Witchcraft accusations ruin lives — Leo Igwe fights back with reason and compassion


by Ed Brayton

DonateFoundation Beyond Belief is joining with the Institute for Science and Human Values (ISHV) and the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) to support Nigerian humanist activist Leo Igwe in his efforts to end a human rights disaster undertaken in the name of stopping “witchcraft.” And we could use your help too.

Leo IgweIn many northern African countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana, parents and preachers have for far too long abandoned and often maimed and killed women and children accused of being witches. It happens so often that in Ghana there are at least six camps that house more than a thousand women who have been accused of being witches on no evidence at all. In other places, the victims are usually children.

Rejected by their families, those women and children will spend their lives living in squalor and shame as outcasts from society. And they might even be considered the luckier ones; others accused of witchcraft have been drowned, burned alive, or killed in some other equally brutal manner.

One of the primary fomenters of this madness has been Helen Ukpabio, an evangelist who started Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries in Nigeria, which has now spread to many other countries. She has taught that many women and children have been possessed by Satan and turned into witches, including teaching that if a child has a fever and cries at night, they are likely demon-possessed.

Leo Igwe has spent the last decade fighting against this barbaric practice and advocating for the humanist values of compassion and rationality. For his work, he has been beaten and robbed by fanatics who believe that Igwe himself works for the devil because he has defended the human rights of their victims.

FBB has helped support his work financially, and so have the ISHV and JREF. But we need your help to complete the funding by the end of April; to goal is to raise $15,000 to support Igwe’s important work. We often throw the word “hero” around too casually, but if it applies to anyone, it applies to Leo Igwe. At great personal risk, he has continued to combat the forces of irrationality and barbarism and stand up for humanist values. The least we can do is lend him a hand.