Friday, September 19, 2008

"Witch School" Exposed in Malawi?

In Malawi, a nation in southeastern Africa, a school dedicated to teaching children witchcraft has apparently been exposed in the country's central district of Salima. The school is alleged to be quite large and according to the African Network for the Protection and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect it graduates 1000 students per year. So here's the question - is this for real?

Belief in witchcraft is widespread enough in Africa that it's not inconceivable that such a school could exist, and given some of the anti-witchcraft violence that sometimes happens in that part of the world the people running the school would have an interest in keeping it secret. However, the existence of the school is being reported by a single source with no corroborating evidence in a breathless "OMG the children!" sort of announcement. That undermines its credibility a bit right there.

I also wonder about the numbers quoted. A school that graduates 1000 students per year would be very large and would consume enough resources that it would be hard to hide. The graduating class from the private school that I attended was a little over 100 and the school was still a significant presence in its suburban community of about thirty thousand people. The school described in the article would be ten times that size.

Nonetheless, this portion is probably true.

There have been increased cases of people teaching children witchcraft, but efforts to deal with the issue are hampered by the constitution of Malawi, which does not recognise witchcraft and regards self-confessed individuals as "pretenders".

My question here is why this "issue" needs to be "dealt with." I certainly plan on teaching my kids magick if they are interested in learning it, and I don't see where the government should have any say in whether or not I can do that. The same should be true for people in Africa.

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