Uju is born with big brown eyes, dimples that are boldly displayed when she smiles and fair in complexion. The five year old pretty girl is called a mermaid by many but that is not her biggest problem. She is a witch child.
Her crime was that her pastor had denounced her as a little witch, strongly believing that she used her “evil powers” to kill her mother few days back. She has been tortured and kicked out by her father.
There is one way to make extra money in some parts of Africa that is stricken by poverty and illiteracy self-styled spiritualists and prophets. In Africa, these spiritual heads are highly respected and some of their members can kill for these men. Thousands of kids have been branded as witches, tortured and the weak ones left for death to devour them.
In places where native pagan religions have blended perfectly with Christianity, barbaric cultures like this flourish. The greed for cash, financial crisis, joblessness and mainly our belief have sent thousands of kids called witches to their grave.
It is only in this part of the world that the government cannot do much when it has to do with evil cultures that people believe. We don’t take evil powers as a child’s play because of the ‘stories’ that we have been told of people who turn to cats or other animals and cause havoc to other people.
When we see a person who is called a witch, most of us are visibly hit by fear while some pick weapons to destroy such person. In Nigeria, there are places kids are in danger and always praying for their families to stay away from harm or disaster. There may be ten kids in a family and the unique one is always the one selected as a witch. Maybe, the sick one, the one who cries so much or the quiet one is regarded as the evil child.
When we thought that civilization and religion has come to wipe off evil cultures like this, it is practiced in the open. Despite the efforts by many organizations to ensure that kids are rescued from the hands of these ‘evil’ adults who cannot handle mishaps, there are still thousands of kids in need of our help.
The question remains: Are these kids really evil? When this question is asked in some quarters, it is met with hostility. No one wants to be associated with evil but when it comes to branding innocent kids witches, a lot of things are wrong.
It is not everything that the government can do for us as Africans. There are things we can do to save ourselves, and ending this child witch problem should be our starting point. We need to save these little witches.