A few years ago I met a man in Ghana who claimed to be a traditional African religionist. He was putting on some exotic costumes- some multi colored clothing and beads, holding some bits and pieces of ritual making tools. He was pretending to have some supernatural powers, and to be communicating with invisible forces. In the course of our conversation, he asked me the religion which I belonged to and I said that I had no religion, that I was an atheist. And he quickly retorted. Are you not an African?
On February 9, 2013, the former Chair of the Nigerian Humanist Movement, Eze Ebisike died after a brief illness. On March 2, he was buried in his hometown Okpokume, Mpam, Ekwerazu Ahiazu Mbiase in Imo State. Ebisike was an ex-catholic priest and an atheist. He was buried after a short humanist funeral ceremony in the compound.
I am writing to urge the international community to come to the aid of the Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea as it grapples with the menace of witchcraft or sorcery related violence. Witch persecution and killing has been going on in the country for too long and we cannot allow it to continue.
We need to take action now!
The belief that evil magic and witchcraft can possess infants is largely behind the wave of exorcism-related abuse of children ravaging many parts of Nigeria and Africa. Many families and communities make scapegoats of their kids.
There is a growing incident of lynching and murder of suspected witches in different parts of Africa. This wave of witch hunting targets elderly people particularly women. In Nigeria, a court has rejected the bail application of three persons accused of killing a 70-year old woman, Mrs Rebecca Adewumi, for witchcraft.
The west African nation of Ghana is rather widely known for its ‘witch camps’, where mainly old women who are accused of occult crimes and subsequently banished from their communities. They seek refuge in these ‘camps’ to avoid being killed by their family and community members. But in the village of Sang, off Tamale-Yendi Road, in the northern region of Ghana there is a care center for vulnerable children.
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 divinity and tradition are the mainstay of African popular thought, culture and mentality.
The ‘anti-Islam film’ which led to protests, attacks and killings across Middle East, Asia and Africa has sparked debates over religious offense, particularly how to balance freedom of speech/expression and freedom of religion globally.
According to a recent worldwide poll called, The Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism, Africa is the world’s most devout region. Even with the global decline in religiosity, the black continent has the least number of self-proclaimed atheists in the world.
On March 24 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution titled, Promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind in conformity with international human rights laws.’
Last year a court in Southern Nigeria remanded in custody 4 persons for allegedly killing a hunchback woman, Mrs Ifeoma Angela Igwe for ritual purposes. According to the report, the hoodlums went to the woman’s house and kidnapped her. They took her to a nearby bush where they beheaded her, butchered her and removed the hunch. It is believed that the hunch contains ‘magical substance or mercury’ which can make people rich. I do not know how Nigerians came about this erroneous idea.
Today around the globe too many atrocities are being committed with impunity in the name of god, allah and other constructs, which have over the ages, been identified or associated with the so called supreme being. The dream of a secular peaceful world where people of all faiths and none can coexist in harmony - continues to elude many across the region. Millions of people- theists and atheists- continue to suffer and are abused due to superstition, religious fundamentalism and supernaturalism. In this piece I will focus on two of such areas.
Religious laws are legalized religious doctrines. They are “revelations” turned into rules to govern society. Religious laws are sacred dogma institutionalized. They are sins criminalized. They are religious hatred, intolerance, discrimination and fanaticism turned into state policies.
Recently, a Sri Lankan woman was arrested by Saudi authorities for witchcraft. A man accused this woman of casting a spell on a 13 year old girl during a family shopping trip. He complained to the police that the girl ‘started acting in an abnormal way’ after a close contact with the woman in a shopping mall in the port city of Jeddah. According to news reports, the accused woman is currently in police custody in Saudi Arabia. If pressure is not brought on Saudi authorities to spare the life of this ‘innocent’ woman, she may be executed by beheading any moment from now.
The potentially dangerous activities of a new local church in the Cross River-Akwa Ibom states axis of the country should be of concern to all people of conscience in Nigeria and beyond. This church, which habitually starts the themes of its crusade with “My Father! My Father!!...” appears to be on a fast track to causing a new wave of witchcraft-related abuse, torture and killings in the region.
Children are the future of any society. Whatever jeopardizes the future of children endangers the future of the society. The authorities in Mali must strive and eradicate the problem of the street children and the madrassa school system that fuels, aids and abets it .
I condemn in no uncertain terms the recent passage by the Nigerian Senate of the the anti-gay marriage bill. The passage of this bill once again demonstrates how disconnected Nigerian politicians and lawmakers are from the realities of the 21st century. It has confirmed that our lawmakers indeed prefer to fiddle while our social, political and economic house, called Nigeria, burns.
The practice of ritual killing  and human sacrifice  continues to take place in several African countries in contravention of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and other human rights instruments. In this 21st century, human beings are still being hunted down, mutilated, murdered or sacrificed for ritual purposes across the region. Several cases of kidnapping and disappearance of persons  are traced to the vicious schemes and activities of ritualists. In most cases, those targeted for ritual sacrifice are vulnerable members of the population — the poor, women, children, the aged and people with disabilities.
In March, Nigeria’s notorious witch hunter, Helen Ukpabio, is organizing a Deliverance Session in the United States, according to the information posted on the web site of the Liberty Gospel Church. The event is slated for March 14-25 at Liberty Gospel Church in Houston Texas (Tel +1 832 880 8406 +1 713 530 2080). The program is said to be ’12 days of battling with the spirit for freedom.’
Africa is a deeply patriarchal society; this is the part of the “Traditional African Value System.” Men dominate the socio-economic and political machinery and organizations. Men are regarded as natural leaders, who are superior and born to rule over women. Women are considered weaker vessels-extensions of men and secondary human beings. The pride and dignity of women are derived from and dependent on men.
The Enlightenment stands for the intellectual trends in 18th Century Europe that espoused the use of reason and science as a universal method for obtaining knowledge and solving human problems. The Enlightenment writers argued that the light of reason and science could free humanity from the darkness of ignorance, the burden of false beliefs, and the destructive influence of prejudices and superstition.
As an atheist, sometimes, I wonder why it has taken human beings so long to realize that there is no god and that the so-called creator, almighty, all merciful, all knowing, and all-what-again god that humans have worshiped for ages is a fantasy, a figment of human mind and imagination, without any real instance, essence, existence or significance.