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Monday, December 5, 2022

The witches and us, who to blame?

The witches and us, who to blame?

Saheed Ibrahim
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When the word “witch” or “witchcraft” is mentioned, an average African will be quick to raise an eyebrow. Although it is very difficult to have a precise definition of what witchcraft means, because the practice varies from cultures and societies. It is therefore advisable to apply the cross-cultural assumption of the practice of witchcraft with caution. However, witchcraft is considered to be an act of using diabolical means, magic or spells to make “things” happen. The practice of witchcraft is almost as old as man, because it has been in practice for time immemorial.

Ankarloo Bengt and Clark Stuart disclosed that in the Western world, witchcraft is considered as a form of benign, neutral, positive or modern paganism. This was corroborated by a witch in the United States of America, Rachael Mueller, who said, “Witchcraft is not a bad thing, it depends on the person who wants to practice it. It can be used for good or bad thing. It is like electricity which can be used for good or bad.”

However, in Africa, Nigeria in particular, witchcraft is frowned at by majority of the people because it is believed that the practice is associated with using metaphysical means to cause harm to the innocent. From past records and reports, many people, especially women, have been maimed or molested for practicing witchcraft. Hence, it becomes difficult for anyone to come out and declare to the public, “I am a witch”.

According to a traditionalist and a High Chief in one of the towns in Ondo State, who pleaded anonymity, witchcraft is very much in practice in Nigeria, especially in Yoruba land. According him, against the popular notion that witchcraft is all about evil, those who practice it are of different types: while some do good, others may be bad.

Recall, a witchcraft conference was held in the University of Nigeria, Nssuka on  November, 26 and 27 2019. When the conference was announced, it was greeted with condemnation from different people in the society, especially Christians and Muslims, who considered witchcraft as evil act and against their religious doctrines.

As a result of the execration, the organisers of the conference removed the word “witchcraft” from the conference banner, but reports revealed that the papers presented were centred on witchcraft and its practice. As explained by a journalist who attended the conference, Patrick Egwu, the number of attendees increased and the venue had to be changed in order to accommodate the unexpected huge number of attendees.

It is noteworthy to mention that those who were at the conference were not only traditionalists, but an admixture of scholars, religious enthusiasts and people from all walks of life.

A Christian and a Muslim leader spoke with The Hope on witchcraft practice in African social and cultural milieu from the purview of religion, while an academic shared his opinion about the practice from the academic perspective.

The Chief Imam of Ansar-ud-deen Society of Nigeria, Akure, Sheik Mikail Sadiq Modupelola stated that Islam is against witchcraft practice. He explained that Islamic doctrine does not allow mixing another practice or religion with Islam, adding that the religious leaders, who condemned witchcraft and the witchcraft conference, did so based on the demands of their religions.

However, speaking from his personal opinion, Sheik Modupelola said there was nothing wrong with having a witchcraft conference or someone seeking to know about the practice, saying there should be no limitation to knowledge.

“When you travel round the world, you will see that there is nothing bad in having a witchcraft conference. Personally, I don’t object to it. The reason is that in everything, we have rules and regulations. When we talk of witches, some are using their own souls to do good while some are using theirs for bad. Likewise human beings: some are good, while some are bad”, he stated.

The Islamic cleric asserted that God created all for specific purposes, including witches, stating that God created 70,000 universes and the human universe is just one of them.

Modupelola, who berated Africans for always having negative minds toward issues and the notion that everything that comes out of Africa is bad and evil, disclosed that some Pastors and Alfas are using witches for their own good, but hypocritically condemn them in public.

In his words: “It is you that believe they are evil. That is why the likes of Donald Trump are giving us bad names that blacks are evil. When blacks want to do something, they do not have a pure mind. Whites have pure minds and when you are talking about witches, they are using theirs for good.

“All these witches and wizards have spirit in them and it is how you use the spirit that matters. The white witches have everything done accordingly, but in Africa, everything is done in a devilish way and that is because of the system we find ourselves”, he said.

The Imam, who supported that technology and innovations in the world have some elements of witchcraft, emphasised that it was good for Muslims to seek knowledge about Christianity, witches and wizardry, divination and other religious practices in the world, adding that through conferences and seminars, those who practice witchcraft could be enlightened and admonished to use their powers to move the world forward. “We do not have to be narrow minded”, he concluded.

In his own reaction, the founder of The Rebirth of His Grace and Mercy Ministry, Pastor Abiodun Olorunyomi condemned the witchcraft conference and practice in its entirety, saying witchcraft is not of God but of the devil.

“Witchcraft conference should not come up in a country where Christians are so much prominent and we have lot of men of God and churches, because the word witchcraft is a medium or deliberate decision of an individual or group of people who have decided to do contrary to the will of God; seeking supernatural power that is contrary to God Almighty. As a Christian, such conference should not come up.

“It wasn’t in the bible that God also created witchcraft to rule on the earth. God created man to rule on the earth and one of the things that made man to be legally created on earth is that man has body. So, it is the body of man that made man to be legal on earth.“The devil does not have body, so it is illegal on earth.

Responding to a question “whether there are elements of witchcraft in modern day innovation and technology, the cleric declared that no good thing could come out of witchcraft because it is a medium to consult devil.

Pastor Olorunyomi concluded that Christians should not seek knowledge on witchcraft because it is contrary to the will of God.

Speaking from the academic perspective, a scholar from the Department of Philosophy, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Layi Oladipupo (PhD) said  there was nothing wrong with holding a witchcraft conference, adding that “It is rather unfortunate that our religious people are not seeing the good part of witchcraft”.

Dr Oladipupo noted that Africans consider witchcraft to be an evil practice and this is responsible for the condemnation that greets the practice.

Emphasising the good that can be derived from witchcraft practice, the don said, “The conference was organised to unravel some of the mystery that surround witchcraft and see the good aspect of witchcraft and how it can be used to enhance our society”

While explaining that there are good and bad among the witches, the philosophy scholar asked a hypothetical question that both Christians and Muslims, who always condemn the practice, should answer.

“In the church we pray for witches to die; if witches in their own coven should go by their own way and curse people to die and they die; who is to be blamed?

The University scholar however noted that if people do not cross the path of the witches, they will not cross anybody’s path too.

He further noted that there are elements of witchcraft in the current technological innovations in the world, suggesting that their powers could be used to enhance development.

“It would have been a very good opportunity for us to interrogate this issue. If possible, instead of maligning these people that are practicing witchcraft, let’s invite them, hear from them and see how we can bring the scientific understanding and see how we can codify it to enhance our development”.

“People do claim that witches fly in the night, they fly in the afternoon. What sustains a plane in the air that could not sustain them too, but the methodologies differ. Witchcraft is practiced all over the world, not only in Africa. It is just that they graduate from one level to another”,  he concluded.

The Hope Owena Press
The Hope Owena Presshttp://www.thehopenewspaper.com
Owena Press Limited (Publisher of The Hope Newspaper), Akure

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