In the Kenyan district of Kisii the elderly are falling prey to superstitious groups accusing them of witchcraft. The western district, which is mainly a poverty-stricken area is widely known to be Kenya’s sorcery belt, and has seen an increase in attacks from mobs on individuals and even killings. Those targeted are mainly the elderly and the poor. A few months ago, five suspected witches were tortured by a group of youths before setting them on fire.
Some families are living in constant fear as their neighbours call them witches. Some are also forced to go as far as possible from their villages in search of jobs as no one who knows them will offer them any work. Witchcraft remains a deeply rooted issue within the community and the elderly are portrayed as custodians of witchery. Every ailment, misfortune or trouble is blamed on sorcery. Some say even success is attributed to witchcraft. Lobby groups for the elderly have set up shop here to try and stop the targeting of senior citizens, spreading the message that burning of suspected witches is not an answer to sorcery.
Kenya is not the only country facing such problems. Recently, the Gambian President Jammeh embarked on a witch hunt that saw many elderly people targeted as well and some were forced to confess to their sorcery or face the consequences of being labelled a witch or banned altogether from their societies.
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