Witchcraft Conference: A Case of Misplaced Passion By The Christian Association of Nigeria (C.A.N).

The University of Nigeria, Nsukka, under the Prof. B.I.C Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies had planned a conference on Witchcraft: Meaning, Factors and Practices. However, the conference has been met with a lot of angst and fury from different quarters, which included the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) organizing a protest against the event. It is believed that this conference would promote sorcery and invite evil presence in the institution of higher learning. Various religious groups on Campus called for the cancellation of the event, and eventually, the University had to give in to pressure and ‘cancelled the venue for the scheduled Witchcraft conference’. The organizers of the event vowed that the show must go on, despite the setback experienced. And it did.

In a multi-ethnic, multi-tribal and multi-religious society like Nigeria, one would expect that if a religious group, for example, Christians, should enjoy the freedom to operate and practice, then others should be accorded the same rights to do so. Nigeria is not only made up of Christians and Muslims, and lest we forget, there were existing traditional (religious) practices before Christianity and Islam were introduced into the country. If Witchcraft is one of them, then those who believe in it and its practitioners should not be denied their Human Right of Freedom of Religion and Belief, and their God-given freedom to practice what they believe in. As long as there is no law proscribing Witchcraft in the Nigerian Constitution, then Christian Association of Nigeria would have set a very wrong precedent in a democratic and diverse society like Nigeria. 

While it was rumored to be a meeting of Witches and Wizards, the meeting was going to be an intellectual discourse on the topic, Witchcraft. This is a known topic discussed in the society at large, within households, even in our churches and on church alters by members of the Christian Association of Nigeria. There is indeed no need for the obvious display of naivety, and the ignorant attack on the intellectual community. The best CAN could have done was to send delegates to be part of the conference so they can find out what was being discussed, before planning on hitting the streets. Also, if CAN was sure that the event would promote sorcery and other anti-Christian beliefs, then they have the obligation to take it up with their God in prayers, as encouraged by the Holy Bible and demonstrated by renowned Christian ministers in the past. But, an attack on intellectual discourses that are supposed to be beneficial to the society in whole or in part, should not be the priority of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) considering other topical matters that require their urgent attention, like the Social Media Bill that is being deliberated upon by the Senate of the Legislature. This Bill aims to stifle internet freedom and also freedom of speech of citizens, and of the Press, yet, a word has not been heard against this Bill by CAN, as an umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria. Journalists are being threatened, detained and disappeared for speaking out against corruption and injustice, but CAN is yet to find their voice in the same society they operate in, where these appalling things are taking place.

In the words of the Lutheran Pastor, Martin Niemöller

 

“First, they came for the Jews,

and I did not speak out,

because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists,

and I did not speak out,

because I was not a Communist.

Then, they came for the trade unionist,

and I did not speak out,

because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,

and there was no one left,

to speak out for me.”

We encourage CAN to speak out when they should and for the right reasons, not just for Christians alone, but for the society as a whole. Their passion should be channelled towards handling perceived spiritual issues, spiritually, and carnal issues, carnally. Not the other way round. They should also allow intellectual discourse that would be beneficial to the Church and to the society at large, in order to encourage the growth of the intellectual community for a free Nigeria, and for a prosperous Africa. 

Finally, Nigerians are watching, and indeed, the world. If the Christian Association of Nigeria fails in its inherent duty to speak up for justice, equity and fairness, a time may come when the sins of CAN would be remembered, and a book opened, something akin to the Biblical Judgement Day, and there would be no one willing to stand or speak up for the Christian community. Not even the Witches.

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