Film: Satanism - An Eye Witness Account

A film produced by FENZA and CMSTV (2010). The film is available at FENZA

The film Satanism: An Eye Witness Account (28 min) was produced jointly by CMSTV Studios & FENZA (2010). It takes seriously the inner experiences that many youths have undergone in Zambia (based on testimonies collected by the "Fingers of Thomas"). At the same time the film tries to go beyond the immediacies of the testimonies, and brings in a reflective and critical angle.

The film was made to be a tool to enhance group discussions on the topic of Satanism in Zambia, and to diminish fear.

The opening scene is based on a true life story, where a young man (in the film called Alex) was invited to an overnight prayer at a big house. He was offered money and encouraged to become a "member". Suspecting Satanism, he decided to run away from the prayer meeting. The Fingers of Thomas followed up his case, but could not prove a connection of the suspected prayer-group with Satanism. Because of the rumours and testimonies of Satanism, many churches today in Zambia have become suspect by the public.

The film then introduces the testimonies of two delivered Satanists (played by brilliant actors). Satanists in Zambia speak about initiation, going to another world, sacrifices of family members, and failed missions when they encountered prayer. They give a detailed account of an unseen spiritual world that many Christians somehow believe in, yet cannot see. The testimonies of the film are based on real-life testimonies of several Satanists, whose identities the film protects.

Initiation happened involuntarily for many Satanists in Zambia. Experiences of being taken into another world often started with dreams. At a certain point it became difficult and even impossible to distinguish their subjective inner worlds from the objective outer world.

The Fingers of Thomas try to bring back the distinction of the inner from the outer world, for the sake of clarification. The inner world is marked by the realm of belief & faith, by childhood experiences and by a personal life-history. It is a real world. But public action, so the Fingers, should be based on the issues of the outer world that are available to all. This principle is not always followed in Zambia. Many children, for example, were forced to leave school, because of accusations derived from the dreams, prophesies or inner experiences of other people.

The new context of Satanism has changed the prayer-life of many Christians. People may be praying more because of the perceived threats of the Devil. But prayers have become often very fearful. Many pray - not out of trust that God is all around them - but because of fear: a lack of prayer will make them more vulnerable to Satanic attacks. Prayer out of fear may in the long run even increase the vulnerability to experiences of Satanic possession.

The testimomies of many delivered Satanists are marked by common key-symbols: blood, black clothes, the ocean, the underworld, rings, queens, black cars, spiritual husbands or wives. Satanism is a new phenomenon, but many of the Satanic symbols have a long history in Zambia, reaching deep into colonial times, when people spoke of 'banyama' or 'bakamunyama'. Modern Zambian Satanism may be a new tree, but it has old roots, going back to concepts of both spirit possession and witchcraft.

The symbolism around which unfolded the inner experiences of many delivered Satanists in Zambia was also marked by Pentecostal/ charismatic preaching and a dualistic worldview, where humans find themselves entrapped in the spiritual fight between a powerful Jesus and a Devil who is nearly as powerful and never absent. People who feel to be possessed, often find themselves torn-up in this fight. Their own inner powers (will-powers, freedom, value system, sense of a personal identity) are compromised in the face of the spiritual powers (good or evil) who seem to take over. For this reason the Fingers of Thomas propose a way of prayer that does not focus on the spiritual powers of a pastor, but on building up an own stregth and a sense of personal identity in faith. Family therapy also helps to create a conducive environment in which people can recover. Demons, according to the Fingers of Thomas, can not just be prayed away. There are other issues involved in demon-possession (social, psychological) that need to be taken into consideration.

Satanism in Zambia has to do also with new experiences of inequalities. The socio-economic landscape of Zambia has changed very drastically within the last two decades. Simultaneously also the Zambian concepts of the occcult world changed. The symbolic world of Satanism describes in a unique way how many people envisahe the effects of modern life in Zambia. Many feel that their life-force, their free will, and also the unity of their families has been sacrificed to the egoistic tendencies of individual family members. Access to power and wealth in Zambia remain opaque.

As a way to help, the Fingers of Thomas propose to

  1. Avoid fear. Avoiding a person suspected of Satanism makes things often worse, not better.
  2. Engage with the person; build on the strong points of the person. In this way the own inner powers / the free will can be restored.
  3. Unite the family. When the whole family is engaged in the process of healing and acceptance, and where also outstanding family issues can be addressed, a new living environment is created for all.
  4. Pray - using the symbols and faith of the person suffering from spiritual attacks.  

click here for more information on the "Fingers of Thomas".

Consult the DOCUMENT SECTION for articles and papers based on the work of the "Fingers of Thomas"