Thought Leadership

Stepping Stones: The "witches" fight back

On the 12 November 2008 Nigerians living in the UK were shocked and traumatised by a documentary on “Saving Africa’s Witch Children” broadcast on ITV. As if we did not have enough problems fighting our image crisis and constantly trying to prove our innocence to our skeptical hosts. Now we had to explain the film below….available 24/7 around the world via youtube… (pls note – images are very disturbing)

When I attended a MANSAG dinner recently and heard Gary, the man that set up Stepping Stones in Nigeria speak….I wondered about our country, I wondered about my own two young children and how much I loved them..naturally. This incredible gift of life. I thought about these children in the film, of their parents and siblings. Of their circumstances. Most importantly …I thought about OUR society. On how we could possibly let this happen. On how we could possibly remain quiet. On how the individuals involved are still on the streets of our county.

I thought …maybe I am being too emotional. I am now too sensitive….I might be percieved as having joined the “other” side. I had lost the “hardness” of being Nigerian…as we pride ourselves…

BUT our country never stops to amaze you!

On Friday 3rd July 2009, in the afternoon local time, a group of men appeared at the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network Centre (CRARN) in Eket, Akwa Ibom claiming to be donors who wanted to donate goods and toys to the children. Shortly after, the men identified themselves as police officers, and unlawfully arrested two CRARN staff members and mercilessly beat many of the children whilst searching for CRARN’s Founder and President, Sam Itauma. Details here…

In response to the international outrage that greeted this incident, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State,Godswill Akpabio, has visited the CRARN and ensured the staff and children that there security and safety was guaranteed by the Akwa Ibom State Government. In addition to this the Governor donated 10 Million Naira (around £40,000) and numerous other food items to CRARN and the children. Details here…

Stepping Stones Nigeria are organising a symposium on Witchcraft and Child Rights. The event will be held at Cross River State State Library Hall on July 29 2009. Details here...

thanks to naijablog for all the links!

well….what can I say…like many fellow Nigerians…maybe the most I can do is pray and wait for my own personal miracle….until then…its business as usual!???

As my friend Kalu Aja says…it’s our problem and we can fix it!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

By Chikwe Ihekweazu

Chikwe Ihekweazu is an epidemiologist and consultant public health physician. He is the Editor of Nigeria Health Watch, and the Managing Partner of EpiAfric (, which provides expertise in public health research and advisory services, health communication and professional development. He previously held leadership roles at the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the UK's Health Protection Agency. Chikwe has undertaken several short term consultancies for the World Health Organisation, mainly in response to major outbreaks. He is a TED Fellow and co-curator of TEDxEuston.

1 reply on “Stepping Stones: The "witches" fight back”

In the course of child developement, there would be imaginary play. At this time these kids believe they are queens and kings; princes and princesses or some powerful character. They are in charge. I remember my parents addressing me as such. The child outgrows it but is empowered, using that to get to the next level. Before children were admired everything they did was fun now including this stage of imaginery play and saying yes to everything. With the mess of ignnorance ( and so called spirituality) growning exponetially, they are tagged witches and wizards instead. This tells us the abbysmal decadence in our society. This behavior is due to poverty, ignorance and disease (poor mental health).

Somehow the negligence in our society has permeated into families that no one stops to care about child development and empowerment. This is the same society that suppresses ideas and dvelopment of the youth, so it is no suprise that children are abused by their poor hungary parents. Poverty here is not just about finances it is also the state of those people’s mind. Again this is a product of fear following the barrage of uncertainties the populace is constantly exposed to. Having lost control, any little issue, even natural events, become spiritual.

Until children become part and actually the main basis of planning and development; adults learn to pause,look inwards and understand the course/cause of events and great minds step up to enlighten and lead the ignorant ones, worse things will happen. Unfortunately some of us will remain in “defense department” wherever we find ourselves.

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