Between the Private and the Public Sphere

Pentecostals Dealing with Witchcraft in Ibadan, Nigeria


  • Judith Bachmann Department of Religious Studies and Intercultural Theology, University of Heidelberg



Pentecostalism, Islam, witchcraft, Yoruba, African traditional religion, Christianity


Since the 1980s, Pentecostalism has grown immensely in Nigeria. At the same time, witchcraft fears have intensified and stories about flying women, ritual murders and secret cults have been spread through the Nigerian media. Books allegedly written by former initiates of witchcraft are read by Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals alike. Witchcraft beliefs are cultivated in Pentecostal churches, and researchers credit much of their appeal to the fact that they take such beliefs seriously and address them publicly. This paper gives an example from the field by comparing two Pentecostal churches in urban southwestern Nigeria to discuss how and under which circumstances Pentecostals deal with witchcraft in a public or private manner. It concludes that Pentecostals appropriate global discourses when dealing with witchcraft and oscillate between the private and the public sphere in doing so.

Author Biography

Judith Bachmann, Department of Religious Studies and Intercultural Theology, University of Heidelberg

Judith Bachmann is a PhD student and teaching fellow of religious studies and intercultural theology at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. She has been in Nigeria multiple times. Her research focuses on witchcraft concepts among Christians and Muslims in Ibadan, Nigeria, and the identity politics connected with the topic.


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How to Cite

Bachmann, J. (2017). Between the Private and the Public Sphere: Pentecostals Dealing with Witchcraft in Ibadan, Nigeria. PentecoStudies, 16(2), 160–177.