Dispatches from the Creation Wars

This time in Nigeria, where Pentecostal ministers who identify children as witches cause them to be tortured and killed by their own parents. Long excerpt below the fold:

AT 10, Jeremiah Victor Usuk appears stoic. Deep in him, he not only sheds tears but also yearns for fantasies every other child his age enjoys with gusto. By a stroke of ill-luck, that part of early childhood has eluded him, and maybe for ever; he has been tagged a witch.

AS he sat on a white plastic chair inside the administrative office of the Child’s Right Rehabilitation Networks (CRARN), Jeremiah Victor Usuk, 10, remains eternally grateful to God for bringing him back from the jaws of death.

Born into a family of four, Jeremiah experienced some slight form of princely treatment as the only male child of the home. But all that became history soon after one Prophetess Grace Ben Peter of the City of Grace Mission in Eket, Akwa Ibom State allegedly brandished him a child witch and the prime cause of unpleasant happenings in his family.

Pronto, the Afaha Ukwa, Eket-born lad was bathed with gasoline and set on fire by his father sometime in March last year. It took the intervention of neighbours to save Jeremiah from untimely death. But he will have to live with the scars on his head, down to shoulder and beyond for the rest of his life.

Nor is this an isolated situation:

Jeremiah’s case is just one of many playing out in parts of Akwa Ibom and Cross River States, where religious sects, especially of the Pentecostal fold, are accusing hordes of kids of possessing powers to cause misfortune to their families.

A female child from Oron Council of Akwa Ibom State was tortured and bathed with hot water and thrown into the forest to die by his family for allegedly possessing strange powers. Another was tied to a stake in a goat’s house for two weeks by his father because a prophet in his church proclaimed her a witch.

In Nsit Ibom, another was tortured and eventually chased out of home by his uncle, who believed he bewitched and killed his parents.

The phenomenon of “child witch” has been on the increase in the two states in recent years, resulting in brazen violation of children’s rights. The 152 inmates quartered at the CRARN Children Centre on Abat Street, Ikot Odion in Eket Council points to this.

Unfortunately, the suspected ‘witches’ and ‘wizards’ are either abandoned by their parents/guardians, dehumanised, poisoned to death with a local berry, hurled into the river, buried alive, severely maltreated and thrown into the street or clandestinely killed.

This sort of thing is why Sarah Palin’s association with Kenyan Pentecostal preacher Thomas Muthee was far more sinister and important than the media ever recognized. In this country, accusations of witchcraft aren’t a big deal. In Africa, where such accusations are usually made by Pentecostal preachers like Muthee, they lead to the most appalling barbarism. Muthee himself brags about his role in getting an alleged witch chased out of his village and, in all likelihood, killed.