The First International & Interdisciplinary Conference on “Witchcraft: Meanings, Factors & Practices”

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ADDRESS BY THE DIRECTOR, PROF. EGODI UCHENDU, AvHF, FHSN, FRDA
PROFESSOR B.I.C. IJOMAH CENTRE FOR POLICY STUDIES AND RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA, NSUKKA, HELD ON TUESDAY, 26 November 2019 @ Princess Alexandra Auditorium.
1.One of the facts of human existence is that civilizations rise and fall. And with the rise and fall of civilizations, we understand that human cultures rise and fall; that there is no fixed human culture. Changes in human cultures highlight another fact: that the state of development of human societies are markedly testaments of different mindsets or ideologies that dominate and drive the majority of a people. But ideologies as dominant mindsets or worldviews that drive and ultimately define societies can be consciously or unconsciously set up or adopted. Setting up the ideological imprint of a people is one task that a University system like University of Nigeria, Nsukka is expected to undertake. Failure in this regard is to fail in her fundamental role, the restoration of the dignity of man because the dignity of man borders on ideological definition.
2.In Nigeria and in African in general, there has been a tendency for scholars to persistently angle towards the definition of culture in fixed, machine-like terms: that culture is the way of life of a people, with a stress on THE. We find angles to this definition in different areas of African studies such as history, literature, religion, and politics. One gets a sense of cultural fixity and wonders if 21st century Nigerians are so less intelligent than their ancestors, who defined for themselves how they lived their lives during what has often been called Africa’s ‘glorious past’, that they cannot chart their own ideological temper?
3.Preparatory to this conference, which was advertised for well over four months, a scholar amongst other things noted that witchcraft was a part of African Traditional Religion. The claim was challenged by another scholar. Different members of this University and of the wider Nigerian society contributed to the debate that has raged around the appropriateness of hosting a conference in regard to Witchcraft in a Nigerian university system. The B.I.C. Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies and Research, intent on being a flagship research Centre to provoke intellectual reflections that guide the shaping of thoughts and the development of a pro-positive developmental mindset in Nigeria and Africa, is not a Centre for pre-determined doctrines but for robust rational engagements.

  1. Many men and women in different parts of Nigeria have been treated badly in 21st Century Nigeria because of witchcraft-related accusations. Last week, a priest of the Catholic Church recounted that one of his Step-mothers was burnt alive on account of witchcraft accusation. A young woman, seeking for a casual job, in an office in the University of Nigeria, had her case thrown out because she had shared that she was accused of being a witch by a family member; the then Head of Department would not consider her plea for the job on hearing of this accusation. Similar examples of this abound all around us. Not to mention the fact that charms and charmers have ben included in both the arsenal and the medium for publicly contending with banditry in a state like Zamfara and Boko Haram under the guise of the Joint Task Force. This, perhaps, may be anchored on the thesis by the Chief of Army Staff that, I quote “Boko Haram and the likes cannot be defeated by kinetic military warfare alone.”
  2. Ladies, and gentlemen, we have for too long glossed over this matter of witchcraft, but it has persisted, even as people pray against witches and wizards. The fact that this matter has persisted in our society up to the present day is evidence that the strategy of prayer, alone, is not enough to combat the challenges of belief in witchcraft.
  3. For this reason, the B.I.C. Ijomah Centre for Policy Studies and Research has attracted men and women of diverse intellectual backgr

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