Health implications of witchcraft beliefs and practices in Uhehe: a historical perspective

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University of Dar es Salaam
The study investigates the implications of witchcraft beliefs and practices on health in Uhehe from the late 19th century to the end of the 20th century. It integrates information from oral and written sources to understand witchcraft beliefs and practices in Uhehe and highlights its health implications. The study found out that during the late 19 century witchcraft was musicalized in the Hehe health seeking tradition. This was partly manifested in the common identification of the consequences of witchcraft beliefs and practices as health misfortunes and ill health. Witchcraft was also rationalised in the local cosmology and perceptions of health. During the colonial period, a new health seeking tradition – western medicine- was introduced in Uhehe by the colonial state and missionaries. The newcomers perceived witchcraft as one of the remnants of cultural elements depicting lack of civilisation, which needed to be controlled of removed in modern societies using political and legal mechanisms. Consequently, the influence of witchcraft on health was understood from the viewpoint of western medicine. Medical syncretism, incomplete dosage in biomedical treatment and consolidation of witchcraft beliefs during times of ill health were some of consequences experienced in the colonial era. Some of the effects of witchcraft beliefs persisted long after the end of colonialism. The study concluded that witchcraft and health are historically interwoven in Uhehe and they bear a social significance that deserves scholarly attention.
Available in printed form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF DT449.17E38)
Edward, F. (2013) Health implications of witchcraft beliefs and practices in Uhehe: a historical perspective. Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam.