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A Vote For Home Pilgrimages

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NYSC: A Tool For Unity

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Emmanuel Onwubiko

Religious pilgrimage is one of the earliest forms of tourism that was practised by people travelling to holy sites. This form of tourism could be traced way back to the dawn of humanity.

According to accounts, sacred religious sites were visited by admirers or people who shared the same faith and fellowship while exploring the holy sites.

Today, these religious sites have become part of the cultural landscape within their environs and now constitute major players in the tourism market; thus, improving the economy of host communities. Cities like Mecca, Rome, Jerusalem etc continue to attract millions of visitors on a yearly basis.

Nigeria is a country with many different religions. Thus, religious pilgrimages and travels are significant motivations today.

Although many Nigerians profess either Christianity or Islam, they have continued to practise some of the older religious traditions like ancestor worship and the belief in deities as adherents of African Traditional Religion (ATR). ATR is the oldest religion in Africa and it is the indigenous religion of Africans.

In this vein, Kitause and Achunike (2013) point out that, “this indigenous religion is what Nigerians have been practising before the advent of Christianity and Islam” in Nigeria. Like Christianity and Islam, ATR fosters tourism.

In traditional society, religion permeated every part of the culture such that it was difficult to dissociate one from the other. Nigeria possesses numerous worship sites that attract admirers and adherents.

This essay shall emphasise significant places of pilgrims in Nigeria with a view to examining their tourism potential.

It argues for emphasis to be shifted to homegrown pilgrimage sites of significant ATR to be upgraded as world tourism sites in addition to why traditional religious monuments and sites in Nigeria should be recognized and for a Pilgrims Commission for ATR to be constituted by government so as to remove the discrimination against ATR.

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The Highlights Of Major Religious Monuments And Sites In Nigeria:

Nigeria is a culturally diverse country, with over 250 local languages. These various cultures have very rich histories and backgrounds and the local people are incredibly proud of their heritage. The heritage comes in the form of ancient places of worship, artifacts, old towns and monuments, to mention a few.

In ATR there is the belief in a supreme being. This is variously named according to the various ethnic groups in Nigeria. For instance, the Yoruba call on the name of Oluwa or Olorun; the Hausa call on Ubangiji, while the Igbo call on the name of  Chukwu Okike or Chineke. Traditional religion also acknowledges the existence of priesthood, oracles, divination, spirits (gods), ancestors, medicine, medicine- persons, magic or sorcery. In traditional religion, the Supreme Being does not communicate. He communicates through deities or oracles.

The oracle, according to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, is the medium by which deities were consulted like in ancient Greek and Roman kingdoms. However, this explanation is silent about some other elements that can be essential for oracle. For this reason this writer presents an oracle as a deity with a shrine and also a priest or priestess who ministers to it and plays the intermediary between it and human beings who come to consult it.

Okafor (1989) has identified notable oracles in Nigeria such as Ifa (in Yorubaland) and Chukwu (in Igboland). In Igboland, the Chukwu oracle is found at Arochukwu and it is called Ebini Ukpabi. It was the colonial masters who named it “Long Juju.”

According to the information from Okafor, Ebini Ukpabi was destroyed by the British in 1902 because of their belief that the Igbo derived power from it that made them to resist colonial subjugation. Today, international tourists still visit it. However, much is not known about domestic tourists who go there.

Nri (in Anambra State) which is believed to be the ancestral homeland of the Igbo people does not have any shrine that could provoke faith visits to it.

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Instead, for inquiries, the people of Nri go to Aguleri (Anambra State). At the extreme south of Nri town is found Agulu, both in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State. It is the Agulu lake that has a popular shrine attached to it and a priest who ministers to it.

Some popular oracles included the Okija Shrine, Ala Ogbaga and Amadioha Ozuzu. Others are the Osun Oshogbo Sacred Groove and the Omo-Ukwu temple (Okpoko and Okpoko, 2002:40).

The Osun Oshogbo Sacred Groves of Osun; the goddess of fertility and one of the most popular deities in Yorubaland, are located on the outskirts of Osogbo, which is about 230 kilometers from Lagos. The groves, which are dotted by shrines, sculptures, and artworks, represent a time when people dedicated areas outside their settlements to deities, areas which are regarded as sacred. The Osun-Osogbo grove itself is located in a dense forest that is one of the primary high forests in southern Nigeria.

Apart from shrines and temples, in Nigeria, caves and rock shelters are considered to be repositories for Chukwu. According to Ibeanu (2006), caves are formed “as a result of the differential erosion of the sand stone cuesta” (p. 323). They were believed to be the house of the Supreme Being (Chukwu).

Ibeanu argues that it is possible that caves were places of worship and sacrifices in ancient times. According to him, the names given to some caves such as Okpuchukwu, Uhuchukwu, or Nnemchukwu suggest that ancient people believed that God lived in the caves and so had recourse to them by offering sacrifices there.

Ibeanu therefore saw as his aim in the study, to project the role of the caves in Okigwi (Okigwe) in cultural tourism shown in the people’s oral tradition and how they can be made to play a role today as a way of developing tourism in Okigwi area and its surroundings (p.324). The caves he was referring to are Okpuchukwu in Otamkpa, Uhuchukwu in Ahaba Imenyi and Isi-Ume cave in Uturu, all in Okigwi surroundings.

A notable cave in Igboland which captures the admiration of tourists is the Ogbunike caves, found in a valley in the tropical forest of southeast Nigeria, in Anambra State.  Several streams flow into the caves, and another stream within flows out into river Nkissa. The caves are believed to have a spiritual significance for the local people, and a festival is celebrated to commemorate the discovery of the caves.

Also, the Ogbaukwu Caves, located in Anambra State in the southeastern part of Nigeria are said to be the largest in West Africa and have enough roomy compartments to accommodate an entire village. Not much is known about the caves as they are largely unexplored, but local legend tells a story of a brave warrior who defeated lions that lived in the caves. The waterfalls are an aesthetic beauty and attract many tourists.

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The Sukur Cultural Landscape, which is located in Madagali area of Adamawa State in northeastern Nigeria has terraces on farmlands, stone-paved walkways, and dry-stone structures. On the landscape is the palace of the chief and other sacred remains that express the spiritual and material culture of an ancient society, and it is also representative of a former flourishing iron industry.

A lot of domestic tourisms flourish in the above-named few places of faith and often people who visit those places are people who are in search of justice.

Okpoko (2013: 11) rightly points out that in ATR, God is conceived as a judge, as the God of justice. From the earliest time, as King (2003:32) observed, “people believed that they were governed by the gods, represented by their priests.” The shrines and oracles that have been mentioned here so far have almost developed into myths and from generation to generation people keep on talking about them. In this way King is right in contending that it is worshippers who created myths, stories about the gods so as to explain things that happen in the world. This writer asserts that it is those myths and stories that continue to evoke the need for emphasis to be shifted to homegrown pilgrimage sites of significant African Traditional Religion to be upgraded as world tourism sites.

The Call For Justice And Fair-Play:

Nguvugher remarks that the history of pilgrimages in Nigeria dates back to the arrival of Islam in Nigeria. If individuals travelled on their own means, there would be no problems. Today government’s association with and government sponsoring of religious pilgrimage has become an issue that gives concern to patriotic Nigerians.

More and more Nigerians are worried about government sponsoring of Muslim and Christian pilgrims to their holy places. Enwerem (1995) remarked that even though government established a pilgrim board for Christians, the latter were not enthused by that, acting “on the principle of the constitutional provision for the government’s non-interference in religion” (p. 140). Today, Christians as well as Muslims go on pilgrimage every year to the holy lands. However, the discrimination and unfair play involved in the whole affair intrigues everyone.

Just last week, precisely on the 18th of August, 2021, the prominent and leading civil rights advocacy group in Nigeria, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) asked President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to set up a Pilgrims Commission for the African Traditional Religion Worshippers so as to make the many ancient shrines and landmark institutions of African worship attractive to international pilgrims and thus, energize the local economies of those places and states in Nigeria while ensuring equity and equality of rights.

The rights group, in a statement, wants the Federal Government to set up such a pilgrim’s commission for ATR, similar to the institutions that care for the pilgrimages of Christians and Muslims at public expenses or else it will challenge the discrimination by the government against millions of practitioners of the respected African traditional religion in court.

Furthermore, HURIWA wondered how Nigeria, which brags to be the nation with the largest black people globally, has continued to marginalize the segment of the population that adhere to their authentic and distinctive ancestral African traditional way of worship whereas it keeps spending humongous tax payers resources to sponsor foreign pilgrimages to Middle East, Jordan, Italy amongst other foreign jurisdictions but failed to introduce a mechanism to organize pilgrimages to ancient shrines and iconic ATR centres in Nigeria such as the ones highlighted above.

HURIWA said: “Our prayer for indigenous religions to have their pilgrimages and to have a publicly funded body to organise these spiritual exercises is because the federal and states governments are still making plans to fund the agencies responsible for Islamic and Christian pilgrimages”.

As the right group revealed, in the proposal, the government said it has set aside a total of N2.6 billion it plans to spend on the programmes and activities of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria and the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission for the year.

“The two agencies are responsible for the religious interests of the Muslims and Christians, including the facilitation of annual pilgrimages by adherents of the two religions to Mecca and Jerusalem respectively”, HURIWA had lamented.

HURIWA also recalled that reportedly, the budget to fund the agencies responsible for the travels by both Muslim and Christian faithful during the year is humongous. “While the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria was allocated about N1.39 billion, the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission was allocated about N1.38 billion.

“Apart from overhead costs totalling over N617.4 million, the National Hajj Commission is to spend a total of N130 million on general travels and transportation, including N20 million for local travel and transport for training, in addition to N50million for other similar trips during the year.

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“Besides, about N10 million has been set aside for international travels and transport for training and N50 million for other overseas travels and transport during the year. Other allocations to the hajj commission are N25 million for consulting and professional services, in addition to N15 million for financial consulting, apart from another N25.4 million for general financial charges, including insurance premium.

“About N10 million has been budgeted for refreshment and meals for the commission; N15 million for honorarium and sitting allowances; publicity and advertisements (N20 million); welfare packages N70 million; monitoring activities and follow-up (N30 million).

“Although the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission does not have a provision in the budget for foreign travels and transport, about N71.3 million has been budgeted for allowances and social contributions during the year, while overhead costs, including general local travel and transport, would gulp N586.5 million. Also, the commission plans to spend about N42.3 million on general furniture, building and residential quarters and equipment maintenance; N25.1 million for training as well as N181.6 million for other services, like consulting and general professional services.”

What is so troubling is that in all this, African traditional religionists are being left on their own when they go for their own religious activities. This is against section 42(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 as amended), which is about right to freedom from discrimination.

Nigeria is a secular state; Iran can afford to sponsor its citizens on pilgrimage because it is an Islamic State by definition. When government begins to sponsor one group or some groups for faith-based travels while leaving others, it is a show of injustice. This impression makes it pertinent to proffer recommendations in this essay as follows:
a.       State governments should help to develop places of tourism that enhance the growth of religious tourism in relation to ATR. Such places speak a lot about a people, their origin and their worldview than Christianity and Islam.
b.      Nigerians who intend to go on pilgrimage to holy places outside Nigeria should be given a good orientation as to what the aim of their journey is.
c.       Considering the fact that Nigeria is a secular state, government should put a stop to the sponsoring of people to pilgrimages whether to Christian or to Muslim holy cities.
d.      Justice and fair play should be the watch word of the Nigerian government when handling issues that concern the three major religions in Nigeria.

This writer thinks that some of our indigenous African Religious Practices have suffered neglect due largely to the fact that mass communicators from our jurisdiction and even authors have deliberately undermined these African Traditional Religions because of their adherence to foreign religions. The suggestion one prominent Catholic cleric  made that ATR is dead and buried is not totally accurate. Today, more youngsters are converting to their ancient religious practices and it is only wise if the government will invest substantially  to preserve these heritages of our ancient religions by establishing a Pilgrims Commission for ATR.

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One of the most prominent Christian leaders from Nigeria, his eminence John Cardinal Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, recently authored a book in which he too alluded to the active sabotage of ATR. In his own calculation, ATR is dead and buried in Nigeria from his statements in the book ‘Let the truth prevail’ which he wrote in 2021.

Hear His eminence: “If we take Nigeria as example, we must not forget that it is not likely that the rate of church growth that we have been seeing in the past 50 years or so will continue. In fact, it seems we have actually reached a stage now where there is not much room for major changes in the balance of figures between Christianity and Islam. My reading of the situation is that, for a long time, both Christianity and Islam have been growing at the expense of the African traditional religions. We have now reached a stage where every Nigerian has practically made up their mind to be either Christian or Muslim. What this means is that if Islam is to grow, it has to be at the expense of Christianity, and if Christianity is to grow, it will have to be at the expense of Islam. Perhaps this is one reason why our relationship has become more contentious.

“Until recently, both Christianity and Islam were able to continue with their divine mandate to keep preaching and making converts without hitting each other. We’ve reached a stage now where we are looking at each other face to face, and if we don’t handle our divine mandate carefully, it will only lead to clashes. This means even these figures that we are looking at are not the kind of figures that are going to be permanent. We do not know how far we are going to keep growing apart from natural reproduction” (Let the Truth Prevail by John Cardinal Onaiyekan with Emmanuel Ojeifo ).

Onwubiko is the head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.

 

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Opinion

The West And The Hypocrisy Of Democracy

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Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

Western deception has been with Africa forever:

1493: Pope Alexander VI issued a papal bull, “Inter Caetera,” proclaiming the right of Spain and Portugal to enslave Africans and own the land. They were subjects. They stole your people and your land.

1885: Africa was a Dark Continent. It required colonization to become civilized. Europe would bring change and civilize them. They stole your raw materials and truncated your self-development.

1940: When over a million Africans fought in Europe, North Africa and the Far East during the Second World War, the West convinced them they were dying for freedom and democracy. But where in Africa do they receive freedom and democracy? Indeed, Apartheid was inaugurated in 1948 in South Africa.

When will this deception come to an end? So, Gabon and Niger were democracies before the 2023 coups? You must be using the wrong dictionary to define democracy. Cameroon under the invalid Paul Biya is a democracy? You must be confusing the Mali Empire with the modern country of Cameroon. And the presidents who rule for as long as they want practising democracy?

You need a little education.

Recent developments in Africa’s political space, particularly the growing number of military takeovers, have informed fresh queries around the expressions of neo-colonialism in Africa and the commitment to liberal democracy as the ideal political model for the region. The point of reference for these queries is the ceremonial reactions from the acclaimed “champions of democracy” in the West, who waste no time issuing condemnations at every instance of “democratic failure” on the continent without any actual commitment to ensuring that power indeed lies with the people. Not only have these champions of African interests—the United States (US), Britain and France—touted democracy as the best system of political organization to achieve political stability and economic prosperity in Africa, but they have also prosecuted wars, allegedly in its defence, which cost millions of lives and destabilized entire regions. However, it is not enough to accuse our benevolent friends in the West of hypocrisy without providing compelling proof of double-dealing in delivering their duties as democratic crusaders. After all, in a democratic setting, all are innocent until proven guilty. 

As a philosophy of government, democracy has existed since the Greco-Roman times. However, its foray into Africa can be traced to the eve of independence when Britain and France introduced forms of local representation as concessions to indigenous demands for independence. Thus, from 1959, parliamentary elections and other democratic institutions started to become commonplace on the continent. But, as it would turn out, this democratic experiment, which formed part of the third (global) wave of democracy, was to be short-lived—derailed as it was by fluctuating Western interests on the continent. 

Guiding Western interest in Africa from the 1950s was the ideological war between the West (mainly the USA) and the Soviet Union. The “Cold War,” as it came to be known, was the first incident to unmask the real intentions of the West for post-colonial Africa. In their quest to emerge as the world’s sole superpower, the US and the Soviet Union, who actively strove to undermine each other’s influence by, among other things, advancing their political ideologies around the world, turned to Africa as another important frontier of conquest. While the Soviet Union armed African revolutionary movements against their Western colonial overlords and provided support to openly communist governments, Washington concluded that, to effectively check the spread of Soviet influence on the continent, it was more expedient to enthrone biddable leaders in African states than it was to woo them with any ideological arguments or economic incentives.

Anxious to ensure power was handed over to reliable politicians, Britain and France became eager participants in the US policy in Africa. Together, the US and its allies targeted venal local strongmen, preferably with military backgrounds and authoritarian tendencies, who, in collaboration with its intelligence agencies, ousted legitimate/democratic governments. Notable victims and beneficiaries of this plot included (in the former category) Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Patrice Lumumba of Congo DRC, Sylvio Olympio of Togo and (in the latter category) Idi Amin of Uganda, Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo DRC and Gnassingbé Eyadema of Togo, to mention a few. Consequently, thirty-three African countries that achieved independence between 1956-1970 became authoritarian immediately or not long after. 

Another demonstration of the complete disregard that the West has for democracy, peace/stability and human rights in Africa is its willingness to engulf the entire region in conflict so that it can achieve its “strategic interests.”  Once again, we begin from the Cold War era where, having recently come out of a highly destructive war in Europe (in 1945) and being cautious of engaging in another, the West and the Eastern Bloc turned Africa into the site of their proxy wars. In southern Africa, where the US considered both Angola and Mozambique as areas of “strategic interests,” Washington armed the 200,000 Portuguese conscripts, who went on to fight a protracted war against local nationalist revolutionaries, with imported weapons, which included defoliants and napalm. In Angola, the US, in cooperation with Apartheid South Africa, backed the National Union for Total Independence (UNITA) against the country’s (Soviet-backed) leading national liberation front, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). There were also similar cases in northern Africa where Sudan was funded and armed by the US against Egypt and Ethiopia, who had also pitched their tents with Moscow. These conflicts and the resultant proliferation of arms saw the loss of millions of African lives from war and famine and a general destabilization of the region. 

While the West cannot be said to have been directly involved in all the occasions of transition from democratic to authoritarian rule, in more than a few instances, the leaders of newly independent democratic/multi-party African states seized the opportunity of Western patronage to quickly switch to one-party/despotic rule. In other cases, it was the corruption, resource mismanagement, “tribalism,” patrimonialism, clientelism and imperialism perpetrated by a Western-backed ruling political class which formed the basis of military takeovers (coups). Nevertheless, in this atmosphere of quasi-democratic rule, full-fledged despotism, military rule and Apartheid—where national resources were siphoned by kleptocratic regimes and millions of Africans either became refugees or died as a result of civil wars, hunger, and human rights abuses—our western “friends” were content to look the other way if the government in place proved itself an ally of Washington.      

Perhaps the most glaring example of the West’s democratic hypocrisy in Africa was its age-long support for the highly racist and politically repressive Apartheid regime in South Africa. Like the French, who were able to cajole Washington into believing that they were fighting communist-backed insurgents in Algeria, the South African Apartheid regime, for forty years, posed as the last bastion against communists in Africa—an attitude that was able to secure a steady flow of western arms. This, alongside the West’s tacit approval, allowed for one of Africa’s most despicable shows of human debasement, carried out in the name of imperialism and racial superiority. After all, as President Ronald Regan remarked in 1981, South Africa was “essential to the free world in its production of minerals we all must have.”  

The end of the Cold War changed Western attitudes towards Africa. Without the Soviet threat, the West leaned more towards development diplomacy and foreign aid regimes as the main thrust of its foreign policy in Africa. Foreign aid to Africa, however, turned out to be a Trojan horse. Already saddled with the task of building vibrant economies whilst also harmonizing the aspirations of the different ethnic nationalities which characterized them, African countries, especially in Francophone Africa, also had to grapple with the undermining economic and political agreements they had been coerced into signing with their erstwhile colonial overlord as a condition for independence and continued patronage. To make matters worse, some African countries were, at the end of the Cold War, either fighting or had just come out of civil war. This, combined with the widespread corruption and mismanagement of national resources which characterized Africa’s tyrannical governments, put many Af5rican countries at the mercy of international monetary agencies (the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank) and their financiers whose aid they were now heavily dependent on. 

At first, these Bretton Woods institutions were content to grant loans/aid, at debilitating interest rates no less, to authoritarian leaders who used them to perpetuate themselves in power and, in return, provided the former with mineral and other economic concessions. However, without the Cold War pressures, more emphasis was placed on the liberalization and capitalist/free-market aspects of US foreign policy to guarantee return on investments. Soon enough, Structural Adjustments Programmes (SAPs) were introduced as a precondition for further loans/aid. Said adjustments, which demanded limited government intervention in the public sector, i.e., removing government subsidies in energy (fuel/gas), education and health care, brought untold hardships to already suffering populations. And as research has shown, poverty and non-tax revenue make for the ideal democratic environment. In other words, “when the government is not beholden to citizens for its funding, there is less accountability and less reason to democratize” (Tilly 1990). Instead, leaders simply use the “free” funding from natural resources (oil) and foreign loans/aid to buy enough support to remain in power. 

Judging from the various expressions of Western interests in Africa over decades, it goes without saying that the West simply pays lip service to ideologies when convenient. Although many Africans might not object to the cynical pragmatism that has always guided Western foreign policy in Africa, I dare say they will not stand for the continued lies and hypocrisy that have characterized Western reactions to African developments. Even if the above-described instances of Western hypocrisy in Africa were to be argued to be in the past, it is a living past for Africa.  

Africa, today, still has authoritarian governments in place whose political repression and human rights abuses go on unchecked by our democracy and rule of law-loving friends in the West. After being siphoned by kleptocratic governments, our commonwealth still finds its way to Western banks, where it sits and improves the local economy. Western interests continue to impoverish Africans and destabilize their regions. So, Africans are today saying to the West, its diplomats, presidents, and the other agents of its propaganda: “Your gambit in Africa is up. Our people are awakened!”   

The West has sold you a fake product called democracy. Africans, your vote is not a sign of democracy. It is no more than a deception. There is no democracy without accountability. You are just voting thieves to power. There is no democracy without transparency. You are just using your votes in support of crooks and thugs. There is no democracy without good governance. Your vote is facilitating theft. Maybe you are waiting for your turn to steal. There is no democracy without development. Your vote is moving you back to the Stone Age. Even early humans knew when to replace stones with iron during the Stone Age. Africa, you don’t have a democracy. Anyone you have not appointed cannot disappoint you! Citizens are being deceived, and they are deceiving themselves. Organize yourselves at various levels and think of alternatives to democracy or, at the minimum, how accountability and transparency will form the core of your democratic practices. Your lifetime president is not a Democrat. He is an authoritarian kleptocrat far worse than the combination of Doris Payne, Stephane Breitwieser, Simon Leviev, Veerappan, Derek Smalls, Vincenzo Peruggia, Bonnie and Clyde, Natwarlal, Carl Gugasian, Frank Abagnale, Anna Sorokin, Albert Spaggiari, Jesse James, Anthony Strangis, and Bill Mason. Do you know these names?

 

 

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Opinion

Informaction: Theory Of Change And Witch Persecution In Africa

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Witch Burning, Impunity And Abuses Linked to Witchcraft Beliefs In Benue State
Dr. Leo Igwe

By Leo Igwe 

A theory of change explains how activities, measures, and steps undertaken to address a problem could facilitate or help realize certain changes or outcomes. It articulates how an impact would be achieved and some progress made. In this case, the expected outcome is an end to witch-hunting in Africa. Unlike in Western countries, the persecution of supposed witches persists in the region. Witch bloodletting takes place in many parts of Africa. The persecution of people accused of witchcraft leads to horrific abuses and death. Alleged witches are attacked, tortured, lynched, imprisoned, or banished. They are subjected to jungle justice, trial by ordeal, forced disappearance, and internal displacement. Simply put, those who are accused of perpetrating occult harm are treated without mercy or compassion. Incidentally, the impression is that nothing could be done to combat or neutralize this dark and destructive phenomenon, that witch hunting is cultural to Africans. The impression is that seeking to eradicate witch-hunting in African societies is a futile effort. This notion is gravely mistaken and needs to be corrected. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches was launched in 2020 to correct these misconceptions and facilitate effective actions. It works to fill the missing link in the activism against witch persecution in the region. The AfAW is a protest initiative, and exists to challenge and dispel allegations of witchcraft.

The main goal is to end witch-hunting in Africa by 2030. This objective sounds like an ambitious goal or some pipe dream, but it can be achieved. And AfAW aims to end witch hunting based on an informactional theory of change. This theory rests on two pillars: information and action because witch hunting persists in the region due to lack of information, or misinformation, and due to lack of action, inaction, or infraction. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches uses this two-pronged approach to combat witch-hunting in Africa.

At the global level, there is a lack of information about witch-hunting in Africa. Although a lot has been written and published on witchcraft in African societies, many people in Europe and America claim do not know about raging witch hunts in the region. Part of the problem is that these publications are filled with misinformation and misinterpretation of witchcraft accusations and witch persecution in the region. Scholars have presented witchcraft accusations as benign and useful to African societies. Meanwhile these accusations are not in any way gentle or pleasant. Studies have portrayed witchcraft allegations as stabilizing and harmonizing mechanisms. They have overlooked the critical and skeptical perspective of witchcraft beliefs. Scholars have largely ignored the accused side of the story, the harmful and destructive consequences of witchcraft imputations. At the Advocacy for Alleged Witches, we work to correct the misrepresentation of witchcraft accusations in Africa. We campaign to draw attention to this imbalance in the perception of the phenomenon. But correct information is not enough. Balanced interpretation does not suffice. To combat witch persecution, information needs to be turned into action, into effective policies and interventions.

On the action side, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches takes measures to address the problem because lack of adequate information has occasioned inaction or infractions. Wrong information has resulted in apathy and indifference towards witch hunting in Africa. Many international agencies are reluctant to act; they have refused to take action or to treat the issue with the urgency it deserves. With adequate and balanced information, international organizations would take appropriate actions.

At the local level, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches works to fill the information and action gaps. Many people accuse and engage in witch hunts due to a lack of information or misinformation. Accusers act based on a lack of information about the cause of illnesses, deaths, and other misfortune. Many people persecute witches because they have incorrect information about who or what is responsible for their problems, because they are not informed about what to do and where to go, who or what to blame for their misfortunes. Many people do not know what constitutes sufficient reason and causal explanations for their problems. As part of the efforts to end witch-hunting, the AfAW highlights misinformation and disinformation about causes of misfortune, illness, death, accidents, poverty, and infertility, including the misinformation that charlatans and con artists, god men and women such as traditional priests, pastors, mallam and marabouts use to exploit poor ignorant folks. The AfAW provides evidence-based knowledge, explanation, and interpretation of misfortunes. It informs the public about the law and other existing mechanisms to address allegations of witchcraft. The AfAW sensitizes the public and public institutions, including schools, colleges, and universities. It sponsors media programs, issues press releases, makes social media posts, and publishes articles and blogs on witch-hunting in the region.

In addition, the AfAW facilitates actions and interventions by state and nonstate agencies. The post colonial African state is weak so state agencies have limited powers and presence. So the AfAW encourages institutional synergy to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. The AfAW petitions the police, the courts, and state human rights institutions. It  pressures them to act, to collaborate and take appropriate measures to penalize witch-hunting activities in the region. With an informactional approach, witch hunting in Africa would slowly decrease and diminish. Witch persecution would be a thing of the past within a decade.
Dr.Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches which aims to end witch hunting in Africa by 2030.

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Opinion

A – Z Of Ibadan Achievements

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Dele Jegede In Conversation With Prince Yemisi Shyllon
Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

I am glad to accept the invitation of the Ibadan Descendant Union, the Dallas Branch, celebrating its 25th anniversary on September 23rd, 2023. As the Keynote Speaker, my topic was not imposed on me. In the spirit of the occasion and speaking to city fellows, I know I must be in haste before the amala becomes cold. Approaching 71, my words keep coming, far more than at 41. As the words continue to pour, let me employ them to praise the greatness of Ibadan, which I once eulogized in a piece, “Ibadan: My City of Fame”. 

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/opinion/497113-ibadan-my-city-of-fame-by-toyin-falola.html?tztc=1

A story of political cunning, martial strength, and intellectual passion unfolds in Ibadan’s rich and fertile fields, like the brilliant hues of a tapestry stitched with strands of heritage, bravery, and ingenuity. As we travel through the history of Ibadan, a city that stands as a beacon of human resilience and ingenuity, we discover stories of remarkable individuals who have risen to great heights through courage and community solidarity, shaping a society that not only honoured its past but eagerly looks forward to a bright future.

We begin this voyage by traversing Ibadan’s dynamic political and chieftaincy terrain, where the pursuit for honour paints the backdrop of a society steeped in martial culture. This is a city that pulsates with the heartbeat of its people, continuously growing and remaking itself via a kaleidoscope of power dynamics and civic turmoil. Individuals ascending to chieftaincy titles in this dynamic metropolis are more than just leaders; they manifest a tradition steeped in heroism, endurance, and community cooperation. When we delve further, we discover that the quest for honour is more than just a race for prestige. It is a vibrant celebration of the rich and diverse traditions that constitute the foundation of Ibadan’s distinct identity. Civil disturbances are considered possibilities for societal reform in this setting, fostering governance that shapes a robust and adaptive civic identity. As we search through Ibadan’s historical documents, we discover a city that stands as a tribute to its citizens’ tenacious energy and inventiveness, constantly weaving its past and values into the intricate fabric of its distinct character.

The vivid tapestry of Ibadan’s tale continues into the arena of military power, where victory echoes reverberate through time, influencing the communal rituals and martial practices that have defined the city’s vast past. The revered streets of Ibadan echo the attitude of solidarity and fearlessness that characterized ancient warriors. A closer examination reveals leaders who inspired and galvanized armies with weapons and words that moved the soul, cultivating a cultural milieu in which military achievement symbolized civic pride and camaraderie. Leaders like Balogun Ogboriefon evolved to personify the deeply ingrained belief system centred on togetherness and fearlessness. These charismatic figures led their societies through transforming experiences that defined civic values and fostered a collective sense of cohesion and direction. As a result, civil unrest in Ibadan should be viewed as a potent catalyst for political development and advancement, forming a dynamic and resilient civic identity that matches the lively traits of urban cultures seen in ancient city-states.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that military conflicts that once echoed through the city’s streets have now become an integral component of a fascinating narrative that acts as both an educational tool and a source of inspiration for its residents. The merging of past and present delivers a colourful portrayal of historical information through this lens, feeding civic culture with a potent blend of inspiration and advice. Continuing from the complex tapestry that underpins Ibadan’s historical landscape, we now focus on the intellectual areas that distinguish this magnificent city. The hum of intellectual debate, the vigorous interchange of ideas that has been a trademark of this urban sanctuary for generations, can be heard throughout Ibadan’s bustling streets and peaceful corners. The scholarly pursuit, profoundly embedded in the city’s mentality, acts as a beacon, attracting minds from all backgrounds and promoting a culture of intellectual energy and innovation.

The intellectual enthusiasm is not limited to the sacred halls of learning; it permeates every aspect of Ibadan culture. Streets are transformed into open forums, where wisdom and insight are traded with the same zeal as goods in a bustling market. Every person, it appears, contributes to a swirling vortex of information and creativity, from the little child reciting folklore learnt at a grandparent’s knee to the seasoned academic scribbling theories in scholarly publications. This ongoing engagement with learning with intellectual inquiry imbues the city with an enlightening atmosphere that permeates every nook and cranny. This intellectual curiosity, however, is not a new feature; rather, it is deeply established in Ibadan’s history. The city has long been a study centre, where traditions and customs have been recorded, preserved, and studied. A location where the quest for knowledge, for unravelling the complexities of human existence, has been a constant force driving people to seek wisdom in the teachings of the past and the discoveries of the present.

And, as if responding to the ancients’ pleas, Ibadan’s modern academic institutions stand as mighty strongholds of knowledge, where the quest for understanding crosses borders and cultural barriers. The University of Ibadan, a towering educational institution, is a light of scholarship, attracting minds worldwide. A new generation takes up the mantle of scholarly endeavour here, amid the halls resonating with the echoes of intellectual giants, ready to carve out their place in the unending narrative of human discovery and understanding. This old institution’s convoluted passageways are a combination of tradition and modernity. A synthesis of many fields of study, where rich lore from the past meets innovative findings from the present, generating an environment that fosters critical thinking and innovation. The intellectual traditions that have characterised the city’s history are given new life by introducing new views and cutting-edge research approaches. This harmonic fusion of old and modern, tradition and innovation, creates a fertile foundation for ideas to take root and develop, contributing to a lively intellectual ecosystem constantly reshaping Ibadan’s societal landscape. The spread of knowledge extends beyond academic circles and into the streets, producing a culture that values intellectual involvement and scholarly discourse.

In the green gardens and lively courtyards of Ibadan’s educational institutions, ideas that have the potential to revolutionize society, question the existing status quo and drive growth are born. Here, in the heart of Ibadan, a new generation emerges, armed with the instruments of knowledge and the spirit of inquiry, ready to face the difficulties of the modern world to contribute to a story that transcends millennia, a story that is constantly being written with each passing instant. There blossoms a dazzling tale of expansion and renaissance within the heartbeat of booming urbanity, an anthology that knits past and present into a vivid tapestry of innovation and cultural engagement. The bustling city of Ibadan awakens to embrace a future stitched with golden threads of aspiration and drive as the sun rises, filling the sky with the hues of a new day.

As we continue our examination of this extraordinary city, we cannot ignore the significance of cultural collaboration in forming its modern landscape. Ibadan’s rhythmic pulse is an outstanding symphony, synthesizing diverse cultures and traditions that have found a home within its warm embrace. These intertwined storylines have generated a rich and diverse cultural tapestry and a dynamic and resilient community united in its pursuit of growth and innovation.

    A live testament to the city’s global nature can be found in the bustling markets, where an orchestra of dialects fills the air. Trade and commerce transcend transactional boundaries here, morphing into a dynamic cultural exchange dance. An ever-changing ballet in which things, tales, and traditions weave a rich narrative that vibrates with the harmonious melodies of cooperation and mutual respect. As one travels through the city’s busy streets, it is clear that the feeling of community flourishes here. The streets, bustling with the energy of a people unified in purpose and vision, represent Ibadan’s unwavering spirit. This is a city where neighbourliness and a profound feeling of belonging form relationships that transcend generational boundaries, where the wisdom of the elders feeds the seeds of the future, nurturing a society ready to play a crucial role in the world arena.

Again, the story does not finish here; rather, the narrative is ever-changing, sculpted by the hands that construct, nurture, and invent. The pulse of progress is tangible, sparking a rebirth that sees the city reach previously unimaginable heights. Ibadan is on the verge of a new era, ready to seize chances that promise progress and wealth. The city’s edifices, testaments to human ingenuity and resilience, rise to the sky, representing the lofty goals of a people eager to carve their place in history. The developments we see now are a testament to the numerous hands who have worked tirelessly to mould Ibadan’s trajectory, a path distinguished by tenacity, ingenuity, and a relentless quest for greatness. This booming innovation cluster is where the past meets the future, where tradition and modernity dance in unison, giving rise to a beacon of hope and progress on the African continent. The brilliance of human collaboration illuminates Ibadan’s path, a tribute to the potential within a society united in purpose and vision. 

As the sun sets and the sky turns gold and scarlet, Ibadan retreats into a tranquil embrace, a sanctuary where dreams are nurtured and visions are born. Ibadan whispers tales of a great past and alludes to a future filled with limitless potential under the twinkling canopy of stars. A future in which the city takes its rightful place in the international arena, a beacon of growth and creativity, a tribute to the perseverance of human endeavour. 

As we stand on the verge of a new day, the lively city of Ibadan asks us to join it on its journey, distinguished by growth, expansion, and a firm confidence in the limitless potential of human ingenuity and cultural engagement. A voyage that invites us to see the unfolding story of a city that epitomizes the throbbing rhythm of progress, a story that promises to resound with the harmonic melodies of growth and prosperity for future generations. As the story progresses, Ibadan becomes a living witness to the powerful ability of human ingenuity and cultural exchange, a vibrant tableau of a city on the move, eager to embrace a future full of promise and opportunity. As this piece on our exploration of this vibrant urban tapestry concludes, we are left with a vision of a city reborn, a city ready to forge its path into a future that gleams with the promise of progress, prosperity, and limitless possibilities, ever-ready to assume its rightful place on the global stage. Finally, with its rich history, intellectual prowess, and dynamic cultural mosaic, Ibadan invites us all to be a part of its ongoing tale, a story that promises to captivate, inspire, and serve as a beacon of hope and progress in our ever-changing world. 

Let us all witness Ibadan’s developing story, a city poised to stun the globe with its brightness, resilience, and unshakable spirit of innovation and progress. IDU, congratulations!

 

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