The Elderly in Kilifi County Age in Fear amid Witchcraft Allegations

Kilifi County (20)

Located in Kenya’s Coast, Kilifi County is a major tourist destination. Gedi ruins, Beaches, and Watamu Marine Parks are some of the famous tourist attractions in this County. But, behind the scenes is a local community that’s losing the elderly every day.  Most of the elderly are killed due to allegations of witchcraft.  However, poverty and greed may be other factors fueling this rampage. Older people have always received a lot of respect in many parts of Africa. But that’s not the case in this part of Kenya. The elderly are always in fear of being attacked and killed.

Sad Stories

Mr. Kazungu has come face to face with this monsterity. Together with his family, or what’s left of it, they live in Bonea Village, Petangua Subcounty, Ganze Constituency. His father left home in early November 2019 to visit an ailing relative, never to return. After efforts to look for him for a few days, they found him hacked to death in a nearby forest.  His father was always in the line of fire since some family members suspected he practiced witchcraft. It started in the 1990s when a child succumbed to snakebite, but the locals and family members claimed that Kazungu’s father was the reason she died. They believed that he practiced sorcery, and they have been trying to kill him since then.  Efforts to report to the authorities bore no fruits since the law enforcers always have a hard time establishing who caused the murder.

In a close village, Ms. Chanzera was murdered after under suspicion that she bewitched her grandson. According to her son, Ms. Chanzera was a humble woman who loved working on her farm. They attacked her without any proof that she practiced sorcery. However, further reports show that her son was involved in a land dispute with his ex-wife. The assailants may have murdered Ms. Chanzera to get her son to release the land.

In a nearby village, a man involved in a land dispute suffered the same predicament. Even though he survived, he and his wife sustained several injuries. He claims that he was involved in a land dispute conflict where one of the parties promised to retaliate.


Kaya Godhoma, located in Ganze Constituency, has offered sanctuary to several elders who have escaped these attacks. Many elders call this place home after their societies turned against them. The refuge is more of a traditional setting. It aims to preserve the cultures of the Giriama community. Members of the population believe the spirits of their ancestors hover around this place.  That’s why they observe cleanliness at all times.

In this sanctuary, elders share sad stories. Almost all of them have fled their homes due to witchcraft allegations. However, after some time, it turns out that their family members are reaching for their property. Besides the physical harm that these elders have faced, they have also suffered mental agony. After seeing the families they tried to raise turn against them. Some even know the identities of their attackers, but they can’t do anything about it.

This sanctuary has more than 100 elders, but only seven of them are women. This fact also shows that these attacks could be targeting older men in the Giriama community. Efforts to clear the records for these victims are futile. Even after family members have confirmed that their elderly aren’t witches, they will still go after them.


Poverty and low literacy levels in this part of the Country could be the causes of these problems. According to the Kenya Population and Housing Census 2019 statistics, the majority of the youths in some regions in Kilifi County have only attained primary school education. A few of them have managed to get to high school.  Since motorcycles are prestigious in this region, these youths are willing to sell ancestral land to buy one. They will go so far to get their parents out of the picture so that they can sell their property.

According to police records, 108 older adults died in 2014, and 104 elderly were killed in 2015. Between 2008 and 2018, about 300 older adults within Kilifi County are victims of these attacks.


As a result of these attacks, the elderly have come up with a drive to stop this violence. The campaign goes by, “Uzee si uchawi, Uzee ni hekima. (Old age is not witchcraft. Old age is wisdom.) The authorities in this area are also doing their best to stop these killings and violence towards the elderly. According to them, family members are the number one culprits in these murders. They’ve also confirmed that it is difficult to conduct investigations since the family members aren’t quite cooperative. It’s hard to get them to testify too. Most cases don’t hold in court, and most murders go unpunished.

Final Words

Witchcraft is like a religion in this part of the Country. Some traditional medical practitioners have permits to practice, but some of them practice witchcraft and dark magic. To solve these killings once and for all, the relevant stakeholders need to deal with this belief. They can introduce other religions and Education. Their current leads to members of the community associating regular diseases to witchcraft. As a result, they start looking for who may have bewitched them, instead of looking for scientifically proven ways of dealing with these diseases. Eradicating these beliefs goes a long way in establishing peace ion Kilifi County. If the Government doesn’t act sooner, the elderly population may reduce to zero in the next ten years.





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