Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My faith, my story

I was once “erroneously” labelled a witch by religious zealots (many of whom are still my friends and who NOW see those times as dark ages) who I was in the same learning environment with some years back. But the constraint of the environment where we were in then prevented any extreme measures such as “suffer not a witch to live” from being my fate. The most punishment that could be meted out on me was excommunication (covertly).

          "Dear world, you would have been deprived of my unique contribution and my special touch which only me can bring (and is bringing) to you so far I am still alive."

 I remember hearing my parents/peers’ generation (some still say it) that Oyibo’s witchcraft is what gives them power to do witty inventions and explorations like building aeroplanes, cars, rockets, and skyscrapers, and to explore oceans and dense forests. But the most that the black witches have succeeded in doing is suck blood of their own people (I wonder whether they suck Oyibo blood too), make accidents happen on our roads; invoke cluelessness/madness in their leaders and enemies. Meanwhile, the religious leaders who ought to deliver the black people from black witch are now so much focussed on acquiring some of the inventions of the oyibo witch (such as private jets, skyscrapers, booking for a flight to mars) while well-to-do (middle class) members of the congregation who can afford it also fly the aeroplanes, drive cars, buy IPads, laptops, camera, etc. Are there some contradictions in these things? Please I need help to unravel the mystery which we are still very much plagued with today.

The fate of the black witch is a very hard one. Sometimes, in ministering deliverance to them, they may be landed a very dirty slap (which is capable of making someone who has not eaten for hours/days to faint). But in the remote villages (example is Akwa Ibom rural areas), the truth is that the “witches” (mostly young children) still have nails hammered into their heads (or any lesser punishment than death) and some have pepper and all sorts of concoctions rubbed into their eyes to rid them of witchcraft even as I write (as we speak).

Reminds me of an African movie “Yaaba”, which I watched some years back. It is a 1989 drama film written, produced, and directed by Idrissa Ouedraogo.

The setting is a small African village in Burkina Faso. The story focuses on Bila, a ten year old boy who befriends an old woman, Sana. Everybody calls her 'Witch' but Bila himself calls her 'Yaaba' (grandmother). The woman (old and wrinkled) was labeled a witch and was driven away from the village. She thus lived outside the village like an outcast. But the curious mind of young Bila got behind the “looks” of Sana to see her heart, beauty and wisdom. When his cousin Nopoko got so sick to death and could not be cured by the village doctors, he ran to Sana. She helped to get a concoction which Nopoko’s mother snuck to give to her daughter. The father will never receive a medication from a “witch” and would rather let his daughter die. The girl got well after using the concoctions for a few days. She and Bila visited Sana and took some food with them. At some point, the villagers saw Bila visiting Sana and thought she might bewitch him. They later set her hut in flames, at which point her heart (which was old, tired and frail) could not resist the pain anymore and she died. Bila witnessed the death and covered her with a wrapper and then ran to tell his mother.

This is still very much the African story and reality. Are we still refusing to evolve beyond the look? Are only poor people designed to be witches? Who will save us from ourselves? Are these hard sayings in themselves?

Well, this is just one of the many reasons why I am resolved to see social justice in my lifetime and help bring it about alongside people who are championing this cause. It’s beyond sentiments and vain talks for me. It’s up close and personal.

Please I need answers to some of the questions in here as it will go a long way in helping me in my enlightenment campaigns for rural dwellers where “religion” has been turned on its head out of ignorance, poverty and self-hate (born out of over-zealousness and simplicity). And also for city people where arrogance in ignorance rules and where religious zealots are becoming more and more powerful and uncontrollable with their emotions, ego, interpretations and sanctions.

Some of my close friends have been worried that I have lost my faith. I appreciate their concerns and I believe it is borne out of love for me. But I haven’t lost my faith in God; I have merely abandoned organized religion to embrace my humanity and that of others. I have merely defined my faith more clearly as LOVE and TRUTH which breaks through any divide and which has set me completely free (of all the fears of knowns and unknowns) and thus I am living totally so that when I eventually die, I would have lived out the essence of who I am and contributed in solving the mighty jig-saw puzzle which this world is by fitting in that tiny space I was designed to fit (no more, no less). I risk being misunderstood and even further excommunicated but it’s ok. I know enough to stick with what I have weighed thoroughly to be true in the present situation and stick with it regardless of negative consequences (is that what persecution truly means?)

I know I’m breaking into someplace that is being very much guarded in our lives and in our society, which some of us have questioned but not brave enough to find answers to, which hurt us so badly but which we have refused to let go of. We have refused to let the embrace of truth shatter all that is preventing true joy, happiness and peace (and I don’t mean shuffering and shmiling)...


I hope you are able to define your own faith better. It’s not a day’s journey, neither is it a year and it is like excellence, you never arrive. It’s years of questioning and seeking and weighing and listening and observing and applying of wisdom.


  1. Very very interesting writing. The witch lives because she/he is needed in this context. Because of fear in my opinion. People need life to make sense. The fable of the witch answers unknowns. I think it gives people a sense of control over their lives. They have someone to blame trouble on - someone to burn and hurt- as they are the cause of pain placed upon them.

    A scapegoat, so to speak. To fight with facts sounds like an easy fix. To those who believe in witches this is not easy. The belief is needed to help cope with disease, mental illness, maladies of all sorts. If it is not the witch or genie causing pain that leaves one with a bleak outlook on their life.

    That is not to say that in time, the superpowers of a witch will die away. When people are able to treat illness themselves. Empowerment is needed to deal with the brutal facts of life. Illness, weather extremes, ect.

    You take risk Mary but I think your open mind and curious nature will lead you far. I love that you are brave and steady in your search for truth, justice, and betterment of your life and that of your country. Be safe. Have much love in your life.

  2. Thanks Beth! It's something that breaks my heart very much these days and you need to watch some of the videos (or see live) what the fate of child-witches are in some parts of my country. All in the name of the Lord, all in the name of some religion. The children are blamed for the woes of the parents, for the inability of the parents to give birth to more children after them, for the farm not to produce as much as expected, for the rain not falling, for the accidents and injuries. Then I ask myself Why? Why all these sufferings, why all the hate? (I can't help myself now, I'm shedding tears uncontrollably).
    Well, I am just one but I must ensure that the ripples that make in the water travels far enough to rouse others. We must preach love, love and more love. We must reach out in truth, the sun must shine again in africa my homeland.

  3. Mary, Thank you in all sincerity for sharing your spirit here in this blog. I just returned back to the US after living eight months in Johannesburg. My first trip out of the US. As descendants of slaves we black people here in the US have no defining culture. We base our lives on the fact that we are americans. My entire life I felt out of place. I knew my roots were in Africa but my spirit felt disconnected.

    My time in Africa has redefined me. I no longer feel that my spirit drifts with nothing to connect it. Many of the traditions and cultural practices I learned about opened my mind to one true fact. So much has been distorted and our people suffer at a spiritual level. Culture and tradition in it's pure form connects us all. When it is manipulated and used to justify what we all know to be evil then it fails us.

    Your persoective has open an avenue for me. One in which I so look forward to travelling. Though our paths have been on different continents. Our struggle for truth exists on the same plane.

    In this life I take nothing for granted. I believe that nothing happens by circumstance. I look forward to reading more from your blogs. Again, thank you for sharing your spirit in such an open manner.

    Patrick F. Suttle

    1. Thank u Patrick. If every african person (home and abroad) truly appreciate our history and the present realities, we will all get to serious work in this campaign and solving the problems (gigantic it may seem but it is resolveable). I'm glad you feel connected back to your is born in us and africa has been crying for long.

  4. Hmmmm, insightful. I believe as more education and enlightenment comes, more people will be freed from the mass-deceit in whatever organised form.

    1. Thanks Jesse, you can see that work is ongoing but as yet very few labourers in the vineyard but I pray the Lord of harvest to send in labourers into the field. We don't need to deceive ourselves for gains, it's high time we all begin to see through some of the lies that led to the "identity crisis" from which has stemmed all the atrocities being committed in the name of GOD.

  5. Mary, this is a well thought write-up, i like your passion to see the poor "witches" begin enjoy their fellow "love". As much as this may sound good, i believe you will not entirely throw out the conception of witchcraft in Africa?

    Yes, we may have all over-flog this issue of witchcraft not allowing development in our society, but the fact still remain that this menace is deeply rooted in Africa.

    I believe as much as you that good, sincere and purposeful leadership is what we need to bring a change to our world. I think that is what we need to bring about collectively, then the man that is jobless will have a job, the woman that find it difficult to have more babies will have access to good healthcare for solution etc.

    Please, socialism cannot solve a spiritual problem.

    God bless Africa.

    Abayomi A. Adebiyi

    1. Thanks Abayomi! I appreciate your comment and I believe u are also seeking for truth and meaning. Superstitions and organized religion were a method of enslaving the minds of simpletons, that is not to say there is no God. Please read the comments made by other people on this post above (BEth Steger, who is not an african) and learn about other perspectives.

      Social justice is not a spiritual problem please don't get it twisted. If u have been to Europe and America, you will know that those places were built on the blood of African slaves. Become a student of history and learn dear bro.

  6. Got this from a friend's timeline on facebook
    "Professor Wole Soyinka once said that 99% of Nigerians pray every day, and they have been doing this for 50 years. He further stated that if we are to go by the number of Nigerians praying every day, and God was actually listening their prayers, Nigeria should be paradise by now. Wole Soyinka's take on prayers and religion in Nigeria explains my honest position on prayers and God.
    Are you saying that 99% of Nigerians, for instance, not to talk of the whole of Africa, do not practice what the pray for and preach? Or that the minds of 99% of Africans are truly corrupted when it comes to prayers and real practice of religion in real terms? Fela called these prayer places "those "god - damn places" where they preach suffer 'suffer for world; enjoy for heaven' That is what most of these foreign religions are preaching, hence; the question then is: So, do we have to suffer until the day we die because the scriptures tell us that paradise is in heaven?
    The message of suffering in the world and enjoy in heaven alone, confuses and deceives the minds of millions of Africans. It gives them a false sense of hope that their riches and good welfare are in heaven, whilst the disseminating Religious leaders of such false hope are busy creaming themselves with the poor people's wealth and looting the treasury. Remember that was the message King Leopold II of Belgian passed on to the Colonial Missionaries in 1883 which enabled Belgium to murder over 10 million Congolese, and loot Congolese Rubber and Ivory and so many other mineral resources in the Congo. That is what religion and the messengers of these foreign religions (now African messengers) are still doing in Nigeria, and indeed in Africa today.
    (Politics & Religion)"

    Prince Dayo Fadina.

  7. I'm going to raise all my children to be 'witches', God willing, its obvious our society is badly in need of them now.

    Beautiful piece Mary, and very insightful and illuminating, keep shinning, African queen.

    Toba Folaranmi

  8. Paragraph 4, line 4 was edited from "still being burnt alive" to "still have nails hammered into their heads" as pointed out by Mfon Atat (that burning witches was in the past and less severe punishments are doled out to them). Thanks for the insider info Mfon. Sorry for any misinformation that bit must have always no harm is intended from this blog.


  9. Tope Popoola wrote on fb

    "Do not be deceived. Faith and irresponsibility are not synonymous. True faith always sides with the oppressed, not the oppressor. Faith in God is about social action. A mountain-top experience with God is not about euphoria and ecstasy. It's about translating that experience to a social cause that engenders or hastens change. Not so religion. The actual meaning of that word is 'return to bondage" Faith in God frees you to take responsibility for your deepest convictions on the side of truth and right. Religion simply keeps you "mumufied" and complacent while shifting responsibility for change to some "deus ex machina". Faith is a paradox. It's all about trusting God as if you can't do anything and then doing everything possible as if there is not God to trust. I get uncomfortable reading posts that seem to undermine the God-factor in our body-politick by making it sound as if every infraction or act of neglect by people of faith is his fault! A man may be religious; may even claim to be a servant of God in any capacity, Imam, Pastor or Traditional priest. It does not mean he knows God! That someone misrepresents you does not in any way make you less than who you are! Take responsibility for your environment. that is the real way to show God to your generation!"

  10. Beautiful piece Mary! Religion, as Marx accurately opined is truly the opium of the people. Let's take our faith to where it matters - the marketplace. The rule of synagogues is over. God stepped out of the box aeons ago and nobody can put Him back there!


  12. Suspected Witches Burned Alive by Christians in Kenya,

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  14. Being BiPolar, I would have been burned alive as witch 200 - 300 years ago since I have had bouts of psychosis. 70 or so years ago, I would have been thrown in ice baths and kept behind closed doors. Today, it is forced Western medication (some of it necessary). When psychotic, I have zero say over what happens to me. Yet I too still survive!

    I am saddened by your story about Bila, a ten year old boy who befriends an old woman, Sana. It is people like these two (Bila and Sana) that have the knowledge and heart to lead us out of our mess as we, relentlessly, speed towards our own extinction.

    As for faith, Mary, you have that in spades and are a kindred spirit though our lineage and location differ...but not so much as we come from the same source and we share the same planet.

    Marianne Van der Wel

    1. Thanks Marianne! Geography may separate us but thoughts are universal same with our spirits.

      Things are hard for ordinary people and children in this part of the world even in this age (of enlightenment). Their fate is sad and many who are supposed to know better simply look the other way.

      I hope to keep speaking and doing my bit about these issues.