There’s not much to add without risking repeating myself. Let me just briefly mention what I consider the triple motive of the perpetrator(s): first, to intimidate the bystander, the perceived enemy; secondly, to make clear that he, the actor, is the strongest, the conquerer, and thirdly, without doubt, there is a religious or superstitious drive, a belief in the supernatural powers of eating the heart of the enemy. Notably the latter motive makes it a ritualistic act, and murder, a despicable crime.
The 2009 report of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) includes many examples of ritualistic acts committed during the back-to-back civil wars (1989-2003). For reasons only known to herself, President Sirleaf (2006-2018) never implemented the TRC recommendations including the prosecution of the rebel leaders responsible for war crimes and human rights violations, possibly because she was also recommended for a sanction because of her (admitted) support of the NPLF, the rebel organization which started the civil war in 1989. Also President Weah (2018 – present) decided not to start procedures establishing a war crimes court, backtracking on previous statements when still in opposition.
The result is impunity for the perpetrators. Injustice. An insult to the survivors and victims.
Liberians will go to the polls on October 10 to elect a president, vice president and 88 lawmakers. The incumbent president, George Weah, has shown his position when it comes to justice for the victims and survivors. His main challengers are a former Vice President under President Sirleaf, Joseph Boakai, from Lofa County, whose running mate is a political protégé of warlord-turned-senator Prince Johnson – yes, the rebel commander who in 1990 gave his men orders to torture and kill then President Samuel Doe – and Alexander Cummings, who has promised to establish a war crimes tribunal when elected into the highest office.
We’ll closely watch events in Liberia during the coming month(s). (FVDK)
Chopped up with an axe and a heart eaten out: some crimes never die
Published: September 13, 2023 By: Alain Werner – Civitas Maxima
Exactly 30 years ago, in the summer of 1993, a group of rebel soldiers sowed unheard-of terror in the town of Foya, in the small West African country of Liberia, then ravaged by civil war.
Here, 450 kilometers north of the capital Monrovia, a pious man respected by his community had the courage to denounce the rebel group that occupied the premises, ULIMO (United Liberation Movement of Democracy for Liberia). He did so to a humanitarian group, and told them that ULIMO was responsible for the looting of a hospital financed by humanitarian aid.
Once the foreigners had left, the pious man was taken to what was then used as an airstrip and his thorax was cut out by the rebels, his heart extracted and eaten in front of the population. “Try ULIMO, your heart” – which could be translated as “Defy ULIMO, we’ll take your heart” – was one of the slogans used to terrorize the population, a slogan that some civilians who survived that inferno still remember.
The most bloodthirsty of the ULIMO commanders, who opened the pious man’s chest with an axe and spread his killing spree to Foya, was known by the war nickname of “Ugly Boy”, despite his handsome features. The local population, who spoke a different dialect than the ULIMO soldiers, had nicknamed this commander differently among themselves, so as to be able to alert each other to his arrival without being understood by the rebels. They called him “Saah Chuey”, or “the man with the axe” in the Kissi language, as this commander was famous for chopping up civilians with his axe.
“Ugly Boy” was never tried for his ignominious deeds. Indeed, legend has it that he died by popular vindication, having been recognized in Guinea by refugees who had fled Liberia. However, if he were still alive today, “Ugly Boy” would still not have been tried in Liberia.
Indeed, in August we will be celebrating 20 years since the end of the wars in this country, and yet no one has been tried by a court in the country; the government and the United Nations having done nothing for the forgotten victims of Liberia. Despite the fact that a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended in 2009 that the main players in the war should be brought to justice, and that at least 250,000 people lost their lives during these bloody conflicts between 1989 and 2003.
However, on Thursday June 1, 2023, the Federal Criminal Court of Appeal in Switzerland convicted a man, Alieu Kosiah, of participating in the axe murder of the Pious Man. Jurisdiction was given in our country because Mr. Kosiah had been resident in Lausanne since the late 1990s. The conviction came exactly 30 years after the events, and was handed down in Bellinzona, seat of the Federal Criminal Court, some 7,000 kilometers from the scene of the crimes, Foya.
Alieu Kosiah had already been convicted in June 2021 by the Criminal Court for multiple acts of war crimes, including having eaten a piece of the pious man’s heart in the company of “Ugly Boy”. At the time, however, he was found not guilty of the axe-murder, the first judges considering that he had not played an active role in this crime.
The appeal judges decided otherwise and sentenced Alieu Kosiah for complicity in the murder of the pious man, an act qualified as a war crime and a crime against humanity. During the reading of the verdict, the President of the Court, Olivier Thormann, explained that, according to the Court, Alieu Kosiah had handed the pious man over to “Ugly Boy” to be taken to the Foya airstrip, knowing full well what would happen next.
This appeal judgment marks Swiss legal history, as it is the very first conviction in our country for crimes against humanity. It now opens the way for prosecutions in Switzerland for such crimes, even if committed before 2011 and the entry into force of the new provisions of the penal code.
As a lawyer and Director of Civitas Maxima, since 2014 I have represented several Liberian victims in this case alongside Me Romain Wavre, including a friend of the pious man who was present at the scene and witnessed his ordeal, having himself been a victim of ULIMO crimes.
Our clients and other victims have shown exceptional resilience, dignity and courage. Most of them came to Switzerland three times to testify throughout the proceedings, and overcame the obstacles posed by the Ebola epidemic in 2014-2015 and the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020-2021 to finally obtain justice.
War crimes and crimes against humanity are unique in that they “never die”. Indeed, because they concern the international community as a whole, these offences are not extinguished by a statute of limitations after a certain number of years, as is the case for most ordinary crimes. Prosecutions for war crimes and crimes against humanity are thus theoretically possible as long as the person accused of committing them is alive and evidence exists, theoretically even if the victims are all dead. Just as the forgotten victims of Liberia obtained justice in Switzerland in 2023 for crimes committed so far away in 1993, victims of international crimes committed during current or recent armed conflicts must never lose hope. Even if we must do everything to ensure that they obtain justice before 2053 for the crimes they have suffered.
The article first appeared in French on Heidi News on the 16th of July, 2023.
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.
In Nigeria, the number of ritual killings, ritual murders, ‘money rituals’, cannot be counted. Occasionally I report on these widespread crimes in Africa’s most populated country, but it would be a daily job to (try to) cover all of them – though I doubt if this would ever be possible, also in light of the fact that presumably not all ritualistic murders are discovered.
Often, so-called Yahoo-boys are involved in these ritual practices which are nothing less than ordinary violent crimes committed by ruthless, greedy people who butcher innocent people – men, women, children – whose organs are being sold to superstitious people.
It is to be expected that in a country of over 200 million people many crimes are committed including crimes for ritualistic purposes. In Nigeria, the crime of ritual murder is so persistent and widespread that one wonders if there are other reasons than superstition, greed, and the country’s vast population which explain this ugly crime.
In Nigeria there’s a general lack of security which goes hand in hand with the lack of rule of law. Bandits, Boko Haram rebels, terrorists, ritualists, political activists, the Nigerian government is confronted with multiple agressors. Nigeria’s recently installed president, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, faces many challenges of which the eradication of ritual murders in the country is just one.
The focus on Yorubaland in the article presented below is by no means meant to suggest that the problem of ritualistic killings elsewhere in Nigeria is less serious.
PS The reproduction of articles here and elsewhere on this site does not imply that the webmaster agrees with the contents of the articles published. (FVDK)
Unprecedented spate of ritual killings in Yorubaland and the absence of elders
Published: August 12, 2023 By: Dr. Tayo Douglas – The Nation, Nigeria
One of the epigrams often cited in Yorubaland whenever the household or the whole community is thrown into orgy and disarray is namely this;
“Agbà kó sí ní ìlú, ìlú bàjé, baãlé ilé kú tán ilé di ahoro.” Loosely taken, it means; “the absence or death of the elders turns the household into an empty shell.”
In recent times, never has Yoruba land witnessed the flurry and plague of mindless and imbecilic killing of human beings for ritual purposes. It is now a daily occurrence and it appears there won’t be an end to it. The question which all right-thinking men and women of Yorubaland should be asking themselves is; where are their morals and where have they got it wrong?
It seems these elders are yet to come to terms with the fact that they now have big problems on their hands. At the moment, it would appear that politics and how to get rich quickly through any means are now the major preoccupation of an average Yoruba man. Nobody cares any longer about morals or the good names of each family. Orientation or good upbringing in each household or family setup is already lost to vulgar and questionable lifestyles among the Yoruba youths.
If a fool would reason at all, he would be quick to point out to you that the fallout is a result of poverty or hardship in the country. A fool has reasoned indeed! The Yoruba saying of old is very much replete here and that is, “ohun tí otí bá nínú òmùtí ni òmùtí fi se ìwà wù,” That is, let no criminal plead that he committed the crime because he is drunk. After all, lawyers always tell us that an act is considered blameworthy because an accused mind is equally guilty (actus reus reum nisi mens sit rea). In essence, a murderer has gone to kill a human being for ritual purposes of getting rich quickly and not because there is hunger, poverty, and hardship in the country.
In the days of old, our parents always drummed it to our ears to remember the children of whom we were – (Rántí omo eni ti ìwo n’se), I doubt if these youths on killing spree today have houses again let alone keeping the names of the owners.
Before it is too late, a time is coming (and that is if it hasn’t come already) when whatever is left remaining of Yorubaland ethos and dignity would soon be thrown to the dogs and the winds if care is not taken. These boys’ excesses, I mean the ritualists, yahoo boys, and whatever other evil names they are called, have to be curtailed at all costs. That time is now. Instead of the Afenifere warlords turning themselves to Peter Obi or any other politicians, campaign managers, and spin doctors, they should come back home and address the real problem that is turning their lands into graveyards and other abominable monuments.
It’s quite unfortunate that these so-called elders have left leprosy untreated but keep running after ringworm. Overnight, Tinubu became their major headache. His election as president of the country was then and up till now an “abomination” that must be prevented. It is better in the sight of these Yoruba elders if ‘yahoo plus’ and other ritualists continue their nefarious activities in Yorubaland but Tinubu must not be president. “Over” their “dead bodies” are their slogans. SMH.
Never in the history of the Yoruba race have we ever witnessed the unprecedented carnage, a gory obscenity and orgy of ritual seppuku, and disembowelment of human beings for money purposes. It is highly unfortunate.
• Dr. Douglas, Ph.D. is a lawyer and social commentator, sent this piece from Lagos.
Residents of Wassa Nkyirifi, a farming community in the Western Region woke up on Friday morning to the horror of a suspected murder of a seven-year-old girl by her uncle for money ritual purpose.
After allegedly killing and burying the body in a nearby bush, the suspect, identified only as Augustine, a 37-year-old farmer reported to the police that his niece had gone missing.
The 7-year-old victim has been identified as Sandy Manu.
The suspect then went further to make public announcements on radio asking for help to locate his niece.
The police in the Wassa Amenfi East Municipal area however, suspected foul play because of Augustine’s responses to the questions and why he was desperately concerned about the missing young girl.
Augustine’s body language, his responses and his eventual exhibition that he was terrified according to a police source, prompted an intense interrogation by the police during which he burst into tears.
According to the police source, he then confessed that he had killed the niece for money ritual so he could evade poverty.
He is said to have told the police that, he complained about poverty to one elderly man in the Wassa Nkyirifi community and the elderly man told him to use one of his many nieces for money rituals.
Upon meditation, he went to see a spiritualist the next day to help him go through the process of money rituals.
The suspect said the spiritualist then told him to bring human head – that is the head of one of his nieces.
From there, he went in for Sandy and killed her.
After killing and beheading her, he buried the headless body and concealed the head for the process.
He then led the police to the nearby bush where the headless body was buried and the body was exhumed.
The head was also retrieved from another location.
The body has since been deposited at the morgue and the suspect is currently in police custody.
A video from the scene where the body was exhumed has been shared on social media by some of the community members.
Man allegedly kills 7-year-old niece for money rituals
Published: August 5 2023 By: Myjoyonline, Ghana
Residents of Wassa Nkyirifi, a farming community in the Western Region, woke up on Friday morning to the horror of a suspected murder of a seven-year-old girl by her uncle.
After allegedly killing and burying the body in a nearby bush, the suspect, identified only as Augustine, a 37-year-old farmer reported to the police that his niece had gone missing.
The suspect then went further to make public announcements on the radio asking for help to locate his niece.
The police in the Wassa Amenfi East Municipal area, however, suspected foul play because of Augustine’s responses to their questions and how he was desperately concerned about the missing young girl.
Augustine’s body language, his responses and his eventual exhibition that he was terrified according to a police source, prompted an intense interrogation during which he burst into tears.
According to the police source, he then confessed that he had killed the niece for money ritual so he could evade poverty.
The seven-year-old victim has been identified as Sandy Manu.
The suspect is said to have told the police that, he complained about poverty to one elderly man in the Wassa Nkyirifi community. The elderly man advised him to use one of his many nieces for money rituals.
Upon meditation, he allegedly went to see a spiritualist the next day to help him go through the process of money rituals.
The suspect said the spiritualist then told him to bring a human head. From there, he went in for Sandy and murdered her.
After killing and beheading her, he reportedly buried the headless body and concealed the head in the process.
The suspect then led the police to the nearby bush where the headless body was buried and the body was exhumed.
The head was also retrieved from another location. The body has since been deposited at the morgue and the suspect is currently in police custody.
Meanwhile, a video from the scene where the body was exhumed has been shared on social media by some of the community members.
It is not the first time that election campaigns are accompanied by a rising number of ritual murders – or ‘muti murders’, as they are called in Southern Africa. Already in a previous posting, on June 19, 2018 I drew attention to the link between elections and ritual killings in this country.
Swaziland (eSwatini) has a long history of ritual murders. In the recent past, in 2003, King Mswati III urged Swaziland’s politicians not to engage in ritual killings to boost their chances in the general elections later that year. Five years later then Prime Minister Absalom Themba Dlamini warned aspiring members of parliament against committing ritual murders to win the vote. In my 2018 posting I revealed that nothing had changed for the better. For briefness sake I further refer to my 2018 posting.
When will it end? What’s the use of repeated warnings? Isn’t it a crazy situation, we’re in the third millennium, and superstition is still rife in a country where democratic elections are being organized.
However, the democratic nature of elections in eSwatini / Swaziland is not what one would expect. Past elections in the kingdom where king Mswati III rules as an absolute monarch, have been characterized by a lack of transparency whereas according to Wikipedia the full results of both the 2018 and 2013 elections have never been published. (FVDK)
Swaziland: King Mswati III frowns at rising number of ritual murders
Published: July 16, 2023 By: NKOSINGIPHILE MYENI , Swaziland Observer
His Majesty King Mswati III is disheartened by the rising number of cruel deaths occurring around the country.
Most of the deaths were those that seemed to be ritually associated as were described as the worst kind of evil.
This was shared yesterday through the King’s representative, Minister of Housing and Urban Development Prince Simelane, in one of the biggest prayer services in the country.
The national prayer for the national elections brought together church leaders from the three church mother bodies, being the Council of Swaziland Churches, Conference of Churches and the League of Churches.
There were also other Cabinet ministers, church members of different denominations as well as members of the public.
Rendering his speech, the prince shared a story in the Bible in Genesis 6 verse 6 whereby God showed His regret by creating a person and further said that He was grieving in his heart by the evil that people do.
The King said in just a short space of time spine-chilling deaths have been reported whereby he further depicted the cruelty with which the victims died.
He first referred to an incident which occurred early in the month at Nkoneni in the Shiselweni region whereby the body of a 26-year-old woman was found with multiple stab wounds, her eyes gouged out and her throat slit.
“Let me just point out to two or three of these in the country. Such cruelty Maswati! If you wonder why God is regretful about a person, again just recently, a boy went out from his home to buy goats but he was stabbed and killed.
“His throat was cut while he was alive and could feel it. They placed a tyre on him, doused him with petrol and set him alight,” he said while narrating that it was not only the events that were seen on television that showed cruelty.
He added, “The God of love saw the evil in people on earth. He saw that their hearts and thoughts were evil and regretted why he created them.
Tense This may seem like a past tense but God forever regrets why he created a person, why? because of their sins.”
The King went further and referred to another incident. He said in Malkerns just this week, another man was found dead with stab wounds as well as a slit throat.
He did not spare femicide whereby he said such cases were widely reported in the media. According to the United Nations (UN) Women, femicide is a hate crime which is broadly defined as the intentional killing of women or girls because they are female.
“In our nation we read in the newspapers that men kill women with cruelty. They kill their wives, girlfriends and have also started killing their own children. “Therefore, we are here to pray for elections so that they go smoothly,” he said.
Referring to other countries during elections, the King said violence was also rife whereby he said it was common to hear that political parties fight one another to the extent that people are shot and assassinated while others have their houses burnt.
‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ but: the High Court in Polokwane will continue the trial of four businessmen and a woman who are suspected of killing Ronnie Makgatho for ritual purposes in 2006.
An amazing aspect of this murder case is that there is no dead body. The body of the victim, Ronnie Makgatho, was never found. Therefor it is to be seen if this trial wil end in a guilty verdict. How can you find someone guilty of murder when there’s no dead body?
Two of the five accused share the family name of the victim, Ronnie Makgatho. It is not uncommon that relatives are involved in ritualistic murders.
The first article presented below is silent on the background of the murder and also lacks many details. However, it seems obvious that this is a case of ‘muti’ murder, a ritualistic murder, based on superstition and motivated by greed.
The second article, published by Polokwane Weekly and shared on Facebook, contains more information. Warning: Some readers may find this story disturbing because of its explicit graphic content (webmaster FVDK).
More background information pertaining to this case:
EXCLUSIVE | HOW RONNY MAKGATHO WAS MURDERED
WARNING: NOT FOR SENSITIVE READERS
Published: May 12, 2022 By: Polokwane Weekly / Facebook
SESHEGO: A state witness in the murder case of Ronny Makgatho has detailed a chilling confession of the victim was killed.
The witness was testifying at the Seshego Magistrate’s Court during a bail application of the murder accused on Wednesday.
According to the witness, Marcus Makgatho traveled to Soshanguve Extension 4 where the victim was staying.
The witness says that Amanda Makgato alongside their accomplices forced the victim into the car and drove from Soshanguve to Seshego, where he was locked up in a shack.
The state witness said that Hlako and Makgato were both holding Ronnie Makgato’s hands and legs before he was brutally murdered for alleged business related rituals.
The witness has also told the court that the accused number 4 Khumbelo Mabirimisa was also present with an unknown woman.
He also told the court that the accused indicated that it was time to start with the job, before beginning with the murder process.
The witness said that Hlako said the victim should die a slow death when they were cutting him with a knife, so that they can get a lot of his blood. The witness also said that there were a bucket that was used to collect his blood.
The state witness also told the court that Ronnie Makgato’s body parts were cut by the accused.
The head was taken to Hlako’s Tarven, hands were taken to Makgato’s lodge. Other body parts were also taken to Hlako’s farm.
The court also heard that after taking the body parts of the victim to the accused’s businesses, the remaining part was buried at the same house.
The murder accused were all denied bail on Wednesday.
THE Makgato family was left shocked when a family member and his friend were arrested on Wednesday, 13 April.
They were bust by Seshego cops in Limpopo for the kidnapping and murder of Ronald Makgato, who went missing 16 years ago.
Ronald (27) from Mamehlabe Village, Ga-Matlala disappeared in 2006 while staying in Soshanguve, Tshwane.
A witness tipped off his family and the police in 2020.
It’s believed that one of Ronald’s relatives and his friend allegedly killed the victim for muthi purposes, and they apparently buried his body in a shallow grave.
Ronald’s sister, Granny Makgato-Leboho, said it has been hard for the family not knowing their brother’s whereabouts. “When the police arrested my relative and his friend, we knew we were close to getting the truth about what happened to my brother.”
She said the witness told them that Ronald was given a drug before he was taken to Zone 4 in Seshego, where he was murdered.
“We were told he was dismembered and his body parts were taken for muthi purposes. It’s so painful that my own relative saw it fit to kill his own for his evil intentions.”
Limpopo police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Mamphaswa Seabi confirmed that two suspects, both aged 64, were bust and charged with kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder and murder.
“They briefly appeared in the Seshego Magistrates Court last Thursday, and their matter was postponed to 28 April for formal bail application while the police investigations continues. The body of Ronald has not yet been recovered,” Seabi said.
Warning: The following article contains graphic details of a violent criminal act.
At first sight one is tempted to think of yet another case of ritual murder in Liberia, as the article reads: ‘(…) the mutilated body of little Saah Momo was discovered in the home of his grandfather in Bomi County.’ It occurred early this year, in January.
It is known that in a large number of ritual murder cases relatives are involved – as traditionally this is part of the ritual to create or obtain ‘juju’, the spiritual power which perpetrators seek to increase their wealth, power or social prestige. However, it is not plainly stated by the police and in the article – as it is often the case – that this is about a ritual killing. In Liberia, police and journalists don’t mince their words when reporting on ritual murder cases.
The Liberian National Police arrested six persons in connection with the violent death of the 2-year old boy, Saah Momo, including the mother and an uncle of the victim. The deceased’s uncle testified in court that he had murdered his nephew upon the order of the child’s mother. Allegedly, she was motivated to have her son murdered for financial gains: she wanted to sell his organs. It has not been revealed with whom the suspects wished to trade body parts with.
Was the violent death of little Saah Momo a case of organ trafficking or another case of ritualistic murder?
Some countries in the region, e.g. Nigeria, are notorious for murders committed by criminals who wish to harvest human organs in order to sell them – albeit for ritualistic purposes to superstitious people who believe that in this way, with ‘juju’, they can increase their wealth, success in business or in politics. These murders in Nigeria and Ghana are often committed by so-called Yahoo Boys and the criminal acts are locally known as ‘money rituals’.
In Liberia, murder cases for purposes of organ trafficking are far less widespread but since – by definition – these dark activities take place in secret, we don’t know on what scale they happen.
In short, the article is not clear whether the murder of little Saah Momo was a case of ritualistic murder or of organ trafficking. However, in both cases there is a clear ritualistic component as organ trafficking is not carried out with the purpose of organ transplantation, aiming to improve a patient’s health, but to sell organs to superstitious people and ‘juju’ men who wish to use human body parts for ritualistic purposes. (webmaster FVDK)
Liberia: Two Convicted for butchering a 2-year-old boy in Bomi County
Published: May 23, 2023 By: Rachel T. Saykiamien – The Daily Observer, Liberia
Jurors at the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Bomi County have brought down a unanimous guilty verdict against two men who brutally murdered a two-year-old boy, Saah Momo, in Zealey, Dowein District, Bomi County.
The verdict followed a final argument in court by both prosecution and defense lawyers on May 23, 2023.
Defendants Momo Gray, the uncle of the deceased child, and his brother and father of the child,, Siafa Gray, were found guilty of murder; a first-degree felony under the law. In February of this year, the two were indicted by the grand jury of Bomi County for their involvement in the murder of Saah Momo.
On May 10, Momo Gray, the accused uncle of the two-year-boy, pleaded guilty to the crime of murder after his appearance at the 11th Judicial Circuit Court, while the father of the boy, Siaffa Gray, pleaded not guilty.
From the beginning, several individuals, including the mother and grandparents, were arrested but released after it was established that they had no hand in the act. However, the uncle and father, who played a major role in butchering the boy, were charged and tried in court.
On May 23, 2023, defendants Momo Gray and Siafa Gray were found guilty of murder; a crime that contravenes Chapter 14 Subchapter 14.1 of the penal code law of Liberia. Under the law, a person who is convicted of such a crime may be sentenced to death or life imprisonment.
A pre- sentencing hearing is expected to take place before the defendants are convicted.
Judge T. Ciapha Carey has ordered the clerk of the court to inform the probation officer of the Ministry of Justice to investigate the lives of the defendant’s prior to the incident. This is done to ascertain if the defendants were law abiding citizens or had stayed out of trouble prior to the crime.
In January, the mutilated body of little Saah Momo was discovered in the home of his grandfather in Bomi County. The Liberia National Police (LNP) arrested the deceased’s uncle and five other persons in connection to the death of the child.
Those arrested were Momo Gray, Siaffa Gray, Cooper Ross, Satta Wonda, the mother of the deceased, and Omacy Nyei.
At the time, police established that all of the suspects committed the act for financial gain and were subsequently brought to the headquarters of the Liberia National Police to be questioned. But the police failed to state whether their investigation discovered who these suspects were trading body parts with. However, four people, including the deceased’s mother and grandparents, were set free.
Defendant Momo Gray, the uncle of the deceased, taking the witness stand and testifying on his behalf on May 19, admitted to murdering his nephew, but alleged that he acted upon the order of the child’s mother; whom he said was encouraged to have her son killed in order to sell the major organs for money due to hardship.
The following article contains an interesting glimpse into a micro-world of superstition, murder – ritual murder – , traditional practices and social codes. It also shows that the phenomenon of ritualistic killings is old. Even before the cited 1982 case these traditional, criminal and revolting practices occurred in Zimbabwe (as in other countries).
Hence, so far no news. But isn’t it time that these ancient practices disappear? There’s no place for ritualistic murders and related crimes in the 21st century. (webmaster FVDK)
Stranger Than Fiction – Body Parts Retrieved 41yrs Later
Published: April 2, 2023 By: ZWNEWS
THE popularly used ‘stranger than fiction’ phrase was brought to life this afternoon in Mutasa after the alleged private parts of a man who was allegedly murdered for rituals 41 years ago were retrieved from under a disused shop.
When The Manica Post news crew arrived, hundreds of villagers in Maondo Village and other neighbouring villages under Chief Mutasa had come out in their numbers to witness the retrieval of private parts, eyes and tongue which were alleged to the late Tukai Kujeke’s from the Dangarembwa shop at Maondo Business Centre.
Kujeke was allegedly murdered in 1982 and buried with missing body parts.
It is alleged that he was murdered by Oneday Manyarara and James Dangarembwa, who are both now late and whose families appeased Kujeke’s avenging spirit with seven cattle each this afternoon.
Led by Nyanga traditional healer, Sekuru Shingirai Mukotsanjera, the retrieval team found the parts in a small calabash, about two metres deep just outside the Dangarembwa shop.
Afterwards, the body parts were taken to the cemetery where Kujeke’s body was buried and were also placed in his grave to rest with his body.
The shop, which has been unused for years, is alleged to have been haunted by the late Kujeke’s spirit since the 80s.
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.”
Leo Igwe does not need any introduction. Multiple times I have posted articles on this indefatigable human rights champion. See e.g. my October 25, 2021 posting.
The belief in witchcraft and the weak rule of law in many African countries contribute to mob justice (or ‘jungle justice’ as this popular act is also called) and lynchings of perceived witches. In Kenya e.g., as in many other African countries, mob justice is criminal. Nevertheless, up to five incidents are reported (!) weekly in this East African country. The reader may guess what happens in other African countries… (FVDK).
Witchcraft Persecution and Advocacy without Borders in Africa
Published: March 3, 2023 By: This Day – Nigeria
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches urges Africans to campaign against abuses linked to witchcraft beliefs everywhere. This call follows the rescue of Nigerian nationals, who were accused of witchcraft in Kenya. As reported, the police rescued these Nigerians in Thika Town in Kiambu County. It was stated that an angry mob beat and almost lynched them while they were performing some rituals. These Nigerians claimed that they were conducting some prayers. It was not stated the kind of prayers that they were conducting. The police intervened, resisted the mob, and took these nationals, who sustained some injuries, to a nearby hospital.
The Advocacy for Alleged Witches commends the Kenya police for intervening and rescuing these foreign nationals. As in many parts of Africa, witchcraft accusation is a killer phenomenon, and a death sentence. These foreign nationals were fortunate. Police rescued them. In many instances, the police arrive late, after the damage has been done.
Recently, Kenya recorded incidents of witch persecution and killing. Last week, two elderly women, accused of witchcraft, were lynched in Murang’a County. There is still no information regarding the arrest and prosecution of suspected perpetrators of this heinous crime. In other African countries, such as Ghana, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, accusations of witchcraft and witch persecution take place. Alleged witches have been attacked, killed, or banished. However, in most cases, locals are the target.
People often accuse members of their neighbors, members of their family or community. This incident draws attention to the fact that foreigners are also at risk of being accused. Africans should look beyond their borders in advocating against witchcraft-linked violations. People often demonize strange and unfamiliar prayer and ritual forms. They regard them as evil, as invocations of occult harm. African Christians and Muslims have been indoctrinated to demonize, occultize and witchcraftize religious others, especially traditional religions or any ritual forms that deviate from religion, as they know it.
As this incident has illustrated, those who conduct prayers and rituals that depart from local norms are at risk of being accused of witchcraft and evil magic. Witchcraft accusation is a threat to the lives of Africans everywhere. Africans should not look the other way as alleged witches are attacked and killed in other countries. They should know that everyone is at risk of being accused or killed for witchcraft, whether you are a local or a foreigner. Africans should strive to advocate against witchcraft accusations and witch persecution without borders.