In many African societies, there is an ingrained belief that misfortunes are induced by fellow human beings. Often, some family members are accused of being responsible for inexplicable problems. These may include infertility, impotence, miscarriage, lack of success in business, inability to gain promotion, poor crop harvest, sickness, and many others. In all these problems, witchcraft has been blamed. Its continued existence has thrived on human needs, quest for knowledge, desire for power, and more especially the fear of death; and when executing their operations, practitioners often use objects, and, over time, these have undergone several transformations. This paper explores the extent to which witchcraft objects were transformed from the traditional type, often made of wood, wax, and other such stuff to imitations of western technological goods such as television and aeroplanes and in some cases the use of the actual western produced goods such as mirrors and metal pipes made common by the capitalist colonial economy. The paper demonstrates that western consumer goods were not only used by the general populace to transform their lifestyle from the traditional to western style but also by witchcraft practitioners to enhance their power and authority through the ‘modernisation’ of their paraphernalia thereby making them more potent. Through examination of the witchcraft collection at the Livingstone Museum and the press coverage on the phenomenon, the paper posits the thesis that witchcraft is a theory of power and authority and practitioners believed that it possessed energies that could protect them against any kind of harm from their perceived enemies, and that it had the power to protect whatever wealth had been accumulated from destruction by supposed enemies who in general were either their kith and kin or close friends.
"The Practice of Witchcraft and the Changing Patterns of its Paraphernalia in the Light of Technologically Produced Goods as Presented by Livingstone Museum, 1930s - 1973,"
Zambia Social Science Journal: Vol. 5:
1, Article 5.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.cornell.edu/zssj/vol5/iss1/5