In traditional African society, the causes of evil are believed to be:
- Offense against another person or against God, the spirits, or ancestors: African communities perceive evil as an offense committed against someone within the community or against the divine entities they worship.
- Malicious/malevolent spirits: Many African communities believe that evil can be caused by spirits that hold grudges against the living. These spirits may seek to cause harm if offerings and libations are not made to appease them.
- Evil individuals: Some African communities attribute evil to certain individuals who possess mystical powers and use them for malevolent purposes. These individuals, such as wizards, witches, and sorcerers, are believed to cause harm to others.
- Breaking of taboos and curses: Breaking cultural taboos can result in becoming ritually unclean and attracting evil. Additionally, curses by parents or older relatives may lead to harm if one offends them through insults, neglect, or disobedience.
- Breaking of oaths: Making false promises or breaking solemn oaths can be seen as a cause of evil. Oaths were often made to seal arguments or protect oneself from malicious accusations.
- Bad omens: Certain acts, words, or things are believed to bring about harm. These omens are seen as sources of evil in traditional African society.
It is important to note that these beliefs about the causes of evil vary among different African communities.