During discussion in class, a comparison was drawn between the spirituality of the Igbo and the Christianity of the white men that colonized the Igbo. The Igbo believed that certain abominations, such as twin babies, should be disposed of. Supposedly, the Christians helped the children of the Igbo despite the spiritual beliefs of the Igbo.
However, I have found that the Christian culture that inhabits Nigeria now is no better at preserving lives of children than the Igbo belief system. Nigerian Christianity is mostly Pentecostal which focuses on the devil, how to stay out of hell, and also violent exorcisms. The ones who seem to suffer the most from these exorcisms and the emphasis on the devil testing the faith of Christians are the children.
These children are labeled witches. They are blamed for anything their relatives are struggling with whether it’s financial difficulties, health problems, or even their personal struggle with faith. Violent exorcisms are performed on these innocent children to rid them of evil. Some children have been burned with acid, buried alive, poisoned, and sometimes even killed.
The Igbo culture had beliefs that justified the abandonment and slaughter of children. Then, Christianity came into being and saved those children. At least for a while. Until Christianity became an avenue for destroying young lives. It’s easy for a westerner to look at an ancient culture that believes differently and believe them to be cruel and horrible. In some ways it was. It is absolutely terrible that small babies were left for dead in a forest due to religious fanaticism. It is equally appalling to see a 3 year old boy being burned with hot wax because he was labeled a witch due to religious fanaticism.
If Christianity never set foot on Nigerian soil, what would the culture be like? Would they still have children murdered? Would they be as violent in the name of their God(s)?
Here is a video on the subject. It focuses more on the community created for the exiled children, but still provides a striking image of the witch hunting that goes on.