Witchcraft Conference: What Nigerians Need To Know
By Ajogwu Jerry Ochada
Just yesterday, I read in the dailies that Nigeria is set to unveil 6G internet surfing speed as a debut in Africa. I was overwhelmed by the fate of internet technology nevertheless with mixed feelings because Nigerians (Africans) pay lip service to communal innovations and ideas but are quick to celebrate White inventions.
I am not a fan of witchcraft but it is high time we set the records straight else our indigenous knowledge and experiments will go into extinction courtesy of ignorance streaming from the murky waters of cultural imperialism.
I remember vividly at the peak of my undergraduate studies at Kogi State University, Anyigba. It was time for us to submit three preferred project topics of our choice to the Head of Department (History and International Studies) for approval.
My bosom friend (Egwu Victor) after three attempts was not lucky as all topics he presented for approval was turned down.
He approached me and explained his predicaments. I requested to peruse the list of all proposed topics he submitted but was not approved. He obliged. Victor was looking visibly worried and as usual I teased him.
He said “Okochekete this is not a time to play”. I quickly removed my pen from my breast pocket, tore a sheet of paper and scribbled a supposedly virgin topic.
I handed over the piece of paper to Victor and charged him “Ome, this topic is tough but it must get approval”. He read the topic aloud, “Understanding Witchcraft Activities In Igala Land”.
He raised his head away from the paper and barked “Okochekete! Are you mad? Where will I get materials? How do I identify a witch to interview?”.
I motioned him to calm down and take it back for approval. The topic was approved at a jiffy I think with little modifications and case study centered on Igala land.
In a couple of days, Victor confronted me to follow him to some villages to interview witches and I laughed at his request because our questionnaires MUST not necessarily be witches or wizards because in this part of the world, it is a crime to be identified as a witch. Children of citizens presumed to be witches and wizards suffer the stigma arising from judgments directed at their parents – this is how bad it can be.
Even amongst the Whites, we have witch doctors who are celebrated for their wisdom, knowledge and proficiency about the unknown but in Africa, witches are rated as ‘killing machines’ who can terminate anyone within a twinkle of an eye, hence witchcraft conference should not hold in Nigeria according to lame criticisms. However, Nigerians can travel to any country abroad to study secret behind technologies and developments.
I want to basically state my point of argument: There is a thin line between innovation, inventions, technology, witchcraft and wizardry; it depends on the applicability and utilization.
To cite an instance, if you pick up your phone to do a video call with your friend who lives faraway in London, the layman celebrate this 21st century feat as technology advancement, meanwhile before the advent of video calls, in many African communities spying on persons living in distant places through the knowledge of witchcraft was inherent; a witchdoctor can view or recall their relatives from faraway London or any part of the globe back to base anchored on envy and hatred.
This is the spellings and understanding of witchcraft in Africa. Be that as it may, the recent outburst is linked to wrong applicability and uncovering of past misdeeds linked to the subject matter.
The aforementioned scenario instigated the recent wild uproar when the University of Nigeria, Nsukka planned to host a witchcraft conference. To this end, the African churches must not continue to preach doctrines of defined hullabaloo filled with chants of “holy ghost” fire without understanding the subject matter even though it is a prayer point in most secular gatherings where brethren are tasked to pray against witches and wizards.
In a nutshell, all witches are not bad (I am not holding brief for any) but the applicability of witchcraft knowledge is the bone of contention that will continue to hunt the nomenclature of witchcraft.
It is now a new task for researchers and scholars to identify and harvest the usefulness of proactive witches wielding innovative or medicinal value for onward espouse of these ideas for the betterment of the few interested persons who understand the logics behind witchcraft activities.
In all, it is one thing to be literate but is another big factor to separate an illiterate from an educated illiterate and this is summed up on the margin of perceptions and individual differences hence whichever way the subject matter is viewed, all pundits are right alongside critics of the trashed conference.