The conviction this week of the Congolese savages who tortured and killed their 15 year old nephew is just the latest in a litany of the appalling abuse of some African children by their extended families. Here in London the Thames is swimming in the dismembered body parts of young black children, slaughtered in either magic ritual or witchcraft hysteria. Africans may describe themselves as Christian or Moslem, but read Christian-animist and Moslem-animist. For beneath the surface the figure of Christ on the cross has just replaced the village fetish, with the remainder of their primitive beliefs intact. Nor is this confined to the poorest and most ill-educated; when the Ghanaian Minister of Transport visited the site of a rail crash with fatalities, he still poured a libation of palm wine to appease the spirits of the dead before attending a modern press call at which he promised the inevitable 'full inquiry'.
Whilst primitive 'Christian' pastors may whip their congregations into a tribal frenzy of witch-fear, the same congregation will afterwards visit the ju ju man for foul potions and tokens to bring wealth, love, fertility or smite enemies. Our local ju ju man has even discovered the power of advertising (but remains ignorant of advertising standards) - the photocopied slip that drops through my letter box every month or so promises he can cure 'cancer, impotence, belly disease, ankles and infertility'. And when misfortune visits an African family, as is seems to do often to these benighted people, they are as likely to believe it the result of a curse as just bad luck. The witch doctor is too powerful to go after, so some innocent like Kristy Bamu gets the blame.