HomeMalawiHuman RightsAfAW Joins Humanists International

AfAW Joins Humanists International

By Leo Igwe

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfAW) has joined the global humanist body, Humanists International as an associate member. AfAW’s membership application was ratified at HI’s General Assembly in Glasgow in June.

In its letter to AfAW, HI’s acting membership development officer, Javan Lev Poblador, said: ” I am glad to inform you that your membership application has been accepted by the Board of Humanists International and ratified during 2022 General Assembly!”.

AfAW is delighted to join the humanist family and partner with this international body to combat witch persecution and killing in the region. Humanist organizations have been at the forefront of addressing superstition-based abuses. Witch hunting ended in Europe centuries ago. But horrific abuses linked to witchcraft beliefs happen in many parts of contemporary Africa and Asia. Incidentally, witch persecution persists in Africa due to lackluster campaigns by local and international organizations. Actors whose goals and mission are not in tandem with eradicating witchcraft accusations and witch-hunting populate the field. Many campaigners against witch persecution in Africa are witchcraft believers and those who think that people can harm others through magical means.

Some claim to be against child witch persecution, not adult witch persecution. Burdened by the same superstition, campaigners cannot effectively tackle witchcraft-related abuses in the region. All efforts to address the problem have mainly been superficial. Also many western NGOs use a patronizing approach. They employ this misconception popularized by western anthropologists that unlike westerners, witchcraft is not a form of superstition to Africans. So they pretend to be respecting the African culture, and refuse to call witchcraft belief a form of superstition. In addition, many NGOs involved in the campaign see the topic of witch persecution as another facility to raise funds and legitimize their humanitarian work in Africa. Witch persecution in Africa has not been treated with the sense of urgency that it deserves.

So joining HI will give AfAW some international leverage in its efforts to end witchcraft accusations and witch persecution in Africa in 2030. It will help AfAW fill the missing gap in activism against witch persecution in the region.

As noted in its Decade of Activism declaration, AfAW uses a secular, humanist, skeptical, and human rights approach to examine witchcraft narratives and address related abuses. It is a welcome development to become a part of an organization that shares the same vision as AfAW.

Now let’s get to work!

Leo Igwe
Leo Igwehttps://www.maravipost.com
Leo Igwe (born July 26, 1970) is a Nigerian human rights advocate and humanist. Igwe is a former Western and Southern African representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and has specialized in campaigning against and documenting the impacts of child witchcraft accusations. He holds a Ph.D from the Bayreuth International School of African Studies at the University of Bayreuth in Germany, having earned a graduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Calabar in Nigeria. Igwe's human rights advocacy has brought him into conflict with high-profile witchcraft believers, such as Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries, because of his criticism of what he describes as their role in the violence and child abandonment that sometimes result from accusations of witchcraft. His human rights fieldwork has led to his arrest on several occasions in Nigeria. Igwe has held leadership roles in the Nigerian Humanist Movement, Atheist Alliance International, and the Center For Inquiry—Nigeria. In 2012, Igwe was appointed as a Research Fellow of the James Randi Educational Foundation, where he continues working toward the goal of responding to what he sees as the deleterious effects of superstition, advancing skepticism throughout Africa and around the world. In 2014, Igwe was chosen as a laureate of the International Academy of Humanism and in 2017 received the Distinguished Services to Humanism Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Igwe was raised in southeastern Nigeria, and describes his household as being strictly Catholic in the midst of a "highly superstitious community," according to an interview in the Gold Coast Bulletin.[1] At age twelve, Igwe entered the seminary, beginning to study for the Catholic priesthood, but later was confused by conflicting beliefs between Christian theology and the beliefs in witches and wizards that are "entrenched in Nigerian society."[1] After a period of research and internal conflict due to doubts about the "odd blend of tribalism and fundamentalist Christianity he believes is stunting African development," a 24-year-old Igwe resigned from the seminary and relocated to Ibadan, Nigeria
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