It is important to stress, in this context, that anti-witchcraft movements only began in Africa in the colonial period, in conjunction with the introduction of cash economies that profoundly changed social relations. creating new forms of inequality. (3) Prior to colonization, “witches” were at times punished but rarely killed; in fact, it is even questionable whether we can speak of ‘witchcraft,’ when referring to pre-colonial times, since the term was not used until the coming of the Europeans.
It was in the 1980s and 1990s that —together with the debt crisis, structural adjustment, currency devaluation— the fear of ‘witches’ became a dominant concern in many African communities, so much so that “even ethnic groups…who had no knowledge of witchcraft before colonial time today believe to have witches in their midst.” (Danfulani 2007: 181)
these witch-hunts are not a legacy of the past, but are a response to the social crisis that globalization and neo-liberal restructuring of Africa’s political economies have produced.
Silvia FEDERICI, Witch-Hunting, Globalization, and Feminist Solidarity in Africa Today p. 4