Witch, sexism and christianity

Those who can make you believe absurdity can make you commit atrocities – Voltaire

With technology we get regular updates of this ancient display of cruelty melted on innocent people in our communities.

Around Christmas last year there was a photo of an elderly lady circulated around, she was thin and frail. She was found climbing an electricity pole and in no time people gathered and made up their stories about her – the easily believed one was that she got tangled up in electric cables as she was returning from a witch meeting, so turned back to human as the cables were too strong for her feather. Thankfully, there were enough sensible people in the crowd as the woman was helped down the electric pole.

Dementia is not widely understood/talked about in Nigeria. I have heard people saying it is àrùn àwon alákọ̀wé (disease of the educated onesas if something in our DNA is changed just by being educated.

There are always hints to many madness in our society – publicly humiliated ones are often elderly, poor and more often than not, are women.

I knew just one man ever that was accused of being a wizard, he was feared, no one ever thought of hurting him, people can only gossip and never to his face. A  few years ago when I asked my dad why that chief was accused of being a wizard despite no evidence of him doing bad thing to anyone. My dad’s explanation shed more lights to the dark side of how women are perceived in our society. He told me that this man who inherited substantial farmland was a bully and selfish. He had four wives and more than a dozen children, he used his children to work the farm from very early age. OK. His sin? People could not understand how someone who had so much wealth refused to support a few children in school, who does that if not a wicked person? The most educated ones amongst the children only had primary school certificate at the time when others with less wealth are doing more for their children.

I grew up to know this man in his 70s and of course the rumour of being a wizard so I learned to look at him with side eye and never think anything bad because he was so powerful and capable of reading thoughts.

But why didn’t people stone this man because of unfounded rumours and yet the same group of people are eager to humiliate, shame and ready to kill a woman for similar wild imaginary tale?

Nigeria christianity and witch hunt:

Today I came across another incidence of an old lady, this one, according to Olofofo adugbo ‘neighbourhood gossip’ it happened at The apostolic Gospel Church somewhere in Lagos. The woman looks old and thin. She was on the floor rolling around to hide her face from the stones being thrown at her. Video clip too upsetting to post here.

The crowd were yelling:

Ki lo wa se nibi? Ta lo ran e wa? – What have you come to do here? Who sent you?

Here people calm one another down:

E duro na, e ni suuru – Wait, be patient.

E je ka gboro l’enu re – Let us hear words from her mouth.

This last line is telling. Because these church goers are somehow convinced that lack of electricity, jobs, fair distribution of wealth, security can now be blamed on this helpless old woman – they now talk to her as one would a child or worse, inferior. What a people.

Church accused witches get the worse treatment because ministers spend time reciting bible passages as if it was written yesterday. I like to remind myself that the Oyinbos that introduced christianity to us stopped the killing of women on the basis of rumours long time ago – ‘1716 was the last time a woman was hanged publicly in England and 1747 was the last time a woman was burned for being a witch anywhere in Europe’ (Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature).

This was possible for the Europeans due to substantial research that proves that anyone would say anything under pressure and when facing death. So why do we still allow our people to be brainwashed into humiliating innocent old people like this? I will never understand.

One way of ‘connecting the dots’ is to understand that we are not all perfect, and that old age has its many surprising sides – it is a whole new challenges for many of our elderly regardless of gender. Disease such as Dementia, a gradual deterioration in ability to think and reason like younger years is very common.

As Steven Pinker pointed out in his book that witch hunts is vulnerable to common sense – I totally agree with this sentiment, especially in a country like Nigeria with so many social and economic challenges, it is pointless trying to cite obvious objective examples.

All I can say is that since we will all grow old one day, a little act of kindness will go a long way to treating old women who come our ways, men too of course but I know we seldom torment old men.

We are no longer in isolated world, symptoms can be researched to educate one another rather than leaving all our fate on faith leaders.



Categories: Health, Nigeria, Religion, Women

Tags: ,

30 replies

  1. Oh I thought no one in the world was watching the trend of things in African Christians have specialized in seeing even demons that don’t exist anywhere. That is the world Folakemi

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, I believe lots of people are watching. Some people feel sorry for us, others think we are hopeless. However, I think the only time we will see end to this madness is when African government starts to treat these perpetrators with befitting punishment. It is just not fear that one can not be poor in peace.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I cannot tell whether or not this post is attacking Christianity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The post is about the absence of fair justice system that protects all lives in Nigeria. If it sounds like an attack on Christianity, this is because Nigerians ways of practice is such that in 2017 ministers still quote old testament to alienate people, always the poor and vulnerable children and never the rich and tithe payers – regardless of source of wealth.

      Thanks for stopping by

      Like

  3. Agree, one must pay a price. However, the ease of information access today should count for something, abi?

    Like

  4. It is interesting to know that at one stage in their history Europeans burnt persons they classed as witches too ……. Hmmmmm is that how far back we still are?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This article makes a whole lot of sense. There should not be any reason to justify the irrationality of the Nigerian society, and the reason why they do some stupid things they do. Reflecting on this article I have taken some time to ponder on the absurdity of some actions the Nigerian mob have undertaken in the past: burning alleged thieves alive, stripping someone naked for whatever reason, and I can confidently state that with all the education that has been introduced into our nation, majority of Nigerians are still backwards in reasoning, and are yet to let go of their inhumane nature. Something needs to be done about this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi FK
    The positive I can draw from these accounts is that there were a handful of sane people who had the courage to do the right thing.
    It seems to me that people are making excuses for unacceptable behaviour by the mob/crowd. Because living conditions are ‘tough’ that is no excuse for behaving inhumanely for a vulnerable and distressed individual. If this was the case then the old and infirm in all ‘poor’ societies would be mistreated, which is not the case. Even in Nigeria, there were a few decent people who did the right thing and they too I’m sure faced difficult living conditions. Nigerians should face facts and admit they are using myths as a cover for them to display their ‘ugly face’ in public. They do it because it is easier to jeer and be hostile than it is to be understanding and helpful.
    As for religion, if the followers can’t embody the teachings in a sincere manner, then they are wasting their time by running to religious venues and spending hours there.
    What do such incidents say about large sections of society? What are adults teaching their many children form them to view the infirm in such an unsympathetic light?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed, there are more awareness now and sensible people are growing slowly.

      Sadly that excuses will continue until we start to investigate crimes properly and perpetrators receive appropriate punishment.
      You are absolutely right that people use myths as cover up, some stories are unbelievable. It is only in Nigeria that a family member dies and the only explanation will be ‘he cries from his sleep, foam at the mouth’ and everyone agrees he must have been poisoned in his dream – case closed.

      What it says about the large section of the society is of backwardness. As we can see in the society today, the distrust for others who are not family or of the same faith is very common. Sad part is that I doubt adults think about children around at all.

      Like

  7. The incredible power of depression, and frustration in the life of an average Nigerian would lead he/she to think whatever. Medicine experts should be looking for pills and preventive orders to curb depression in this part of the world, cause its a silent mind/soul killer, and many are ignorant to this. Depression is Africa’s Cancer.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love your insight into the problems of the aging – especially the women. We are all heading there Fola so your kindness will be needed.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is so true, we live in a country were even the slightest illness like malaria can be traced to shrines and long dead family curses.

    Liked by 1 person

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