A report has inundated the internet claiming that the University of Zambia is set to develop a degree programme to train students in witchcraft and rituals among others after getting $340,000 grant from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
It is understood that the training will commence with an initial intake of 20 students.
The programme, known as Intangible Heritage, covers witchcraft, and social practices such as expression through music, knowledge, skills as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and rituals.
In the report, Secretary General of the Zambia National Commission for UNESCO, Charles Ndakala, said despite efforts in safeguarding cultural heritage, there were cases of destruction of priceless culture heritage in certain countries which threatens traditions and customs.
The news follows an announcement by the Higher Education Minister, Professor Nkandu Luo in November 2017.
He stated that Zambia should consider carrying out research and study of witchcraft as a science which can be used to combat crime amongst other negative elements in the country.
Zambian varsity reacts
But the university, in a press release issued early July, dissociated itself from the ‘misinformation’ generated through social media on the well-intended degree programme in Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), which will be funded by UNESCO.
This is according to a statement issued to the media by Public Relations manager Damaseke Chibale.
Lusaka Times reported Public Relations Manager Damaseke Chibale as saying that Witchcraft is a crime in Zambia as prescribed in Chapter 90 of the Laws of Zambia (The Witchcraft Act.).
He said in line with the Witchcraft Act the University of Zambia Senate would not approve such a purported degree programme.
The new degree programme in ICH, funded by UNESCO is yet to be developed and approved by the Univeristy of Zambia Senate.
According to a UNESCO 2003 Convention ‘intangible cultural heritage’ means the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and in some cases individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage.
Chibale said Zambia as a nation and a people is rich in tangible cultural heritage which includes Gule Wa Mukulu and Makishi Dance.