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Lwati: A Journal of Contemporary Research

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Witchcraft in African and African-American Novel – A Perspective

I Emmanuel

Abstract


In African and therefore, African American cultural world-view, some  perceive witchcraft as evil and some identify it as an art that unifies and orders experiences so that its members recognize organization,  consistency and system. It tells its members what to do thereby creating a voice of prescriptive authority, and also impacts on them; definition of group interest. Witchcraft in the select works of Bessie Head and Toni Morrison is examined through Archetypal theory. Bessie Head portrays witches - practitioners of witchcraft - as evil conspirators and collaborators with the demonic world who are rarely benevolent and should be purged from the society; whereas, Toni Morrison sees them as knowledgeable and
benevolent, capable of intervening and explaining misfortune; they clear doubts, solve puzzles and problems; they also give medical solutions in some health situations. Since, the works of Morrison under study portray the era slave trade; she conceives that the knowledge in witchcraft and the activities of witches were justifiable because these sustained the Blacks. From our investigation the rich and affluence are never accused of being witches therefore, they are under no circumstances threatened in spite of their evil activities as seen in Head’s characters like Maru and Molake in Maru, or Dan, Sello and Medusa in A Question of Power, nor The  Schoolteacher in Toni Morrison’s Beloved. This paper therefore, concludes that the practice of witchcraft and the consequent witch-purging is mostly aimed at the most vulnerable members of society - children, women, the elderly, and those that display exceptional behavior - members of the community who may not be adequately disposed to defending themselves. This paper submits that there should be a legislation to protect these
ones.

Key Words: ‘the witches’ Sabbath, guilds and covens, ‘discredited knowledge’, witch doctor , witch-purging, infernal rites.




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