A meeting of witchcraft practitioners as well as scholars in the disciplines of human behaviour and history is underway in the University of Nigeria-Nsukka (UNN) to deliberate on the phenomenon of witchcraft.
The two-day conference, according to its host, Prof Egodi Uchendu, is supposed to help the Nigerian and African publics “determine amongst other things the intelligibility of witchcraft, the principles that underpin it and the impact it has on human life, society and progress.”
According to Nigeria’s Premium Times newspaper, when the conference was first announced, protests and threats were issued by members of the country’s Christian communities.
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The opposition to the conference from Christians eventually forced the organisers, B.I.C Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies and Research of UNN, to change the name of the event.
Instead of “International Conference on Witchcraft”, the event is now known as the “International and Interdisciplinary Conference: Dimensions of Human Behaviour”.
Nigeria is the world’s most populous black country and a majority of its citizens identify as either Christian or Muslim. However, the belief in traditional African spiritualism is also rife.
Prof. Uchendu, a history scholar, remarked that Nigerians need to critically evaluate their belief in witchcraft as well as gauge what impact such beliefs have in everyday lives.
“Apart from rumours about witchcraft, can we intelligently discuss the phenomenon of witchcraft? Can we delineate its evolving dynamics, especially in regard to human and societal development? What does belief in witchcraft symbolize for civilians, the military, politicians, scholars and others”.
Witchcraft is a popular concept on the continent with many adherents testifying to its practicality.
But in many countries, especially in sub-Sahara, older women accused of witchcraft are left to the mercy of angry mobs who usually face very little consequences.