This paper! is about the interrelations of the witchcraft beliefs of a certain African people and the various social and economic pressures that they were subject to over a period of fifty years or more. The story will show that the content of witchcraft beliefs may be subject to fashions: the beliefs change, as the world to which they refer changes. Among this people the particular and unusual form of the beliefs was associated with economic stagnation, and many of their neighbours blamed the stagnation on the failure of the people to move in some sense into the modern world. Yet, when the opportunity for economic expansion arrived, there was a skilful, if unconscious, adjustment of their beliefs which made it possible for the people to take advantage of the expansion, without shaking the basis of the beliefs themselves. In telling this story, and it is a very interesting one in itself, we shall come upon some sidelights on the nature of witchcraft beliefs, and also perhaps draw some lessons on how far one can blame a people's economic failure upon its cherished beliefs. Such lessons may even have relevance for populations of much greater size. The question of continuity in the structure of belief will also be raised.