Mental Floss

How do you tell a witch?

Ransom Riggs

If only all my blog titles could be Monty Python references. Perhaps that would reflect something beautiful -- and silly -- about the state of the world. Alas, this isn't funny at all: witchcraft, as parodied by the Pythons and decried by medieval Europeans, 17th century Puritans and other groups from history, is currently being cast out of children in modern-day Angola. According to the BBC, "healer" compounds that call themselves churches act as prisons for mentally ill or misbehaving young children, who are more often than not sent there by their parents. (Others are orphans produced by the country's 30-year civil war.) The similarity between the "cures" administered to these "bewitched" children and those inflicted upon historical victims in Salem and elsewhere is striking: kids are starved, chained to walls, beaten, drowned and otherwise abused.

Angola isn't the only African nation which has churches that subscribe to witchcraft: modern-day witch-hunts have also been reported in South Africa, Tanzania (where older women with red eyes are sometimes killed as suspected witches), the Congo and elsewhere. It's certainly happening in other parts of the world, too; strange to think that 400 years after Salem, women and children are still being targeted in this way.