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Leo Igwe: The Illusion Of Witchcraft Meetings And Witchphobia In Africa [MUST READ]

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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfAW) combats abuses linked to witchcraft beliefs and ritual attacks. One way it seeks to achieve this goal is to educate and enlighten Africans and get them to abandon illusions and misconceptions that drive witchcraft fears and anxieties. One is the notion that witches, defined as persons with magical or supernatural powers turn into animals and insects, and fly out at night as birds, or in witch planes and baskets. The belief is that these occult agents meet at covens where they suck blood and conspire to kill or harm other humans and their estate. Now do such meetings take place? Are there human beings capable of attending and participating in these spiritual and supernatural gatherings? This piece addresses these questions.

The superstitious belief that witches meet is strong among Nigerians, nay Africans, including the educated ones. Through socialization or indoctrination, the belief that witches metaphysically convene is pervasive. It is an African cultural ubiquity that is so entrenched. Africans dread any supposed or implied witchcraft meeting. A supposed gathering of these principalities and powers unsettles, unhinges, and discomforts them. The delusion underlies the opposition to events that AfAW has organized in Benue state. To better understand the grip of this illusion on the minds of Africans let us take a look at some of the reactions to the meeting of the AfAW in Benue state in Nigeria. In response to a police disruption of the event, someone sent me this message. It states:

“Good afternoon, I have received information that witches wanted to have their first meeting in Benue state on the17th

September 2022 and have been interrupted. I don’t know how true it is but if it is so, I want to inform you that Benue state has been dedicated to the uncontestable God. The only living God. The creator of the heavens and the earth. The one that destroyed satan over two thousand years ago. Your creator Jesus Christ the Lord. There is no little portion of the land for you to have the meeting in Benue State, for he is already in the land. Therefore that meeting cannot hold. Trying to do so is to contend with Him. Thank you”. In reply I said: “If you are ready to learn, please pay attention to this. What we organized was not a witches’ meeting. We the organizers do not believe in the existence of witches. The event was meant to address human rights abuses in the name of witchcraft. We cannot organize meetings for entities that we believe are imaginary and non-existent”.

I invited the guy to a rescheduled event on December 21, 2022. And in response, the person said:

“Benue state has been dedicated to Jesus, try it and you shall see disaster in your midst”.

The illusion that witches planned to meet in Benue blinded this person and others witch believers and fearers in Benue state. Hence the post drips with threats and intimidation. The proposed AfAW meeting took place without any hitches. No disaster occurred as predicted.

The Ortom-led government is consumed by the fear of witches, and the delusion that they meet or could meet in Benue. It acted under the pretension that a witchcraft meeting is real. The Ortom government bought into this illusion and ordered that the AfAW event be stopped. The police in Benue acted based on this misapprehension. They believed that witches could physically gather and meet. In addition, the police did not want to go against the directive of the governor.

Imagine this, if witches, as widely believed, were to meet in Benue state, would the Ortom government stop them? Would the state, which constitutionally does not recognize the reality of witches and witchcraft, be able to prevent or disrupt the gathering? What will they use to stop it? How will they prevent the meeting? Look, the police came to the venue with guns and trucks to arrest witches. What was going on in the minds of the officers on that day? Did the police think that they could arrest witches as popularly believed? Is that not an exercise in absurdity and futility? At best, the Ortom-led government and the police in Benue made a caricature of themselves. They made governing and policing in Benue state a laughing stock.

It is pertinent to state that a witchcraft meeting is a mirage or a fantasy. It is an fictional convocation. Unfortunately, Africans have been deceived and indoctrinated to believe this fantasy as reality or fact for so long. Such a meeting does not take place anywhere except in the minds of the believers. The notion of a witchcraft meeting is rooted in fear and ignorance of nature and the universe. Testimonies of witchcraft meetings are products of accusations or confessions by unstable minds. No human being turns into a bird and flies to witch meetings at night, as believed in Nigeria. No humans fly around on magical planes or baskets as believed in Malawi or Zimbabwe. That is why the caricatures, called witch planes or flying baskets, are always seen lying on the ground. No one sees them flying, taking off, or landing anywhere in Malawi, Zimbabwe, or beyond.

Like people in western countries Africans should abandon the illusion that supernatural witchcraft meetings and other occult nocturnal gatherings take place. They should discard this notion that supposed witches embark on magical flights to a coven where they engage in cannibalism or initiate children and other adults into the witchcraft world. These illusions drive irrational fears and horrific abuses of alleged witches in Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Zimbabwe and other African countries.

Leo Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches which campaigns to end witch-hunting in Africa by 2030. He can be reached via email HERE

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. 

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