Field of Science

Witch hunt in The Gambia

I don't usually condone pointing fingers at other cultures, but in this case I will make an exception:
Amnesty International today revealed that up to 1,000 people in The Gambia have been kidnapped from their villages by “witch doctors”, taken to secret detention centres and forced to drink hallucinogenic concoctions. The incidents are occurring in the context of a “witch- hunting campaign” that is spreading terror throughout the country.
[English, Danish.]

So is my problem that it's called "The Gambia"? Am I just envious that no one calls it "The Denmark". No, no. In fact, we should count ourselves lucky, because it seems to me that the "The" countries are all crazy. The Gambia have their witch-doctors, The Sudan has Darfur, and The USA has their creationists.

But we shouldn't blame the majority of the The Gambians - just because there are some crazy witch-doctor vigilantes, we shouldn't condemn the whole people, or their government, for example.
The witch-doctors were invited to The Gambia [from Guinea] early in the year, soon after the death of President Jammeh’s aunt. The President reportedly believes that witchcraft was used in her death.
Okay, so President Jammeh has his beliefs (which, like all beliefs, we must respect, because... we just must), but that doesn't mean that he wanted them to kidnap people. Surely he sent the police after them when he found that they betrayed his trust and kind invitation.
Eyewitnesses and victims told Amnesty International that the “witch doctors”, who they say are from neighbouring Guinea, are accompanied by police, army and national intelligence agents. They are also accompanied by "green boys" – Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s personal protection guards.
Do the The Gambians have any oil reserves?


  1. "The Netherlands" are going to file an official protest imminently.

  2. So The Gambia has a totalitarian dictator who's rounding up terrori--I mean, communi--no, wait, witches, to torture and imprison and thereby demonstrate his fearsome and absolute power to the huddled masses. It's a sad testament to the state of "President" Jammeh's country that he decided witches were the faceless enemy he could most easily get away with targeting.

    What's most infuriating to me is how Pentecostal missionaries made the African witch hunting problem much worse. Like in Nigeria. People have combined the weirdest demon-happy versions of Pentecostalism with fragments of local animist superstitions into a toxic cocktail of hate and oppression of the weak.



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