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Communication, Media, Culture, And Evolving Trends In The World Of Indigenous Languages 



Prof. Toyin Falola

By Toyin Falola

The significance of indigenous languages transcends mere communication. These languages possess immense social value, serving as the lifeblood of their respective communities. They play an important role in preserving and celebrating the rich cultural heritage passed down through generations. These forms of communication are more than means of exchanging information. They serve as portals that offer us the opportunity to understand cultures and histories of various groups of people. Through these windows, we can preserve and honour their symbols, knowledge, and traditions, ensuring they continue to thrive and be appreciated for future generations. The rise of “world languages”, due to globalization, is a significant concern as it endangers indigenous languages, pushing them perilously close to disappearing altogether. The pervasive dominance of Western cultures in influential regions such as the USA, UK, France, Germany, and China profoundly impacts the relevance and survival of indigenous languages. This influence poses a significant threat to these languages, putting them in a precarious position. It is crucial to prioritize urgent and focused revitalization programmes to protect these linguistic treasures and guarantee their continuous survival.

In the face of various obstacles, promising developments bring optimism for the reinvigoration and prosperity of indigenous languages. In an inspiring movement, certain communities have wholeheartedly embraced using their native languages in educational settings. By doing so, they are preserving their rich cultural heritage and ensuring that future generations can learn and sustain their ancestral traditions. This proactive approach to education is a testament to the deep-rooted value these communities place on their native tongues, recognizing them as vital tools for transmitting cultural knowledge. The emergence of indigenous media platforms offers a valuable opportunity to celebrate and showcase these languages and share their distinctive stories with a global audience.

Furthermore, the persistent utilization of regional jargon and colloquialisms on social media platforms serves as a means to safeguard the linguistic diversity and cultural expressions of indigenous communities. The potential influence that languages can have on social and cultural development is truly remarkable. However, we must continue to make sustained efforts to revive and promote these languages, even in the face of the challenges posed by globalization.

In a remarkable display of commitment to human rights, the Democratic Republic of Congo recently achieved a significant milestone after 14 years of tireless advocacy. In November 2022, the country passed the groundbreaking Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Indigenous Pygmy Peoples Act. This landmark legislation represents a crucial step in safeguarding the cultural heritage and land rights of the nation’s indigenous communities, particularly the Pygmies. By enacting this law, the Democratic Republic of Congo has demonstrated its dedication to fostering inclusivity and ensuring the well-being of its diverse population. The implementation of this legislative intervention reflects the ongoing efforts of contemporary African nations to safeguard the survival and cultural legacy of indigenous communities. In addition to Kenya and Nigeria, South Africa has also made significant strides in safeguarding the rights of indigenous communities. Notably, South Africa has gone above and beyond by explicitly incorporating the cultural, linguistic, and religious rights of minorities into its constitution. This constitutional provision is a powerful testament to the country’s commitment to upholding its indigenous populations’ diverse heritage and identities. These countries are actively working towards creating an inclusive and equitable society for all by taking executive and legislative actions.

The notion of “indigeneity” in African societies is a multifaceted concept encompassing communities that have experienced displacement due to European colonialism and subsequent development. In recent times, there has been a significant surge in global endeavours to safeguard the rights of indigenous communities. The widespread acceptance and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People exemplifies this positive trend. The role of language in indigeneity is of great importance, as it serves as a powerful tool for cultural exchange and the safeguarding of knowledge. The emergence of colonialism and globalization has posed a significant challenge to the preservation and continuity of indigenous languages. Governments and organisations have implemented language revitalisation programmes to preserve endangered languages. The media has emerged as a vital player in this endeavour, contributing significantly to cultural production and facilitating language learning. However, we must make stronger and more comprehensive endeavours to combat the possible disappearance of countless indigenous languages and safeguard their invaluable cultural legacy.

The dynamic interplay of cultural exchanges, fueled by colonialism and globalization, exerts profound influences on language contact, shift, and the fostering of multiculturalism. The presence of European languages in Africa has posed a significant threat to the survival of indigenous languages on the continent. Globalization, often seen as amplifying Western cultural values, intensifies this pattern even more. The rich tapestry of African languages faces a pressing challenge as several teeter on the brink of extinction. This predicament is particularly pronounced in countries like Nigeria, where the widespread use of English has emerged as a dominant force, posing a significant threat to the survival of minority languages. The effects of globalization on language shift can be seen in various regions across the globe, including Canada and Mexico. In these areas, native languages are experiencing a decline as a result of the growing influence of more globally recognized languages like English and Spanish.

Despite the numerous challenges and potential risks, some scholars recognize the immense potential of globalization and modern communication media for revitalizing languages. Incorporating indigenous languages in rap music and social media illustrates how globalization’s infrastructures can be harnessed for positive purposes. By embracing these platforms, cultural expressions and linguistic artefacts can reach a wider audience, fostering a greater appreciation for diverse cultures. Nevertheless, the current emphasis on indigenous language trends highlights the ongoing exploration of using modern communication media to safeguard these languages’ vitality.

In the past century, the rate at which indigenous languages have disappeared is alarming. However, a positive shift is happening as more people recognize the immense value of these languages as crucial components of cultural heritage and identity. Technological advancements and the backing of public institutions have significantly strengthened the endeavours to safeguard and rejuvenate these languages. Efforts like immersion schools and bilingual education models have emerged to seamlessly incorporate indigenous languages into educational systems. These initiatives acknowledge the significance of these languages, not only for the preservation of cultural heritage but also for their potential to enrich the overall learning experience and improve educational outcomes.

The influence of media, encompassing both traditional and social platforms, has been instrumental in transforming how indigenous languages are perceived and encouraging their active use. The airing of television and radio programmes in indigenous languages has successfully captivated dedicated viewers and listeners, particularly among older people residing in areas with significant indigenous communities. Social media platforms have changed how we share and promote indigenous languages, empowering communities to preserve and celebrate their linguistic heritage. Obstacles remain, notably the issue of unfamiliarity with these languages.

The presence and utilisation of indigenous languages have undergone diverse transformations across various industries throughout history. The film industry, particularly Nollywood, has had a fascinating and intricate connection with indigenous languages. This relationship has recently evolved from problematic and stereotypical depictions to more considerate and authentic portrayals. The music industry has played a significant role in developing and preserving indigenous languages. Songs performed in local languages have not only gained popularity within their communities but have also garnered recognition and acceptance on a global scale.

The rapid progress of technology has opened up exciting new possibilities for language learning and the preservation of indigenous languages. With the advent of the internet and gamified learning applications, individuals now have unprecedented access to resources and tools to enhance their language skills and provide exposure to lesser-known languages. These advancements have revolutionised the way we approach language learning, making it more accessible, engaging, and inclusive than ever before. In the digital age, the accessibility and recognition of indigenous languages have been greatly enhanced thanks to the emergence of online platforms. These platforms, equipped with powerful translation APIs and comprehensive multi-language support, have opened new avenues for indigenous languages to flourish digitally. By leveraging these technologies, indigenous communities can connect with a wider audience, breaking down linguistic barriers and fostering a greater appreciation for their unique languages and cultures. This newfound accessibility empowers indigenous speakers to share their knowledge and stories and promotes inclusivity and diversity in the digital landscape. As a result, indigenous languages are gaining the recognition they deserve, enriching the online world with their rich linguistic heritage and contributing to the preservation of cultural diversity in the digital era. Integrating gamified learning applications in preserving endangered languages and their widespread adoption presents certain challenges.

Institutional attitudes towards language have significantly transformed over time. Previously characterised by linguistic imperialism, where dominant languages were prioritised and imposed, there has been a notable shift towards recognising and safeguarding indigenous languages. Significant changes bring attention to the need to promote linguistic diversity as well protect the rich cultural heritage embedded within indigenous languages. Various nations and esteemed organisations, such as the United Nations and UNESCO, have endeavoured to protect indigenous languages and actively encourage their resurgence. These initiatives involve implementing projects and enacting legislation to preserve and revitalise these invaluable linguistic treasures. The involvement of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has been instrumental in bolstering language preservation efforts, both on a local and global scale.

The decline of indigenous languages has far-reaching consequences, often resulting in poverty and marginalisation. This unfortunate trend restricts individuals’ opportunities to access education, secure employment, and receive adequate healthcare. Moreover, the profound influence of language on one’s sense of self and identity can harm mental health and overall well-being.

Indigenous languages are vital in preserving traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), acting as valuable repositories of wisdom that provide profound insights into human geography and cultural practices. The significance of these languages cannot be overstated when comprehending the intricate dynamics between human societies, diverse cultures, thriving economies, and the natural world. The transmission of indigenous people’s practises and beliefs regarding nature and reciprocity is intricately woven into the fabric of their language.

In the coming years, there will be a significant shift towards harnessing the power of indigenous languages to drive sustainable development, with a particular emphasis on areas such as conservation, biodiversity, and climate change. Exploring the realm of traditional practises and language opens up a world of possibilities for unearthing sustainable techniques in agriculture, land use management, and climate change adaptation. By delving into the wisdom of our ancestors, we can tap into a wealth of knowledge that has stood the test of time. These time-honoured practices offer invaluable insights into how we can navigate the challenges of our modern world while preserving the delicate balance of our environment. Through this journey of rediscovery, we have the opportunity to learn from the past and forge a path towards a more sustainable and resilient future. The integration of indigenous knowledge into contemporary planning has the potential to foster greater resilience and promote environmentally sustainable practices. This harmonious approach benefits the preservation of biodiversity and enhances the overall well-being of both humans and the natural world. By empowering indigenous communities to take the lead in conservation efforts using their languages, we can expect to see a significant improvement in the effectiveness and fairness of these strategies.

The profound worth of language cannot be overstated, particularly regarding indigenous languages that encapsulate our shared past, beliefs, cultures, and philosophical perspectives. Preserving endangered languages is a moral duty and a profound responsibility. These linguistic treasures offer unique insights into how humanity perceives and interacts with the world. By safeguarding these languages, we honour the rich cultural heritage they embody and ensure that future generations can benefit from the practical advantages they bring to our societies. In the past few years, government agencies, international organisations, and local communities have had a surge in initiatives to safeguard and record indigenous languages and their rich cultural heritage. These efforts have embraced various tools such as media, technology, and other innovative methods. In addition to government efforts, non-governmental agencies and indigenous communities play a vital role in actively contributing to these endeavours. The success of these preservation efforts holds the potential to empower indigenous languages, allowing them to maintain their vital roles in social and cultural development, going beyond mere communication. There is a growing aspiration for academia across the globe, including Africa, to actively support safeguarding indigenous languages. These languages are needed to preserve our rich historical narratives, ancestral heritage, and cultural identity. They serve as the roots that anchor us firmly to our collective past, much like a sturdy tree with deep foundations.

. Excerpts from Distinguished Public Lecture, North-West University, Mahikeng Campus, South Africa, August 3, 2023


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Reading Professor Olu Obafemi’s Melodies Of Inclement Climes



Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement
Prof. Tony Afejuku

By Tony Afejuku

    “Happiness is a crime in Nigeria.” This is a line – a line of distinction – I am lifting from a message sent to me as a response to my last Friday’s column on ‘“Professor Mabel Evwierhoma on Rubiales and “Wetin women want.”’ The owner of the lifted line is a positively dangerous poet, radical scholar and critic Professor Owojecho Omoha of the University of Abuja. I will at a later date revisit the full message of this literary scholar who is one of the distinguished boosters of this column.

    Why is his quoted line meaningful or relevant to me today? For good reason, I have been trying to reinvigorate the idea or thought of happiness in Nigeria – your country my country our country – despite our common concerns concerning our dissatisfaction with our ungrateful leaders who significantly are our demonic consumers consuming this land, our land centuries and more than centuries ago. On my way to Warri last Friday I was thinking deeply about this when I was caught in the Benin-Ologbo obstacle on that cruel stretch of the Benin-Sapele-Warri Road of urbanized or almost urbanized jungle. I was clutching Professor Olu Obafemi’s very new book of poems, his fresh new volume of poetry which he quite properly entitles Melodies of Inclement Climes. I was looking at the moving poems in my desire to erase temporarily from my mind the vicious, tedious, muddy, degraded watery road which is evidently and steadily now the road of the unhappy people of the Niger Delta, and it was at this moment that Owojecho Omoha’s line found me. But I was already engrossed in the first offering, the first poem, in which the Niger Delta malaise stares at me – even though Professor Olu Obafemi is not from the Niger Delta, your Niger Delta my Niger Delta our Niger Delta. Ologbo where conservatively above three thousand trucks (trailers) and other uncountable vehicles – commercial and private – were practically at a stand-still, moving without moving because of the motorable-less motor-way, is one of the unfortunate or tragic by-products of urbanization that is no urbanization in the Niger Delta. Ologbo is a border town, a border community that links Edo State and Delta State. It is the most significant place that links Itsekiri, Urhobo and Edo (Benin) communities. It is the place where the work of cooperation and mutual help among the communities and travellers through the communities can find significantly honest expression that should capture our cultural and patriotic ethos that should give us good health and happiness. This is what Olu Obafemi seems to tell us, among other things, in “Those who gaze beyond today:”

    While others like us 

    Bleed our land to death 

    Greedily erecting mansions 

    In other people’s lands, 

    Laundering filthy coins 

    Stolen from the sweaty brows 

    Of the poor and the deprived 

    In our own un-honed beaches and sandy shores!

    Lay to ruin and waste and wreck 

    The black Gold!

As I read Professor Olu Obafemi’s Melodies at the shores of Ologbo two things emerged to me and rose to my dense imagination in a more than realistic way and manner. The first is that Olu Obafemi is a patriot and a national poet. His imagination extends beyond his Kiri-land (North Eastern Yoruba-land in Northern Nigeria) streams to dwell on national problems that depict our respective inclement climes – or, to put it differently, in his “Streams of Kiriland” (I am not alluding specifically to his poem that bears this title) we have a glimpse of our respective communal malaise that shows us our respective inclement land in our untamed beaches in Ologbo of the Niger Delta and elsewhere outside Ologbo or Kiriland. As beautiful and as nostalgic Kiriland is or may be it is strange that urbanization and civilization have not befriended it. It is this perspective that throws up to me the second vital aspect of Melodies of Inclement Climes. Olu Obafemi conservers what is best from his (and our) past in order for the merciless problems and inclementness of today can be properly addressed. So I am not reading Professor Olu Obafemi as an entire nostalgic poet after all! Our lives’ test is not and cannot be the past or the future. It is now. It is today. It is the present. It is the here and now. Are we happy today in our country – economically, commercially, politically, educationally, medically, technologically, hygiene-wise and otherwise? Without endorsing the present that is before us we cannot honestly face tomorrow. We live in an economy and in a political clime ruled and propelled by ingratitude, disaffection and dissatisfaction and exploitation and oppression. Let me quote our poet of melodies dwelling on our inglorious climes: “Let our earth be replenished again/As scavengers and scoundrels are rid of our land.” (39).This must be so if we must eliminate “Death [that] clings to our throats/As mortal Anopheles, King of Death –/Husband of malaria, swarm/And corpses hold parades on our shores” (44). What our country needs now is a renewed vision, a full insight into our shortcomings, limits and possibilities informed by our awareness and knowledge of our place in the comity of nations. This is an absolute necessity if we must live an adequately and properly human life. 

    Professor Olu Obafemi is a super ambidextrous writer and scholar of more than numerous parts. He is best known as a play-wright, dramatist and theatre personage, theorist and critic of a profoundly profound mind. But he is without question a poet of distinction as well – which the present volume superbly makes evident. Melodies of Inclement Climes appeals to me exceedingly from the perspectives of the rhetoric of poetic drama, phenomenology, biography, memory, wrap of childhood, autobiography, history, activism, politics, geography, social exploration, revolutionary revolution, psychology, public health, progressive variation in language and feeling. I am on purpose not dwelling on all these perspectives in this briefly appealing enterprise to engender every reader’s interest in Melodies. (I am thinking of something adventurous and enchantingly enchanting outside here). With respect to the last named subject, let me titillate my readers thus: I wish you to join me to think of Professor Olu Obafemi as a magnificent poet who concentrates everything feelingly into a sentence –“Melodies of Inclement Climes;” “And hardened villains of misrule;” “And love shall visit these shores again;” “This is the story of our nation now; Debtor-elephant.”

    The beauty of Professor Olu Obafemi’s new volume of poetry is the trick of its language. The emotions or feelings the poet generates are significant enough to ensure full daylight in our inclement climes. It is thus not for nothing that Professor Olu Obafemi has been a recipient of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) and wearer of other laurels. His rhetoric is not any adornment or inflation of words done for the reader’s unquestionable insight or for a particular effect but for a general creative power that has an intensity and concision of indubitably great poetry. 

    Melodies of Inclement Climes will leap in my arms, hands, and mind for a pretty long time of creative reading and critical happiness.  This is not an ostentatious praise, but the true judgment of a reader and critic – this reader and critic – of esthetic and moral sensibility. I duly bow and salute the poet for this fresh volume. Join me in my bow and salutation.

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.


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The West And The Hypocrisy Of Democracy



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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Informaction: Theory Of Change And Witch Persecution In Africa



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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