Original Research

Occultism in an African context: a case for the Vhavenda-speaking people of the Limpopo Province

T. D. Mashau
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 41, No 4 | a324 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v41i4.324 | © 2007 T. D. Mashau | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 July 2007 | Published: 27 July 2007

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T. D. Mashau,, South Africa

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Occultism in Africa is as old as the primal religion itself, or what came to be known as African Traditional Religion (ATR) in mo- dern times. It dates back to time immemorial. Occultism in Africa has taken various forms and has manifested in different ways over the ages, i.e. spiritism, divination, witchcraft and ma- gic. The underlying premise of African occultism is the belief in a spiritual world with spiritual forces that have power to inflict harm on the living. In the traditional African worldview suffering of every sort – illness, barrenness, drought and death – is nor- mally explained in personal terms: “there is always somebody”. This “somebody” often belongs to the world of the occult: a “spirit” has brought pain to human beings and must therefore be repelled or accommodated. This is very common among the Vhavenda-speaking people of the Limpopo Province. This ar- ticle seeks to investigate how occultism is practised among these people and to provide a reformed perspective as to how people who are suffering under demonic attacks can be helped. Contrary to other Christian traditions that see exorcism as the only way out, reformed theology suggests a missio-pastoral approach in dealing with the problem.


Ancestral Cult; Demonology; Occultism; Spirit World


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