By Anthony Abiodun Mayungbo
The international witchcraft conference which was to be held at UNN was been criticized, saying Nigerians should think less of witches and wizards, they have eroded our intelligence and ability to solve our problems. Although the two-day international conference on witchcraft, organised by Prof. B.I.C Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies and Research, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), kicked off Tuesday with a new theme, “Dimensions of human behaviours.”
The conference dropped its initial theme, “Witchcraft: meanings, factors and Practices,” following a directive from the authorities of the university and public outcry in the social media over the choice of the topic.
In a remark, the Director of the centre, Prof. Egodi Uchendu, said that the casualty caused by social media and other platforms were engineered by people who set out to cause confusion on an ordinary academic conference.
“The casualty of this confusion went beyond being asked by UNN management to change the title but also the withdrawal of our keynote speaker, Prof. David Ker, 48 hours to the conference.
“I am delighted that social media hype on the conference didn’t deter participants and organisers from attending the conference, which is completely academic,” Uchendu said.
Prof. Damian Opata, in his paper entitled, “The wealthy are no witches: Toward an epistemology and ideology of witchcraft among the Igbos of Nigeria,” said that people’s misconception about witchcraft inhibited the development of knowledge on the phenomenon.
According to him, “the manner in which witchcraft is propagated and believed by some Nigerians has continued to kill the development of knowledge on the issue.
“Some people have killed the initiative for creative indigenous thinking because of mere belief in witchcraft.”
Apata, who is a senior lecturer in the Department of English and Literary Studies, said that diviners and seers in the indigenous traditions many a time believed that witchcraft was the source of the problems of many people, who consult them.
He said: “Pastors, prophets, seers in foreign religions, charismatic priests of variegated persuasions very frequently use perceived attacks by witches and wizards to put fear in the minds and hearts of their various congregations.
“The truth is that for those who believe that witches and wizards exist, they exist for them and those who believe they do not exist, they do not exist.