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 THE ANC AND THEIR DUBIOUS WITCHCRAFT

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PosOnderwerp: THE ANC AND THEIR DUBIOUS WITCHCRAFT   Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:07 pm

Africanisation of RSA: ANC's Occult “Struggle” Politics: Witchcraft and the State in South Africa


Witchcraft, Violence and Democracy in South Africa; By Adam Ashforth
[*Amazon**Kalahari*]

“In communities where a witchcraft paradigm informs understandings about other peoples’ motives and capacities, life must be lived in terms of a presumption of malice.”
-- AIDS, Witchcraft, and the Problem of Power in Post-Apartheid South Africa, by Adam Ashforth

The following report Witchcraft and the State in South Africa, is provided as additional evidentiary context to South African Human Rights Commission Complaint WC-2009-0455BS (PDF) which indicts various ANC officials for endorsing Occult Phallic Slave and Cannon Fodder Breeding Procreation Population Policies. In this document the ANC elite actively endorsed “Operation Production” practices; i.e. coercing young girls to produce cannon fodder (babies) for the ANC struggle for hegemony:

Especially evening assemblies girls had to attend as well: “They would come into the house and tell us we should go. They didn't ask your mother they just said ‘come let's go.’ You would just have to go with them. They would threaten you with their belts and ultimately you would think that if you refused, they would beat you. Our parents were afraid of them” (quoted by Delius 1996:189).

All those opposing the wishes of the young men were reminded, that it was every woman’s obligation to give birth to new “soldiers”, in order to replace those warriors killed in the liberation struggle. The idiom of the adolescents referred to these patriotic efforts as “operation production”. Because of exactly this reason it was forbidden for the girls to use contraceptives. (Delius 1996:189; Niehaus 1999:250)

It provides further context to the issues raised in Open Letter to World Cup Teams: God vs. FIFA: Do you have the Honourable Courage to be a ‘Flying Scotsman’?, how African Occult Ideals of Manhood viz a viz procreation of children; and concepts of Autocratic & Hegemonic Power that do not tolerate Dissent -- the Africanization of the State -- have penetrated the heart of politics and political institutions:


People’s War: New Light on the Struggle for South Africa, By Anthea Jeffery
[*Amazon**Kalahari**Review*]
Author of The Truth About the Truth Commission (PDF:379K)

In the past the respect of chiefs and elders had been based on their ability to protect the community from internal and external enemies. The young rebels now claimed to play exactly this role by taking up the persecution of witches. (Stadler 1996:88) Maybe their decision was also based on the calculation, that party politics and revolutionary slogans would not be sufficient for mobilizing the population. Witchhunts on the other hand seemed to be a common cause for which one could expect broad-based support. (Niehaus 1993:527)
....
The report of the governmental commission for example argues: “many of the accusations of witchcraft had nothing to do with witchcraft (...) the revolutionary forces chose witchcraft and ritual killing to destabilise these communities”.... Even when it came to militant action, such as the execution of witches, the adults were urged to participate. Parents of activists for example had to carry rocks, with which the victims were stoned. (Minnaar 1992:24) And young women, who otherwise rarely took part in political operations, were forced to collect firewood. (Delius 1996:198) Some reports tell of young people forced to pour gasoline down their mother’s throats, having to put tires around their necks and set them afire with their own hands. (Delius 1996:197)
....
But the attempt to overcome the nightmare of fear, hate and envy was doomed to fail, because the activists did not fight the belief in witches, but the witches themselves.
....
The reaction by leading ANC politicians, when commenting on the anarchic violence of the youths, was ambivalent. In the beginning of 1990, immediately after the legalization of radical oppositional parties, Winnie Mandela and Chris Hani travelled through the crisis areas in Transvaal and praised the rebels for making the homelands ungovernable. (Minnar 19992:50) The militancy of the young activists opened the ANC functionaries‘ path to power.
...
The possible cooperation between state institutions and ritual experts is problematic for yet another reason. It could lead to an increasing association of state representatives with occult powers..... The aura of spiritual or cultic power serves not at least to intimidate their own population and in particular the opposition. (Ellis and ter Haar 1998:189; Kohnert 1997:40-45) Similar developments could occur in South Africa, if it is correct what Peter Geschiere (1997:200) predicts: that with the africanization of the state, rumors about witchcraft will penetrate into the heart of political institutions.
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PosOnderwerp: Re: THE ANC AND THEIR DUBIOUS WITCHCRAFT   Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:13 pm

Witchcraft and the State in South Africa*

by Johannes Harnischfeger (Germany)
Africana.ru

* German version of this paper has been published in Anthropopos, 95/ 2000, S. 99-112.

Excerpts:

The Youth Rebellion in South Africa

Necklacing is Witchhunting: “The ANC-in-exile used traditional African witch-hunting methods in their camps to teach youths how to terrorise resistant township residents into submission to ANC-hegemony. On this photograph, youths at Camp Quatro in Angola were taught the traditional African witch's purgative powers of fire, i.e. the necklacing, placing a burning tyre around a victim's neck) of such a so-called 'cockroach'” -- Adriana Stuidt, former Sunday Times Journalist

In South Africa the persecution of witches is also connected to local quarrels about influence and political power.

But here it is not a privileged elite, in alliance with the state and traditional healers, who controls the persecution of witches. The initiative has rather been taken, since the mid-80ies, by younger people: activists of the anti-apartheid movement, members of the ANC Youth League, pupils — and students — councils. From their point of view the elimination of witches was part of the black emancipation movement. The victims though were mostly elderly women in their sixties, who succumbed helplessly to their persecutors — usually young men between 16 and 25 years old.[4]

The conflict between the generations can only be understood, considering that the revolt against the apartheid regime had from its very beginning the characteristics of a youth rebellion. (Bundy 1987:310)

It was not only directed against white representatives of the system, but also against the authority of their own parents, who were accused of having arranged themselves with the regime out of fear or opportunism.

After decades of silence and collaboration only the younger generation, prepared for complete disobedience, could claim a leading role in the liberation struggle.

Starting in Soweto and other black metropolitan centers, the revolutionary message was carried into the rural areas, and especially in the homelands it was eagerly picked up. Each form of authority had been declining here. While many adults, especially the men, where working as migrant laborers on white farms or in the mines, the children and adolescents were raised by single mothers or grandparents.

In Lebowa for example 72% of the total population were less than 20 years old. (Niehaus 1999:242) In addition, the political authorities were unstable and thoroughly discredited. The apartheid regime had urged most of the homelands to declare themselves independent. Their presidents and kings acted like sovereign rulers, decorating themselves with the insignia of traditional power. But everyone knew that they owed their offices to nothing but the calculations of white politicians. As they were never subjected to democratic control, nothing stopped them from harassing their own population. Chiefs would for instance operate their own toll gates, in order to extort money from passers-by.

Against such arbitrary use of power resistance could easily be roused. Some of the chiefs had to flee their districts in the mid-80ies; others could only appear in public together with their body-guards. Since the uprising was mainly supported by students or jobless school-leavers the attacks were also directed against educational authorities. Unpopular school principals and teachers were expelled, supposed collaborators, police informants and other “political undesirables” were physically attacked. In the end whole schools had to be closed and the remaining institutions were controlled by student councils.

As one of their first measures, the new leadership ordered to abolish the harsh disciplinary punishments; but after some time the activists came to the conclusion that one had to take vigorous action against counterrevolutionary elements. Students who refused to attend political meetings or disregarded the orders of the new authorities had to face corporal punishment again. And yet another offense was punishable: “speaking ill of the organisation” (Delius 1996:190).

Even outside the schools, in most of the settlements, rebels dominated public life. Armed youths patrolled the streets, they kidnapped buses and taxis, threatened store owners and regularly extorted “donations” of money or food from them. When protests lay ahead, groups of adolescents went from house to house and forced the adults to join them.

Especially evening assemblies girls had to attend as well: “They would come into the house and tell us we should go. They didn't ask your mother they just said 'come let's go'. You would just have to go with them. They would threaten you with their belts and ultimately you would think that if you refused, they would beat you. Our parents were afraid of them” (quoted by Delius 1996:189).

All those opposing the wishes of the young men were reminded, that it was every woman’s obligation to give birth to new “soldiers”, in order to replace those warriors killed in the liberation struggle. The idiom of the adolescents referred to these patriotic efforts as “operation production”. Because of exactly this reason it was forbidden for the girls to use contraceptives. (Delius 1996:189; Niehaus 1999:250)

One of the instruments of political mobilization, with which the adolescents wanted to establish their influence amongst the population, was the struggle against witchcraft. After political assemblies or at the instigation of witch-hunt-committees, hundreds of people marched through the villages, chanting freedom songs, carrying ANC bannners and pulling suspects out of their houses. The victims were stoned or beaten with sticks, then usually dragged back into their houses and burned with all their belongings.

In order to take care of a witch one had to destroy her body completely and at best set her house on fire, to burn all her magic paraphernalia. (Minnaar 1998:184) Similar executions had occured in the past under the supervision of chiefs and councils of elders. But it seems that in former times those in charge were normally content with simply chasing away the culprits. Even now, some parents argued that it would suffice to expel the witches and let them reside in some far-away places. (Delius 1996:196)

Under the protection of police stations a couple of villages had been erected, where the expelled could settle. But the young activists did not want to make any concessions; under their leadership the execution of witches became the norm: “what do you do when you have cocroaches in the house? You kill them”. (quoted by Ralushai 1996:15; Minnaar 1998:176).


Witchcraft and African Renaissance


Imagining Evil: Witchcraft Beliefs and Accusations in Contemporary Africa; By Gerrie Terr Harr
[*Amazon**Kalahari*]

The reasons for the excessive campaign of violence are disputed until today. Many observers assume, that accusations of witchcraft only served as a pretence to get rid of personal or political opponents. The report of the governmental commission for example argues: “many of the accusations of witchcraft had nothing to do with witchcraft (...) the revolutionary forces chose witchcraft and ritual killing to destabilise these communities”. (Ralushai 1996:269, 270)

In any case it is conspicious, that political activists often determined high-handedly, who had to be treated as a witch. And even when the suspects were presented to a witch-doctor first, manipulations were occasionally observed. Some of the ritual experts later reported, that they had been forced to smell out witches, and in case they refused, they were allegedly threatened with death. (Ralushai 1996:49-50)

Distrust was also caused by the impression, that the campaign was directed from the background by ANC cadres. A commander of the ANC Youth League for example boasted publicly, that he could order or stop the homicides as he wished: “The witches think they are safe because I told my Comrades to stop burning them”. (quoted by Niehaus 1999:265)

Some analysts even assume, that a part of the political leadership did not even believe in witches, but merely exploited the superstitions of the population. (Minnaar 1998:185) The mass killings of elderly, mostly impoverished men and women would therefore be nothing but a cynically chosen instrument to achieve completely different political goals.

But this interpretation has to be considered with some doubt. In a detailed study, which tried to reconstruct more than 300 cases of witchcraft in Green Valley, a village in Lebowa, the author did not find any evidence that the witchcraft accusations by ANC supporters were aimed against political opponents. (Niehaus 1993:523-525)

Those affected were mostly persons, who, even according to the judgement of other observers, had shown suspiciously aggressive or antisocial behaviour. The majority of the population therefore seems to have approved of the actions against witches in principle, despite many complaints about the arbitrary conduct of the persecutors. (Niehaus 1999:274; Peltzer 1999:2) Obviously the adolescents did actually try to identify the guilty persons, and for this purpose they often accepted lists with the names of suspects from their parents or other adults. (Minnaar 1992:24) There are therefore numerous arguments for taking the statement of the activists seriously, that they wanted to liberate their villages from the influence of demonic powers. They seemed to be “totally convinced that by witchhunting they are advancing the national democratic struggle” (Weekly Mail, March 23rd, 1990; quoted by Minnaar 1992:40)

For outsiders it may seem strange, that in the moment of revolt, with the long anticipated freedom within reach, a wave of violence should be directed against the most helpless members of society. One of the reasons is certainly, that the teenage killers could count on escaping prosecution since the authority of the state was largely eroded.

Even more important may be another aspect: with the end of apartheid a new age, connected with inflated millenaristic expectations, seemed to be imminent. The rebels dreamed of a radical inversion of the established order, of a world in which all wealth would be poured upon Africans while the whites would be forced to work as subordinates for the blacks. (Niehaus 1999:108,128-135)

In connection with this utopian order stood the hope of a renaissance of African culture: “With the unbanning of political parties and release of Nelson Mandela from prison, many people experienced a sense of cultural freedom, including the punishment of witches in a typically African way. This was regarded as reaffirmation of African culture after centuries of colonial and Western suppression”. (Dolamo 1996:347)

The future system, for which the rebels fought, was basically a world without witches and sorcerers. Especially in the homelands, with their impoverished, overpopulated communities, torn by inner conflicts, nothing seemed to be more urgent than the attempt to clean themselves from envy and resentment. Only the extinction of all evil, antisocial elements would create the preconditions for a morally purified society. (Niehaus 1999:254) The utopian vision of a harmonious world was thus based on an act of expulsion: all dissonances could be overcome, if men’s diffuse omnipresent aggression could be directed against a common enemy in which all evil, detestable forces were personified.

Essential for this process of self-purification was the idea, that the suppressed masses would constitute a moral community under the leadership of the youths. In the past, councils of elders and chiefs had carried the responsibility for the wellfare of the community. But after their parents’ and grandparents’ failure in fighting the apartheid regime the young men claimed all authority for themselves.

For mature, prudent men it was a humbling experience to be pushed around and commanded by teenagers. Not only their status was ignored, they were also summoned in front of socalled people's courts in order to be sentenced by 16- or 17-year old kids. In their ambition to effect a radical break with the past, the youthful judges did not hesitate to interfere even with intimate affairs. An adult man, for instance, was ordered to stay at home with his family in the evenings after 7 pm, otherwise he would be whipped by the comrades. The revolutionaries also did not accept divorces and ordered estranged couples to stay together. From the point of view of adolescents, who had grown up in fragmented families of migrants, it seemed to be part of the social renewal to create a sound family world by decree. (Delius 1996:190)

Measured by African traditions the presumptuous behaviour of the youth was a tremendous provocation. They had occupied social ranks, which so far only elders were entitled to fill, and consequently had to find legitimacy for their disputed form of authority.

In the past the respect of chiefs and elders had been based on their ability to protect the community from internal and external enemies. The young rebels now claimed to play exactly this role by taking up the persecution of witches. (Stadler 1996:88) Maybe their decision was also based on the calculation, that party politics and revolutionary slogans would not be sufficient for mobilizing the population. Witchhunts on the other hand seemed to be a common cause for which one could expect broad-based support. (Niehaus 1993:527)

The youths were assisted in their campaign by a general perception that witchcraft was out of control. Many held the apartheid regime responsible for it, because the white government in Pretoria seemed to protect the witches actively. And their black governors in the homelands were openly accused of clinging to power by obscure, magical means.

In the summer of 1989, students of the University of Venda boycotted their classes in order to protest against cases of ritual murders allegedly perpetrated by the government. The following year between 3- and 10,000 demonstrators marched against the presidential office in Venda and presented a human skull, which was doscovered — so they claimed — as a relic of ritual killing. (Minnaar 1992:37, 39)

Such attempts to link political enemies with occult practices cannot simply be dismissed as political propaganda.

In Venda — as well as in Lesotho, Swaziland etc. — there is a long tradition of killing people to produce exceptionally effective forms of “medicine” with parts of their corpses. Already in precolonial times kings and chiefs had claimed the privilege to use those medicines in their fight against powerful rivals. (Evans 1993:27; Booth 1992:266-271)

Among their modern successors in the homelands, who were engaged in a similar competition for power and wealth, the use of “witch medicine” also appeared to be wide-spread. As more and more incriminating evidence emerged, the government of Venda finally had to give in to public pressure: one member of the cabinet and some other influential persons were put on trial for ritual murder and received death sentences. (Ralushai 1996:272; Minnaar 1992:37-39)5

Fighting against such gruesome practices was supposed to unify the rural communities. The political activists therefore took care, that, if possible, everybody took part in the witchhunts.

Young men went from house to house collecting “donations” of thousands of Rand to be spent on witch doctors, who were supposed to identify local witches. Or they collected ransom money to put up bail for their comrades arrested for killing witches. (Minnaar 1998:192; Ralushai 1996:31, 50)

Even when it came to militant action, such as the execution of witches, the adults were urged to participate. Parents of activists for example had to carry rocks, with which the victims were stoned. (Minnaar 1992:24) And young women, who otherwise rarely took part in political operations, were forced to collect firewood. (Delius 1996:198) Some reports tell of young people forced to pour gasoline down their mother’s throats, having to put tires around their necks and set them afire with their own hands. (Delius 1996:197) Like this the initiators of the violence clearly wanted to prevent a vicious circle of blood revenge: sons, who executed their mothers, cannot hold others responsible for homicide.

With the ruthless fight against witches the adolescents wanted to stop the circle of mutual suspicions forever. Only when nobody had magical instruments to harm others, would people be able to trust each other again and start creating a common future: The “youth promised to bring ‘real freedom’ (...) saying that there would be no witches left in the new South Africa” (quoted by Delius 1996:211).

But the attempt to overcome the nightmare of fear, hate and envy was doomed to fail, because the activists did not fight the belief in witches, but the witches themselves.

Their persecution of social outsiders did not unify the village communities, but stirred whole families and clans against each other. Each homicide left a group of traumatized relatives, who desperately disputed any accusations against the victim.

In their helplessness they appealed to supreme ANC functionaries to stop the killings, or they turned to the police — usually without results. In the end there were no impartial agencies from which they could expect justice. Whoever sought revenge, had to deal with it by himself. For this reason militias were formed, trying to stop the terror of the youths by picking out individual opponents and executing them. (Niehaus 1999:251)

In order to understand why some families fiercely fought accusations of witchcraft against their relatives, we have to take into consideration that according to common belief witchcraft is hereditary in the mother's line. As soon as a person is denounced as a witch, the immediate relatives become suspects as well. Because you cannot trust anyone of that family, many argue in favor of extinguishing the whole group of potential witches, including the children: “All snakes are the same, whether small or big”. (quoted by Ralushai 1996:16) [6]


Interventions of the ANC leadership


“With our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.” - Winnie Mandela


Necklacing refers to the practice of summary execution carried out by forcing a rubber tire (tyre), filled with gasoline, around a victim's chest and arms, and setting it on fire. The victim may take up to 20 minutes to die, suffering severe burns in the process. The first recorded lethal lynching by necklacing took place in Uitenhage on 23 March 1985 when African National Congress (ANC) supporters killed a councillor who was suspected of being a collaborator.


Necklacing was frequently carried out in the name of the ANC. An example of necklacing was the case of a young girl Maki Skosana in July 1985: “Her body had been scorched by fire and some broken pieces of glass had been inserted into her vagina,” Moloko told the committee.

The reaction by leading ANC politicians, when commenting on the anarchic violence of the youths, was ambivalent. In the beginning of 1990, immediately after the legalization of radical oppositional parties, Winnie Mandela and Chris Hani travelled through the crisis areas in Transvaal and praised the rebels for making the homelands ungovernable. (Minnar 19992:50)

The militancy of the young activists opened the ANC functionaries‘ path to power: first to the negotiating table with the white government, then into ministerial posts and other state offices.

Therefore it was absolutely in their interest, that images of the revolt went around the world. All forms of collective violence — be it arson attacks, school boycotts or the plundering of shops — were regarded as part of a common struggle, for which the ANC claimed responsibility.

The party leaders always declared to speak for all of the rebellious crowds; the truth was, that even after many of them had returned from exile, they had little influence on the angry young men in the townships.

The phrase “ANC’s liberation struggle” was rather misleading as it covered up for the entirely different interests, articulating themselves in strikes, boycotts and mass militancy.

The party functionaries were mainly interested in convincing the Western-European and US-American public, that the ANC was trying to create a modern, liberal democracy — acceptable for all parts of the population, black and white alike. With their public commitment to human rights, seperation of powers and mutual tolerance, Nelson Mandela and other speakers of the party presented themselves as responsible politicians, who followed the traditions of European enlightenment.

The witchhunts did not fit this self-portrayal of the ANC. When journalists first reported the lynchings, ANC leaders (as well as human right advocates and other white supporters of the ANC) denied any connection with their youth organizations: the murders were rather initiated by witch doctors and other traditionalists. (Delius 1996:192)

Later, when the executions began to increase, ANC cadres appealed to the youth not to commit acts of arbitrary violence: the burning of witches was declared a grave mistake, because it “diverted the struggle from the real enemy” (Niehaus 1999:257).

A functionary of the ANC Women’s League, who condemned the atrocities in a radio program, even stated that she did not believe in witches. But in a private interview she admitted to not having spoken her true opinion. Rather she had wanted to prevent an escalation of violence. (Niehaus 1999:274)

The most dangerous group is the militant youths known as the “comrades,” who have been responsible for much of the killing in the townships. Ranging in age from about 14 to 22, they are typically poor, uneducated and overflowing with rage. The primary object of their wrath is anyone suspected of collaborating with the government. The victim's “crime” can be trivial or wholly nonexistent. Even payment of rent for government-owned housing can be a capital offense.

So intimidating have the comrades become that in many parts of South Africa they can terrify township residents simply by holding up boxes of matches. When they are not carrying out spontaneous attacks, they may hold kangaroo “people's courts” that are designed to intimidate the public. In a typical court session, young toughs drag the accused forward, inform him or * her of the charges and then pronounce and execute the sentence. The outcome is never in doubt. [South Africa: The War of Blacks Against Blacks]

Western media, when reporting on the rebellion against apartheid, usually followed the public declarations of ANC leaders. Everthing incongruent to these declarations — the murder of political dissidents as well as the images of burning witches — was usually left out. For a long time it was not even possible to talk about the ethnic-cultural traditions, which influenced the thoughts and actions of the township rebels.

“During the years of struggle (...) it became practically impossible to speak or write of social difference other than the obvious differences of rich and poor, oppressor and opressed. Reference to other forms of difference — be they ‘cultural’, ‘social’, or, more especially, ‘ethnic’ — would be condemned as pandering to the purveyors of apartheid”. (Ashforth 1996:1189; McAllister and Sharp 1993)

But the motivations of the rebels can not be understood by looking exclusively at the public self-portrayal of their political representatives: “the understanding of the objectives of organisation and action was almost as diverse as the membership and evolved according to local experience and circumstance. And a particular danger for analysts in this instance — as in many others — is to attempt to read off popular consciousness from the pronouncements and subsequent reflections of the most articulate leaders”. (Delius 1996:187)

Besides the considerations of the Western public there is another reason why the ANC leadership attempted to distance themselves — at least partially — from the rioting youth.

From 1990 onwards, when it became clear, that the ANC would dominate the future government, more and more chiefs and civil servants in the homelands tried to join the ranks of the freedom-fighters. The party functionaries appreciated this increase in support, because in negotiations with the white government the ANC acted as advocate for all blacks, trying to present a united front against the apartheid regime.

That is why Nelson Mandela sought the alliance with representatives of the homeland-establishment, who had been considered traitors in the eyes of the young ANC followers. Now, at joint public appearances, he did not want to remind of the bitter rivalries in the past. Instead he recalled a common struggle, which had never existed: “chiefs had a long and proud history of association with the ANC” (quoted by Delius 1996:207).

After the political transition in 1994 close contacts with the new black elite have become even more important for chiefs, local politicians and businessmen. Many of those who had once sided with the apartheid regime are today members of the governing party. The young freedom-fighters on the other hand lost their influence. Their militancy is no longer needed, because under the new, black government it is not considered heroic any more to boycott schools, or demolish state property.
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