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Author Topic: Africa's 'witch children' - religious fervour and superstition  (Read 2722 times)
afleitch
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« on: November 13, 2008, 03:45:52 pm »
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I watched a documentary on UK's Channel 4 Dispatches: Saving Africa's Witch Children

It was one of the most harrowing things I have seen all year

''In some of the poorest parts of Nigeria, where evangelical religious fervour is combined with a belief in sorcery and black magic, many thousands of children are being blamed for catastrophes, death and famine - and branded witches by powerful pastors. These children are then abandoned, tortured, starved and murdered - all in the name of Jesus Christ.

This Dispatches Special follows the work of one Englishman, 29-year-old Gary Foxcroft, who has devoted his life to helping these desperate and vulnerable children. Gary's charity, Stepping Stones Nigeria, raises funds to help Sam Itauma, who five years ago, rescued four children accused of witchcraft. He now struggles to care for over 150 in a makeshift shelter and school in the Niger Delta region called CRARN (Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network).

Gary and Sam introduce Dispatches to some of the rescued children who have been through unimaginable horrors, such as Ekemeni, aged 13, who was tied up with chicken wire and starved and beaten for two weeks, and Mary, aged 14, who was burnt with acid before her mother attempted to bury her alive. Other children display the hallmarks of witch-branding - acid burns and machete scars. Uma Eke, aged 17, has been left brain-damaged after having a three-inch nail driven into her skull.

Hospitals refuse to treat children associated with sorcery, so Sam's centre does its best to provide medical aid. As well as the physical scars, the children arrive at the shelter badly traumatised by their experiences, with many of them brain-washed into accepting they are possessed by the devil.

The parents or siblings of children torture them in an attempt to kill them or force confessions from them to admit that they are witches. As Gary remarks, the children at CRARN are the lucky ones - they're still alive.

Influential preachers from the more extreme churches brand the children witches or wizards and exploit their desperate parents by charging them exorbitant amounts of money in return for exorcising the spirits. The film features extraordinary access to some of the preachers who openly discuss their work. One preacher who calls himself 'The Bishop,' says he has made a fortune by carrying out 'deliverances' on children. He admits having killed 110 people in the past. Dispatches films him as he administers a mixture of pure alcohol, a substance known as 'African mercury' and his own blood to one child accused of witchcraft.

Exorcism is big business. Preachers can charge as much as a year's salary for an average Nigerian to treat children. They often hold the child captive until the parents can pay up. The Niger Delta area is oil rich - but very few have access to oil wealth; the average life expectancy is around 47.

Gary visits the CRARN centre regularly from the UK - a risky journey for a westerner. He works alongside Sam to try to persuade parents to take their children back. Dispatches follows Gary as he travels to a small port which has a growing problem of abandoned children. He soon finds himself followed by a five-year-old girl, Mary, who has been ostracised for being a witch, following the death of her mother. As Gary tries to talk to her, an angry crowd gathers. She is clearly traumatised, malnourished and in real danger, so he takes her to her old village in an attempt to reunite her with her family. But with her father long-gone, her extended family wash their hands of her - terrified: "she will poison everything." Gary takes her back to the centre and after dedicated care, she begins a slow recovery.

Gary has been politely petitioning the local state government to enact the Child Rights Act which has been accepted by the National Federal Government, but to no avail. He decides on more direct action and buses the children to the governor's residence, holding a demonstration for four-hours in the blazing sun before being granted an audience. The protest is successful but a steady flow of around 10 children a week continues to enter the centre.

Shocking and tragic, Dispatches reveals the plight of the thousands of innocent children who suffer intolerable cruelty at the hands of so-called Christian pastors. As Gary, Director of UK Charity Stepping Stones Nigeria, says: "It's an absolute scandal. Any Christian would look at the situation that is going on here and just be absolutely outraged that they were using the teachings of Jesus Christ to exploit and abuse innocent children."

You can find out more about the work of Stepping Stones Nigeria at www.steppingstonesnigeria.org''

-----------

The video footage is even more shocking.

Now you can take one guess about what specific brand of church actively encourages this fervour and makes a killing off the poorest by 'intrepreting' the incoherent babblings of a scared and crying child and pushing 'cures' however there is an increasingly prevailance of this pervading churches affiliated with the Anglican Communion too. The overlap between religious fervour and tribal and animist culture is the cornerstone of many Christian churches in rural southern Nigeria. Seperating the two is a very difficult task even with the aid of Christian missionaries.

However it gets a little more perverse than that....

'According to the Metropolitan Police there have been almost 60 cases of child abuse related to witchcraft or possession reported to Scotland Yard in the past two years alone. Few receive much publicity but perhaps the best known involved eight year old Victoria Climbié. Branded a witch by a local pastor in London in 2000, she was tortured to death by her guardians. More recently, the torture and abuse of 'Child B' who was accused of witchcraft in London in 2005, and the torture of two boys by their father in Bradford linked to a belief in witchcraft and possession highlight a growing problem.

It is not illegal to accuse a child of being a witch in the UK and members of the UK African community openly acknowledge the growing influence and powers of the pastors - that allegations of witchcraft are taking root here and something needs to be done.

"They're brainwashing them with ideas that they can be witches or possessed with evil spirits. I think we're finding it hard to see a way out because church leaders are such strong people and are people to look up to in our community."

Moreover, with films promoting the idea of child witches being openly sold on London street markets and more extreme Nigerian preachers looking to set up churches in Britain and elsewhere, the problem will only get worse.'

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jmfcst
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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2008, 04:37:34 pm »
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'evangelical religious fervour

...I see, it's the evangelicals fault.
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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2008, 04:56:40 pm »
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'evangelical religious fervour

...I see, it's the evangelicals fault.

Hey, what isn't, right?
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afleitch
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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2008, 04:57:34 pm »
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'evangelical religious fervour

...I see, it's the evangelicals fault.

No - that's not what was said.

Way to misquote - what were the words after that ?
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« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2008, 05:12:16 pm »
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'evangelical religious fervour

...I see, it's the evangelicals fault.

No - that's not what was said.

Way to misquote - what were the words after that ?

doesn't matter what was said next, the association was made
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I looked over Jordan, and what did I see?
Coming for to carry me home,
A band of angels coming after me,
Coming for to carry me home.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
afleitch
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« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2008, 05:16:52 pm »
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'evangelical religious fervour

...I see, it's the evangelicals fault.

No - that's not what was said.

Way to misquote - what were the words after that ?

doesn't matter what was said next, the association was made

Do you consider it to be an unfair association? Who are these Christians then, moderates? liberals?

The craze began with the release of a cheaply made movie by one of the largest Pentecostal churches in Nigeria which showed children being posessed and being accused of witchcraft. They move into twons, set up churches and start targeting dissenting families and then familes at random accusing children and babies of sorcery.

But you know they can pray it away

For a price.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2008, 05:19:13 pm by afleitch »Logged
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jmfcst
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« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2008, 05:40:23 pm »
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'evangelical religious fervour

...I see, it's the evangelicals fault.

No - that's not what was said.

Way to misquote - what were the words after that ?

doesn't matter what was said next, the association was made

Do you consider it to be an unfair association? Who are these Christians then, moderates? liberals?

The craze began with the release of a cheaply made movie by one of the largest Pentecostal churches in Nigeria which showed children being posessed and being accused of witchcraft. They move into twons, set up churches and start targeting dissenting families and then familes at random accusing children and babies of sorcery.

But you know they can pray it away

For a price.

no doubt some parts of Christianity are unbalanced.  But so is the article, for it associates evangelicals without giving positive examples.  Or are you going to claim UK's Channel 4 balances its coverage of evangelicals?  Certainly wasn't my experience of Channel 4 during the 4 weeks I spent in the UK in 2007.
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I looked over Jordan, and what did I see?
Coming for to carry me home,
A band of angels coming after me,
Coming for to carry me home.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
afleitch
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« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2008, 06:03:54 pm »
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Let's see if I've got this right.

You've not commented on the children or their welfare, or the practice or the pastors. You are concerned about 'appearances' and the fact that the false preachers going from village to village evangelising are called evangelists. Well if that is all that concerns you as a Christian and as a father then I'll out your mind at rest; those who worked to rescue these children and to work against preachers were Christians themselves. They may have been evangelists as they took the Bible with them to the villages and used the words of Christ to speak against the false preachers.

I hope that adresses what appears to be your main concern.

As for the article and your concern over balance may I just say I look forward to the day you balance something you write or comment on with positive examples of gays Wink
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jmfcst
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« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2008, 06:39:08 pm »
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Let's see if I've got this right.

You've not commented on the children or their welfare, or the practice or the pastors.

Do their actions require my comments?  Are fellow forumites curious as to where the jmfcst comes down on this issue?

---

Let's see if I've got this right.

You've not commented on the children or their welfare, or the practice or the pastors. You are concerned about 'appearances' and the fact that the false preachers going from village to village evangelising are called evangelists. Well if that is all that concerns you as a Christian and as a father then I'll out your mind at rest; those who worked to rescue these children and to work against preachers were Christians themselves. They may have been evangelists as they took the Bible with them to the villages and used the words of Christ to speak against the false preachers.

I hope that adresses what appears to be your main concern.

Dude, get off your high horse, I was simply pointing out that there aren’t any positive examples of evangelicals in the MSM.

---

As for the article and your concern over balance may I just say I look forward to the day you balance something you write or comment on with positive examples of gays Wink

Paul Shaffer is a good music director, but homosexuality is still a sin.

There, fair and balanced.


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Do not fight with one another over my banning.  I've enjoyed the time I have spent with all of you, but the time really has come for me to leave.  It is what I want.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Y_GLT4_9I

I looked over Jordan, and what did I see?
Coming for to carry me home,
A band of angels coming after me,
Coming for to carry me home.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
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« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2008, 09:50:01 pm »
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My god.
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« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2008, 01:11:14 am »
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'evangelical religious fervour

...I see, it's the evangelicals fault.

Hell yes, it is. Religion is the world's greatest source of death. I hate these bastards.
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« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2008, 01:43:07 am »
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I'm glad groups of atheists have never killed anybody in a horrible way Roll Eyes


It's Fundies, of whatever stripe, that are the most dangerous.  Sometimes these Fundies are Evangelical Christians, sometimes they are hardcore Muslims, sometimes they are over the top socialists.  It's closedmindedness that is dangerous, not religion and you can find it everywhere.
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« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2008, 12:12:57 pm »
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I'm glad groups of atheists have never killed anybody in a horrible way Roll Eyes


It's Fundies, of whatever stripe, that are the most dangerous.  Sometimes these Fundies are Evangelical Christians, sometimes they are hardcore Muslims, sometimes they are over the top socialists.  It's closedmindedness that is dangerous, not religion and you can find it everywhere.

Well said, Dead.  Fundamentalism is the danger.  Whether it's The Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan or the cult of Dear Leader in North Korea...who cares?  Innocent people are being slaughtered.

Thanks, Andrew, for posting an informative article.  Definitely something to pray about, for those of us who pray.  And for all of us, it may warrant some letter writing.
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« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2008, 02:28:01 pm »
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Fundamentalism is the danger.

Really?  How were Jesus and the Apostles NOT fundamentalists?
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Do not fight with one another over my banning.  I've enjoyed the time I have spent with all of you, but the time really has come for me to leave.  It is what I want.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Y_GLT4_9I

I looked over Jordan, and what did I see?
Coming for to carry me home,
A band of angels coming after me,
Coming for to carry me home.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
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« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2008, 02:37:48 pm »
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As for the article and your concern over balance may I just say I look forward to the day you balance something you write or comment on with positive examples of gays Wink

Paul Shaffer is a good music director, but homosexuality is still a sin.

There, fair and balanced.

he isn't gay
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there's no ghosts in the graveyard, that's not where they live
they live in between a, 'what is' and 'what if?'
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« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2008, 03:58:29 pm »
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As for the article and your concern over balance may I just say I look forward to the day you balance something you write or comment on with positive examples of gays Wink

Paul Shaffer is a good music director, but homosexuality is still a sin.

There, fair and balanced.

he isn't gay

does this mean I have to come up with another example?
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Do not fight with one another over my banning.  I've enjoyed the time I have spent with all of you, but the time really has come for me to leave.  It is what I want.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Y_GLT4_9I

I looked over Jordan, and what did I see?
Coming for to carry me home,
A band of angels coming after me,
Coming for to carry me home.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
© tweed
Miamiu1027
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« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2008, 04:57:23 pm »
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As for the article and your concern over balance may I just say I look forward to the day you balance something you write or comment on with positive examples of gays Wink

Paul Shaffer is a good music director, but homosexuality is still a sin.

There, fair and balanced.

he isn't gay

does this mean I have to come up with another example?

I'd be interested to hear one.  of course you don't "have to."  I don't have a gun to your head.
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there's no ghosts in the graveyard, that's not where they live
they live in between a, 'what is' and 'what if?'
Swing low, sweet chariot. Comin' for to carry me home.
jmfcst
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« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2008, 12:41:12 pm »
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As for the article and your concern over balance may I just say I look forward to the day you balance something you write or comment on with positive examples of gays Wink

Paul Shaffer is a good music director, but homosexuality is still a sin.

There, fair and balanced.

he isn't gay

does this mean I have to come up with another example?

I'd be interested to hear one.  of course you don't "have to."  I don't have a gun to your head.

Elton John plays a mean piano.
Logged

Do not fight with one another over my banning.  I've enjoyed the time I have spent with all of you, but the time really has come for me to leave.  It is what I want.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Y_GLT4_9I

I looked over Jordan, and what did I see?
Coming for to carry me home,
A band of angels coming after me,
Coming for to carry me home.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
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