Most Malawians believe in witchcraft


More than 70 percent of all Malawians believe in witchcraft with over 80 percent among the relative rich and the well educated being strong believers in the existence of the practice which has seen innocent older people torched to death for being accused of witchcraft in the country.

A new Afrobarometer study undertaken jointly with the University of Malawi’s Centre for Social Research has established that the rich and educated citizens are more likely to believe in the existence of witchcraft than either the poor or those with no formal education.

According to the study, most Malawians associate witchcraft with using magic to kill people, make them sick, or bring them misfortune. The survey further shows that the elderly, especially elderly women, are at greatest risk of being victims of witchcraft accusations.

“A majority of Malawians favour changing the law to criminalise witchcraft, providing support for the findings and recommendations of the Special Law Commission on the Review of the Witchcraft Act in Malawi” reads a statement issued by Afrobarometer.

Findings from the study backs the recommendation by the Special Law Commission for Malawi to criminalise the practice. However, people opposed the recommendations on the basis that innocent older women suspected of being witches continue to be murdered in cold blood.

With over 90 percent believing in the practice, Northern Malawi leads the pack of believers followed by Souther Region where 83 percent believe in the existence of the practice. Central Malawi has 73 percent of the people believing in the practice.

A handfuls of the people (only 14 in every 100 people) do not believe in the existence of witchcraft. People with albinism (PWA) have also been targeted and killed in cold blood by those who believe in the witchcraft. The UN has so far warned that PWA are at high risk of extinction in Malawi due to these witchcraft-fuelled attacks.

The Special Law Commission, chaired by Justice of Appeal Robert Chinangwa (Retired), said a majority of Malawians hold a belief in witchcraft, hence the Commission’s recommendation.

“The law must recognise the existence of witchcraft and failure to do so is failure to recognise what is happening in the society,” argued the Commission’s report.

The Commission has defined witchcraft as “a supernatural art or unnatural act, use of magic, practiced within the spiritual realm, or in secret, in words or deeds for purpose of causing harm to a person or damage to property or death or misfortune or to incite fear or violence”.

Malawi has portrayed itself as a God-fearing nation where a belief in witchcraft as a sin manifested by Satan is prevalent.

Rich people in Malawi offer bribes to avoid taxes – Afrobarometer




  1. What a terrible survey question. Witchcraft (as a practice) clearly exists in Malawi, but has it any real effects.. no. (Except herbalism, which some people class as witchcraft). This survey is pretty meaningless as we don’t know what the respondents were actually meaning: does it exist, does it work, does it include herbal medicine?

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