Superstition, xenophobia dangerous to society

Dear editor, RE: Xenophobia and witchcraft form toxic mix of backwardness (The New Times, April 26).
Anti-immigrant riots spread across Zambia's capital of Lusaka last week. (File)
Anti-immigrant riots spread across Zambia's capital of Lusaka last week. (File)

Dear editor,

RE: Xenophobia and witchcraft form toxic mix of backwardness (The New Times, April 26).

 

I don’t see what any commentator should be criticizing in Joseph Rwagatare’s opinion. Even singly, xenophobia and belief in witchcraft (frequently even simple superstition) are dangerous enough; combined in the same individual (or worse, widely believed in their societies), they are potentially extremely murderous.

 

It really doesn’t matter in what society they manifest themselves, whether in Tanzania, where albinos live in terror because their body parts are sought as ingredients in supposedly potent concoctions of witches’ brew, or in Uganda where similarly body parts of children or their sacrifice are also considered to have a similar use, or in China where impotent or near impotent men think drinking concoctions including rhino horn powder has the capacity to offer them the potency nature did not give them or has taken from them.

 

I have no doubt almost all societies, including my own, suffer from all kinds and varying degrees of magical thinking and superstition. But the fact such irrational beliefs are widespread does not make them legitimate and Mr Rwagatare is right to denounce them, especially when, as in this case, they lead to xenophobic attacks and the unconscionable suffering of innocents.

Unless, you think all we should do is simply wring our hands and accept that s**t happens; that there is nothing we can or should do or say, as that might hurt the feelings of such xenophobic and superstitious attackers whose behaviour is, after all, legitimized by its supposed ‘universality’!

Mwene Kalinda

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