According to Bishop Sunday Ulup-Aya there are 2.3 million child witches in Akwa Ibom State alone. 4.8 million is the total population of Akwa Ibom. So according to Bishop Ulup-Aya, half of Akwa Ibom is filled with witches and wizards. As far fetched as that sounds, it’s what many people in Akwa Ibom State and I’m sure many states in Nigeria believe.
The Child witch/wizard issue in Akwa Ibom is one that makes me sick to my stomach anytime I hear or read about it. Little children as young as 3 months old are branded as witches or wizards, and subsequently tortured, beaten, and thrown out of the community until they confess to be witches and in some cases they are killed in the process. Whenever anything bad happens in a typical village household that could very well be natural, a child is pointed to and blamed for having a spiritual influence in it. Why on earth can’t someone just fall sick and die? especially since these villages are below any kind of health standard for living in. If a child is stubborn, then they are just stubborn and should be disciplined, but that by no means guarantees that they are witches or possessed by the devil. If someone dies from malaria due to the fact that there are millions of malaria-carrying mosquitoes in Nigeria, and lack of an adequate healthcare system then that is not witchcraft.
In one particular case, a young girl had a 3 inch nail driven into her head in an attempt to force a confession to witchcraft. How on earth can someone do this to a child? These Prophets and Bishops (Helen Ukpabio being the most popular) extort money from illiterate and helpless parents in an attempt to drive out evil spirits. Some charge anywhere from N15,000 to N450,000 to have these kids “cleansed” of evil spirits. Ok, let me get this straight. I’ll pay you N300,000 (about $2000) to beat my child, torture them, and probably kill them in the process, so you can chase evil spirits from my family?…. Nah homie… I’ll take my chances with kneeling down and praying fervently.
This has become big business for these prophets and prophetesses in Nigeria performing these cleansing acts, and due to poverty, desperation and lack of hope, our people look for answers from anywhere they can find – even if it means blaming your own children. Our people due to lower levels of literacy have to believe everything their pastor says because they can’t open the bible for themselves and read it, and see that not every ill-fate in this world is a result of your child being possessed. There is no price tag on chasing demonic spirits from your child (if in fact it is a case of that). Deliverance is actually free, and so should not be priced at N300,000. Jesus already paid for all of our salvation and deliverance by dying on the cross on Calvary.
I’m not here to play overly-religious because I know I’m not. I can’t quote bible verses, or remember every single scripture word for word but I do know that a woman or man just like me cannot kill 110 children, and torture hundreds more, and call his/herself a servant of the Lord. I’m sorry, I just can’t buy that. I don’t believe people have that authority over life and death granted to them by God.
The video below is part 1 of a documentary on Child Witches in Africa put together by Stepping Stones Nigeria. I encourage everyone to watch this part and the subsequent 5 parts (if you haven’t already done so). For more information on Stepping Stones Nigeria or to make a donation to the foundation, please visit http://www.steppingstonesnigeria.org/