Call it what you will: psychological suggestion, collective obsessional behavior, or just good ol’ fashioned mass hysteria. Whichever term you prefer, it seems to be spreading on the African continent when it comes to panic over the paranormal. From angry mobs vandalizing police officers’ homes in Malawi for not doing enough to combat “shapeshifters” to pastors murdering church members in Zimbabwe for being vampires, things seem to be getting supernatural in some African nations.
Of course, Africa is massive, so even just a handful of cases are well within what could probably be called a normal rate of incidence; perhaps the immediacy of social media just makes isolated incidents seem more connected than they are. Whatever the case may be, the widespread panic over what some perceive to be the spreading influence of evil spirits continues now in Nigeria where a man has recently taken to Facebook to declare war on witches. Worst of all? He announced his one-man war by publicly murdering a (presumably) innocent cat he claimed to be a shapeshifting witch in disguise.
According to Nigerian news outlet Pulse.ng, a man by the name of Samuel Uzoma shared a post on Facebook claiming that the cat has been going home-to-home (warning: pictures of dead cat) spreading its feline brand of witchcraft:
While people are sleeping as it was meant to be, they will be busy moving around from one family to another, from one person to another in other to bewitch them, cause problems for them, disrupt people's success. They fail to realize that the leg that moves fast, is being seen by an eye that sights vibrantly for now the first witch is dead, we are ready for (witch hunt) part two............
Sure sounds like the ramblings of a quite sane person to me. The post quickly went viral throughout the country thanks to everyone’s rage at this apparent act of animal cruelty. Many commenters on Facebook called him a fool and dismissed Uzoma as paranoid, insane, or sadistic.
While this appears to be an isolated incident of animal abuse, belief in witches and witchcraft is still prevalent in some areas of Africa, with some countries even building ‘witch camps’ to house suspected witches. Of course, all of those suspected are women, many of whom are elderly or disabled. Might this belief in witchcraft merely be a convenient scapegoat for other beliefs?