CAPPA – Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa

CAPPA Hosts Humanists on World Humanist Day 2024

World Humanist Day is celebrated annually on June 21st to raise awareness about humanism. It is a day dedicated to further promoting principles such as critical thinking, ethics, human rights and justice while rejecting oppressive societal values and actions that undermine the legitimate and fundamental freedoms of individuals.

For this year’s celebration in Nigeria, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) hosted members of the Humanist Association of Nigeria (HAN), religious skeptics, activists, and other groups at a hybrid event in Lagos. The well-attended event featured a screening of the film The Witches of Gambaga as a premise for broader discussion.

According to the movie director’s note, “The Witches of Gambaga is a haunting 55-minute documentary film about a community of women condemned to live as witches in Northern Ghana. Made over the course of 5 years, this disturbing expose is the product of a collaboration between members of the 100-strong community of ‘witches’, local women’s movement activists and feminist researchers, united by their interest in ending abusive practices and improving women’s lives in Africa. Painful experiences and insights create an intimate record of the lives of women ostracised from their communities.’’  The movie was completed in July 2010, directed by Yaba Badoe, and co-produced by Yaba Badoe and Amina Mama.  

Speaking during the event, Leo Igwe, Director of the Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AFAW), emphasised the need to re-examine how terms like “witch,” as shown in the movie, are used to perpetuate harmful beliefs and actions in society. In Africa, the term “witch” often describes women perceived as evil. Within this context, women are singled out as witches through illegitimate trials and subjected to severe consequences.

CAPPA’s Programme Officer, Gideon Adeyeni, who facilitated the post-screening discussion, stressed the importance of challenging the ideas that fuel these violent practices, particularly against women.

“Superstitious ideas are at the root of witchcraft allegations. Such retrogressive ideas fuel violence against women and children. We should use this moment to commit to rejecting these ideas and promoting progressive ones that ensure no one is subjected to such violent treatment in today’s world. This is how we can build a humane world,” he asserted.

Other speakers highlighted how poor economic and social conditions create a fertile ground for retrogressive ideas, which underpin the adoption of these violent practices. They posited that the fight for social justice is inherently a fight for a violence-free society.

The program concluded by encouraging participants to embrace critical thinking, advocate for social justice, and defend participatory democracy, noting that this commitment is crucial for expanding a fair and just society for all.

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