Some parents sell their
children in the belief that they will have a better life away from often single
houses in urban areas that are home to up to ten other families with no private
space, bedrooms and shared sanitation facilities. Most Nigerian children have
between 4-5 siblings. Bizarrely, perhaps
due to the exponential growth of Evangelical Christianity in parts of Nigeria,
thousands of Nigerian children are being blamed for
living conditions in the country and are accused of witchcraft often prompted by church
It is estimated that some 15,000 children have been accused of this practise
over the past decade and a horrifying one thousand of them murdered. There have
been reports of children being buried alive, forced to drink acid and having
their limbs broken.
Ill informed families are being preached to that "once a child is said to be a witch
to be possessed with a certain spiritual spell capable of making the child to
transform into, like cat, snake, vipers, a child could cause all sorts of havoc
like killing of people, bringing about diseases, misfortune into family." And what is the motivation for these
pastors? Money. The pastors claim they can 'cure' the child witches for between
£200 - £1300. Of course, because there is nothing wrong with the children in the
first place they can't be 'cured' so then the pastors claim the children are
beyond help and should be abandoned.
Many would assume that a belief in child witches goes back to old traditions
in Nigeria, however, in fact, its a fairly recent phenomenon, spurred on by 'Nollywood'
movies and fuelled by a desperation to simply account for rampant AIDS/HIV and
And why children? Again, their are strong spiritual beliefs in
Nigeria that blame all wrongs on witchcraft and these movies that are doing the
rounds, particularly in the Niger Delta,
are promoting a belief that older 'witch' spirits can more easily assimilate
children due to their innocence and susceptibility.