The article presented below, written by the famous Nigerian human rights activist and humanist Dr. Leo Igwe, is a must-read. His manifesto is highly recommended to all readers. It is more than a reflection, it is more than a plea, it is more than a cry – for change or for understanding. As Dr. Igwe writes: “Africans must begin to think freely in order to ‘emancipate themselves from mental slavery’ and generate ideas that can ignite the flame of an African enlightenment.” And Dr. Igwe is not alone, he is not the only one who firmly believes this approach is the only way for Africa and Africans to move forward – as can be concluded from the list of African endorsers and other endorsers from around the world, presented at the end of his article.
Enough words written to recommend a piece that you shouldn’t miss! Enjoy the reading, and … spread the word!
PS Unfortunately, a few links in the original article are broken and/or not working properly (webmaster FVDK).
A Manifesto for a Skeptical Africa
What are the prospects for a more secular Africa, more skeptical Africa, more scientific Africa, i.e., a more humanistic Africa?
For too long, African societies have been identified as superstitious, consisting of people who cannot question, reason or think critically. Dogma and blind faith in superstition, divinity and tradition are said to be the mainstay of popular thought and culture. African science is often equated with witchcraft and the occult; African philosophy with magical thinking, myth-making and mysticism, African religion with stone-age spiritual abracadabra, African medicine with folk therapies often involving pseudoscientific concoctions inspired by magical thinking. Science, critical thinking and technological intelligence are portrayed as Western — as opposed to universal — values, and as alien to Africa and to the African mindset. An African who thinks critically or seeks evidence and demands proofs for extraordinary claims is accused of taking a “white” or Western approach. An African questioning local superstitions and traditions is portrayed as having abandoned or betrayed the essence of African identity. Skepticism and rationalism are regarded as Western, un-African, philosophies. Although there is a risk of overgeneralizing, there are clear indicators that the continent is still socially, politically and culturally trapped by undue credulity.
Many irrational beliefs exist and hold sway across the region. These are beliefs informed by fear and ignorance, misrepresentations of nature and how nature works. These misconceptions are often instrumental in causing many absurd incidents, harmful traditional practices and atrocious acts. For instance, not too long ago, the police in Nigeria arrested a ‘robber’ goat which they said was a thief who suddenly turned to a goat. A Nigerian woman was reported to have given birth to a horse. In Zambia, a local school closed temporarily due to fears of witchcraft. In Uganda, there are claims of demonic attacks in schools across the country. Persecution and murder of alleged witches continue in many parts of the continent. Many Africans still believe that their suffering and misfortune are caused by witchcraft and magic. In Malawi, belief in witchcraft is widespread. Ritual killing and sacrifice of albinos and other persons with disabilities take place in many communities, and are motivated by paranormal belief. Across Africa people still believe in the potency and efficacy of juju and magic charms. Faith-based abuses are perpetrated with impunity. Jihadists, witch-hunters and other militants are killing, maiming and destroying lives and property. Other-worldly visions and dogmatic attitudes about the supernatural continue to corrupt and hamper attempts by Africans to improve their lives. Even with the continent’s ubiquitous religiosity, many African states are to be found at the bottom of the Human Development Index and on the top of the poverty, mortality and morbidity indices.
Recently Africa was polled as the most devout region in the world, and this includes deep devotion to the continent’s various harmful superstitions. Devoutness and underdevelopment, poverty, misery and superstition co-exist and co-relate. It should be said that the dominant religious faiths in the region are faiths alien to the continent. That means African Christians are more devout than Europeans whose missionaries brought Christianity to Africa. African Muslims are more devout than Muslims in the Middle East, whose jihadists and clerics introduced Islam to the region.
Meanwhile, whatever good these foreign belief systems may have brought to or done in Africa can only be unfavorably compared to the damage and darkness they have caused and are still causing in the region. Some paranormal or supernatural claims of the two main religions of Christianity and Islam are part of the factors holding Africans hostage. Most Africans cannot think freely or express their doubts openly because these religions have placed a huge price on freethinking and critical inquiry. Because these belief systems rely on paranormal claims themselves, Africans feel they cannot speak out against superstition as a whole, or they will be ostracized or even killed by religious zealots. Belief in demonic possession, faith healing, and the “restorative” power of holy water can have deadly consequences for believers and whole communities. Africans must reject superstitious indoctrination and dogmatization in public institutions. Africans need to adopt this cultural motto: Dare to think. Dare to doubt. Dare to question everything in spite of what the superstitious around you teach and preach.
Africans must begin to think freely in order to ‘emancipate themselves from mental slavery’ and generate ideas that can ignite the flame of an African enlightenment.
The two dominant religions have fantastic rewards for those who cannot think, the intellectually conforming, unquestioning and obedient, even those who kill or are killed furthering their dogmas. They need to be told that the skeptical goods — the liberating promises of skeptical rationality — are by far more befitting and more beneficent to Africans than imaginary rewards either in the here and now or in the hereafter. Today the African continent has become the new battleground for the forces of a dark age. And we have to dislodge and defeat these forces if Africa is to emerge, grow, develop and flourish. To some people, the African predicament appears hopeless. The continent seems to be condemned, doomed and damned. Africa appears to be in a fix, showing no signs of change, transformation and progress. An African enlightenment sounds like a pipe dream.
But I do not think this is the case — an African Age of Reason can be on the horizon! The fact is that there are many Africans who reason well and think critically. There are Africans who are skeptics and rationalists1. But active African skeptics are too few and far apart to form the critical mass the continent needs to experience a Skeptical Spring. Nonetheless, the momentum is building slowly and steadily. And one can say that an African skeptical awakening is in sight. As it is said: the darkest part of the night precedes the dawn. So there is no need to despair for humanity in Africa. There is every reason to be optimistic and hopeful. After all, Europe went through a very dark period in its history, in fact, a darker and more horrible phase than that which Africa is currently undergoing. Still the European continent survived to experience Enlightenment and modern civilization. Who ever thought that the Arab Spring would happen in our lifetime? So, African enlightenment can happen sooner than we expected. But it will not happen as a miracle. African enlightenment will not fall like manna from heaven. It requires — and will continue to require — hard work, efforts, sacrifice, courage and struggle by Africans and other friends who are committed to the values of enlightenment. In Europe, skeptics spoke out against harmful superstition, and unfounded dogma and caused the dawn of a new awakening. African skeptics need to speak out against the forces of dogma, irrationalism and superstition ravaging the continent. Skeptics need to organize and mobilize — online and offline — to further the cause of reason, science and critical thinking. They need to speak out in the media and to politicians about the harm resulting from undue credulity and challenge and confront the charlatans directly to put up or shut up. Skeptics can no longer afford to keep quiet or remain indifferent in the face of a looming dark age. They need to campaign for a reform of the educational system and encourage the teaching of critical thinking in schools.
Many charlatans operate out there in their communities. They ‘mine’ popular fears and anxieties, exploiting desperate, misinformed folks. We need to expose them and free our people from their bondage. African skeptics cannot remain passive and inactive and expect skeptical rationality to thrive and flourish or expect the forces of dogma and superstition to simply disappear. The situation requires active engagement by committed skeptics. That was how the much-talked-about skeptical tradition in the Western world was established and is sustained.
That is how we are going to build and leave a skeptical legacy for Africa.
This is a call to duty to all African skeptics in Africa and in the diaspora. History has thrust on us this critical responsibility which we must fulfill. Let us therefore marshal our will to doubt, to advance skepticism in the interest of Africa. Let us marshall other intellectual resources and cause this new dawn — this skeptical awakening to happen early in this 21st century.
African skeptics arise.
1 Skeptical and rationalist groups are gaining ground in Africa. Here are a few worth supporting:
African Endorsers George Thindwa, Executive Director, Association for Secular Humanism, Malawi Mandla Ntshakala, Activist, Swaziland Jacques Rousseau, Lecturer, University of Cape Town, South Africa Ebou Sohna, Gambia Secular Assembly, Gambia Graham Knight, Humanist Association of Ghana, Accra Ghana Olajide Akeredolu MD, Lagos, Nigeria Jes Petersen, Director, Springboard Humanism, Botswana Wilfred Makayi, Humanist Activist, Zambia James Ibor, Attorney, Basic Rights Counsel, Calabar, Nigeria Robert Bwambale, Founder & Executive Director, Kasese United Humanist Association, Uganda Kato Mukasa, HALEA, Kampala, Uganda
Other Endorsers from Around The World
James Randi, Founder, James Randi Educational Foundation, USA Michael Shermer, Executive Director, Skeptics Society, USA Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, USA D.J. Grothe, President, James Randi Educational Foundation, USA Paul Kurtz, Founder, Institute for Science and Human Values, USA Toni Van Pelt, Policy Director, Institute for Science and Human Values Hemant Mehta, Blogger, Friendly Atheist Susan Sackett, Writer and Vice President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, USA Sonja Eggerickx President, International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), Belgium Josh Kutchinsky, founder and co-moderator Hummay, International Humanists Support egroup Ophelia Benson, Author and Blogger, USA Guy P. Harrison, Writer, USA Ike Francis, Human Rights Activist, USA Lorann Sims-Nsimba, Africa Awake Freethought Alliance, USA Matt Cherry, International Representative, International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) Bob Churchill – International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), UK Norm Allen, International Outreach Director, Institute for Science and Human Values, USA Dr Bill Cooke, Director of International Programs for the Center for Inquiry, USA Canberra Skeptics Inc, Australia Australian Skeptics (Victorian Branch) John Perkins, The Secular Party of Australia
Although not the main focus of this website I find it useful and necessary to draw attention to this phenomenon which is based on superstition, violates human rights and creates many innocent victims – not only elderly women and men but also children, just like ritual murders.
I wish to commend Charlotte Müller and Sertan Sanderson of DW (Deutsche Welle) – see below – for an excellent article on this topic. It’s an impressive account of what happens to people accused of witchcraft and victims sof superstition. (FVDK)
World Day Against Witch Hunts: People With Dementia Are Not Witches
Published: August 4, 2023 By: The Ghana Report
August 10 has been designated World Day against Witch Hunts. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches welcomes this development and urges countries to mark this important day, and try to highlight past and contemporary sufferings and abuses of alleged witches in different parts of the globe.
Witchcraft belief is a silent killer of persons. Witchcraft accusation is a form of death sentence in many places. People suspected of witchcraft, especially women and children, are banished, persecuted, and murdered in over 40 countries across the globe. Unfortunately, this tragic incident has not been given the attention it deserves.
Considered a thing of the past in Western countries, this vicious phenomenon has been minimized. Witch persecution is not treated with urgency. It is not considered a global priority. Meanwhile, witch hunting rages across Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
The misconceptions that characterized witch hunting in early modern Europe have not disappeared. Witchcraft imaginaries and other superstitions still grip the minds of people with force and ferocity. Reinforced by traditional, Christian, Islamic, and Hindu religious dogmas, occult fears and anxieties are widespread.
Many people make sense of death, illness, and other misfortunes using the narratives of witchcraft and malevolent magic. Witch hunters operate with impunity in many countries, including nations with criminal provisions against witchcraft accusations and jungle justice.
Some of the people who are often accused and targeted as witches are elderly persons, especially those with dementia.
To help draw attention to this problem, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches has chosen to focus on dementia for this year’s World Day against Witch Hunts. People with dementia experience memory loss, poor judgment, and confusion.
Their thinking and problem-solving abilities are impaired. Unfortunately, these health issues are misunderstood and misinterpreted. Hence, some people treat those with dementia with fear, not respect. They spiritualize these health conditions, and associate them with witchcraft and demons.
There have been instances where people with dementia left their homes or care centers, and were unable to return or recall their home addresses. People claimed that they were returning from witchcraft meetings; that they crash landed on their way to their occult gatherings while flying over churches or electric poles.
Imagine that! People forge absurd and incomprehensible narratives to justify the abuse of people with dementia. Sometimes, people claim that those suffering dementia turn into cats, birds, or dogs. As a result of these misconceptions, people maltreat persons with dementia without mercy; they attack, beat, and lynch them. Family members abandon them and make them suffer painful and miserable deaths. AfAW urges the public to stop these abuses, and treat people with dementia with care and compassion.
Published: August 10, 2023 By: Charlotte Müller | Sertan Sanderson – DW
Witch hunts are far from being a thing of the past — even in the 21st century. In many countries, this is still a sad reality for many women today. That is why August 10 has been declared a World Day against Witch Hunts.
Akua Denteh was beaten to death in Ghana’s East Gonja District last month — after being accused of being a witch. The murder of the 90-year-old has once more highlighted the deep-seated prejudices against women accused of practicing witchcraft in Ghana, many of whom are elderly.
An arrest was made in early August, but the issue continues to draw attention after authorities were accused of dragging their heels in the case. Human rights and gender activists now demand to see change in culture in a country where supernatural beliefs play a big role.
But the case of Akua Denteh is far from an isolated instance in Ghana, or indeed the world at large. In many countries of the world, women are still accused of practicing witchcraft each year. They are persecuted and even killed in organized witch hunts — especially in Africa but also in Southeast Asia and Latin America.
Witch hunts: a contemporary issue
Those accused of witchcraft have now found a perhaps unlikely charity ally in their fight for justice: the Catholic missionary society missio, which is part of the global Pontifical Mission Societies under the jurisdiction of the Pope, has declared August 10 as World Day against Witch Hunts, saying that in at least 36 nations around the world, people continue to be persecuted as witches.
While the Catholic Church encouraged witch hunts in Europe from the 15th to the 18th century, it is now trying to shed light into this dark practice. Part of this might be a sense of historical obligation — but the real driving force is the number of victims that witch hunts still cost today.
Historian Wolfgang Behringer, who works as a professor specializing in the early modern age at Saarland University, firmly believes in putting the numbers in perspective. He told DW that during these three centuries, between 50,000 and 60,000 people are assumed to have been killed for so-called crimes of witchcraft — a tally that is close to being twice the population of some major German cities at the time.
But he says that in the 20th century alone, more people accused of witchcraft were brutally murdered than during the three centuries when witch hunts were practiced in Europe: “Between 1960 and 2000, about 40,000 people alleged of practicing witchcraft were murdered in Tanzania alone. While there are no laws against witchcraft as such in Tanzanian law, village tribunals often decide that certain individuals should be killed,” Behringer told DW.
The historian insists that due to the collective decision-making behind these tribunals, such murders are far from being arbitrary and isolated cases: “I’ve therefore concluded that witch hunts are not a historic problem but a burning issue that still exists in the present.”
A pan-African problem?
In Tanzania, the victims of these witch hunts are often people with albinism; some people believe that the body parts of these individuals can be used to extract potions against all sorts of ailments. Similar practices are known to take place in Zambia and elsewhere on the continent.
Meanwhile in Ghana, where nonagenarian Akua Denteh was bludgeoned to death last month, certain communities blamed the birth of children with disabilities on practices of witchcraft.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it is usually the younger generations who are associated witchcraft. So-called “children of witchcraft” are usually rejected by their families and left to fend for themselves. However, their so-called crimes often have little to do with sorcery at all:
“We have learned of numerous cases of children suffering rape and then no longer being accepted by their families. Or they are born as illegitimate children out of wedlock, and are forced to live with a parent who no longer accepts them,” says Thérèse Mema Mapenzi, who works as a mission project partner in the eastern DRC city of Bukayu.
‘Children of witchcraft’ in the DRC
Mapenzi’s facility was initially intended to be a women’s shelter to harbor women who suffered rape at the hands of the militia in the eastern parts of the country, where rape is used as a weapon of war as part of the civil conflict there. But over the years, more and more children started seeking her help after they were rejected as “children of witchcraft.”
With assistance from the Catholic missionary society missio, Mapenzi is now also supporting these underage individuals in coping with their many traumas while trying to find orphanages and schools for them.
“When these children come here, they have often been beaten to a pulp, have been branded as witches or have suffered other injuries. It is painful to just even look at them. We are always shocked to see these children devoid of any protection. How can this be?” Mapenzi wonders.
Seeking dialogue to end witch hunts
But there is a whole social infrastructure fueling this hatred against these young people in the DRC: Many charismatic churches blame diseases such as HIV/AIDS or female infertility on witchcraft, with illegitimate children serving as scapegoats for problems that cannot be easily solved in one of the poorest countries on earth. Other reasons cited include sudden deaths, crop failures, greed, jealousy and more.
Thérèse Mema Mapenzi says that trying to help those on the receiving end of this ire is a difficult task, especially in the absence of legal protection: “In Congolese law, witchcraft is not recognized as a violation of the law because there is no evidence you can produce. Unfortunately, the people have therefore developed their own legal practices to seek retribution and punish those whom call them witches.”
In addition to helping those escaping persecution, Mapenzi also seeks dialogue with communities to stop prejudice against those accused of witchcraft and sorcery. She wants to bring estranged families torn apart by witch hunts back together. Acting as a mediator, she talks to people, and from time to time succeeds in reuniting relatives with women and children who had been ostracized and shamed. Mapenzi says that such efforts — when they succeed — take an average of two to three years from beginning to finish.
But even with a residual risk of the victims being suspected of witchcraft again, she says her endeavors are worth the risk. She says that the fact that August 10 has been recognized as the World Day against Witch Hunts sends a signal that her work is important — and needed.
Hunting the hunters — a dangerous undertaking
For Thérèse Mema Mapenzi, the World Day against Witch Hunts marks another milestone in her uphill battle in the DRC. Jörg Nowak, spokesman for missio, agrees and hopes that there will now be growing awareness about this issue around the globe.
As part of his work, Nowak has visited several missio project partners fighting to help bring an end to witch hunts in recent years. But he wasn’t aware about the magnitude of the problem himself until 2017.
The first case he dealt with was the killing of women accused of being witches in Papua New Guinea in the 2010s — which eventually resulted in his publishing a paper on the crisis situation in the country and becoming missio’s dedicated expert on witch hunts.
But much of Nowak’s extensive research in Papua New Guinea remains largely under wraps for the time being, at least in the country itself: the evidence he accrued against some of the perpetrators there could risk the lives of missio partners working for him.
Not much has changed for centuries, apart from the localities involved when it comes to the occult belief in witchcraft, says Nowak while stressing: “There is no such thing as witchcraft. But there are accusations and stigmatization designed to demonize people; indeed designed to discredit them in order for others to gain selfish advantages.”
Maxwell Suuk and Isaac Kaledzi contributed to this article.
Msombuluko Mantimakhulu and two teenagers who are allegedly his cousins were arrested by police and soldiers and accused of involvement in the disappearance of Mantimakhulu’s sster-in-law. Relatives accused Mantimakhulu of ritually murdering his sister-in-law, using her body parts for ‘muti’ purposes. It’s election time in Swaziland, hence people fear ‘muti murders’ by ambitious politicians who sometimes hire other people to do the dirty work.
After all, recently, “(…) his Majesty the King (…)warned against ritual killings. He said now that it was elections time, there were people who believed that if they used human body parts, they would be successful. The King warned that such should stop and gave an example that it appeared the people who performed rituals sometimes targeted people with albinism people. He said the ritual killers believed that a person who had albinism would bring luck. His Majesty then said this was not true and that such should not be practiced.”
Msombuluko Mantimakhulu and the two teenagers were heavily beaten and tortured. The soldiers tried to extract a confession. It all happened last month. It’s a frightening story about the abuse of power by law enforcement officiers. It turned out later, that Mantimakhulu’s sister-in-law was alive and had gone to stay with her relatives.
It is not known what happened to those who were responsible for torturing Msombuluko Mantimakhulu and the two teenagers. The rule of law in the kingdom of King Mswati III leaves a lot to be desired…. (FVDK)
Swaziland / Eswatini: Soldiers torture man accused of ritual murder
Published: August 5, 2023 By: Joseph Zulu – Times of Swaziland
MAFUCULA – When his sister-in-law vanished, Msombuluko Mantimakhulu had no idea that her disappearance would leave him with injuries all over his body.
Mantimakhulu, who works in South Africa (SA), had returned to his home area around Mafucula, but it is alleged that his sister-in-law then disappeared. It was gathered that her in-laws did not know where she had gone, but feared that she had been murdered. He said some of the relatives were of the view that because it was general elections time, maybe she had been kidnapped and then killed for ritual purposes. They allegedly accused him of killing his sister-in-law for body parts. Mantimakhulu said some of the family members were of the view that he was involved in her disappearance. He said he did not have a reason to kill his sister-in-law, because they were close and that he sometimes even gave her some money.
According to Mantimakhulu, trouble started when the matter was first reported to the local community police that a woman was missing. He said when the community police were called, they picked up two teenagers who are said to be Mantimakhulu’s cousins. Mantimakhulu alleged the community police members assaulted the two teenagers, so as to force a confession from them. He alleged they beat the children then also handcuffed them to keep them from running away. “It is not right to handcuff children,” he said. The children are alleged to have been tortured for over an hour, demanding that they reveal who killed the woman.
When Mantimakhulu was asked why the teenagers were accused of killing the woman, he said he did not understand why but that he was the target. He said they wanted to force the children to confess that he was the one who had killed his sister-in-law. He said as if the assault was not enough, the men allegedly took the children to a nearby pond where they were assaulted. Mantimakhulu said the community police members then allegedly dipped the children’s into the pond and threatened that they would drown them.
Mantimakhulu alleged that the children’s heads were held under the water and threatened that they would be drowned if they did not reveal who killed the woman who was missing. He purported that after realising that they were not getting any answers from the children being assaulted, the police from Tshaneni Police Post were called in. He said police officers also arrived to investigate the disappearance of his sister-in-law, whom at the time, it was alleged she had been murdered.
He alleged that after he was suspected of having killed his sister- in-law, the matter was then reported to the police. Mantimakhulu said police officers from Tshaneni were called, and that they went to interview him over the allegedly missing woman. However, unlike the community police members, the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) officers are said to have refused to arrest Mantimakhulu and then left, leaving him at the homestead in Mafucula, around a place known as Duma.
Mantimakhulu then said after some of the family members noticed that the police officers had left without arresting him, they then decided to call some soldiers who are said to be based around Maphiveni near Simunye. It is alleged that about four soldiers then pounced on Mantimakhulu on July 27, 2023, at around noon. Mantimakhulu said when the soldiers arrived, he told them that the police officers had already spoken to him and that they left him behind because they did not believe that he had murdered his sister-in-law.
However, the soldiers are said to have responded that they were not like police officers. He said the soldiers told him that police officers do not want to work. Mantimakhulu said before they began assaulting him, they told him that by the time they left, they would make sure that he revealed how he allegedly killed his sister-in-law. “I told them I am not a killer, but they did not want to hear my side of the story,” said Mantimakhulu. Mantimakhulu said the soldiers then began to assault him and that they hit him all over his body. He alleged that he was kicked, and then forced to confess that he had killed his sister-in-law. “I refused to agree to something I did not do,” he said. He mentioned that he was punched, kicked with boots and blunt objects, but he could not tell what they were using to assault him.
He said he was then taken to a nearby lake, where he was allegedly submerged into the water so that he did not come up, out of the water. “I felt like I was drowning,” he said. He said one soldier who pressed against his body with foot while another would press against his head while being held under the water. Mantimakhulu said the soldiers continued assaulting him for several hours. He said no matter how many times he cried for them to stop, they continued assaulting him until they stopped when they realised that he had not killed anyone.
He also revealed that before they began to assault him, they warned some of the nearby residents against taking videos of the alleged assault. antimakhulu said they used vulgar language, as they assaulted him, demanding that he should reveal what he did to his sister-in-law. It turned out later, that the woman was alive and had gone to stay with her relatives. Mantimakhulu said his sister-in-law had left without telling anyone because there were some disputes at their home. He was also asked why some of the family members suspected that he had killed her. He said he did not know the reason but that it could be that they found some fencing material belonging to her in his house. He said maybe with this information, they could have concluded that he had killed her and taken some of her fencing material.
“I have no reason to kill the woman,” he said. Sipho Mngomezulu, an uncle to Mantimakhulu said he was shocked at the manner in which his nephew was treated. He alleged the soldiers beat him as if they were killing him. Mngomezulu also alleged that the matter was reported to the police but that they had not taken any action to arrest the soldiers. Meanwhile, Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati, speaking through Inspector Mazwi Ndzimandze said the assault had not been reported to the police at Tshaneni. Also, Ndzimandze said there was also no case of a woman reported to have gone missing, but was later found alive.
Mantimakhulu, when told that the police said they were not aware of his assault, said this was not true. He said instead they allegedly told him they would not be able to arrest the soldiers. Mantimakhulu said the police told him that soldiers always protected each other and they would not handover their colleagues to be arrested by the police. Lieutenant Tengetile Khumalo, the Public Relations Officer for the Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF) was called regarding the alleged assault by the soldiers who are based at the Maphiveni unction, leading to Tshanenini, Simunye or Lomahahsa. She had not responded to the questions sent to her at the time of compiling the report.
Khumalo was also asked if there was any means members of the public in such circumstances could report if they were not treated fairly. Noteworthy, Mantimakhulu insisted that both matters had been reported to the police and that officers from Tshaneni Police Station even interviewed him about his sister-in-law when it had been alleged that she was nowhere to be found, that she may have been killed.
Meanwhile, his Majesty the King, in his speech during the Correctional Day and Pass-out Parade warned against ritual killings. He said now that it was elections time, there were people who believed that if they used human body parts, they would be successful. The King warned that such should stop and gave an example that it appeared the people who performed rituals sometimes targeted people with albinism people. He said the ritual killers believed that a person who had albinism would bring luck. His Majesty then said this was not true and that such should not be practiced.
The following article is highly recommended reading, excellent work by Victor Ayeni!
In Nigeria, nearly every day ‘money rituals’ are reported, maybe not surprising in view of the country’s large population of well over 200 million people – Africa’s largest – even though just one ritual murder is already one too much. However, on the other hand, it could well be that the cases known and reported are only the tip of an iceberg.
But what do we know about ‘money rituals’, as ritual murders are being called in this part of the African continent? Most articles reporting on these crimes, which are driven by greed – for power, prestige or wealth – and based on superstition, are superficial. It is hard to find an article which treats this phenomenon in depth and in a serious way. The Nigerian journalist Victor Ayeni has done a great job and he’s to be commended for this achievement.
The traditional history of ritualistic killings and human sacrifices point to protection of the community’s interest by sacrificing one of its members. Cruel as this might be in our eyes nowadays, in the 21st century, back then relatives of the victim may have been proud of their family member’s contribution to the community. We see nowadays in many parts of the African continent that the ritualistic act which demands the death of the victim is for the (pretended, aimed) benefit of one person only who thus wants to increase his or her power, wealth or health. Moreover, the victim is often picked at random. Involuntary, the victim is attacked and tortured, what results is a gruesome, a wicked crime. Sometimes, specific groups are targeted, e.g. people with albinism, hunchbacks or bald people.
In some countries ambitious politicians tend to resort to these practices in the hope of increasing their political chances and success, resulting an increase in ritual murders during election campaigns. It’s a shocking reality – even though we don’t known the full scale of it.
‘Money rituals’ in Nigeria show another characteristic: some people consider it a business model, which enables them to ‘earn’ money from superstitious people who believe that by using another man’s organs or other body parts, ‘juju’ will be created, to their personal benefit.
Victor Ayeni explains well how this works in Nigeria. A very informative article which ends with the question ‘Are money rituals real or a fiction?’
The reader may answer this question for him- or herself after reading Ayeni’s valuable article. (webmaster FVDK)
Money ritual seekers’ dark walk into deceit, misery
VICTOR AYENI explores the subject of money ritual in popular culture, religious houses, and Nollywood movies, why the purveyors of the belief succeed in deceiving youths, and its implications on the public
The apprehension in the air was so thick that one could cut through it with a knife as Olajide (surname withheld) narrated his journey through a maze of confusion.
The 27-year-old graduate was helping a friend manage a pig farm in Osogbo, Osun State, when another friend introduced him to Internet scam, which in Nigerian lingo is called Yahoo Yahoo.
But his experience shocked the wits out of him.
“I was being paid N10,000 per month at the farm, but the money couldn’t meet my needs as time went on, so a friend of mine bought me an iPhone and from there, I was introduced to Yahoo Yahoo.
“I started off on a neutral ground and I was getting little money from my clients (victims), but after like three months into it, things became so tough that I couldn’t fend for myself again. I explained my situation to a friend and he took me to an Alfa (cleric),” Olajide recalls, shaking his head in disbelief.
This Alfa was known in Yahoo boys’ circles to be adept in the art of money magic – an occult economy that involves the performance of rituals to supernaturally conjure money.
Abode of fear
When Olajide described his financial difficulties to the Alfa, he was given two options.
“Alfa said he would help me out with small osole. I asked what he meant by that and he explained that osole (spiritual assistance) is different from oso (human body parts).
“Alfa told me oso required the use of human parts for material wealth with repercussions such as untimely death or insanity, whereas osole required the use of plants and animals for the same purpose but with lesser repercussions like being poor. I opted for osole,” he added.
Olajide was instructed to pay a sum of N12,000 into the cleric’s bank account for the materials and return in four days.
Five days later, when Olajide put a call through to the Alfa, he was asked to return for the materials.
He said, “When I got there, he gave me a small black soap and told me to find small palm oil and go to a flowing river to bathe that I had to cleanse myself first before I would use the materials.
“He explained to me that the soap was made with pepper mixed with some herbs and directed me to rub the palm oil on my body first before bathing with the soap. He warned that if I didn’t use the palm oil first, I was going to disappear and I would not be seen again. So, I did as I was told.”
Olajide said he complied with all the instructions.
“When I went back to him, he gave me three different materials: a soap to bath with every morning by 4am, a potion which I must swallow daily after taking my bath, and a powdery mixture to be licked every night before I go to bed.
“He said the herbal concoction was made from animals like crow, chameleon, cat, pigeon, and some leaves. He also told me that I would experience more hardship during the first two or three months of using the ritual materials, but I should endure it because after that, the tide will turn and money will be flowing in from my clients,” he added.
The idea of recipients conjuring money through magic is a familiar theme in many Nigerian films and religious houses.
Whether through animal sacrifices or trafficking in human parts, it is erroneously believed that these rites bring stupendous wealth to those who practice them.
When our correspondent inquired from Olajide if the magic worked, and in what specific ways the money came to him, he was silent.
When he spoke, he recalled faithfully following all the instructions given to him, but for the next two months, as the cleric predicted, he experienced serious financial hardship.
At this point, he said his friend introduced him to a client (victim), who had been defrauded several times.
Olajide then began to siphon money from the victim.
The inexplicable ease with which his ‘client’ gave him money implied that he (client) had been hypnotised.
“I ended up getting plenty money from this client. The cleric had assured me of having lots of money from osole, but he advised me to return to him for an upgrade of the ritual by paying N450,000, saying I would be making millions of naira after using the alleged ‘upgraded’ soap.
“But I didn’t go back because I asked my friend who took me there about what the new upgrade entails since that was what he did, and he warned me sternly against it because of the repercussions behind it.
“He said once I bathe with the ‘upgraded’ soap the cleric would prescribe, I could only wear the clothes and shoes I had and I must not change them for the next two years,” he added.
Four months after he dabbled in osole, Olajide realised that his fortunes began to dwindle as reality pulled the plug on his gravy train.
He said, “Things suddenly turned sour after four months. The client I was getting money from was arrested and ended up in jail and I no longer had any financial link. I ended up becoming more broke than before.
“My friend found me another client but I ended up wasting money rather than gaining some. Then, I was taken to another voodoo practitioner. This one said he would perform a ritual for me but one of its conditions was that I must never have sex with more than one girlfriend for the next three years and if I did otherwise, I would run mad.
“It was then I decided to withdraw from this stuff and went back into teaching for some time. Later on, I was introduced to the crypto business that I now do.”
The poverty factor
The belief in gaining wealth through mystical practices has gained much appeal over the decades in Nigeria with the exponential rise in poverty and lack of equal economic opportunities, especially for young people.
According to the 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index Survey released by the National Bureau of Statistics, 63 per cent of Nigerians, which account for 133 million citizens, are multi-dimensionally poor due to a lack of access to health, education, living standards, employment, and security.
The unemployment rate in Nigeria has not only increased constantly in the past years, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group has also projected that the country’s unemployment rate will hit 37 per cent in 2023.
However, investigations by Saturday PUNCH showed that many Nigerians fervently believe that they can make a lot of money regardless of the dire economic situations in the country through a supernatural supply of money.
In Nigeria, there are various tales around wealth creation that foster the concept of one becoming rich through the manipulation of metaphysical forces in nature.
Among the Yoruba, South-West Nigeria, there is the aworo phenomenon that is believed to draw large patronage to a trader in a marketplace.
There is also awure (wealth booster) which can be prepared as a traditional soap or concoction.
Research shows that many Nigerians plank their belief in money rituals on mostly unverified reports.
This has drawn many into desperate measures, including taking the lives of close family members and friends.
In December 2021, a suspected Internet fraudster from Edo State, identified only as Osas, allegedly murdered his girlfriend, Elohor Oniorosa, for ritual purposes.
In November 2022, another Yahoo boy, alongside his herbalist, one Ike, aka Ogenesu, was arrested after policemen recovered suspected human parts at the herbalist’s place in Obiaruku, in the Ukwuani Local Government Area of Delta State.
But Ogun State appeared to have the highest number of reported incidents of such killings.
For instance, the state recorded at least 15 cases of ritual killings between January 2022 and 2023.
In January, the Ogun State Police Command arrested a 36-year-old herbalist, Taiwo Ajalorun, who reportedly confessed to the gruesome killing of a 26-year-old mother of two and two others in the Ijebu Ode area of the state.
On December 28, 2022, in the Ijebu-Ode area of the state, a gang reportedly killed three women, including a girlfriend of one of them, after sleeping with her.
In February 2022, two suspected criminals who were alleged to be ritualists were set ablaze by an angry mob for being in possession of human parts in Oja-Odan in the Yewa-North Local Government Area of the state.
Also, in October 2022, two suspected Internet fraudsters allegedly killed a 40-year-old man, Abdullahi Azeez, in Owode-Egba.
But probably the most pathetic was that of some teenagers who were caught burning the head of a female, Sofia, whom they killed for money ritual in the Oke Aregba area of Abeokuta.
One of the teenagers, Soliu Majekodunmi, who was Sofia’s boyfriend, said in January 2022 that he learnt the practice through Facebook.
Majekodunmi said he typed, ‘How to make money ritual’ on Facebook and got the details, adding that the link instructed him to behead and burn a female skull in a local pot.
Shaman or sham man?
Our correspondent found many Facebook accounts and groups created for seekers of money rituals.
Most of the social media pages had photographs of new naira notes placed in African traditional pots, calabashes, and cowrie-strewn bags, and some showed animal blood splattered on the ground around them.
Posing as a school teacher, our correspondent reached out to one of the acclaimed shamans, Babatunde (surname withheld), who resided in Ijebu Igbo, Ogun State.
In his response, he introduced his shrine as the ‘Arab Money Family’ and sent his phone number to our correspondent.
In a rather confident tone, Babatunde said, “If you are ready, even if it is this night, you will pay me and I will get the materials ready to start the ritual work for you. Most of my ritual work is done overnight and by tomorrow, it will be completed and your money will come out.
“You will send me your bank account, photograph, and full name, and you will be receiving money in your account. You will be receiving cash thrice every two weeks.”
When our correspondent inquired whether it is spirits that would be sending the money, he interjected in a mildly exasperated tone, “Listen, I will prepare the money here in my shrine and the money will be entering your account.”
He sent his ritual material price list and asked our correspondent to select the amount of money he wishes to receive in his bank account.
The list says, “N15,500 for N200,000; N20,000 for N300,000; N30,500 for N500,000; N50,000 for N1million; N75,000 for N5million; N90,000 for N20million; and N120,000 for N50 million.”
When our correspondent selected “N20,000 for N300,000,” he reiterated that his brand of ‘money magic’ utilises native materials instead of human blood.
“I make money without human blood and I only make use of native materials. I only make use of materials called ‘Cash of Hope’ and the ‘Money Drawer Oil.’
“Mind you, my work does not require any side effects or human being blood for sacrifice or repercussions, okay? Never say never to the high spirit.
“You don’t need to travel down for the ritual; I will just send them to you and you will get your money, but you must come down to my shrine with a token of appreciation for my work, any amount your heart chooses,” Babatunde added.
When the reporter complained about being unable to afford the cost of the ritual material, the magician urged him to find the money by any means possible and contact him when ready.
Babatunde was also observed to regularly post videos on his Facebook and WhatsApp statuses featuring ‘clients’ who claim to have acquired money through his rituals but the veracity of their claims could not be confirmed.
The second acclaimed money magician, who resides in Ogbomoso, Oyo State, goes by the Facebook name, Iya Ifa Bomi.
In this case, our correspondent posed as a greenhorn ‘Yahoo boy’ and asked her for spiritual assistance in order to obtain money from his ‘clients.’
She said, “You mean you are talking to your clients and they are not giving you money? I can perform a ritual for you and it will involve the use of big Titus fish, pepper, and some fresh leaves, but it will cost you N25,000.
“When you have the money, you can come to Ogbomoso and pick up the materials. I will prepare them for you. I have done this for many Yahoo boys like you and they all come back to testify that their clients are cooperating although some of them are ingrates. We also have some of us who do this work who are scammers and have made people not trust our works.”
Another cleric contacted by our correspondent, Alfa Abdulmumeen Aremu, advertised himself as a practitioner of “money rituals for engineers, contractors, business owners and ‘Yahooboys.’”
He first demanded a sum of N2,000 and told our correspondent to send his full name and his mother’s name for spiritual consultation before he could recommend osole to him.
In a voice note, he explained, “There are different types of osole and I perform them for people like you, so don’t worry, I am adept in this work. Send me those things first and I will do some consultations to know your destiny in five minutes and I will revert to you.”
Our correspondent sent him a pseudonym along with the name of his late grandmother.
After some minutes, Aremu sent a voice note saying, “I can see you have a very bright destiny but you have some enemies. They are divided into two: some from your family and others from your workplace.
“You will cook ritual meals like rice and semo with tasty stew and give them to the children in your community. They will eat it with relish, and some of them will go to sleep. After you do that, you will be spiritually clean and we can proceed to the next stage.”
A student of Business Administration, Kazeem Akinpelu, says money rituals are real.
“If they have not been working, people will no longer be practicing them. I grew up in Ibadan, Oyo State, and I know of a market where they sell human parts at night.
“The people selling in this particular market practice voodoo and they are patronised by those who perform money rituals. There was also one time the body parts of a lynched motorcyclist here in Ibadan were used by ritualists,” he added.
However, a civil servant, Nnamdi Okeke, dismissed money rituals as a fantasy that existed only in the realm of make-believe.
“Well, I have not come across any money rituals and I haven’t thought of doing such either. I don’t believe there is anything like ‘blood money.’
“Someone can watch a film and tell you the story, but no cult will tell you what to bring if you have not passed through their ranks, and that is if such things exist, because I don’t believe in them. The question is, the person who wants to make you rich, why is he poor and even why are their children not rich?” he asked.
Similarly, a medical scientist, Mike Okechukwu, said the whole concept of ritual killing boiled down to superstition.
“People would believe what they want to believe to obtain money. Desperate people will employ desperate measures. For me though, I don’t think ritual killings are effective; I have not seen any proof to make me believe so. It all boils down to superstition,” he stated.
But a sales representative, who gave her name as Judith for security reasons, said she once dated a man whom she believed was involved in such rituals.
She said, “I was dating this Yahoo-Yahoo guy and one day, I visited him unannounced and found that he didn’t want me to go inside his room. He was just acting weird that day.
“But while I stood at the door, he didn’t know I saw a native pot placed on the floor. From that day on, I began to suspect him and that was what made me leave him eventually because I don’t want anybody to use me for money rituals.”
Money ritual mirage
Commenting on popular beliefs about money rituals, a Professor of Philosophy of Religion at the Lagos State University, Danoye Oguntola-Laguda, said herbalists appeal to Internet scammers for pecuniary gain.
He said, “My experience is that there is nothing called money rituals. What many people mistake for money rituals is the prayer for getting rich. That could definitely involve some sacrifices of animals or birds or cooking for the whole community (saara) which brings the blessing of feeding multitudes and people may not be able to determine how you become rich.
“I don’t want to say that those who believe in osole or perform oso are wrong because there are a lot of myths that point in that direction, but if you ask many of them to tell you or show you the real thing, you will see that they have nothing to show.
“I want to say that most of these traditionalists do not even know that those who consult them are ‘Yahoo boys.’ They just see them as people seeking a way to be rich and they do a ritual, pray for them and tell them to go and kill one goat. The babalawos are also human beings who have families to feed so when they see a victim with such a proposal, they grab it with both hands.”
Oguntola-Laguda also explained the difference between religious practice and occultism.
“Religion is experiential; it is about your experience. If I tell you that prayer doesn’t work, it’s because I tried it and it didn’t work and if I tell you that it works, it’s because I tried it and it worked for me.
“There is a need to separate occultism from religious practices. Occultism is the appropriation of spiritual agents, who in most cases are negative, and it’s not limited to African traditional religion; it is something that cuts across the board.
“Many religious people appropriate these negative spiritual agents for these money rituals and power to be able to do things that are extraordinary, like the power to be able to tell the sun to go down or to tell the rain to stop.
“So, it is occult people that will tell you that they will make you rich and invite a spiritual agent to do that for you but they always come with a price and that is what many people have come to call oso or osole.
“In the past, in Yoruba traditional society, the wizard who is called oso doesn’t mean he is rich but has power appropriated through spiritual agents that he deploys for good or evil of society,” he added.
Nollywood magical realism
The scenarios of materially wealthy people enmeshed in sinister rituals and pacts with spirits, is a recurring theme in Nollywood plots.
Findings by Saturday PUNCH revealed that whether in the predominantly Muslim North or the largely Christian South, many religious Nigerians believe in the reality of an unseen world, and the fictive representations from Nollywood plots have heavily shaped their perceptions of reality.
A Nollywood screenwriter, Mr Abiola Omolokun, argued that the depictions of money rituals in films are a true representation of Yoruba culture.
He said, “First, I don’t write such stories, but they are true representations of reality. Money rituals are real and are reflected in our cultural beliefs; they are not fiction.
“We tell a story just to teach morals and make people see things differently. Our stories make them know that for every action, there are consequences.
“Through our movies, we teach that patience is a virtue that youths need to walk on the right path, and in due time, with hard work and perseverance, everything will lead to success.”
However, a researcher in African Studies, Akin Faleye, contended that such stories lack historical precedent and are fraudulent.
“As a student of global history, I will say that there is no evidence that the Yoruba practised money rituals in the pre-colonial time. All these stories of money rituals are fraudulent and emanated from psychopaths rather than people with some actual spiritual knowledge of how to make money,” he stated.
Money rituals in other cultures
In some other cultures, what could be termed as money rituals are often symbolic acts or dramas that appeal to psychological and cosmic powers through an application of symbolic structures.
In Ireland, there is a tradition of taking a piece of straw from the nativity scene/crib in the church at Christmas and keeping it in your purse or wallet, which is believed to bring financial prosperity throughout the year.
An Indian author, Suresh Padmanabhan, in his work, I Love Money, devoted a chapter to ‘Money rituals’ and wrote, “Take a currency note in your hand and wish it ‘Good morning.’ “Express gratitude to your wallet, accounts book, cash box, bank passbook, or any other tools connected directly to money. Smile at yourself in the mirror and pat yourself when you perform a task well.”
Some practitioners in western traditions also perform what they define as money spells/rites, which involve the invocation of spirits and archangels, drawing ritual circles, erecting a temple and an altar, and presenting offerings to ancient deities.
However, these rituals are often believed and practiced by religious groups on the fringes and are based on cultural paradigms that only allow clearly defined routes of financial access through hard work, lucrative business, and clever exploitation of market gaps.
Lamenting the lack of profitable skills available to Nigerian youths, a United Kingdom-based personal development coach, Mr Toyyib Adelodun, highlighted the need for popular magical ideas about money to be refuted.
“Nigerian youths need to understand that money is a unit of account to measure, therefore the more value you produce for the community, the richer you are supposed to be. So, the first thing a young person should seek is education and skills to earn money.
“Money is always circulating in an economy. It is the Central Bank of Nigeria that prints money, it doesn’t come from anywhere else. We saw a practical example of this recently when the CBN embarked on the naira redesign and there wasn’t enough money in circulation. So, there is no magic that is going to bring money from anywhere unless you offer your skills as a person of value.
“I have been to several countries in the world and I can see that money only comes from value creation. Unfortunately, Nigerian youths are not equipped with the relevant skills; we just go to religious houses to pray and sit back at home and don’t market skills or deliver an excellent service in order to generate wealth. We don’t have to resort to crimes,” he said.
Clerics urge re-orientation
A Senior Pastor at Christ Life Church, Ibadan, Prof. Wale Coker, told Saturday PUNCH the youth need a re-orientation that would see them embrace a new value system other than the present mad rush to become wealthy overnight.
“The scriptures state that ‘wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished, but he that gathers by labour shall increase’. Youths should be encouraged to walk in the fear of God which is the beginning of wisdom,” he added.
The National Missioner of the Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Shiekh, Abdur-Rahman Ahmad, stated, “All those who claim to be Muslims and Alfas that are involved in money rituals know within their hearts that they are doing something wrong and deceiving people.
“The reality is that there is no money ritual. It is not only against the letter and spirit of the laws of Islam but also against human conscience. Islam recognises only three sources of legitimate wealth: direct labour or hard work, inheritance, and a legitimate gift and this doesn’t mean a Greek gift or bribe or something induced.”
On her part, a traditionalist, Omitonade Ifawemimo, said, “There is no shortcut in Isese (traditional spirituality). If you don’t work, you won’t be wealthy. Nollywood and the fantasy it creates bears responsibility for the concept of money rituals.
“Human sacrifice for money rituals does not exist in Isese. It is fake, madness, and a scam! It’s tragic that Yoruba movies have messed up people’s thinking into believing all these lies.”
It’s again a sad (and cruel) story. The reader is warned: the following article contains graphic details of a barbaric crime. This time it occurred in an eastern region of the vast Central African country Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Two tiny Central African countries Rwanda and Burundi are nearby. Is there a relationship with these countries where people with albinism are also often targeted by unscrupulous individuals? Who is responsible for this horrific act which left a young boy dead, a crime which was based on superstition and motived by greed? As soon as more will be known I will share it with you. Meanwhile we hope that the authorities are swift in their reaction, effective in their investigations, and without mercy to bring the perpetrator(s) to court to account for their ruthless and disgusting deed. (webmaster FVDK)
Witchcraft killer decapitates five-year-old albino boy and hacks off his legs in Congo
Published: February 2, 2023 By: Jack Newman – Mail Online, UK
Some believe people with albinism have magical powers in sub-Saharan Africa
Their body parts are often sold for thousands on the black market
A five-year-old albino boy has been decapitated and had his legs cut off by a witchcraft killer in the DR Congo.
Occult believers in sub-Saharan Africa believe the body parts of people with albinism carry magical powers and are regularly sold on the black market.
The young boy’s body was found in eastern DR Congo’s South Kivu province in the Kalehe area of South Kivu – a province that borders Rwanda and Burundi.
Only the arms and torso remained of the boy when he was discovered on Wednesday, and police are hunting for the killer.
Archimedes Karhebwa, assistant administrator of Kalehe territory said: ‘We condemn and deplore this new case of the murder of a 5-year-old albino, who was kidnapped by armed bandits for ulterior motives.’
Juvenal Lushule, who works for an albino association in South Kivu, said that 18 albinos had been killed in similar circumstances in the province since 2009.
He said: ‘This recent case disgusts us and does not surprise us, because we have always been victims of these barbarisms.’
Ten albino graves had also been profaned during that period, according to Lushule, and there were 22 kidnapping attempts.
As in several other African countries, albinos in the DRC are sometimes targeted due to the belief that their body parts can be used in magic rituals to bring fame and fortune.
Because of the superstition, their body parts can be sold for thousands of dollars and they are often targeted in ritual killings.
Some believe that having sex with an albino woman can also cure AIDS.
Albinism, caused by a lack of melanin, the pigment that colours skin, hair and eyes, is a genetic condition that affects hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, especially in Africa.
The article below is not specifically describing the actual situation in one or more African countries. The article is brief and superficial. The reason why I decided to post it here is that it illustrates the fact that ritualistic killings, human sacrifices, and the belief that sacrificing a human being in a ritual with the objective to please the gods or the ancestors are as old as mankind and have occurred or are still occurring all over the world.
It goes without saying that although these age-old practices occur world-wide, they have no place in the 3rd millennium of mankind. (webmaster FVDK)
SOME OF THE DEADLIEST HUMAN SACRIFICES IN HISTORY
Published: December 12, 2022 By: Oluwatomiwa Ogunniyi – Guardian, Nigeria
In the past, human sacrifices were prevalent all over the world. The manner in which they were carried out was dreadful and not for the faint-hearted. We have compiled a list of some of the deadliest human sacrifices in history; you wouldn’t believe some of them!
Persecution of People with albinism
Albinism is a genetically inherited condition that is very rare and it affects approximately one in every 20,000 people worldwide. Though rare in the western world, albinism is fairly common in sub-Saharan Africa, most likely, as a result of consanguineous alliances. Even though albinism occurs in both males and females and is not specific to any race or ethnic group, many still believe that it is a punishment from God or a result of hard luck.
Some Africans still believe that certain parts of an albino’s body have magical powers. This belief has led to many witch doctors and those seeking ingredients for their rituals to kill them. As a result, thousands of people with albinism have been killed and dismembered, and their graves of dug up and desecrated. The scary thing is that this practice is still common in Africa today.
The Lafkenches Tribe Sacrifice
In the year 1960, the strongest earthquake and tsunami ever recorded on the moment magnitude scale hit Chile, thereby, killing thousands of people and destroying many homes and properties in the process. This earthquake became known as the great Chilean earthquake and it led to widespread fear of the possible cause. The people came to the conclusion that the god of the sea was angry with them and so they decided to offer a sacrifice.
They chose a five-year-old child and sacrificed him in a horrifying manner: he had his legs and arms and was stuck into the sand of the beach like a stake and the beach carried him away so that the waters would be calmed. The culprits were arrested and charged but they were released after two years.
The Mayan Sinkhole Sacrifices
During the pre-Columbian era, the Mayans are known to have carried out all manner of ritual sacrifices, as they believed that human sacrifice was the ritual offering of nourishment to the gods. And one manner of sacrifice practised was the sinkhole, where they deposited valuables and human bodies into the cenote as a form of sacrifice to the rain god Chaac.
They also believed that the sinkholes and cenotes were portals to the underworld and they would appease dead spirits by offering human sacrifices to them. Explorers have discovered many sinkholes including the Sacred Cenote, a water-filled sinkhole at the pre-Columbian Maya archaeological site on Peninsula. Archaeological investigations have removed thousands of objects from the bottom of the cenote, including artefacts made from gold, jadeite, copal, wood, rubber and cloth, as well as thousands of human skeletons.
The Child Sacrifice in Carthage
Child sacrifices were very common in ancient cultures maybe because they believed that children possessed innocent souls and therefore were acceptable as forms of sacrifices to gods.
The Carthaginians would have a sacrificial fire pit where children would be thrown into by their parents. The practice became very repulsive to the Carthaginian parents who became tired of killing their own children. In response, they decided to buy children from neighbouring poor tribes, or care for their servant’s children who would then be offered as sacrifices. And during calamities like war, drought or famine, the priests demanded that even the youth be offered as a sacrifice. The sacrifices were carried out on a moonlit night, the children would be killed generously and their bodies would be tossed into the fiery pit amidst singing and dancing.
The Killing of Twins in Nigeria
This is another form of child sacrifice as the killing of twins was a cultural practice among some ethnic groups in Nigeria. Back then, multiple births were seen as an abomination against the earth deity and giving birth to twins was considered a bad omen that could bring devastation or calamity upon society. Twin babies were believed not to be humans but evil.
In 1876, Mary Slessor, a Scottish missionary assigned to Calabar, gradually worked towards changing the cultural belief that twins were evil. However, by 1915, following intervention by the British government, twins and their mothers were fully integrated into their communities.
Yesterday’s posting inspired me to draw once more attention to the plight of people with albinism in the southern African country of Malawi. The CNN article which I present below dates from June 2016. Aljazeerah published a similar article in 2017 which I posted on June 15, 2022. In a way the CNN and the Aljazeerah articles are about the same though the latter is much more comprehensive and detailed.
Let the CNN article below speak for itself. It describes a horrendous and scandalous situation, a grim reality. I’ve said it too often on this site. All people have a right to live without fear, it’s a fundamental human right, and each state has an obligation to protect its citizens and to uphold the rule of law and hold perpetrators accountable for their misdeeds.
Warning: some people may find the following article shocking because of its graphic contents (webmaster FVDK).
Hunting for humans: Malawian albinos murdered for their bones
Published: June 7, 2016 By: Dominique van Heerden – CNN
CNN — For Agness Jonathan, every day is a gamble with her children’s lives.
Simple questions like whether they should go to school carry an unimaginable risk of death and dismemberment to satisfy a barbaric demand.
This is because her daughters are living with albinism, a genetic condition resulting in little or no pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. And this makes them a target.
It is children like Agness’ who, according to a newly released Amnesty International report, are being hunted like animals in Malawi where their bones are sold in the belief the body parts bring wealth, happiness and good luck.
The report chronicles the day-to-day lives of those living with the condition, and details the extent of a recent surge in killings of albinos living in the landlocked country in southern Africa.
The bloodiest month was April this year, when Amnesty says four people were murdered, including a baby.
One of the victims was 17-year-old Davis Fletcher Machinjiri, who left his home to watch a soccer game with a friend, but never returned.
The Malawian police say he was abducted by “about four men who trafficked him to Mozambique and killed him.” Describing his gruesome death, they say “the men chopped off both his arms and legs and removed bones. They then buried the rest of his body in a shallow grave.”
Since 2014 at least 18 albinos have been killed, another five have been abducted and are still missing.
And if it weren’t for alert locals, Agness’ youngest daughter Chakuputsa would be one of them.
She was grabbed by three men while her mother was out working the fields. Agness describes how villagers chased after the men who eventually dumped the child in the bushes nearby. It turned out one of the attackers was a relative, someone, Agness tells Amnesty, she had considered like a brother. This, the community says, is all too common.
Attackers are known to sell body parts to witchdoctors in Malawi and neighboring Mozambique, hoping to make quick money.
Amnesty says “thousands of people with albinism are at severe risk of abduction and killing by individuals and criminal gangs,” while the United Nations warns that Malawi’s albinos are at risk of “total extinction.”
Grace Mazzah, a board member of the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi, is always aware of the price on her head.
Warning: some readers may find this story disturbing because of its detailed and explicit description of a crime.
On many occasions I have drawn attention here on the violence against people with albinisme in Malawi. See mee previous posts (using the dropdown menu in the heading under ‘African countries’, or you my click here). On November 30 another murder of an albino girl, Tadala Chirwa, only three years old, was committed for the sole purposes of using her body parts for rituals linked to the delusion that this would bring luck or good health to the delinquent perpetrator. The incident happened in Mawawa, in the center of the country. The brutal crime followed the abduction of another albino child in Phalombe township, in the south of the country, on November 19. And, reportedly, in October, unknown persons exhumed the grave of an albino person in order to amputate the arms and legs of the corpse.
When will it end? When will Malawi be a safe place for all Malawians?
The government of Lazarus Chakwera, president since 2020 and leader of the Malawi Congress Party is urged to ensure safety to all Malawians including people with albinism and investigate all violence against them and bring perpetrators of crimes against people with albinism without any hesitation to the country’s courts where the accused will be impartially tried and punished for their crimes after being found guilty in a transparant public trial.
As long as this is not the case, Malawi cannot be called a country where the rule of law is being applied (webmaster FVDK).
Amnesty International denounces ritual murder of three-year-old albino girl in Malawi
Published: December 2, 2022 By: Daniel Stewart – News 360
Amnesty International on Friday denounced the brutal murder in Malawi of a three-year-old albino girl whose arm was amputated postmortem in the false belief that the limbs of people with this skin discoloration possess “magical properties.”
“We find the horrific nature of Tadala Chirwa’s death deeply disturbing,” said Amnesty’s Southern Africa campaigner Vongai Chikwanda.
The murder occurred on November 30 in Mawawa, in the center of the country, when an unidentified man entered the home of the girl’s grandmother, where she was sleeping, and stabbed her to death in the neck before amputating her arm, which he took with him.
According to information available to the NGO, the person responsible for the crime has not yet been arrested.
Amnesty also sees signs of a new pattern of crimes against the country’s albino population following the November 19 abduction of a two-year-old boy in Phalombe township in the south of the country.
In October, unknown persons exhumed the grave of the mortal remains of an albino person in order to amputate the arms and legs of the corpse.
“The authorities,” calls Amnesty International, “must also take urgent action to ensure the safety of people with albinism in Malawi, investigate all previous attacks and provide justice for the victims and their families.”
Little Tadala Chirwa was murdered in her grandmother’s house with the intruder stealing her severed leg in a disturbing pattern of killings driven by a bizarre belief that albino body parts bring wealth.
A killer mudered an albino toddler in her bed then cut off her leg for good luck. Tadala Chirwa, three, was sleeping at her grandmother’s house when the intruder broke in to carry out the sick crime just before midnight on Wednesday. She was snatched from the bed she was sharing with her grandmother in the village of Mawawa. The “shocking” murder in central Malawi is believed to have been driven by a belief that the body parts of people with albinism guarantee good fortune. It comes just weeks after the attempted abduction of a two-year old albino boy in the Phalombe district.
The incident on 19 November involved three masked assailants attempting to break into a home where a toddler was asleep with his mother and a sibling. However, the mother managed to get her family to safety.
The human rights organization Amnesty International has urged the Malawian authorities to improve the protection of people in the east African country following the death of the infant.
Vongai Chikwanda, Amnesty International’s Campaigner for Southern Africa, said: “The horrific nature of the death of Tadala Chirwa is deeply shocking and a cause of great concern.
“This killing and the removal of a limb is consistent with past patterns on attacks on persons with albinism, which are driven by the false belief that their body parts bring wealth and good luck.
“Authorities must promptly and thoroughly investigate the killing of Tadala Chirwa and ensure that those suspected of responsibility are brought to justice in fair trials.
“The authorities must also take urgent steps to guarantee the safety and security of persons with albinism in Malawi, including by investigating all past attacks and delivering justice for victims and their families.”
Today’s posting and included article are a follow-up to a previous posting earlier this year, reporting the conviction of a Catholic priest and 11 others who had been on trial accused of murdering a man with albinism, MacDonald Masambuka, in 2018 (see my posting of May 4, 2022). Malawi is one of the unsafest places in Sub-Sahara Africa for people with albinism. Amnesty International has reported that at least 170 crimes targeted people living with albinism in Malawi since 2014. An estimated 20 of them were murders.
Though we welcome the rule of law leading to the prosecution, conviction and sentencing of the murderers of 22-year old MacDonald Masambuka, there is still a long way to go before all perpetrators of heinous crimes targeting people with albinism in Malawi face the full weight of justice. (webmaster FVDK)
Malawi priest sentenced to 30 years for murder of man with albinism
The killing of people with albinism is linked to rituals associated with witchcraft
Published: June 30, 2022 By: Fredrick Nzwili – Catholic News service
The Church will let justice take its course after the High Court in Malawi sentenced a priest to 30 years in prison for the murder of a man with albinism, said Archbishop George Desmond Tambala, president of the Malawian bishops’ conference.
Five other suspects were handed life sentences. One of them was the victim’s brother.
“We were shocked and we stand by the victims of that very terrible crime,” Archbishop Tambala told Catholic News Service June 29. “We have offered all the cooperation to see justice is done. We are shocked and we are at pains.”
“We as a church always preach about justice,” he added. “We have always stood by the people who are victims. We will let justice take its course. We stand by the rule of the law.”
The court handed down the sentence June 27. A judge sitting in the city of Blantyre said Father Thomas Muhosha had planned to sell the body parts of MacDonald Masambuka, 22, violently killed in 2018. Masambuka was lured into a death trap after his killers lied that they had found him a wife.
The victim went missing from his village in southern Malawi in February 2018. Nearly a month later, his burned, limbless body was found buried in a garden at the home of one of his killers.
“There is an issue with our African culture, and I think the whole church in sub-Saharan Africa needs to confront some beliefs, which I think are very dangerous”
Recently, Malawi has experienced violent attacks on people with albinism. Last year, Amnesty International reported the occurrence of at least 170 crimes targeting people living with albinism in Malawi since 2014; 20 of them were murders.
“It’s very unusual and not part of us. The whole issue of killing albinos is very strange in Malawi. We do not know how we ended up in this kind of issue,” said Archbishop Tambala.
The attacks are driven by superstitious beliefs that body parts and bones from albinos bring wealth or good luck to those who possess them. Such cases also have been reported in Tanzania.
Although many hoped the sentencing in Malawi would deter any other future attacks and killings, Archbishop Tambala thinks otherwise.
“I think we need to go beyond that,” he said. “There is an issue with our African culture, and I think the whole church in sub-Saharan Africa needs to confront some beliefs, which I think are very dangerous.”
In a recently released document of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), Revealing Our Hidden Shame – Addressing Charges of Witchcraft and Ritual Attacks, it is being reported that “hundreds of thousands of children in Africa are believed to be accused every year of what is widely regarded across Africa as a particularly heinous crime: witchcraft”.
In the document, 19 Sub-Sahara African countries are mentioned as the scene of cases of the commission of rural infanticide crimes, attacks against children with disabilities, ritual attacks against children with albinism and cases of violence against children accused of witchcraft.
The 19 SSA countries are scattered across the continent and it is believed – in view of the scarcity of data – that the cases which have come to light only constitute the tip of the iceberg.
It goes without saying that there is no place in the 21st century for these practices and crimes.
Warning: Some readers may find the following story disturbing (webmaster FVDK).
Cult-related attacks against children still occur in at least 19 SSA countries
Published: June 2, 2022 By: LUSA – Macau Business dot com
Angola is the only Portuguese-speaking African country mentioned in a report released on Wednesday by the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) on the practice of ritual attacks against children.
In the document, “Revealing Our Hidden Shame – Addressing Charges of Witchcraft and Ritual Attacks”, presented Tuesday in a video conference from Addis Ababa, “hundreds of thousands of children in Africa are believed to be accused every year of what is widely regarded across Africa as a particularly heinous crime: witchcraft”.
ACPF executive director Joan Nyanyuki argues in the introduction that “across the African continent, much has been done to improve laws and policies aimed at ending violence against children.”
“Some progress has been made in establishing the systems and structures needed to implement and enforce these policies and laws. These efforts, however, have not sufficiently addressed an important dimension of violence against children: accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks,” it adds.
In the document, 19 countries are referenced as the scene of cases of the commission of rural infanticide crimes, attacks against children with disabilities, attacks against children with albinism and cases of violence against children accused of witchcraft.
“The report documents, to the extent possible in light of the scarcity of data, how widespread accusations of witchcraft are across the continent (although they vary in extent over time and from place to place). Best estimates suggest that hundreds of thousands of children face accusations every year in Africa and subsequently suffer serious violations.”
Examples given by the document point to reported cases of ritual infanticide in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar and Niger, while Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Essuatini, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, Rwanda and Zimbabwe have reported ritual attacks on children with disabilities.
Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali and Tanzania have reported attacks on children with albinism and in South Africa, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania cases of violence against children accused of being witches are reported.
“To protect children from the harm of witchcraft accusations, it is not necessary to deny that ‘witchcraft’ exists. Instead, it is important to prioritise child protection while preventing child abuse by addressing the belief that such abuse can somehow protect communities from perceived danger,” the document argues.
The research that resulted in the report found that with the exception of work done by some non-governmental organisations, “few organisations and states in Africa make systematic efforts to prevent such abuse”.
“Few prohibit accusations. Services for children who have suffered harm and violence related to accusations are few and far between. This area needs urgent attention,” argues the report.
Joan Nyanyuki argues “a comprehensive and coordinated effort by state and non-state actors is needed to uncover the nature, magnitude and impact of violence related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks. This approach will ensure that child protection systems, laws and policies are enhanced to adequately address these forms of violence against children.”
Saving Africa’s Witch Children (dated June 22, 2009) reporting on how thousands of small children in Nigeria are branded witches. The web page also contains a large number of news reports and articles (2005-2009) including websites of organizations fighting against these cruel and illegal practices.