Black parents, its depression not witchcraft


I just pray to witness the day black parents rescue their children from depression.

That’s the thing, in black families once you drift from your stable mental state, and start acting weirdly, people label you as bewitched or drug addict.

Few months ago, my brother was not himself anymore, but he still smiled and pretended but he was creepy. That calm, soft spoken brother I knew was gone, his eyes were full of anger and his mouth uttered words I didn’t know existed.      

I engaged my parents on this matter, dad said he’ll speak to him “Man to man” that was before my aunt suggested he was bewitched. But I knew even if my dad speaks to him, he’ll never open up because they don’t have that kind of relationship. A relationship where you can freely go to your dad and seek his advice without fear, that they didn’t have. My father never created that kind of bond.  

So, to them my brother was bewitched because he could not clean himself like he used to, he wasn’t friendly like he used to, he didn’t do chores at home like he used to, he had red eyes, he had a loud angry voice and lastly he started drinking alcohol.

At the age of 22 years, he chose to make alcohol fashionable in his life, he chose to be everything we saw in him and he wasn’t bewitched, that’s what I thought.

That time, aunt and dad were undisputable the boy needed prayers or God had to save him- because he had demons and was bewitched.

I sat there and observed, whenever my brother went to any room at home someone had to follow him just in case he steals money from people’s wallets. Not just people, but his own family.

That hurt me.

I chose to be soft to him. In me I created a room for him to use to rest and to freely introduce what was on his chest without being scared of judgements from imperfect people.  He started opening up to me. We understood each other because I knew I had to win him over.   

Failing dismal several modules at the university, feeling lonely, his girlfriend experiencing miscarriage, feeling unloved, unsupported by his sisters and feeling worthless. Those were all the issues he listed to me, he was bothered by things no one knew of.

Grief and depression co-existed in his life and he could not summon enough courage to tell his family about what was bothering him. That was depression. A common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how a person feel, think and act. A medical illness that causes feelings of sadness and leads to a variety of emotional and physical problems and decreases a person’s ability to function at work, school and home.

That experience made me think that perhaps many homes have been destroyed by the “They bewitched me” mentality which has crippled so many black people. Black parents, must always keep in mind sometimes it’s depression not witchcraft and they have to love and support their children in everything they do.

I just wish black parents could talk to their children, build their confidence, be curious about how they feel and their plans in life. Black parents must start to be emotionally present to their children’s lives.

Depression will continue to silently kill our youth as long as we hide behind witchcraft. I am not saying witchcraft doesn’t exist, in fact I don’t know but we mustn’t hide behind the “They bewitched me” mentality.

Thus far, according to South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) report about 23 people die by suicide in South Africa each day, and hundreds more make a suicide attempt every 24 hours. The organization receives approximately over 400 calls each day and increasing issues are mostly linked to feelings of loneliness, relationship problems, grief and holiday anxiety.  

It has also been reported that depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life.    

The (Sadag) report doesn’t indicate race, but I am putting emphasis on black parents to take care of their children even at a mental level because I too have black parents and have seen how they deal with the issue of depression. 

And what we need to take note of is the fact that depression is among the most treatable illnesses of mental disorders. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of people with depression eventually respond well to treatment. Hence, before diagnosis medical and family history, cultural factors and environmental factors are key indicators to arrive at a diagnosis and plan a course of action.

So, as we speak my brother is going through the treatment and I urged my black parents to be supportive and work together with the psychiatrist.

Let’s beat depression. 


Siwaphiwe Myataza, a Political Science graduate from the University of the Western Cape. Currently, a content producer at the Media and Writers Firm.