An Assessment of Individual Perceptions to Witchcraft as a Common Practice in Mukono Central Division
Author: SIMON PETER KYEYA
Supervisor: Christine Nakyejwe
This research study is an assessment of individual perceptions to witchcraft practices as a common practice in Mukono Central Division. This study was prompted by the rising rate of human sacrifice associated with witchcraft practices and this is threatening the inherent right to human life among Ugandans. The general objective of this study is to assess individual perceptions to witchcraft as a common practice in Mukono Central Division. The research questions that guided the study are - how do the people of Mukono Central Division perceive witchcraft practices? To what extent does belief in witchcraft practices violate the observation of the right to life in Mukono Central Division? What laws are in place to ensure observance of the right to life by the people of Mukono Central Division?
This study is based on the notion that witchcraft practices is not a new field, therefore the sources of literature are both ancient and modern. Indeed, a qualitative research approach was used involving a semi-structured questionnaire, a focus group discussion guide and document analysis as data collection tools. A total of 55 respondents filled out the questionnaire while 8 respondents were available for the focus group discussion bringing the total number of respondents to 63. The qualitative data from the questionnaires was coded and summarized to enable the researcher identify emerging themes which were presented in percentages and tables. In the case of focus group discussions, discussantsí responses were presented in verbatim.
Findings from this study reveal that 52 out 55 respondents are aware of witchcraft practices as well as all 8 focus group discussants. Multiple sources of information like the media such as televisions (33percent) and newspapers (18percent)) were cited. Four focus group discussants came to know about witchcraft practices from attending Church while the other four from reading newspapers. Twenty percent of respondents mentioned personal beliefs as the most outstanding reason for people to practise witchcraft while all 8 focus group discussants mentioned that people are convinced that witchdoctors can communicate with the other medium and the results are immediate. Whereas if they pray to God whom they have never seen with their naked eyes, they take long to receive communication back from God. Twenty percent of respondents believe that both men and women should be concerned about by the practice followed by religious and cultural leaders at 18 percent. Forty nine percent believe men and women are actively engaged in this practice disputing the notion that it is mostly women who are engaged in the practice. A total of sixty nine percent would not recommend the practice to friends and family. Witchcraft practices have not increased the moral, social and economic wellbeing of the people as mentioned by 64% of respondents. 85% of those who filled out the questionnaire, pointed out that human sacrifice is a gross human rights abuse. In the data, 51 percent of questionnaire respondents supported the view that witchcraft practices should feature prominently in the media. A total of 44 respondents out of 55 (80 percent) decried the ineffectiveness of the laws of Uganda to countercheck on the practice. In conclusion, the study recommends several strategies should be introduced to regulate witchcraft practices and curb the escalating rate of human sacrifice. There should be concerted efforts to promote the positive side of witchcraft and sensitize communities on the negative side of the practice; close collaboration between religious, cultural and political leaders should be strengthened; the significance of the legislative and judicial arms of Government in working with local communities to find appropriate solutions and punishments for those who sacrifice human beings should be emphasized.