We usually think of human sacrifice as something that happened in the distant past. However, it appears that at least in Uganda, the practice is alive and kicking.
BBC News reports on the business of child sacrifice.
According to official police figures, there was one case of child
sacrifice in 2006; in 2008 the police say they investigated 25 alleged ritual murders, and in 2009, another 29.
The Anti-Human Sacrifice Police Task Force, launched in response to the growing numbers, says the ritual murder rate has slowed, citing a figure of 38 cases since 2006.
Pastor [Peter] Sewakiryanga disputes the police numbers, and says there are more victims from his parish than official statistics for the entire country.
By Ugandan standards, there is a lot of money to be made by the unscrupulous.
For our own inquiries, we posed as local businessmen and asked around for a witch doctor that could bring prosperity to our local construction company. We were soon introduced to Awali. He led us into a courtyard behind his home, and as if to welcome us he and his helpers wrestled a goat to the ground and slit its throat.
“This animal has been sacrificed to bring luck to us all,” Awali explained. He then demanded a fee of $390 (£250) for the ritual and asked us to return in a few days.
At our next meeting, Awali invited us into his shrine, which is traditionally built from mud bricks with a straw roof. Inside, the floor is littered with herbs, face masks, rattles and a machete.
The witch doctor explained that this meeting was to discuss the most powerful spell – the sacrifice of a child.
“There are two ways of doing this,” he said. “We can bury the child alive on your construction site, or we cut them in different places and put their blood in a bottle of spiritual medicine.”
Awali grabbed his throat. “If it’s a male, the whole head is cut off and his genitals. We will dig a hole at your construction site, and also bury the feet and the hands and put them all together in the hole.”
One group that is working to end this is the Jubilee Campaign. They have released a report that details the extent and the reasons behind the problem. The report is nearly 100 pages long and makes for painful reading. There is space devoted to case studies and the reasons few are ever prosecuted. Some of the points they make:
- Analysts have attributed the practice to poverty, weak legislation and poor parenting.
- The sacrifice of animals as well as herbal remedies are prescribed by witch-doctors to people who desire personal financial prosperity, the success of a business venture, the settling of a dispute, and personal happiness and health.
- Child sacrificial rituals are employed by fraudulent traditional healers in a means to extort large sums of money from people
- There are many people who believe in witchcraft and demonic powers for wealth, job security and good health. Such people have become obsessed with witchcraft beliefs that they are easily manipulated by some traditional healers into accepting to sacrifice human beings.
- In the majority of cases, children are sacrificed when a person wants to ensure the success of a business venture or personal financial prosperity; and in some cases to help attain health and happiness.
- Some people use children in ritual sacrifices because they think that their businesses will grow just as children grow.
- In most cases, witch-doctors would choose boys over girls and more boys are abducted than girls. The reason is that boys are valued more than girls in Africa
One thing is obvious: the practice could not continue if the people did not have such belief in magical thinking. Witch doctors would not be able to push consumers into accepting the concept of human sacrifice if the gullible did not believe in the power of spirits in the first place.
Uganda is one country in the world that has a lot of problems based upon the power of religion. besides human sacrifice, there has been a long time violence perpetrated by “The Lord’s Resistance Army“. This group is lead by Joseph Kony, a self styled prophet sent by God to purify the Ugandan people. His army consists largely of abducted and enslaved children and young adults. Males are taught to fight and the females are used for labour and sex.
This is also the country where an attempt was made by the US Evangelical backed government of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to make homosexuality a capital offence. International pressure caused them to back off and ‘merely’ imprison offenders.
If you have the backing of your god(s) anything becomes permissible.
Edited Thurs. Oct 13, 2011.
In discussions I have had in various places, it was brought to my attention that these child sacrifice cases are overstated, and might be virtually non-existant. The numbers are inflated by NGOs looking to push buttons and raise money. The result of this increases the number of people hunted down and murdered for being sorcerers. Either way, people are being killed because of a belief in the power of magic.