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Ethical and Political Aspects of African Witchcraft

  • Frank Melland


As forms of government have been autocratically imposed by us on the Africans, so have our laws. Doubtless much can be said to justify both impositions, but as regards our penal legislation in witchcraft matters it is arguable that it is ethically unsatisfactory, while politically it is demonstrably harmful. Devout modern Christians and agnostic scientists, who rarely see eye to eye, agree in considering the belief in witchcraft a baseless superstition, while anthropologists point out that Africans holding this belief have arrived at a stage common to all primitive races, and that with them, as with others, it is a phase that will pass. All of which seems to me singularly irrelevant, for what we are concerned with is Africa to-day and in the immediate future, and our law, representing the views of the governing race, fails in the dual test of good legislation, that it should be in the interests of and by the consent of the governed. The first is debatable, the second can be emphatically denied.


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  • ISSN: 0001-9720
  • EISSN: 1750-0184
  • URL: /core/journals/africa
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