Original Research

The place of African belief and germ theory on the causes of human diseases

Emmanuel C. Anizoba
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 42, No 1 | a2366 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v42i1.2366 | © 2021 Emmanuel C. Anizoba | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 September 2021 | Published: 15 December 2021

About the author(s)

Emmanuel C. Anizoba, Department of Religion, Faculty of the Social Sciences, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria; Department of Religion, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


This study looks into the African belief about the mystical causes of diseases and the tenets of Western germ theory. Despite widespread Western medical practices, African people still strongly believe in the mystical causes of diseases. This reveals that as far as the African traditional belief is concerned, Western germ theory cannot satisfy the African belief in the causes of diseases. This is as a result of some of the diseases defying Western healing. The study adopts a qualitative phenomenological research design and descriptive method for data analysis. Personal interview forms a primary source of data collection while the secondary source includes library resources. The study observes that some mystical agents in African cosmology, such as witches and sorcerers, ogbanje, and breaking of taboos are responsible for untimely deaths, infliction of diseases to humankind and other related ailments which are believed to be traditional in nature.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The study recommends that hospitals and healthcare centres, within and outside Africa, should take into consideration the mystical agents as well as the pathogenic agents for good and efficient healing.


African mystical belief; germ theory; witchcraft; causes of disease; medication


Total abstract views: 1375
Total article views: 2802


Crossref Citations

1. Diseases and Healthcare: The African Indigenous Religion Practitioners’ Perspective in Ghana
Konadu Adam, Dennis Tawiah, Dorcas Amedorme
E-Journal of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences  first page: 754  year: 2023  
doi: 10.38159/ehass.2023465