Hysteria about “witches” has been present in many societies in the history of humanity, but it is still shocking to learn that in the 21st century, this topic is still of vital concern in areas like the modern nation of Nigeria. Hundreds of children in the Niger Delta area have been brutalized in their homes, driven out and assaulted by angry mobs and even burned alive because someone in the community claims this or that child is really a witch. Jeremiah, aged ten, had his body doused with petrol and his father set him on fire because in church an individual arose and pointed at the boy and claimed he was a witch. Many phony pastors are charged with helping to incite these furious attacks. One confessed on a documentary film that he had killed 110 child witches.
Traditional ways of identifying “witches” are still employed such as compelling those accused to eat a poisonous wild berry, if the child survives he or she is freed, if not, the child dies. The phony pastors demand money in order to exorcise the devil from the body of an accused child, no money, and death or brutality awaits the child. As one cab driver told a reporter, religion “is the only industry we have in Akwa Ibom outside of oil.” Welcome to the 21st century!