Thursday 18 February 2016

Nigeria: On the abandonment of Hope, 2, accused of witchcraft

Let Hope be seen
The picture was haunting and it was heartrending, one of a seriously emaciated boy being fed from a water bottle by a heavily tattooed Caucasian lady on a street in Nigeria. [Independent]
The boy who got given the name Hope could hardly be 2 years old and was apparently thrown into the streets by his ‘parents’ because something, someone, somewhere had convinced them that he was a witch.
I am of the opinion that we really have no witches in Nigeria, my idea of a witch is one who commands certain supernatural powers for the spectacular, like something out of the Exorcist.
We create Hope daily
However, what we have in Nigeria is collusion to do evil, the vague dread of the supernatural according to the words of Lord Lugard and a complete ignorance of mental illness. This is compounded by the activities of evil, malicious and outrageously malevolent people who have built a reputation on trading on the fears, anxieties and misfortunes of the public by choosing the easy target of stigmatising children as witches and wizards.
Once the public is mesmerised by the preaching of these false prophets, purveyors of heresies and unspeakable evil, children become the brunt of their frustration leading to heinous physical abuse and the torture of children in the guise of exorcism and consequently the abandonment of children like Hope.
Rescuing Hope
It is a sad reflection on our society in 2015, that it has taken a Danish woman to take this child off the streets and nurse him back to health. Anja Ringgren Loven is before anyone screams White Saviour Complex, the new Mary Slessor in the self-same regional community just over a century ago where twins were put to death for the ignorance of the biology of reproduction.
Anja Ringgren Loven runs the African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation (ACAEDF) which she founded with her husband David and it now homes 34 children rescued from the consequences of religiously-inspired superstition that majors in stigmatisation rather than emancipation of spirit, soul and body.
The abusers of Hope
I have in times past written about the evil ministry of a self-described apostle Helen Ukpabio who thankfully was expunged from the UK before she had the time to spew out her venomously hurtful sermons that castigate the vulnerable to enhance her reputation. It is my view that anyone who uses religion to incite violence against the vulnerable, especially children should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and taken off our streets.
We are so far behind in understanding and protecting the rights of the child, our womenfolk, and the disabled and other minority groups in our society. What we cannot afford in our quest to leave the primitive for the civilised is to allow the likes of this apostle of wrath to thrive in any part of our society.
Many a Hope helped
The picture of Hope and Anja has captured our hearts and hopefully it will capture our minds and our actions, all that have by misfortune and circumstance been given the rotten lot of Hope, find loving, caring, hopeful and encouraging places of succour to become healthy and wealthy members of our greater humanity.
I could not find a website for the African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation (ACAEDF), it would have offered an opportunity for us to contribute to the work of this amazing Good Samaritan organisation.
Making better Hope stories
However, the biggest challenge we face is the need for us as individuals and as a society to begin to think for ourselves about what kind of society we want to be by addressing the various issues of abuse and ignorance. We need to apply more rational thinking to the use of religion for the betterment of humanity rather than for the ostracism of the vulnerable.
Most importantly, we need to stop condoning evil practices done in the name of religion, culture, tradition or some belief system, if it hurts even the smallest amongst us, we have failed as a people and we need to repent of our tolerance of this and work for meaningful change to give everyone a chance to participate in our humanity rather than be victims of the mobs we join with to mete our Neanderthal violence.
We have a choice to let the children laugh and thrive amongst us and see less of the situation that brought Hope into focus.

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