tobacco, Tobacco Products, Nicotine Product Promotion and Glamorization Display in Movies, Musical Videos and Skits Regulations 2024. We have also forwarded the approved copy to the Federal Ministry of Justice for Gazette.”

According to him, besides the health implications,  glamorizing  smoking in films has a negative influence on  teens and young adults, the largest segment of Nigerian movie viewers. His words: “The film industry occupies a central position in the entertainment and creative sector, and it is imperative that we continue to place the highest premium on the progress of the film industry. The NFVCB supports smoke-free movies and supports smoke-free Nollywood, and we therefore seek your collaboration to develop creative content that discourages smoking and promotes positive health messages. After series of engagements, the NFVCB in collaboration with the CAPPA decided to do a subsidiary regulation to address smoking in movies since this aspect was not expressly spelt out in the extant law. The NFVCB is well prepared to take leadership in this regard and has planned and begun implementing innovative ways to achieve its mandate.”

For decades, while there have admittedly been some positives in terms of the exponential growth of the movie industry and the expansion of the audience and income base, together with growth in terms of the technical aspects of movie making, including the use of special effects, Nigerian movies have generally tended to present false narratives, shirked the social responsibility of advocating societal change,  and assisted the feckless political establishment in confining the vast majority of Nigerians to the morass of poverty, despondency and despair.

They have glamorized voodoo, conveying the impression that it is the only source of wealth, and thus misleading the country’s army of impressionable, often jobless youths who have, by their own admission, not only learnt bad habits from the movies but put them into practice, sometimes landing in the clutches of the law and lamenting their poor choices.

It is a fact that even at this very moment, most Nigerian movies continue to portray Nigerians as a people very badly; that is, as avid subscribers to dark and demonic practices, fraud, prostitution and drug abuse, to mention but a few. They show a society still living in the stone age, which is why the late erudite scholar, Professor Ayo Banjo, once panned them for consistently portraying a bygone age and for being pernicious in their messages. In most cases, the movies portray Nigerians as a people still stuck in superstition, whereas culture is dynamic and any aspect of it that is repugnant should be discarded. Nigerian movies, if they are to assist in the development and  modernisation effort, ought to project positive images and ideas. They ought to enable and give a fillip to science and technology.

Nothing in life is static: movie culture should be dynamic.  There was a time twin babies had to be killed in many communities in this country, but magnifying such today is evidently anachronistic. Sticking to the osu caste system, the suppression of widows and genital mutilation is barbaric: the content of Nigerian films should be in tandem with the paradigm shift in the society. The idea, however, is not just about issuing a ban, but more about the state of enlightenment and development of those involved in the industry. Their production naturally would not just portray their creative predilections, but also their level of consciousness, which makes it important to raise the consciousness of movie producers and practitioners, such that they would key into the idea of using their films to portray the limitations of rituals and not seek to glamorize them. Indeed, with the right kind of consciousness, films and movies are some of the best ways to help change society and correct anomalies. The idea should be to conscientize movie practitioners about the need to observe the limits and negatives of rituals and use their craft to help dissuade society from them. The government should take up this advocacy in earnest.

Source: The ban on money ritual, other vices in movies

The plight of people with albinism in Zambia – a cry for protection and assistance

Zambia’s Eastern Province is notoriously known for its ritualistic murders. Allegedly, the country’s Eastern Province records the highest number of ritualistic murder cases.

I’ve posted earlier on the plight of people with albinism in Zambia and the attacks on and murder of innocent people in this remote province of Zambia. In 2019, within a short period of time, two murder cases were reported. In March the following year, another gruesome murder was committed in the Eastern Province. In Chipata, the mutilated body of the albino victim was discovered with tongue, eyes and arms missing. The Executive Director of the National Albinism Initiative Network of Zambia, Ruth Zulu, deplored the stigmatization, discrimination and murder of people and published a plea for a legal framework to address this nationwide problem. In vain. The murders continued as the article below painfully demonstrates.

Katerina Mildnerova, a Czech social and cultural anthropologist, and Antonio Costa, an independent photojournalist originally from Mozambique, are to be commended for their initiative.
Read more about their cry for help and protection of people living with albinism in Zambia below.

The plight of people with albinism in Zambia – a cry for protection and assistance

Published: May 10, 2024
By: Znesnáze – Olomouc / Organizer: Nadační fond pomoci

In the middle of the night, there was a pounding on the door. “Open up, Zambian police!” I see four masked men. They broke into the house where I was sleeping with my children. They pointed guns at me and threatened me, “If you scream, we’ll kill you.” Two of them dragged me behind the house and held a gun to my head. Then I heard a terrible scream. “Mommy, mommy, they chopped my sister’s arm!” My son sobbed with tears. At that moment, those two men threw me to the ground and started to run away. I came into the room and saw my daughter in a pool of blood…” 

The brutal attack on little Jemimah took place in June 2021 in the Northern Province of Zambia. The two-year-old girl lost her right arm, which was chopped off by unknown attackers with a machete. This case has not yet been investigated by the Zambian police and none of the attackers have been persecuted and sentenced. Jamimah lives with other children with albinism in an orphanage in the capital Lusaka. In the same year two other nine-year-old boys were ritually attacked and mutilated. One lost his right arm, the other his fingers. 

These stories are just some of the many we encountered during our research in 2023. 

Since 2015, Zambia has faced an increasing number of abductions, mutilations and ritual killings of people with albinism, in most cases defenceless children. Their body parts are used for making magical objects that are supposed to provide their owners with wealth, power or prestige. While these murders are most often committed by family members of the victims while still in Zambia, body parts are smuggled through organised crime networks into neighbouring countries – Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique. The largest number of ritual killings of albinos occur in the Eastern Province, the poorest region of Zambia. The victims of the attacks, if they manage to escape, continue to live in permanent fear for their lives, as the perpetrators are not prosecuted in the vast majority of cases. After an attack, children are placed in state orphanages, where they receive temporary protection, they are removed from their natural family environment and have to cut off contact with their parents and siblings. 

In addition to the threat to their safety, people with albinism face enormous health risks due to the lack of medication and protective equipment. Skin and eye cancer is the most common cause of their premature deaths. Albinos in Zambia live to an average age of only 40 years, 22 years less than the national average.

Most affected families live at or below the extreme poverty line. They cannot afford to provide education for their children because safety and health care must understandably take priority. Families lack the means to afford school supplies, school uniforms or even just the dioptric glasses necessary for reading and writing at school. Yet education is the ticket to a better future, without the daily fear for one’s survival. In Zambia, there is a belief that a child with albinism is the result of infidelity and the source of a family curse, which unfortunately often leads to the mother and child being abandoned by the father and the wider family. A single mother‘s status is inevitably linked to a life of poverty and it is very difficult for her to break this vicious cycle.


Fundraising is ongoing via the crowdfunding platform Znesnaze21 from May to September 2024. It is aimed at purchasing direct material assistance for the most vulnerable families living below the extreme poverty line in the Eastern Province of Zambia (single mothers, children, victims of ritual attacks). The purchase and transportation of the material aid will be arranged by the organizer of the fundraiser in collaboration with the Butterfly Foundation of Zambia – a non-profit organization that has assisted the most adversely affected families with albinism in the Eastern Province of Zambia since 2017.

Our assistance targets three main areas: 

Security. Ensuring the protection of homes – security locks on doors, window bars and fencing 

Health. Prevention of skin cancer – sunscreen factor 50+, sunglasses, hats

Education. Basic school supplies – notebooks, stationery, uniforms and dioptric glasses


Born Different is a project by the Czech anthropologist Katerina Mildnerova and the Mozambican photojournalist Antonio Cossa under the auspices of Palacky University in Olomouc. It is based on the creative linking of art and science, cultural anthropology and photography and draws on a series of team fieldworks in Zambia and Benin (2023-2024). It includes a travelling photographic exhibition, lectures and forthcoming popular science book.

Our primary aim is to raise public awareness about injustice, discrimination and human rights violations against people with albinism in Africa, particularly in Zambia. We want to stimulate a discussion about protecting the lives and rights of people with albinism in order to stop the violence and ritual killings that happen every day and which do not receive adequate attention. We are also endeavouring to help to improve their extremely difficult living conditions through public charitable fundraising efforts.

For more information, visit our website at

(available from 17. 5. 2024)


Katerina Mildnerova is Czech social and cultural anthropologist specializing in sub-Saharan Africa. She holds a PhD in ethnology from the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen. Since 2015 she has been working as a researcher and assistant professor at the Department of Sociology, Andragogy and Cultural Anthropology at Palacky University Olomouc. Since 2019 she is the president of the Czech Association of African Studies. She has conducted dozens of field researches in Zambia, Benin and Namibia and has lectured at several universities in Africa and Europe. She specializes in religious anthropology and medical anthropology. She is the author of dozens of academic articles and book chapters and five monographs of her own. She is co-author of the documentary film Black Czechs (2022) and founder of non-governmental organization Association for Support of Namibian Czechs. She is currently working on the project Born different with Antonio Cossa.


An independent photojournalist originally from Mozambique, based in Prague. He has worked as a documentary photographer since 2004, collaborating with institutions such as the British Council and UNICEF. He has had a rich professional career focusing on war, refugee crisis and social issues. His work specializes in war conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, the refugee crisis on the Greek-Turkish border, documenting the situation of the Rohingya in Bangladesh and the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, he has been officially accredited by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence as a war photojournalist. In recent years he has also photographed climate refugees in Mozambique after Cyclone Idai. His latest project focuses on albino survivors of ritual attacks in Zambia. He is also a portrait photographer and has photographed many of the world’s most famous people, including Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Vaclav Havel, 

His portfolio includes dozens of exhibitions around the world, lectures and workshops for students and the general public. Antonio Cossa is also a founder of the non-governmental organization Frontline Care whose main objective is to support victims of climate change and war refugees.


Witch-trials in Angola: mass ritual killing as 50 are poisoned to death

It’s a tradition based on superstition and probably as old as humankind: to blame misfortune, an accident, bad harvest or a disease on a weaker person in society who then has to prove not being guilty of the accusation by drinking a poison. When surviving the ordeal the accused proves to be innocent. However, death confirms his or her assumed guilt.

It’s likely that this ugly practice exists all over the African continent. On previous occasions I have posted articles on ‘trial by ordeal’ in Liberia. This West African country is located 3,600 kilometers (or 2,236 miles) from Angola – as the crow flies – but the practice of trial by ordeal, locally called ‘sasswood (or sassywood) trial or ordeal’, is notorious in Africa’s oldest republic despite being banned by the government. See my posts of July and August 2020:
Liberia: Picnicess citizens say herbalist Tamba Bundo is doing well by exposing wizards, witches and ritualistic killers (August 30, 2020)
Liberia: woman dies after reportedly taking ‘sassywood’ to clear her innocence from witchcraft allegations (August 29, 2020)
Liberia: adolescent girl tortured, accused of witchcraft (July 5, 2020)

The ‘crazy’ practice – proving one is not guilty of an accusation is the opposite of the accepted rule of law when authorities have to prove a person is guilty of an alleged crime – makes victims on an unknown but unacceptable scale, not only in Liberia, but also in other African countries (as well as elsewhere on Planet Earth). In 2009 seven people, who were accused of witchcraft in Liberia – in River Gee County – died of whom two died after drinking the sasswood poison.

In Angola the reported deadly ‘trial by ordeall’ in Angola caused the death of more than 50 innocent people accused of being sorcerers.
These practices must be stopped!

Children accused of being witches. Source: Child-witches of Nigeria seek refuge
(illustration not related to the story below)

The witch-trials of Angola: Mass ritual killing as 50 are poisoned to death after being forced to drink mysterious herbal potion to prove they were not sorcerers

  • Around 50 people died after being made to drink a herbal poison 
  • They were forced to prove they weren’t sorcerers
  • Politicians accused traditional healers of making the deadly herbal drink 

Published: March 14, 2024
By: Perkin Amalaraj – Daily Mail, UK

About 50 people have died in Angola after being forced to drink an herbal potion to prove they were not sorcerers, police and local officials said on Thursday.

The deaths occurred between January and February near the central town of Camacupa, according to Luzia Filemone, a local councillor.

Speaking to the national radio broadcaster, she accused traditional healers of administering the deadly concoction.

‘More than 50 victims were forced to drink this mysterious liquid which, according to traditional healers, proves whether or not a person practices witchcraft,’ said Filemone.

Belief in witchcraft is still common in some rural communities, despite a strong opposition from the church in the predominantly Catholic former Portuguese colony.

About 50 people have died in Angola after being forced to drink an herbal potion to prove they were not sorcerers (File image)

About 50 people have died in Angola after being forced to drink an herbal potion to prove they were not sorcerers (File image)

Angola does not have laws against witchcraft, leaving communities to deal with the issue as they see fit

Angola does not have laws against witchcraft, leaving communities to deal with the issue as they see fit

The deaths were confirmed by police that said 50 people were killed.

‘It’s a widespread practice to make people drink the supposed poison because of the belief in witchcraft,’ provincial police spokesman Antonio Hossi told the broadcaster, warning cases were on the rise.

Angola does not have laws against witchcraft, leaving communities to deal with the issue as they see fit.

Allegations of sorcery are often settled by traditional healers, or ‘marabouts’, by having the accused ingest a toxic herbal drink called ‘Mbulungo’. Death is thought to prove guilt.

Source: The witch-trials of Angola: mass ritual killing as 50 are poisoned to death after being forced to drink mysterious herbal potion to prove they were not sorcerers

Burkina Faso: Three-year old child murdered in Ouagadougou – Mob justice leads to death of two suspected ritual murderers

Reports on ritual murders in Burkina Faso are scarce but this does not imply that this West African country is spared these gruesome crimes. In the past I’ve posted a few articles on the grim fate of persons with albinism in this country and on the belief in witchcraft and superstition in this landlocked country in the Sahel zone of the African continent.

On April 1 a gruesome crime took place in the capital Ouagadougou, in the neighborhood of Rayongo. A three-year old boy, David Ouédraogo, was unscrupulously murdered; it all looked like a ritual murder. The angry crowd attacked and killed two suspects, allegedly foreigners, a third suspect had more luck and was handed over to the police.

The mother of David, Sarata Ouédraogo, a woman in her thirties, is devastated and beyond consolation. She shares her ordeal with a reporter of Omega Medias – clicking the following link will give access to her sad story.

Screenshot – Sarata Ouédraogo, mother of David, tells her story – to listen to her click here (in French)

Meurtre d’un enfant de 3 ans à Rayongo : Sur la piste d’un crime rituel

Three-year old child murdered in Rayongo-Ouagadougou – mob justice leads to death of two of three suspected ritual murderers

Published: April 4, 2024
By: Charles Dah – Omega Medias, Burkina Faso

Les habitants de rayongo, quartier de la ville de Ouagadougou ont été frappés de stupeur ce lundi 1er avril 2024. La cause, un enfant de 3 ans a été violemment tué. Ses bourreaux seraient trois hommes de nationalité étrangère dont le comportement suspect a attiré l’attention des habitants du quartier. Courroucés, ces derniers finiront par lyncher à mort deux des trois suspects, le troisième quant à lui a été remis aux forces de l’ordre. L’émotion était toujours vive à notre passage, trois jours après le drame et la mère demeure inconsolable.

72 heures après la survenue de l’indicible fait macabre, nous voici sur les lieux du drame. Assis sous un dattier, un groupuscule d’hommes devise à deux pas du domicile familial des Ouedraogo. Touchée par la perte d’un des leurs, un enfant de 3 ans, la famille reçoit les condoléances des habitants du quartier et de ceux venus d’ailleurs. Sur place, l’émotion est vive.

Un peu plus loin, à l’intérieur de la cour, des femmes sont installées. Sur leurs visages se lisent stupeur et désarroi. Par moments, des sanglots montent du groupe, des pleurs dûs à la douleur de la perte brutale et violente du petit David, égorgé par ses bourreaux.

Après échange avec la famille, l’on nous conduit sur la scène du crime située à deux cents mètres du domicile des Ouédraogo.

Sur place, une odeur fétide flotte dans l’air. A l’intérieur de la maison où l’enfant a été tué, du sang, depuis coagulé, recueilli dans des calebasses et des Canaris.
C’est un décor macabre qui a tout d’un crime rituel digne des films d’horreur les plus glaçants. Tout porte à croire que ce sang contenu dans les calebasses est celui de la victime, l’enfant de 3 ans.

Encore effondrée, Sarata Ouédraogo, mère du petit David, la trentaine révolue, yeux rouges, est assise au milieu d’un groupe de dames sur une natte. Visiblement affaiblie par la triste nouvelle, elle s’appuie contre un mur de la maison pour se tenir debout afin de nous expliquer son calvaire. C’est une mère abattue, que nous avons rencontrée ce mercredi 3 avril.
Elle n’arrive toujours pas à croire comment des personnes qui vivaient dans la même cour qu’elle aient pu commettre un acte aussi ignoble, égorger son enfant.
<< Est-ce qu’ils peuvent me faire ça ? On est dans la même maison, c’est moi-même qui prépare et puis vous mangez. Tout ce qu’ils veulent, ils viennent me demander et je leur donne. Jusqu’à ce qu’ils m’appellent maman.>> nous relate la jeune mère entre deux sanglots.

Dame Ouédraogo a été séparée de son fils à jamais. De terribles adieux que la famille Ouédraogo et les habitants du quartier Rayongo digèrent difficilement.

Les faits remontent au lundi 1er avril. En partance au marché la mère de David le laisse à la maison sous la surveillance de la grande sœur de ce dernier. A son retour du marché, plus de David. Malgré de rapides recherches dans le voisinage, pas de nouvelles. Sarata Ouedraogo va questionner un de ses voisins de nationalité étrangère pour savoir s’il a aperçu l’enfant, l’homme lui répond que l’enfant était avec lui il y a à peine 3 minutes. Une réponse qui va semer un doute profond.

Comble de la malice, ledit voisin va même rejoindre un groupe d’habitants, pour poursuivre les recherches, avec probablement pour objectif de donner du temps à ses acolytes pour se débarrasser du corps de l’enfant.
Mais, l’instinct maternel de dame Ouedraogo fini par prendre le dessus. Elle lance au voisin<< Mon enfant est ici (dans la maison du voisin, NDLR). Mon enfant n’est pas ailleurs. Mon enfant est ici. (…) Moi-même je sens que l’enfant est ici.(…) Ce que je sais seulement, c’est que mon enfant est toujours dans cette maison >>. Sarata Ouedraogo nous explique avoir insisté et persisté. Puis elle décide de faire le pied de grue devant la porte de ceux qu’elle soupçonne être à l’origine de la disparition du petit David.

Pendant ce temps, la mobilisation des habitants pour retrouver l’enfant prend de l’ampleur.
Il faudra attendre vers 22h, pour enfin savoir ce qui s’est passé et cela grâce à la contribution d’un homme de tenue arrivé sur place.

<< Quand ils (les habitants du quartier, NDLR) sont partis maintenant, il (le voisin présumé coupable, NDLR) voulait fuir. Le gars (l’homme de tenue, Ndlr) est tourné derrière (à l’arrière de la maison, Ndlr). Il voit quelque chose qui est attaché déposé. Il a voulu soulever, c’est lourd. Djahh c’est mon enfant qui est dedans.>> Ajoute Sarata qui s’effondre en larmes avant de poursuivre <<C’est déjà gâté. Ils ont déjà tué l’enfant.>>.

Les présumés auteurs du crime rituel seront lynchés sur le champ par une foule en colère seul l’un des trois sera remis aux forces de l’ordre arrivées plus tard sur les lieux.

<< C’est une grande tristesse pour nous les membres de la famille. Même si tu es étranger à l’enfant, être témoin de ce drame et tu n’es attristé, tu auras menti.(…) Moi quand j’étais arrivé sur les lieux du drame, j’étais dépassé, car tu mets au monde un enfant et l’élève jusqu’à cet âge et quelqu’un l’egorge comme un poulet, vraiment c’est une perte, une énorme perte>> lâche Sambo Ouedraogo, oncle de la victime.

Le corps sans vie du petit David, ceux de deux des présumés auteurs du meurtre et leur complice rescapé ont été amenés par les forces de l’ordre après les constatations d’usage.

La mère du petit David, en état de choc reste inconsolable. A Rayongo, les habitants sont eux, toujours plongés dans la stupeur.

Ibrahim Niaoné & Abdoul Aziz Zoulabou

Source: Meurtre d’un enfant de 3 ans à Rayongo : Sur la piste d’un crime rituel

The plight of persons with albinism in Africa

Albinism is an inherited condition leading to a very light skin, hair and eyes. The question: ‘What is albinism?’ is treated in detail elsewhere on the present site (click here to access the information).

There’s a persistent superstition that organs and other body parts of a person with albinism contain magical or supernatural powers. Hence persons with albinism are often targeted by criminals who attack and/or murder them. In their social environment people with albinism are often discriminated, insulted or otherwise maltreated.

On multiple occasions I have drawn attention here on the plight of persons with albinism in countries in west, central, eastern and southern Africa including Mali, Nigeria, Burundi, the DRC, Tanzania, Mozambique, Eswatini (former Swaziland), Zambia, Malawi, the Republic of South Africa), Namibia and Madagascar. You may access the relevant posts and articles by using the dropdown menu under ‘African countries’ and/or the search button.

Moreover, those interested inn previous posts may click the following three links with access to reports on violence against persons with albinism in nearly 30 African countries:
Africa’s shameful acts of racism: the plight of persons with albinism (PLWA) in Africa
Devastating 2019 report on attacks of persons with albinism in 28 African countries
Shocking report on rural infanticide, violence against children accused of witchcraft, and ritual attacks against children with albinism in 19 SSA countries

The article presented below focuses on the situation of persons with albinisme in Angola and elaborates further on the plight of people living with albinism in various SSA countries.

The plight of persons with albinism in Sub-Saharan Africa

Edna Cedrick holds her surviving albino son after his twin brother who had albinism was snatched from her arms in a violent struggle in 2016. Cedrick says she is haunted daily by images of the decapitated head of her 9 year old son. At least 18 Albino people have been killed in Malawi in a “steep upsurge in killings” since November 2014, and five others have been abducted and remain missing, according to Amnesty International. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi / AP Photo

Published: April 1, 2024
By: Atlas News

What You Need to Know:

81 families with Albinism in Angola’s Bié Province have received assistance totalling nearly $12,000 dollars (10 million kwanzas) in the first phase of a social protection program aimed at providing support to Angola’s most vulnerable. 

This current program operates under the ‘Kwenda Program’ – a government program focused on creating policies to support the country’s poorest and most vulnerable residents. 

The program has received 320 million USD from the World Bank as well as 100 million USD from Angola’s National Treasury.

Alongside the financial support, sunscreen and other sun protection materials have been distributed to albinos across the country. Lack of sun protection poses a major health risk for albinos in Africa, with up to 90% dying before the age of 40. 

There are an estimated 6,818 people living with albinism in Angola who often face social exclusion, which contributes to their continued impoverishment as a large part of the stigma around albinism has to do with the fact that witchcraft is heavily prevalent in Southern Africa. 

The Details:

Across Southern Africa, particularly Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, and Burundi, people with albinism are thought to hold supernatural powers. As a result, the killing of albinos in order to use their body parts in various rituals is somewhat common. 

The belief in many rural communities across Southern Africa is that the use of the body part of an albino in a witchcraft ritual may bring wealth, power or protection to the individual the ritual is intended for.

Albinism refers to the inability of the body’s skin cells to produce melanin, melanin is responsible for the colouration of eyes, hair and skin. Thus, those with albinism appear extremely pale. 

In Tanzania, albinos are referred to as ‘zeru zeru’ which translates to ‘ghosts.’ 

Additionally, there is a large trade in the body parts of albinos, with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights claiming an entire albino corpse can be sold for upwards of $75,000, while albino arms or legs can be sold for up to $2,000. 

So, What Now?:

Angola’s social program signals a positive step towards the protection of albinos in the country. However, Angola is still an extremely impoverished country with 32% of the population living under the national poverty line, In rural areas that number jumps to 54%. 

Thus, although this program will bring relief for many affected albino families, a wider effort to combat impoverishment and raise living standards is needed across the country. 

Source: 81 Angolan Albino Families Receive Assistance From Social Protection Program