Parents concerned cases of ‘Satanism’ are on the rise, especially in boarding schools where children are away from home for long periods of time
By John Cassim
HARARE, Zimbabwe – Parents in Zimbabwe are concerned that cases of “Satanism” may be on the rise, especially at the nation’s boarding schools.
A few weeks ago, Zimbabweans were shocked to hear of a school in the Mashonaland East Province that was closed following allegations that a male teacher at the school was involved in Satanism.
According to informed sources, the teacher was accused of practicing Satanism to the point that students were being possessed by “evil spirits” and, in some cases, going hysterical.
As many as 480 children at the Zinatsa School were reportedly affected to the point that their guardians withdrew them from the school.
A second school in the same area, Chideme Secondary School, was similarly affected a few days later, prompting officials to intervene.
Last year, similar incidents occurred at a school in the same province, the Nhowe Mission, where a girl had her throat slashed in mysterious circumstances.
In an indication of how widespread reports of Satanism have become in Zimbabwe, two schools in capital Harare, too, were similarly affected.
At one school in Hatcliffe in the capital’s northern suburbs, two girls reportedly developed canine teeth after allegedly being given amulets by their teacher. A commotion also ensued at a primary school in Harare’s Kuwadzana Township when parents stormed the school to demand an explanation.
One fourth-grader’s body reportedly took on the colors of a snake, while other children from the same class developed tattoos that allegedly caused their classmates to become hysterical.
Calm was eventually restored following the intervention of the police and a local legislator.
While Zimbabweans who spoke to Anadolu Agency said Satanism does exist in some schools, the authorities adamantly dismissed these claims.
“There is nothing called ‘Satanism’ in Zimbabwean schools. When these kids go to school, they do so with different ailments. Some of them start fainting during examinations – that’s not Satanism,” Education Minister Lazarus Dokora told Anadolu Agency.
Dokora said his ministry used “scientific research” to confirm such claims, none of which, he asserted, had turned out to be true.
“We receive such reports from time to time. But without scientific proof, there’s no way we can confirm Satanism exists in schools. In actual fact, the kids suffer from anxiety,” Dokora said.
“People might call it ‘Satanism’ because of what they hear at their churches,” the minster added. “But we see most of these incidents at examination time; they are due to anxiety.”
But George Kandiyero, head of Zimbabwe’s Traditional Healers Association, said that “Satanism” was simply a new term for witchcraft – a phenomenon, he said, that had always existed.
“As traditional healers, we don’t acknowledge the existence of Satanism. But, yes, witchcraft is there, including at schools,” Kandiyero told Anadolu Agency.
According to psychologists, most Satanists, devil worshipers, diabolists, Luciferians and members of the Church of Satan derive their beliefs from “LaVeyan” Satanism – a reference to Anton LaVey, considered the founder of modern Satanism.
“We only started hearing about this Satanism issue from the [Christian] churches; otherwise, it’s not known among us Africans. We have our own ways, culture and beliefs,” Chief Madamombe, a young Zimbabwean traditionalist from Kenya’s Masvingo province, told Anadolu Agency.
“I subscribe to Kemetic beliefs, which I would call ‘witchcraft.’ What is happening in the schools is purely witchcraft, based on the reports coming out of the boarding schools,” he said.
Madamombe agreed with the education minister that most reported incidents were mere anxiety attacks.
Kandiyero, the traditional healer, however, believes the reports of witchcraft are real.
“While I agree there are spiritual challenges associated with witchcraft in schools, it is mostly because male parents or the school authorities are involved in witchcraft for business and power,” he told Anadolu Agency.
Orphan Banhamombe, a Harare-based Christian pastor, for his part, insisted that what are called “witchcraft” and “Satanism” were largely one and the same.
“As Christians, we call it ‘Satanism’, meaning a practice linked to the antichrist. But it’s the same as witchcraft and the two are dealt with in the same way – namely, by exorcism,” Banhamombe told Anadolu Agency.
“The reason why we talk of ‘Satanism’ in churches is because Zimbabwean law doesn’t recognize witchcraft,” Banhamombe said.
Zimbabwe’s Witchcraft Suppression Act, for example, does not recognize the African cultural norms that acknowledge the existence of witchcraft.
“If one talks of witchcraft, then there must be a culprit [i.e., a witch]; and if you point a finger at anybody that they are practicing witchcraft, that becomes an offence,” Banhamombe said.
According to Chief Madamombe, Zimbabweans have always consulted traditional healers regarding matters concerning witchcraft.
“There are African ways of exorcism, whether you call it ‘Satanism’ or ‘witchcraft’. But according to our customs, these methods have always worked,” Madamombe said.
Both Kandiyero and Dokora blamed the church for what is now being referred to as “Satanism” in Zimbabwe’s schools.
“These things have always happened. But because people are told in their churches that it’s Satanism, they now appear more empowered. Hence, we are hearing more of these stories when parents complain,” said Kandiyero.
“Most parents who speak of Satanism in schools don’t know these things. All they know is that their children are being affected,” he added.
Kandiyero went on to admit that some traditional healers also practice witchcraft – although they adhere to a strict code of conduct.
“We have roughly 60,000 members [in Zimbabwe’s traditional healers’ association]. But we always appraise each other regarding the norms of practicing traditional medicine, according to the laws of the land,” he said.
“Otherwise,” he added, “if Satanists exist, we are definitely looking for them as traditional healers.”