“Get rid of this evil”: High Court judge calls govt to ban all shrines in Uganda

Judge Margaret Mutonyi

Published: August 29, 2018
By: Ug Christian News

A High Court judge has asked government to ban shrines throughout the country, a local news daily has reported.

Judge Margaret Mutonyi while addressing hundred at an event organised by one Christian Charity and advocacy organisation, Kyampisi Childcare Ministries (KCM) said Parliament should enact a law to ban shrines in this country.

“If I had powers, I would have ordered immediate demolition of all shrines to get rid of this evil since they are semi-permanent structures where owners can easily be compensated,” she said.

Her appeal comes at a time reports on the practice of ritual killing and human sacrifice continue to make headlines in the country. This is a ruthless practice of removing body parts, blood or tissue from an individual, alive or dead. A victim that survives sacrifice is left with traumatizing consequences for the rest of their lives.

Earlier this month, Police officials confirmed the arrest of six witch doctors after five human bodies and a skull believed to be of a child were retrieved from their shrines in Kayunga District. They have been remanded on murder charges, sources said.

“We should not only look at stopping this evil of child sacrifice but look at the genesis of this problem. I work in Mukono where shrines (owners) thrive and camouflage as traditional healers while using funny things like blood. Parliament should enact a law to ban shrines in this country,” Margaret Mutonyi said, according to the Daily Monitor.

The Judge urged that shrines have no place in the modern world.

“We are faced with this brutality but those who are still alive have no body parts and are suffering even when their tormentors are punished. But with the looming amendment (in the laws), they should include psycho-socio support to victims and treatment by government,” the judge advised.

Justice Mike Chibita, the Director of Public Prosecutions according to the media outlet urged the public to join the fight against human sacrifice.

“It takes a village to raise a child, let us continue with that role and strive to protect the children,” he said.

Source: “Get rid of this evil”: High Court judge calls govt to ban all shrines in Uganda

 

Liberia’s elections, ritual killings and cannibalism (2011)

I have written extensively about Liberia’s history of ritual killings, in books, articles, and on my website ‘Liberia: Past and Present of Africa’s Oldest Republic‘, notably in the section ‘Past and Present of Ritual Killings: From Cultural Phenomenon to Political Instrument‘.

I was confronted with the phenomenon of ritualistic murders in Liberia when living in Monrovia – where I taught at the University of Liberia – and, later, in Harper, capital of Maryland County, in the second half of the 1970s. In Harper I witnessed the public execution of the Harper Seven, in 1979. They were convicted of the ritual murder of a fisherman and popular singer, Moses Tweh, and sentenced to death by hanging. The trial of the Harper Seven turned out to be Liberia’s most notorious ritual killing case.

Big shots’ were involved, such as Maryland County’s Superintendent, Daniel Anderson – son of the Chairman of Liberia’s only political party, the True Whig Party – and Allen Yancy, member of the House of Representatives for Maryland County and cousin of former Liberian president William Tubman (1944 – 1971). Reportedly, Allen Yancy had been involved in previous ritual murder cases but he was never convicted, allegedly because of Tubman’s protection.
Ritualistic killings in Liberia have been rampant, and I fear the gruesome practice has far from disappeared – as is demonstrated by the article reproduced below.

The article reproduced below summarizes well Liberia’s recent history of ritualistic murders. What used to be a cultural phenomenon – human sacrifices for the well-being of the clan or tribe – has become a political instrument, used by unscrupulous politicians and businessmen to further their interests.

I will not dwell too long here on these atrocities and outdated but persistent beliefs in supernatural powers. Readers are invited to visit my website for more details.

Last but not least, my publications on ritual murders in Liberia became the prelude to the present website on ritual killings in Africa in general. See the site’s menu, notably the section ‘Why publish this site?

Public execution by hanging of the ‘Harper Seven’, including Maryland Superintendent Daniel Anderson and Representative Allen Yancy, at dawn in Harper, Liberia on February 16, 1979. Picture taken by Fred van der Kraaij (copyrights).


Liberia’s elections, ritual killings and cannibalism

Published: August 01, 2011 · 10:52 AM UTC
By: Emily Schmall and Wade Williams

MONROVIA, Liberia — The pregnant woman was found dead in the shallows of Lake Shepherd. The fetus had been removed.

A candidate for Liberia’s Senate and a former county attorney are among those standing trial for the 2009 murder, the latest in a long history of ritual sacrifices performed for political power in Liberia.

In this case in southeastern Maryland County, prosecutors were tipped off by a witch doctor who provided a list of 18 people allegedly connected to the killing, including Fulton Yancy, the former county attorney, and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Special Envoy and Ambassador-at-Large Dan Morias.

Vials of blood were discovered in Yancy’s home. Nine were charged with murder but were released earlier this month following a Supreme Court ruling.

Liberia will have general elections later this year and the ritual killings tend to flare up during election season, according to Jerome Verdier, former chairman of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

”Unfortunately it happens during elections time because people are competing for political power, they don’t know God and they believe that these supernatural powers will come to them once human blood is shed,” Verdier said.

During Liberia’s two-decades-long civil war hundreds were killed for ritual purposes, the TRC discovered during its hearings.

”During our research at the TRC we found out that bloodshedding was very, very common during the conflict. People killed indiscriminately women and children believing that it would give them some power to continue fighting and that they would be protected,” said Verdier.

Liberia’s Maryland County has traditionally been the hub for the country’s ritual murders. The killings have haunted the southeastern county for decades. In recent years, however, ritual killing cases have cropped up across the country.

Verdier said some of those who confessed at the TRC hearing gave graphic accounts of ritual killings they carried out.

“People went as far as eating their opponent’s body — when such person is killed in battle they cook their body to eat, believing that the spirit, the powerful spirit of that person, will come to them and by eating them, the person’s power is completely destroyed, so there can be no reemergence in that person’s family line or their ethnic line.”

‘General Butt Naked’, a notorious warlord in Liberia’s First Civil war (1989 – 1997) testified and confessed before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that he committed numerous ritualistic murders and ate body parts of his victims.

A former warlord who calls himself General Butt Naked and who fought against former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, confessed in 2008 to taking part in human sacrifices that included the killing of a child and “plucking out the heart, which was divided into pieces for us to eat.”

In 2005, the leader of Liberia’s transitional government, Gyude Bryant, pledged to hang anyone found guilt of ritual killing.

Dispatched to Maryland County by President Johnson Sirleaf to calm residents’ fears earlier this year, Justice Minister Christiana Tah acknowledged that “there are still lots of unresolved cases of this nature,” according to a report in the daily New Democrat.

In a case from the 1970s known as the Maryland Murders, seven people, including Fulton Yancy’s older brother Allen Yancy, a member of the House of Representatives, were hanged for killing a fisherman (see picture above). The following year Defense Minister Gray D. Allison was convicted of killing a police officer whose body was discovered on the Bong Mines railroad, apparently used in a ritual sacrifice. The government at the time displayed blood drained in gallons believed to be that of the dead man.

Dan Morias, one of those accused of the 2009 killing of a pregnant woman, is planning to run for senator in the upcoming legislative elections in October. He has maintained that the charges against him are politically motivated. He must be cleared of the charges to be eligible to run for office.

Morias is listed in the TRC report for alleged abuses committed while he served as Minister of Internal Affairs for the Charles Taylor regime. When reached by GlobalPost, Morias said he could not comment on the case as it would be “prejudicial,” but insisted that the evidence against him — namely the testimony of a witch doctor — was “weak.”

Earlier this year, President Johnson Sirleaf warned Maryland County citizens against seeking retribution for the killings with a traditional practice called “sassywood” or “trial by ordeal.”

The government insists that trial by ordeal is illegal and Johnson Sirleaf banned the practice in April 2007. Since then traditional leaders have been pleading with the government to allow them to practice the act which they believe is the only way justice can be served in cases like these.

“Sassywood” is the insertion of an accused person’s extremity into hot oil or the placing of a heated metal on a suspect’s body. If the suspect is burned then it is concluded that he or she is guilty but if there is no burn then the suspect is deemed innocent and set free. Those found guilty are killed.

The police are working to stamp out both the ritual killings and the “sassywood” practices, said George Bardue, spokesman for the Liberia National Police: “The police are doing everything possible to make sure that these things do not happen.”

Emily Schmall is a multimedia journalist now based in Monrovia, Liberia, where she serves as country director for New Narratives, a journalism mentorship project for women. Wade Williams is a New Narratives fellow and an editor at FrontPage Africa, Liberia’s most widely circulated newspaper.

Source: Liberia’s elections, ritual killings and cannibalism
GlobalPost

Wave of Ritual Killings Spark Panic in Cameroon (2013)

The two articles reproduced here date from 2013, hence the reported cases of ritual killing are no recent ones. Be that as it may, I believe they are authentic and the reported cases are genuine.
Late 2012 the population of Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, was terrified after the disappearance of 18 young women and the subsequent discovery of their mutilated bodies. In September 2013, parliamentary elections were held in Cameroon. They were originally scheduled for July 2012, but were repeatedly postponed: February 2013, July 2013, and finally held on September 30, 2013, alongside local elections. It has never been proven that the wave of ritual killings in 2012 was linked to the planned elections, but observers of ritualistic murders in Africa point to the fact that often there is an increase in ritual killings during election campaigns. Also, as one of the articles states, ritual killings were common in Cameroon until the 1970s though more recently the number of ritualistic murders has decreased. (webmaster FVDK)

Ritual Killings: 18 Young Women Found Murdered With Brains, Eyes, Genitals Missing

Published on January 23, 2013
By: Naij.com

A series of ritual killings of young women in the West African nation of Cameroon has caused panic in the capital city Yaoundé.

Families are now refusing to let their daughters go out after a spate of gruesome killings of young girls who were abducted by the drivers of motorcycle taxis before being murdered and dismembered.

Police have found 18 mutilated bodies on the streets of the capital in the past two weeks, five of them outside a nursery school, and all are believed to be linked to occult rituals.

In some parts of the country traditional healers believe that body parts including eyes, genitals, breasts and tongues have mystical powers, with many believing they bring riches and other good fortune.  Others believe that performing a human sacrifice will bring good luck.

Ritual killings were common in Cameroon until the 1970s but as education spread, the number of murders decreased.

Now families fear the practice is coming back, with the latest wave of killings causing near-hysteria in the capital city.

This week, the sister of a 17-year-old girl whose corpse was found on Friday outside a nursery school, minus the genitals, tongue, eyes, hair and breasts, wrote to Cameroon President Paul Biya demanding action to prevent further killings.

Deborah Ngoh Tonye Epouse Mvaebeme said her sister, Michele Mbala Mvogo, a student at the government bilingual High School Yaoundé was abducted three days before her body was found outside a nursery school. She accused the city’s commonly-used motorcycle taxi drivers of facilitating the murder, and said the government had failed to do enough to protect the victims, who were from the poverty-stricken neighbourhoods of Mimboman and Biteng.

One local said: ‘The moto-taxi drivers are the assassins’ accomplices, and their targets are girls aged 16-25 who get the taxis after nightfall.  For a large sum of money, these girls are delivered to men in the suburbs who do the rest.’

The head of a Mimboman nursery school told afrik.com how she found one of the bodies outside her school.

She said: ‘It was a strong smell of rotting that drew my attention, so I decided to do a tour of the school. ‘That’s how I found, behind one classroom, a body of a young girl in an advanced state of decomposition, with her underwear placed on her feet, before my very eyes.’

Families in the neighbourhood are said to be in a state of hysteria, banning their girls from taking motorbike taxis and keeping them indoors after dark.

Communication minister Tchiroma Bakary said: ‘Ritual sacrifices with a demoniac connotation are unacceptable and intolerable, and the government will do all it can to put a stop to it.’

Ngoh Tonye, whose sister was murdered, told CNN: ‘There is laxity in the forces in ensuring security in the capital.’

The bodies of the five most recent victims were identified yesterday, according to a State security official who said most of the victims were high school students aged 15-26.

Two men have been arrested in connection with the killings but so far no charges have been brought.

The Cameroon capital, which has a population of just over two million, is in a state of distress with families staying behind locked doors as soon as darkness falls. Police warn pedestrians to walk in groups at all times and have cracked down on local bars frequented by criminals, shutting them down in the dozens. Vigilante groups of young men guard the streets at night and hunt for the killers, as the people of Yaoundé say the police are not doing enough to keep the city safe.

The new wave of gruesome killings in the capital has also seen dozens of complaints about mutilated corpses in the mortuaries of Yaoundé’s public hospitals, according to Health Minister André Mama Fouda.

Source:
Ritual Killings: 18 Young Women Found Murdered With Brains, Eyes, Genitals Missing

Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon

Related article:

Wave of Ritual Killings Spark Panic in Cameroon, Increase Safety Measures

Published: 28th February 2013, 14:15 GMT+11
By: Global Press Institute – Nakinti Nofuru

BAMENDA, CAMEROON When Sarah Ewang, 41, heard about the homicide and dismemberment of 18 young women in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, she cried and prayed to God to give strength to the victims families.

Ewang, a jewelry trader in Bamenda, the capital of the Northwest region, can understand the pain the girls endured during the moments before they were slain by alleged ritual killers. I came so close with ritual killers, she says. God delivered me from the hands of those evil men.

During 2005, Ewang traveled from Bamenda to Douala, the capital of the Littoral region, to buy jewelry to restock her shop. In Douala, she entered a taxi already occupied by two men, who appeared to be passengers. As they drove, another woman stopped the taxi. Moments after picking up the second woman, one of the men in the car pointed a gun at them and ordered them to keep quiet. I tried to shout, but one of the men slapped me very hard, Ewang says.

The taxi took a sharp turn off the main road and drove for more than an hour into an isolated forest. Eventually, the car stopped at a strange-looking hut, constructed of sticks, grass and old bags. I knew my life was coming to an end, Ewang says, and the next thing I thought of was my 3-months-old baby.

She says she cried out and received a second slap from the man carrying the gun, causing her to pass out. When she awoke, she discovered that they had removed her from the car. The driver and one of the men walked into the hut, but the man with the gun remained with them. She says they were ritual killers. They didnt request for anything from us, Ewang says, so they didnt look like armed robbers or thieves.

Finally, the two men emerged, along with four other men carrying cutlasses. Desperate, Ewang cried aloud in her local dialect, Bakossi. Oh my God, I will die and leave my 3-months-old daughter to who? she says she cried. Oh God, please come and help me.

Immediately after she spoke, the man with the gun walked up to her and looked her in her eyes but did not say a word, she says. He then led the other men back into the hut, where they remained for more than 45 minutes. Eventually, the man with the gun returned and asked her and the other woman to get into the car.

The men returned them to Douala and told them to walk away without causing any alarm. As they walked away, the man with the gun spoke. Go and look after your 3-months-old baby, she says that he told her in Bakossi. Extend my greetings to her. Tell her that her forest uncle sends his greetings. Your fluency in your dialect has saved your soul.

As soon as she heard the man speaking her dialect, Ewang stopped, fell to the ground and wept. She says he must have been from the same tribe as her in the Southwest region, where she is originally from. The men drove away, probably to look for the next victim, Ewang says.

Now, eight years later, news of recent killings in Yaoundé has brought fear to Ewangs home in Bamenda as she recalls her own experience.

It is an experience I will live to remember, she says, her voice breaking, and then bursts into tears. May God come to our rescue. Her youngest daughter, who was 3 months old at the time, is now 8. She uses her right hand to dry her mothers eyes. Mummy, dont cry, she says.

Since the discovery of nearly 20 young womens corpses in December and January, women in Bamenda say they will stop at nothing to ensure the safety of their daughters from ritual killers. Young women advise each other to not go out at night. Teachers report that lectures on safety tips for their pupils have intensified in their schools. Local police state that they are working to maintain peace and security for the population.

The dismembered corpses of 18 young women were discovered in Yaoundé, some hidden in bushes and one discovered by a headmistress in a primary school classroom, says Mark, a member of the Rapid Intervention Battalion in Bamenda, who declined to publish his last name for reasons of job security. The battalion is a special branch of the police force in Cameroon tasked with responding to emergency situations.

News reports also reached Bamenda that vital parts of the corpses were missing, including the womens breasts, eyes, kidneys and heart, Mark says.

A lecturer at the University of Bamenda, who requested anonymity to ensure his safety, explains that the removal of those body parts is what marks the deaths of these young women as ritual killings.

He explains that ritualists pay killers to come back with certain body parts, which the ritualists then take to witch doctors or use themselves. Ritualists are usually people seeking fame, money, or positions in government and politics.

Although there were occasional reports of ritual killing in Cameroon before, he says, they were not as large in scope or frequency as the massive killing that recently occurred in Yaoundé.

Beatrice Ngwe, a mother of four girls and one boy, lives with her family in Bamenda. Ngwe says she feels the pain of the mothers in Yaoundé who lost their daughters to ritualists.

Being a mother of four girls is not easy, she says with a heavy voice. I fear for their life all the time.

Ngwes friends daughter disappeared during 2008 after the woman sent her 9-year-old to deliver a message, Ngwe says. The girls body has not been found, leading the town to suspect she became a victim of a ritual killing.

Ngwe says she would not want to live with the guilt of being the author of any of her daughters or sons misfortune, so she is taking extra safety precautions. These days, she fears even more that they may be killed for ritual purposes.

I will die to protect my daughters, Ngwe says. If an errand is very important that it cant wait to see the light of the next day, I prefer to go on it myself.

Melanie Vishiy, 22, is a student at Trinity Computer Training Center in Bamenda. She says she fears for her life because of the news of ritual killings of young women in Yaoundé as well as of another girl during January in Nkambe, a town in the Northwest region.

Since I heard of the death of the young girls in Yaoundé and in Nkambe, I dont go out after 6 p.m., she says, shaking her head. No, I dont, not even to urinate at night. I do that in a small bucket meant for the purpose.

Vishiy had heard of incidents of ritual killings before. But she says that she didnt understand the reality of it and was never scared until news broke about the recent series of deaths.

Now, she says she has never been so scared and alert in her life. She doesnt trust any man she comes across while walking alone.

If a man is on a path with me, just two of us, I make sure I start preparing my heels for running, she says. I look at him directly into his face and try to keep a reasonable distance from him.

Vishiy advises girls to stay indoors for their safety.

I am calling on girls and women to stay close to homes, she says. I am not saying that they shouldnt go out there and have fun, but they should do it with limitation and reasoning.

Beyond the home, teachers in Bamenda are doing their part to spread the message of safety.

Sarah Koye is a teacher at Government Bilingual Primary School Group 2 in Bamenda. She says the recent killings in Yaoundé have prompted teachers to introduce safety tips to their pupils.

We ask them to always move in groups when coming to school and when going back home, Koye says.

Some teachers go as far as asking pupils to tell their parents that they should not send them on errands in the dark or on lonely roads.

The children know what is going on in the nation, she says. When she asked her students whether they had heard about the killings, some children shouted that they had watched it on the news, while others had heard about it from their parents and friends. At school, children shared safety tips that they had received at home.

Because all victims since December have been women, Koye focuses extra training on female students. Some ritual killers begin by violating the children sexually, so she has also introduced some elementary sex education and lessons on morality.

Koye helps the students understand that they are too young for sexual activities and advises them to run and scream if a man makes such advances. She asks them not to follow strange men into homes or bushes. Teachers also tell pupils not to speak with or to accept gifts from strangers on the way to and from school.

In our days, we could receive things from strangers, talk with strange people on the way, without any strings attached, she says. Today, such interactions may only lead to danger. We tell our pupils to be very careful and alert.

The students are doing their best to take the advice that they are being given in school, Koye says.

Outside of school and the home, the police is working to protect the population of Bamenda.

Ever since the ritual killing cases in Yaoundé, the commissioner of police has asked the force to be more vigilant, Mark of the Rapid Intervention Battalion says. They are to arrest and interrogate anybody walking the streets late at night.

We patrol the town all night just to make sure that nothing goes wrong, he says. We have arrested and interrogated many suspects that we find in suspicious places in the heart of the night.

Mark says the battalions lines are open to all. They have received many calls both day and night from people who find themselves in difficult situations. He says the force always goes to their rescue and doesnt spare any suspect from questioning and possible detainment.

He says the number of calls they receive and suspects they have pursued is confidential. But so far, there have been no cases of ritual killing in Bamenda.

Security has stepped up in all the towns of Cameroon, Mark says. He asks the public to trust the capabilities of the police.

We will stop at nothing to put this town under serious surveyance, he says.

Source: Wave of ritual killings spark panic in Cameroon, increase safety measures

Les Enfants d’Abord Launches Campaign to End Violence Against Children in Senegal

 

Les Enfants d’Abord Launches Campaign to End Violence Against Children in Senegal

Published: 25 April 2018

NEW ORLEANSApril 24, 2018PRLog — Non-profit organization Les Enfants d’Abord, based in New Orleans and supported by community organizers and local influencers, launches its campaign to end horrifying violence against children in the country of Senegal.

The previous four months have seen a staggering rise in kidnappings and child killings in Senegal which has cultivated an air of fear across the country. Although the direct cause of the violence is unknown, the outbreak is believed to be fueled by an increase in crime and rumors that ritualistic human sacrifice, organ harvesting, and amputation may bring luck to candidates during the political season.

Les Enfants d’Abord was founded in New Orleans with the mission of assisting in the healthy development of children in Senegal and has expanded that mission to include combating this unimaginable violence. The organization currently provides youth education and community health programs to underserved children and their families and will now provide violence prevention, safety training, and a safe haven for youth. Children are now able to play sports and games under the supervision of responsible adults who have gone through background checks – a main point of satisfaction mentioned by parents of the children.

“The recent increase in violence against children in Senegal cannot be tolerated,” said Les Enfants d’Abord President Jaryd Kase. “Our organization is working tirelessly to engage with law enforcement, policymakers, community leaders, and families so that our resources are used in the most effective way to combat this troubling increase in child-related violence.”

Les Enfants d’Abord efforts include leading a march through the streets of Thiès as well as launching an educational campaign to teach communities how to better protect their children. This includes identifying safe spaces in which children can play, encouraging stronger parental oversight, and urging community members to report anything unusual to local authorities as well as to only interfere when it is safe to do so.

The growth of the mission was prompted by no less than six cases of missing children in Dakar this year, the capital of Senegal. According to news sources, the corpses are typically found days after a child has disappeared. Mutilation of the bodies has included removal of organs such as the heart, kidney, and genitals. However, it is thought that many more cases have not been reported due to the association with individuals of high rank or status.

Les Enfants d’Abord is calling on those who wish to get involved to join the conversation, support, volunteer, and donate to their efforts to safeguard the children of Senegal. Although educational programs and safe spaces may not change preconceptions immediately, it will demonstrate the value of each child and the bright future that should be available to all children worldwide.

Senegal’s chief Catholic cleric, Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye, condemned the killings stating, “No amount of political ambition, or the taste for riches, or any other motive justifies the taking away of innocent lives or any threat to their dignity.”

Senegal’s President Macky Sall has also condemned the killings assuring residents, “I have already given the firmest instructions [to the police] to track down these criminals, to bring them to justice.”

Les Enfants d’Abord operates in Thiès, Senegal, on Africa’s west coast, with a population of 320,000. The city is known for its livestock, tapestries, and a rich French colonial heritage that supports a vibrant arts and music scene.

The “city of the train” and the third largest city in Senegal is considered to be fertile ground for the future growth as one of the country’s hubs for education and business. Les Enfants d’Abord believes that the children of Thiès are the key to that future.

About Les Enfants d’Abord
Les Enfants d’Abord (www.enfants-dabord.org) is a non-profit organization that provides youth education and community health programs to underserved children and their families in Senegal. Les Enfants d’Abord, French for “Children First”, was founded in 2016 with the goal of creating excitement and curiosity around learning through opportunities for self-driven, experiential education that supplements public school education in order to foster critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and strong self-esteem.

President Macky Sall: “Nous allons traquer les malfaiteurs qui s’attaquent aux enfants” – March 23, 2018 (“We will deal with the criminals who attack our children”)

J’ai appris avec douleur ces rapts d’enfants suivis de meurtres. J’ai déjà donné des instructions les plus fermes” aux forces de sécurité pour “traquer ces malfaiteurs, les traduire devant la justice

Referenced Quote from Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye: CruxNow
Archbishop condemns ritual killing of children in Senegal’

JOIN THE CAMPAIGN: www.enfants-dabord.org/enfants

Available for interviews:
Jaryd Kase
,
President, Les Enfants d’Abord
jaryd@enfants-dabord.org

Source: Les Enfants d’Abord, April 25, 2018

Archbishop condemns ritual killing of children in Senegal

Dakar Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye

YAOUNDÉ, Cameroon – Senegal’s top Catholic cleric has condemned a series of ritualistic killings in the West African country.

This year has seen a sharp rise in child killings in Senegal – a phenomenon blamed on politicians looking for wealth and power approaching witchdoctors to perform black magic rituals.

Local media have counted at least six cases in Dakar, the capital, this year. The corpses of the victims are usually found days after they disappear-mutilated, certain parts like the genitals, the heart and the kidneys taken away.

Dakar Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye said that “no amount of political ambition, or the taste for riches, or any other motive justifies the taking away of innocent lives or any threat to their dignity.” He was speaking to over 20,000 young people at the 33rd edition of diocesan World Youth Day.

The archbishop referred to the Prophet Jeremiah’s warning – “do not shed innocent blood” – noting that that warning made in Old Testament times is still relevant today in view of what is happening with children in Senegal. “When I think about the abduction of children, at ritual killings, I have the impression that these prophetic words are addressed directly to us today,” Ndiaye said. “No one has the right to take another’s life,” the archbishop said. “If you can’t give life, why should you have the power to take it?”

Over 90 percent of Senegal’s population professes to be Muslim, while only 5 percent are Christian, with the majority of Christians being Catholic. Despite this fact, many still practice animist rituals and almost all cities and villages have resident witch doctors.

In March, a 14-year-old girl from Khombole College, east of Dakar, was taken by unknown assailants, but the girl was too old for whoever hired the kidnappers. “Fortunately for me, I did not meet the criteria,” the girl told Radio Futurs Médias. “The man wanted children aged between 2-4 years.”

But two-year-old Fallou Diop wasn’t so lucky. His body was found on March 22 on a farm near his parents’ home in Rufisque – less than 20 miles east of Dakar. “He was playing with his twin sister when unknown people took him away,” the child’s mother told the newspaper Le Monde.

The killings have created a climate of fear in Senegal and the government has promised to take action.

President Macky Sall has promised to track down and bring the perpetrators to justice, saying he learned about the killings and abductions “with much pain.” “Senegal will do more than in the past to halt these terrible acts,” he told Radio Futurs Médias.

Senegal’s Director of Public Security and Senior Superintendent of Police Abdoulaye Diop said he had set up a taskforce to fight the practice. “The general feeling of insecurity will be dissipated,” he told Le Monde. “That is why we have taken strong measures to reinforce national security.”

The phenomenon is not specific to Senegal alone. Ritual killings have been reported in several other African countries, including Uganda, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and South Africa.

Those who practice human sacrifice and ritual killings believe them to be acts of spiritual fortification.

Witch doctors use human body parts for supposed medicinal purposes and for black magic rituals which aim to bring prosperity and protection.

Many of the killings usually go unreported and uninvestigated, often because they involve those at the highest levels of power, both in government and business.

Popular protests

On Saturday, March 24, about 500,000 people gathered in Dakar to protest against ritual killings, many of them dressed in black in a symbol of mourning. They brandished slogans such as “Dafadoy” meaning “it’s enough!”

“It’s a cry from the heart to call on parents and the government to take their responsibilities and protect our children,” said Anta Pierre Loum, one of the organizers of the march.

“I am only a mother who has stood up to protest. The death of little Fallou was one more death too many. Senegal has never known a similar wave of assaults on children. The other day, my son woke up with a start – he just had a nightmare and was crying: ‘Don’t take me away!’ This has to stop.”

With one year remaining until Senegal’s next presidential election, many observers are suggesting that the spike in killings is due to candidates seeking help from witch doctors.

Source: CruxNow, April 5, 2018

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