More from CNN on Pastors and Child-Witches in Africa

CNN’s Connect the World has broadcast the second part of its series on children who are being stigmatised as witches in Africa, focusing on the role of pastors [UPDATE: video here]. The programme drew on the 2008 documentary Saving Africa’s Witch-Children, which I blogged on here, and we saw once again the sad sight of Mary, the terrified young girl who was threatened with death by angry villagers who thought she had poisoned their food by witchcraft.

Helen Ukpabio’s church featured, although she avoided an interview request. I mentioned yesterday that Ukpabio  has tried to have the hostel where Mary now lives shut down, accusing its director of being a “wizard”. As I’ve noted before, she differentiates herself from other pastors who claim to be able to diagnose witchcraft, in that she claims that only a simple and mild “deliverance” session is required to cure a child. However, as CNN noted, her teaching, as expressed in films such as End of the Wicked, has spread far beyond her church. The report also had an interview with Lucky Inyang, who works for the charity Stepping Stones Nigeria – he makes the point that children are cast out by their parents after deliverance fails. This means that Ukpabio’s teachings remain toxic: her “deliverance” sessions will have no beneficial effect on adults who have suffered misfortune, and so children will continue to be blamed.

There was also an interview with Mags Gavan, who directed Saving Africa’s Witch-Children. Gavan expressed her annoyance “that churches haven’t spoken out against this”, and urged churches ” to stand up”. She also noted that many pastors are conspicuously wealthy, and called for more pastors to be arrested and convicted. CNN did have a brief quote from Pastor Celestine Effiong, who denounces accusing children as witches as ignorant, but he appears to be a lone figure. I’ve made the point before now that some of these pastors – including Ukpabio – are part of a global neo-Pentecostal movement, and that their counterparts in the West ought to intervene.

The third part is tomorrow, and looks at how local authorities in Akwa Ibom have been dealing with the problem – and it doesn’t look encouraging. According to Aniekan Umanah, the state’s Information Commissioner, as quoted on the CNN website:

“There may be problems yes but it’s been blown out of proportion and people are capitalizing, on what ordinarily may be a social problem, across the globe in painting Akwa Ibom state black — that is the aspect we say no to. We will not allow the image of our state to be smeared.”

8 Responses

  1. Mr Richard bartholomew

    The story of child witch by CNN correspondent -CHRISTIAN PUREFOY was stage managed/arranged . For the purpose of this issue , i would like you to address the followings.
    1) why was Christian Purefoy and Sam Itauma at the same time and at the same place filming an arranged child witch if he wanted to do an independent investigation.
    2) why did christian Purefoy not interested in seeing the parent of the child ( GODWIN) to determine the
    varacity of their claim.
    3) CNN do not interview children except on the parent’s consent.
    4).why did Christian Purefoy decided to talk to the children without their parent’s consent.
    5) why did Christian Purefoy decided to bring in Helen Ukpabio and her church into the story when he did not interview her and heard her own side of the story.
    6) Show any child or adult living or death that had said Helen Ukpabio labelled him or her a witch .
    7) Show us any body in this wide world that has said Helen Ukpabio demanded money from them for deliverance.
    8)Therefore ,if you cannot give satisfactory answers to these queries, then your attack on Helen Ukpabio is persecution on a woman of God for the preaching the gospel of Jesus christ.

    • 1-4) If you have some extra information about Godswill, let’s have it. Otherwise, these points serve no purpose.

      5) Why did Ukpabio avoid interview requests?

      6) Ukpabio has declared that Sam is a “wizard” and attacked the children at his hostel (the hostel which you yourself tried to have shut down). She said: “He has now turned those children to become witches for the sake of money.” Besides, again you try to avoid the main issue: Ukpabio teaches that children (and even babies) can be witches. Whether she points the finger at particular children herself or just encourages parents to do so, it amounts to the same thing. Take some responsibility.

      7) So if parents offer Ukpabio money in thanks after a “deliverance”, she turns them down, does she? Does she get no money from her books and tapes on the subject? Again, you’re trying to avoid the main subject.

      8) The gospel of Jesus Christ, as I understand it, refers to Jesus reconciling sinners to God through his sacrifice in order to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven. There is nothing in the Bible about “child-witches” or how misfortune can be caused by witchcraft. There is this, though: “whoever offends against one of these little ones … it would be better for him to have a millstone hung around his neck and for him to be cast into the sea”.

  2. Defending/covering up the abuse of children… You should get a job with the Catholic Church, Barr Victor Ukutt.

  3. Obviously, the sickness of Barr Victor Ukkutt is not yet helaed. It is amazing that this lawyer has sacrificed the integrity of his profession on the altar of religious bigotry and unscrupulous pursuit of material benefits. He is now tired of directly confronting Gary Foxcroft and co (after achieving nothing in Nigerian law courts) and now focussed on Bartholomew. Too many people cannot just leave serious business to lie on the same topic. Mr Ukutt should find some creative things to do with his surplus time rather than trying to defend the indefensible. His feeble and clandestine antics are becoming rather ridiculous.

    The fact that should be clearly told is that Helen Ukpabio, by her unbridled penchant for money, has laid the seeds of a bitter antisocial and anti-religious doctrine, which is spreading unabated in South-eastern Nigeria. It is obvious to any discerning mind that Helen is only worship Mammon and not the God that Christianity tries to teach. I have said it before and would repeat here; this woman belongs to the gallows in any decent country.

  4. […] Protest where Black American was Misidentified as Muslim and AbusedDr Olusegun Fakoya on More from CNN on Pastors and Child-Witches in Africacharles allan on Geller Slams “Half-Assed” NY Anti-Mosque Protest where Black American […]

  5. without any iota of doubt, I am convinced that Barr. Ukutt is only playing the Ostrich (he knows the truth!) As a lawyer, his client MUST have properly briefed him on her antecedents and why she mobilized her members to destroy a child rights conference. Why does she have to do that if she is clean? Again, Barr Ukkutt’s questions as jejune as they look are mere result of what he has been paid to do (nothing more). Hence, Helen, with her antecedents on attacking those working with the children, and the children she claimed to love, can’t but be a factor

  6. […] evangelist Helen Ukpabio’s lawyer Victor Ukutt (Ukutt, incidently, stopped by at this blog a few days ago). Ukpabio, who is a powerful figure in the state, claims that the hostel is run by a […]

  7. […] blogged on the CNN reports here, here, and here, and on Akpabio’s response here. Akpabio’s attack on the charity is based on […]

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