Witchcraft Accusations in Nigeria with Dr. Leo Igwe

Witchcraft Accusations in Nigeria with Dr. Leo Igwe Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast

Dr. Leo Igwe, activist and advocate of the Advocacy for Alleged Witches, speaks with us about the witch hunt crisis in Nigeria. Leo teaches us the historical, societal, and cultural implications leading us to this modern day situation of witchcraft accusations and violence and calls for specific support. We discuss the urgency of immediate interventions and ways of building up Nigerians to be able to address and implement their own solutions. This episode is a call to action for all people worldwide to take action against witch fear and to create safe communities for the vulnerable citizens in our world communities.LinksAdvocacy for Alleged WitchesPlease sign the petition to exonerate those accused of witchcraft in ConnecticutConnecticut Witch Trial Exoneration ProjectEnd Witch Hunts MovementDonate to Support the PodcastJoin us on Discord to share your ideas and feedback.WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedInYouTubeTikTokDiscordBuzzsproutMailchimpSupport the show

Show Notes

Dr. Leo Igwe, activist and advocate of the Advocacy for Alleged Witches, speaks with us about the witch hunt crisis in Nigeria. Leo teaches us the historical, societal, and cultural implications leading us to this modern day situation and calls for specific support. We discuss the urgency of immediate interventions and ways of building up Nigerians to be able to address and implement their own solutions. This episode is a call to action for all people worldwide to take action against witch fear and to create safe communities for the vulnerable citizens in our world communities.

Advocacy for Alleged Witches

Please sign the petition to exonerate those accused of witchcraft in Connecticut

Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project

End Witch Hunts Movement

Donate to Support the Podcast

Join us on Discord to share your ideas and feedback.

Support the show


Josh Hutchinson: Welcome to an eye-opening, profound, life-changing episode of Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson. 
Sarah Jack: And I'm Sarah Jack.
Josh Hutchinson: Today we speak with Leo Igwe, an activist in Nigeria, about modern day witchcraft persecution in West Africa.
Content warning. We're talking about real-life events. The things that human beings do to each other. We caution you to listen at your own discretion.
Sarah Jack: All of it's discussed very tastefully. It's just horrific.[00:01:00] 
Josh Hutchinson: We're just discussing what are the facts on the ground. 
Sarah Jack: After you listen to Leo's stories, you'll understand what's happening there. 
Josh Hutchinson: It's a nasty situation, but Leo's here to help change things.
Sarah Jack: We asked him questions that we thought you would want answered. 
Josh Hutchinson: Leo gives us a good background on what the situation is, what events are happening, how they're happening, who's involved, who needs to step up to the plate and take action.
Sarah Jack: You will hear the urgency and come to understand the urgency. If you're wondering if this episode is for you, it is.
Josh Hutchinson: There's so much we could say about this, but let's hear it from the man himself, Leo Igwe.
Thank you so much [00:02:00] for joining us. It's an honor. 
Leo Igwe: Thank you for giving me this platform. It's not common. A lot of people, we've been longing to be given platforms so that we can bring in our own side of the story.
Josh Hutchinson: We wanna start with some questions about the background of what is actually happening in West Africa with these witchcraft accusations. Is the fear that's driving the allegations coming from the traditional religion or the colonized religions, or is it a mix of both?
Leo Igwe: Well, witchcraft accusation predates colonialism. It predates contact with the West or contact with non-African cultures and religions. What happens is that, of course, I learned from my father, who learned from the grandfather, who were traditional religionists, that people try to [00:03:00] make sense of life, using whatever they can materially, material, spiritual, natural, supernatural, ritualistic, whatever they can do to really provide a solution to their problems, they did, and they were doing this before they got in contact with other cultures and other religions, but of course other religions somehow reinforced aspects of many preexisting practices and conceptions.
For instance, Christianity came as a better religion. They told Africans, "your traditional religion is primitive. Now take a better look at the better religion." That's Christianity. And of course, it's not only because they made a case for better religion. They use violence in terms of colonialism, forceful acquisition of these cultures. They use their school, they use health institutions [00:04:00] to still send a message that Christianity was better. But of course, many people, in the course of embracing this religion, discovered within Christianity, witchcraft narratives, supernatural narratives, faith-healing narratives, which now reinforced preexisting notions and practices.
So this is how what you can call the colonial religions intersected with preexisting notions. And the same thing with Islam. Islam also came as a better religion. And of course, they made Africans to understand that what they were worshiping, were actually spirits, not God, were deities, the divinities. So they made them to embrace what they think is a real God. And of course, in embracing this, it also came with your own supernatural narratives, including narratives of healing, narratives of making sense of misfortune.
And it is within this universe of supernatural solutions and narratives [00:05:00] that witchcraft notions exist. And this is how what we are seeing today is an intersection, is a fusion, is a kind of practices going on, in spite of, or in addition to, or in connection with what you can call the colonial religions.
Sarah Jack: What laws are on the books in Nigeria and other African nations, and how long have they been there? Are they a response to what you just shared about?
Leo Igwe: Yeah, we have of course, we have regulations even before, you know, we got the state formations with laws and constitutions as embedded in Western form of state or political system. And of course, let me go to the traditional laws. Traditional laws, of course, they have their regulations as what do you do if you are convicted?
Theft, acquisition, forceful acquisition of other people's [00:06:00] property, or what do they call, you know, or killing or murder, and other offenses within the community. But, of course, in trying to decide who is guilty or who is innocent, sometimes they involve the traditional priests or traditional diviners who, you know, especially when such incidents is assumed to involve some supernatural.
Now, when the colonialists came with their own laws and state formation systems, they introduced another way of rules of money or how to make sense of offenses. And of course, it was the, you can call them the post-enlightenment Europeans that came here. So they had gone through this issue of witch-hunting, and they had al, they already done with it, and within their law books, they, they criminalized witchcraft accusation. And they now introduced the similar [00:07:00] laws here to checkmate, to regulate, to restrain accusations and attendant abuses. 
Now these laws, so in Nigeria for instance, we have provisions in the criminal code against witchcraft accusations. But of course, like every other thing, or many of the things introduced during the colonial era, they were in the statutes book. They were on paper, not in practice, because these laws originated from cultures, non-African cultures, that had their time evolution in terms of its own making, but only superimposed on a culture that has not gone through similar processes, in terms of the witch-hunting, the Renaissance, the reformation of law. Law did not come here as a result of reformation by the people. Laws were introduced as imposition by those who feel that their own idea of state formation is superior to traditional formations. So what we have now in [00:08:00] after independence, when Africans took over this, first of all, they need to satisfy, of course, the former colonialists that, "oh yeah, we are continuing the state formation."
So we are going to, they now just put in play those laws. They just cut and paste all these laws, and they now had independence, but they were still on paper. Even myself growing up, I never knew that witchcraft accusation was a crime. It was only when I started fighting these allegations and I was looking for mechanisms to help me do that, that I just looked at the law. I said, " Leo, look at it there, is even clear in our statutes book." Why? Because one thing goes on in the law or in the on paper of the law, but another thing goes on in practice. So because culture, religion, or, are very often are involved in, when it comes to cases like this.
So we have the laws, but the question is that these laws are not being enforced. These laws are not being [00:09:00] enforced because, first of all, of the fact that these laws sometimes conflict with local, traditional beliefs and then state, the state is weak. So that who, who enforces the law is, is a matter of who is offended. If you are rich and powerful, of course you can enforce the law, but if you, if you are poor, and, uh, and, uh, you cannot, you don't have the wherewithal, you cannot even, you know, enforce the law even when the law is on your side. So what we have is a situation whereby people affected are always elderly women, children, people with disabilities, and people who are not in the position or with the power and the resources to enforce the law in a situation where the, the state is very weak, and the state is ineffective, and state presence is just limited, and state instrument is just a matter of who can afford to use this instrument to protect himself or herself. So this is [00:10:00] why, you know, we have this kind of situation going on today. . 
Josh Hutchinson: Thank you for that. That really clarified a lot. How common are witchcraft accusations? 
Leo Igwe: Well, witchcraft accusation is, I will say we have to take it in layers. Witchcraft suspicion is pervasive, perverse in the sense that when things happen to people, using witchcraft is one of the ways they try to make sense of it. There was an accident, some people could say, "hmm, but is really an accident, you know, couldn't there be something behind this?" A kind of why me or why this person at this time?
So what happens is that witchcraft narrative is just now one of those ways people try to make sense of it, but sometimes they suppress their suspicion, especially when they're afraid that the other party could take them [00:11:00] to court, because the law is on the side of the accused. So when they're afraid that they could be taken to court by the other party or the other party's educated, empowered, exposed, understand his or her right enough, they will suppress the allegation, and they may resort to other subtle and covert means to get back at the person that's suspected.
Now. So what happens there is, is that it is very common, but because of the fear that the accused or the person being suspected might actually take the other person to court and get the person convicted, is only those whom they think they could overpower, they could overwhelm, the poor, the aged, the elderly ones, women. These are usually the people who are now at the extreme end, who are the receiving end of the punishment. 
So, witchcraft accusation is pervasive. Why? Also [00:12:00] because religion, Christianity, Islam. All these religions, they accommodate witchcraft, suspicion. They may say they are not, but they reinforce it, either because they also endorse supernatural interpretation of the problems and supernatural solution of the problems. So as long as we have this, it is difficult to separate witchcraft, allegations and suspicion from people's religion. So religion is pervasive. Africa is almost the religious capital of the world, in terms of Islam, in terms of Christianity. So within this religious capitalality locks witchcraft suspicion, witchcraft beliefs.
So it is very common, but what happens is that it is difficult to enforce, it's difficult to take on whom you are suspecting, because of fear that the person could go to court and get this person suspecting, the person accusing to go to prison or to suffer some [00:13:00] penalty.
Sarah Jack: So I'm really hearing you talk about the powerful versus those without power. Is that geographical at all? Do you find accusations happening in rural, more rural or both rural and urban? Does the power part play into that? 
Leo Igwe: Yeah. You see urban areas are often where the elite, the educated, those who work with the government, the politicians where they live. So, and urban areas are areas where sometimes people live in a way that they don't actually know their neighbors. They are, they're not connected with their neighbors, so they don't know what is going on in the other apartment or in the other person's life. Okay. 
So, but in the rural areas, people will live in a way that they know each other, they understand each other. Sometimes they share [00:14:00] apartments, land, they have a lot of things in common, unlike in rural areas where very often you only deal with the state or you deal with your landlords or the person directly. So, um, the accusations are more in rural areas or people who are living in slums, and slums, these are areas in the cities where people are not actually living a way that, you know, they actually live within apartments. They live in open spaces. They make use of open, uh, either pumps or common, they share things in common, so, so we see that more often happening in rural areas. 
Now, another reason why it happens in rural areas is that there's limited presence of the state. Oftentimes, we have a police stations with about three or five police officers in a community of a hundred to 300 people, and sometimes the police stations are kilometers away from some of the communities. [00:15:00] So those communities are managed by traditional rulers, who use customs, more of customs than the laws, and who use local enforcement mechanisms than the police. Is only when a rich member of the society who is affected, the person could not bring in the police to overwhelm the local traditional system.
So it is more of, again, where the weak, the poor, the socially vulnerable, where they live. This is where you have it more, because in the rural areas where you have the politicians and who have the rich and the elite who live in their, you know, very skyscrapers or live in posh houses, luxurious homes with, uh, a lot of security people around them and all that. We don't get a lot of these accusations, but we get it more in rural, squalid neighborhoods, you know, where people are, poor people live and where they cannot [00:16:00] sometimes afford to go to hospital or access medical care, and they only go to prophets, prophetesses. They go to mallams, or they go to clerics when they're sick or when they need their job, and all that. And many of them are not well educated, so they are vulnerable, they live in a lot of uncertainty, and they are not well skilled, and they don't have well skilled jobs. So these are usually where you have more of them, and a lot of people who are well skilled either they live in the city or they migrate to Europe or America for better jobs. So the, the circle of people who are really vulnerable and who are prone to suffering accusations continue to widen, as the elite continue to move to the urban areas or migrate to Europe and America and others. So leaving Africa now with, you know, a growing army of vulnerable people, people who are likely to be accused, attacked, or killed in the name of witchcraft.
Josh Hutchinson: These accusations, [00:17:00] when they're made, are they taken to the traditional leader in the community, or are they handled independently? 
Leo Igwe: No, they're usually taken to the traditional ruler. But what happens is that if the family, first of all, if they suspect, if they make their suspicion, sometimes they secretly go to some of the traditional healers or priests or Christian pastors or prophets, you know, prayer houses, spiritual home, because there are all sorts of places they go these days. Sometimes it's a mix of traditional and Christian, traditional and Islam, just a place you can find solution. And we have always people who use all sorts of religious Christian just to make sure that they make sense of people's problems. So they go to these places. And when these places, when the divine are there, the cleric there, the so-called expert [00:18:00] there, or you can call the person the witch doctor, if that is what you know, what is best.
When the person now tells them that, okay, actually this is a case of witchcraft, and somebody in your family is responsible, the person now comes back emboldened with a lot of force and anger and reports the matter now to the chief. And that puts the chief sometimes in a very difficult position, because the chiefs always know that they must have gone to certify who the witch is before coming to them. So sometimes the chief might recommend that they should go to another for another reconfirmation. Sometimes they might refuse, or they want the chief to use the result of their own consultation or confirmation. So sometimes he puts the chief in a difficult position, the chief might yield and go with it, or he might prevail on the accusing party to go to another place.
Or he might [00:19:00] also invite the police. It depends on where the chief is living, how close the next police station is, and how effective, you know, bringing in external party, in terms of the police, into the matter. So chiefs always find themselves in very difficult position, and very often they yield to the mob, because if they don't do that, they themselves could also be killed, or they could be lynched, because they could be seen as a party to the witchcraft.
And they could also, you know, put their, they could put themselves in danger and even their legitimacy, you know, could be taken as having been compromised, because they are seen as, their role is to protect the community, not just protecting them physically, but also protecting them metaphysically. So when somebody feels metaphysically assaulted and the chief seems not to be taking effective measures, the chief is believed to have compromised their positions.
Sarah Jack: And [00:20:00] the person that would be first consulting with a spiritual leader and then going to the chief, is that individual usually a male or a leader within a family or a person with some social power within his circle? Or could just like a teenage daughter go and ask for consultation on it? 
Leo Igwe: Now, yes, a very good question. Our society is patriarchal, so male dominates, male rule, male direct, male control. We have male control society, so that is usually the male members, especially the elderly ones or the ones who claim to be in position of power are usually the ones who will go to consult and very often in many parts of, of the region, the person that also going to consult also going to be a male person. There are female diviners, but they're just in the minority. And of course, because they're in [00:21:00] the minority, they also are, they're afraid of also making divinations that could change the power equation in terms of patriarchy, male domination.
So you will still see the female diviners, you know, also making divinations, you know, along that line, which is of course indicting women and elderly women. So it's usually the male that will go out to consult very often male diviners or traditional priests or prophets. Occasionally, of course there are cases of prophetesses, female diviners, or or female traditional priests, but they are usually in the minority, very, very minority.
Josh Hutchinson: And why do they make the witchcraft allegation? Is there something specific that's happening to trigger an accusation of witchcraft? 
Leo Igwe: There are many triggers. Very often these triggers are usually [00:22:00] misfortunes. For instance, we have a case in October. A young man in rural, in a rural area was traveling on a motorbike. He had no headlight. Yeah, there was no light. And he was traveling in the night. So he was involved in a crash, and he died. And the family now said, "oh no, this wasn't an ordinary death." 
There's always this notion of ordinary and extraordinary death. When it's a young person, when it's just somebody, new couple, when is, when it happens in a way that people think, "yeah, this is not a case of ordinary death." They will now go to diviners, who will now tell them who might be or who could be responsible for, for that. So this is, this is usually the pattern. Whenever some misfortune happens and some people think it's not an ordinary misfortune, [00:23:00] that there must be something extraordinary, they would go there.
So that was what happened in that case. They went to a diviner who now, identified that there were children initiated into the witchcraft world. So they came and took some of these children, and I think they must have tortured them, but eventually they started confessing and started telling them other women in the community who were involved in witchcraft. And that was how they went, mentioned the name of some women. They brought them to the shrine, tortured them, and eventually they killed them in the process and buried them in the forest. So this is how some misfortune considered to be extraordinary, not normal, how it now gets one into that slippery slope that leads to accusation, killing, murder, the suspected Witch. 
Sarah Jack: And you mentioned that some of the consequences of [00:24:00] allegations are torture and murder, people naming other people. Are there other consequences that we need to know about from allegations? 
Leo Igwe: Well, first of all is that people are dispossessed. Sometimes accusations happens to widows who inherited a lot of property from the late husband. Okay. And sometimes when, let's say somebody in the family, a relative, when he is sick, the person will now assume that, oh yeah, this woman also wants to kill me or something. So they, they could make allegations to dispossess, but dispossess the accused.
They could make allegations that will lead to the banishment of the accused. The accused, in, in the north of Ghana, they have a [00:25:00] whole place, makeshift shelters, they call them witch camps. And these are places that people run to, accused people run to. Either, they actually tell them, "go." They actually, you know, come and force them to leave their community and go to these places. And when they go, they're dispossessed of their house, their land, and their property. 
So the consequences are not just only torture, trial by ordeal, mob violence, lynching. It could also be dispossession of their property. They could also be banished and they now have to spend the rest of their life, sometimes as, uh, moving along the streets. There was a case in Nigeria, where the person was living on the streets, and one day the woman decided to come back in the night. They went and abducted her and stoned her to death. So a lot of people will be banished. They don't have a place to [00:26:00] go, and sometimes many of them end up dying on the streets, you know?
So there are so many consequences apart from torture and murder of the accused, all sorts of abuses, you know, are visited on them. Both the ones we can track and the ones we cannot track.
Josh Hutchinson: We've also heard you speak about prisons in certain nations where they keep the accused for their own safety. Can you tell us about that? 
Leo Igwe: Yes. What happens is that you see, there's always this attitude by the police or state officials. They'll say, okay, they call it protective custody. So they come up with a name to actually justify what is clearly an abuse, because there's nothing like protective custody, because people who are making accusations are the ones against the law. They're the ones who's supposed to be in custody. They're only supposed to be in prison.
But what [00:27:00] happens here is that we have a situation where police will say they keep some people in custody, because if they don't do that, they could be attacked and killed. So we have that in Chad. We have had cases of protective custody in Chad, even in Nigeria and a few other African countries where the courts or the police will decide to keep these people in detention. We also have it in Malawi, and they are claiming that because if they release them, they could be killed. 
Because very often, the accusers, especially when the bewitched is late, in quotes, the alleged "bewitched" person died or is no more, they want to revenge, the accusers want to revenge. So what the police or the court will do is to put the person in what they call protective custody, waiting for maybe a time after the tension had gone down. [00:28:00] But the people they put in custody, sometimes elderly women, and our prison are not the best of places, because they don't care for these people. They starve them till they die. Very often they give them little or no food. So we have cases like that where the state officials will get these people imprisoned for their sake, just to protect them and ensure that they don't go back to the society, where they could be killed.
And this is quite unfortunate, and this is part of the reason why our advocacy campaign exists and will continue to get the state to understand that the people who's supposed to be in custody are the accusers that the people supposed to be in jail, that the people who's supposed to be taken to prison and that people who are the accused are people who supposed to be freed. Their rights should be protected, because the law is on their side. So we have that, we have such cases, you know, in some countries in the region.[00:29:00] 
Sarah Jack: Just to like visualize this, how many accused are we talking that could be in a prison? 
Leo Igwe: What happens is that like a recent report made it clear we have problem of statistics. In a matter like this, I don't want to underestimate so that it might be reducing or minimizing what is actually a greivous issue. And I want to let you know that some years ago I went to Malawi and I didn't know that about 20, 30, over that number of women, were kept in prison for their sake, I didn't know.
So what happens is that many of these things are going on in a lot of places without information, unless we try to really allow countries to open up and let us know. But what we know I can tell you today is that we have a lot of accused people in protective custodies across the country. We have a challenge, [00:30:00] because very often this information is not released to the public. That is part of the challenge we are facing, because we really need to have this information and put them out there and begin the process of getting the state officials to do what they're supposed to do. Release these people. 
It was a campaign, we were at in Malawi that led to the release of many of these women. I went to Malawi, and I saw women in protective custody, and I was shocked on seeing that. And we did a campaign, but we know that there are cases in Chad, even in Congo and all that, but the number of these women is difficult to say. And that is part of the frustration. That is part of what is really hampering our advocacy campaign in many countries. Limited statistics, limited data on how the victims are being treated and maltreated across the region.
Josh Hutchinson: The accusations, [00:31:00] do they usually come from within your own family or are they you accusing a neighbor? 
Leo Igwe: Accusations, like I said, because they take place in rural communities where people live as families, kindreds and all that, it usually comes from within the family. Yes, it comes from within the family. We have what they called extended family. It could also come, like yesterday it was reported that somebody murdered the uncle. Yes. What happened? The son of this person informed him that the granduncle initiated him into witchcraft, because that's all this kind of narrative here that somebody is initiated, that the granduncle gave , this boy, allegedly gave this boy a piece of meat, and they said that with this, after eating this meat that he got [00:32:00] initiated and that part of the instruction was that he should kill his father. 
So the father now did not wait for the son to kill him. He now went and confronted the uncle who is accused of initiating his son. And in the process he attacked the man, beat him down, beat him with a stick. He fell down, he now dragged the body into the hut or the house and set the house ablaze. This happened some days ago in Bauchi State in northern Nigeria. 
So it is too often a family issue is too often a way families sometimes try to resolve cases of misfortune or cases of some suspicion of occult forces being involved in their day-to-day life. So yes, it happens more within families. It happens more among relatives. 
Sarah Jack: [00:33:00] I have a question about this. So with like banishment and then you have this inner family accusing and violence, is there still a component where, if there's been witchcraft in your family, it makes things difficult for the rest of the family, or is that not really happening because these families are dividing over witchcraft?
Because I believe in some other countries, once somebody has been killed as a witch in your family, then sometimes that whole family is banished or they have to seek refuge away from where they're known. Is that happening? 
Leo Igwe: Yeah, the theory is this, because it happens within families, so you have an accusing section, you have the accused section, and uh, just like, of course, some [00:34:00] anthropologists have noted, accusation witchcraft is a flip side of kinship. So what happens is that the whole sense of family solidarity flips, you know? So very often you'll find the accused alone, or you find the accused being supported by other family members but from a distance. Yes. So it divides the family. So we have some on the side of the accused. We also have some who might not really support the alleged witchcraft, but will be providing support to the accused because the sup, the person is their mother or their sister. They will not want that person to come and live with them, but they may want to provide assistance for the person to be sent elsewhere.
So it is really a very [00:35:00] complex situation and development, especially when people are accused. Now, when the accusation comes from, for instance, outside the family, outside the family here might be extended family, the person might be told, if it is a man or a woman, might be told to go with the family, because the belief is that you can pass, you must have passed it on.
Yes, because there is a belief that you can inherit it, you can contract it. So it depends on the nature of the allegation and it depends on the family's response to it. So if it is intrafamily, it divides the family into two, those for the accused, those against the accused. And sometimes the removal of the accused person reduces the tension, especially when it is not seen as something that has entangled other [00:36:00] family members.
But there are instances, especially when there is open, clear support for the accused and the chief now is in support of the accusers, the chief may order both the accused and the family members to leave the community for the sake of peace. Yes. So it doesn't follow a very strict pattern. It depends on how was the reaction of the family members to the allegation, the nature of the allegation, or what is the reaction of non-family members like the chief to the allegation? There are cases when the whole community rises against the accused. So sometimes they will tell the accused to leave with the family members. 
So it doesn't follow a particular pattern. It can, there are a lot of variables that will determine who lives and who doesn't live when accusations happen. 
Sarah Jack: [00:37:00] I appreciate what you're teaching us, because it really even shows me what kind of questions I have and how those need to change. So thank you.
Josh Hutchinson: This has been very informative and eye-opening. Now we'd like to know more about your organization. What would you like to tell us about Advocacy for Alleged Witches? 
Leo Igwe: Well, Advocacy for Alleged Witches is actually a protest advocacy, let me tell you, protest on so many grounds. First of all, I have been unsatisfied with the work being done by organization and NGOs very often based, connected with Western NGOs doing this work. Because what they do is that they so much dictate and policed the way to advocate against witch persecution. [00:38:00] And I found that unhelpful. I found that ineffective. I found that patronizing. I found that counterproductive. So they're just papering over the problem. 
And what happens is that many of the NGOs here cannot actually do what they would've ordinarily want to do. They first of all have to look out and say, "okay, what do they want us to do? Okay, we need to have a conference." They will have a conference. After that, they go to sleep. So there isn't a grounded, solid, robust, home-based organization that responds to this problem as they want, not as they are told to do. So what we have here are NGOs who are just fronting for Western NGOs and doing it as they want. And of course they send them the money, and they do it.
Now, I wanted an advocacy campaign that is rooted on our own feeling and our [00:39:00] own reality and as we see things. So I didn't want to be police. I don't want somebody to be dictating what I do from London or from New York and all that. Many of them are far from the scene. Many of them are not on ground, and they will be there telling you sometimes not to intervene when you supposed to intervene. They will tell you not to issue press releases. Before you issue press releases, they have to read it in New York, and sometimes they're on vacation. Okay? You cannot issue press, by the time you want to issue a press release, the matter is over. 
I found this frustrating. So I said, look, this problem is not happening in New York. It's not happening in London. It's happening right here in Nigeria, right here in Malawi. We must be at the forefront of this advocacy. We know the problem, we know the actors, we know what to tell them, and that those who want to support us do it this way should support us. 
As I'm speaking to you, I have just finished a meeting with local [00:40:00] stakeholders. Now, ordinarily, before you do this kind of meeting, you write a proposal, and sometimes they will tell you, oh, sorry, there's no budget for your meeting this year. Then you go and sleep till there is a budget, and sometimes if there is never a budget, you are not gonna do anything. So I just ask myself. I said, "no, no, no, no, no." Germans we say, "das geht nicht." "No, no, no. That's not possible. I will not do this." Okay. 
So I will have to put in place a mechanism like yesterday the news came that there was an incident of witch killing in Bauchi in northern Nigeria. Right there and then I called the police commissioner. I called them, and I told them what to do, and I told them, "we're gonna work. By Monday, we're gonna put a force together and protect the child who allegedly confessed and all that, put resources to support the child." Now, for many NGOs here, you need to send a proposal to your secretariat, to your office in London or New York and [00:41:00] tell them, "okay, there is a case in, uh, Bauchi, what do we do?" They say, "but sorry, it's not in our budget this year." So what you do, you leave intervening in a situation where you could have made a difference, because it is not in the budget of an organization far away that has nothing to do with the problem going on on ground. 
So I started this as a protest, because as it's happening, I want to intervene. I issue press releases in the night, sometimes even when I'm in the bathroom. When I'm in the toilet, I have to call people. I said, "you can't do this." You get it. And I, I don't need to get permission from anybody to do it. So this is one reason why we started the Advocacy for the Alleged Witches. 
Again, the narrative of witchcraft in the West and the narrative of witchcraft in Africa is different. Now, the West has gone through the witch hunt, and today we have the pagans who identify as witches. Now, when we say advocacy and we campaign [00:42:00] against witchcraft, pagans are joining us in this debate, and I keep telling them, look guys, we are not talking to you. We are talking to those who claim they could disappear in the night and go and make people ill. Are you among those people? They will say, "no." I say, "look, fine. We are discussing an African-specific narrative and understanding of witchcraft, that is a problematic, that is being used to kill and mame."
We advocate for the right of people to identify themselves as witches or freedom of worship and religion, however they want to make sense of it. But too often, because of the culture, because of the way things happen in the West, they always try to confuse issues. Here, we're not confused. Today, I had a meeting, we had a discussion on this. We know what we are talking about, but when we try to have it sometimes with people from Europe, they try to bring in the Wiccan kind of religion. [00:43:00] Look, we are not, we don't have issues with the Wiccans. No, actually, I want them to understand, they need to support us so that we can go through this phase, just like Europe did and we, and so that people who openly identify as witches or as with the Wiccan religion can practice their religion freely, just like Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Baha'i but too often those who have these kind of, uh, Wiccan belief and all that. They try to join the debate we are doing here by absorbing and misrepresenting it. So that's why I'm saying this is a protest. We are a protest advocacy, and I hope that it can take hold and it can take the continent through this process so that after some time we can now come into, uh, the same field, on the same level with the Americans and all that.
And we've had have people here identify themselves as witches or do practice their Wiccan religion in just like they do in the West. But we are [00:44:00] still in early modern Europe. Yeah, that's where we are. And if, if, uh, other parts of the world could envision this, they would know where we are today, and here in Nigeria, in the region, there is no confusion regarding what we are trying to achieve. There is no confusion at all. But too often confusion comes when those from Europe or America try to bring in some kind of their own experiences in a way that now minimizes what people are going through here, because here, witchcraft problem comes as a result of allegation, not necessarily as a result of self-identification. No, as a result of allegation.
Somebody has a problem. You wake up in the night, you have a dream, you go and knock at somebody's else and said, ah, I saw you in my dream. You are responsible for my problem. The next thing, the person is attacked, then the next, he is killed. So witchcraft here comes as a result of allegation, not as self-identification or as a religion.
So, and we need the help of other people who [00:45:00] understand this as in early modern Europe, and the problem that it cause, in order for us to get rid of this problem and then come to the same level with Europe and America in terms of freedom of religion and belief, which includes freedom for people to practice and identify themselves as witches or as those who belong to the Wiccan religion.
Josh Hutchinson: That was very powerful. How can people outside of Africa help? 
Leo Igwe: Yeah. Yeah. This is a very interesting question and the thing is that there are so many ways you can help, and I want to let you know that what you are doing right here now is a form of help. Yes. Because I know that when people talk about help, of course people talk about money, which I want to tell you is very important, okay? But we have also more important things. Provide us the platform. Yes. Provide us the platform. Very often [00:46:00] people don't give us a platform because they want to speak for us. Sometimes, like now, when you read some of the texts by European scholars, they'll be conflating African religion, African traditional religion and witchcraft.
It's not the case. Yes, we understand what African religion is. We understand it. Allow us to speak regarding these problems. Support us. Don't do it for us. Do it with us. Like now we are having a conversation. Yes, you are giving me a platform to explain this. Come behind us. The problem is affecting us. It's affecting our family members, affecting our parents, affecting our relatives, affecting our fellow citizens. 
What is going on? They want to speak for us. That's a problem. Yes. They want to tell us, you know, those days, you know, Europe, and Europe and America, they will send people to Africa, "ah. How are those people? Who are they? Can you please tell us about Africans?" That era has gone. [00:47:00] Sarah, that era has gone. Josh, that era has gone .Tell your countrymen and women that the era of sending somebody to come and be speaking for us. I can speak for myself. My English might not be as good as yours, but I can communicate and tell you how we feel. Stop speaking for us. So that is a problem. Immediately, we stop this. The problem is half-solved. Work with us, come behind us, so that we begin to explain this thing from our own perspective, not from your perspective. What happens is that somebody, an American perspective of African witchcraft, I mean, see even the length of that expression is enough to discourage you.
I'm here, I'm, I'm presenting the perspective. Nobody is presenting the perspective of Leo's perspective or come on, you know, so what am I trying to say? We need to begin to allow Africans to tell us about what is going on. Tell us about what they're doing. Support them to do that. Yes. Like [00:48:00] now we need resources.
Yes. When events happen, invite us, because immediately you continue to provide platform for us. You are sending a message back to the community. Yes. Immediately, our voices, they get out there. People are hearing it. Look, today we have social media. When Europeans came here, we didn't have social media. We didn't have this kind of communication. So, so it is not difficult to get me to speak and let the world know what is going on. Yes. So we have to remove all these people who are, who are in between. Who, who, who want to tell you guys, okay, look at what Africans are doing. No, no, no, no, no. They have done enough. They have never done enough damage. They can go, we, we want to retire them. At the Advocacy for Alleged Witches, we want to retire some of these Europeans and Americans who want to tell you guys how we think. No, I will tell you how I think, and I'll tell you how I believe. So if you want to support us, give us the platform, give us the resources.
And [00:49:00] sometimes we may tell you, you know, inviting us overseas. Look at the challenge we have. Sometimes they, they will spend a lot of money to invite you to overseas. Now you don't have the money to go to the next community for an intervention, and it is sometimes a fraction of the money. But they will spend thousands of dollars because they want an Africa face at the UN so that they will tell you, okay, we are doing, yeah, we are in Africa, we are active in Africa. They want an African face.
Now you come back home here, you don't have transport money to go to the next community to support an alleged witch. You don't have transport money to go to Bauchi state like now and provide the support for this child, who is being treated as a child witch. You get it. So, but now they satisfy it, and you guys clap for them. Oh, these are our people, they're on ground. They're telling us what is going on in this native land among these Africans. But here nothing. They are not on ground. They're just doing tokenism. They're just doing PR for you guys, and you guys accept them. So, what am I trying to [00:50:00] say? What you can do for us is bring this campaign into the 21st century. Yes. Now you can reach out to me. I can take you to places I can speak from the scene, things happening. So you don't need all those people in between. That's one. 
Two, the resources. Let them go directly to the people on ground. They waste a lot of money on visa, only I don't want to come to America to come and talk about witchcraft. I want to be here. Give me the resources. Let me stay here in Nigeria. Let me go to Malawi. Let me go to South Africa. Let me go to Liberia. Let me go to Zambia and Zimbabwe and sit with the people and begin the process of addressing this problem. Enough of this tokenism. Enough of this PR. Enough of this superficial campaign. Enough of this patronizing approach.
You trying to tell us how Africans should do it. I know what to do. I know the problem. I know the people. I know what to do. Stop making it seem as if I don't, I'm not intelligent enough, [00:51:00] you know how to solve my problem. I know it. I need the means. I need the tools. Support me. Don't do it for me.
Josh Hutchinson: Are there other organizations like yours in other nations? 
Leo Igwe: Well, there are organizations working on this. There are organizations trying to address this problem, but I want to let you know our approach is different. Yes. Very often they will call them human rights organization, so you wouldn't even know that they're addressing the problem. And they don't want to send the message that they're also addressing the problem, because, like now, my organization, whenever we have meetings, they'll be coming. They say, "are you what? Who are you? Are you, are you guys witches? Or what are you people really doing?" So there is always that challenge. Many organizations want to kind of play down on it and do it in a very subtle and covert manner. [00:52:00] And by so doing, they won't be achieving clear results. Yes. "Oh, we are addressing the elderly, the rights of the elderly." Then they will now put witchcraft inside, and they will not talk about it a lot. Oh, it's human rights they're addressing. 
But that's why I came. Advocacy for Alleged Witches. Take it or leave it. Let's talk about it. Okay. So we have not had a campaign that comes, crisp and clear, precise, running it this way. But there are other organizations, women rights organizations, gender-based violence organizations, human rights organizations, child rights organizations, addressing this problem in a very subtle manner.
And I worked with them and I'm always frustrated. Do you know why? Let me give you an example. I was working with one of them some years ago. We were addressing the problem of, you know, witchcraft, and we were just having some rest, trying to get some food in the village. So one of them asked me, "ah, [00:53:00] look, Leo, are you saying that witches don't exist?" I was like, "okay." 
Now, get me right when I say this, I'm not saying that members or Wiccans who answer witches don't exist. I want to get this clear, because, Sarah, Josh, I have to be clear. Whenever I'm discussing with Westerners where this issue comes, I'm not saying that Wiccans don't exist. When we say witches in Africa, we mean people who fly out at night and go and suck blood on the roadside. That's what we mean. And when we say do witches exist, that's what we are addressing. 
So for us at our organization, it is a myth. Nobody flies out at night while others are sleeping to go and sock blood on the roadside. Nobody flies out at night to go and poison people and kill them spiritually and all that. Now for you to ask me this question, when we are doing the campaign against witchcraft accusation means that you didn't even understand the campaign we're doing. So when this guy, when this [00:54:00] is a, is actually a lady that asked me this question, I was so demoralized.
Now, number two, there is also another organization, they call them child rights organization. They were doing this campaign. And we appeared before a TV program, and the anchor person asked me, " can they, can children and adults be witches?" I said, "no, children and adults cannot be witches, because they cannot fly out at night and suck blood or turn into birds and all that and all that. They cannot." This is my answer. 
Now, a colleague of mine who came from UK, you know, because when you come from UK and America, they give you a lot of respect here, even when you are talking rubbish, they keep respecting, you know? So they prefer to respect American or European who talks rubbish to an African who talks sense. Now let me give you how, let tell you what happened. So they asked this guy, "can children and adults be witches?" He said, "children cannot be witches, but adults could be." So we literally contradicted ourselves at [00:55:00] the TV. So the anchor person now, know, just faced me and said, "okay, look at what your colleague is saying."
So there is this kind of falsification. There's this kind of, neither here nor there, things people are doing. So there are organization doing it, but sometimes they don't have very clear, concise philosophy and positions on these issues. Now, I attended a UNICEF seminar in Nigeria, and now one of the judges who was at that seminar, you know, he said this, that, "look, children cannot be witches, but I believe there are witches and wizard." I told him, I said, "my Lord, this is under contradiction." He said, "oh, you have a, you know is your right. You can object, you can you, is your view and order." So there is always this kind of neither here nor there. 
UNICEF has released money. You know, you see UNICEF in New York will release money to address the problem of witchcraft accusation. The people who will attend the seminar will be strong believers in, in this distance, and they will [00:56:00] distribute their money and go home and continue their belief. What a nonsense, what a nonsense. While UNICEF will now tell you guys in their report how they have been addressing the problem of witchcraft accusation in Nigeria and the Africa. And when you read it, you say, "yay, they're doing wonderful work." But those who attend the seminars will come and tell you that they believe strongly in what UNICEF is campaigning against that, you know, and all that. 
So what am I trying to say is that there are organizations doing this work, but some of them are neither here nor there. They're doing it because they have been paid, they have released some money for them. They need to justify this money they're giving them, and they'll come and say something, even though they don't believe in it, they don't do it. Shallow, superficial campaign, they're running. 
And that is why I said at the beginning, Advocacy for Alleged Witche s is a protest organization, is a protest campaign. And this is what I continue to wage until we get a critical mass of Africans that can help us free this continent from this nonsense [00:57:00] and make sure that this vicious phenomenon, you know, is put in the dustbin, the same dustbin where the European Witch hunt is. Thank you. 
Sarah Jack: It is a vicious phenomenon. One of the things that Josh and I were chatting about before we met with you was about are cultures defined by superstitions? Do you find your world friends outside of your continent defining you by their own superstitions, by their, what they perceive as African superstitions? What do you do with the superstition part and culture part and perceptions of that?
Leo Igwe:  You see, culture is a whole pack of things. Like now you're saying superstition, religion, myth and all that, all this, but, you know, the real, real challenge when that superstition becomes a reason for an abuse. [00:58:00] Like now some people will tell you that women are weaker because women was created from the rib of Adam and Eve. That's Christians, now they use something for me that was mythical, because if for me, going by little I know, actually man came out of the woman, not the other way around. That's, that's my, that's what I think, you know? Cause that's what goes on. I don't know what went on many millions of years ago, but at least that's what I'm seeing today. You know, I was born of a woman. It's woman that gave birth to me. So what is this counterintuitive thing you're telling me? You know, uh, that, that women came out of a, of a man's rib or something like that. Okay. 
Now, when cultural claims or conceptions or narratives are being used to justify abuse, that is when I have issue with it. There are so many things people have, because it's not everything that we can really explain. And we have been, you know, so there are certain things [00:59:00] in cultures that you can say these are mythical or superstitious, cause not all that we know. But when it becomes the basis to justify the abuse of women, the abuse of children, the abuse of homosexuals, or the abuse of anybody at all.
Let me, let me not just be calling that, or Africans. Some people will tell you that, in order to, you know, we are Lot, you know, Africans and from Lot, they just come up with one biblical narrative to explain why we are black, and we know that there are scientific explanations in terms of the sun, in terms of genetics and all that. Now they will leave that. So we are using it to justify the degradation of human being. That's my issue. 
So, because culture is a whole pack of things, myth, superstition, religion, name them, science, all these you can bring in into that context. Now. Now let me also say this. The people who came to Africa had their superstitions, they had their religion, but you know what the made us here [01:00:00] to understand their own superstition was better than our own. Okay? And over the years, they drummed this in in their schools, in their health, over the radio, and of course the media, what they show us. 
So at the end of the day, a lot of Africans have this sense of inferiority, even when it comes to traditional superstition. But you see, they have that sense of inferiority when you're writing, not in practice. When they have problem, they resort to these superstitions. Cause that's actually what resonates more with them. Okay? So there is this complexity whereby people see that as primitive or barbaric, according to how they have been socialized by the colonial religions and those who adopted it. But in practice, they find a way of mixing it, especially since it sometimes helps them in making sense of their world. 
So for me, superstition is universal. You find it across cultures and you, and, but what [01:01:00] happens is this, for me, as a humanist or as a, as a skeptic, as a rationalist, I'm always looking at the intersection between superstition and human rights abuses. And that's where I say it stops. There has to be a limit. Okay? So I bring in limiting factors.
When it's intersects or when it tries to undermine certain basic values like human rights, like dignity of persons and all that, which sometimes, some of these superstitions are being used to justify. So that's exactly my take on it, yes, they're embedded in cultures, but when they try to justify abuses, then that's, for me, where I come with limiting positions and limiting sentiments. 
Josh Hutchinson: How do you go about changing a culture to remove those harmful beliefs that lead to the abuses? 
Leo Igwe: Yes. Tough one. Even [01:02:00] we discussed it today. Of course, they will always tell me, "ah, but you know, it takes time." I say, "how long does it take?" Sarah and Josh, look, how long did it take Africans to adopt sim card, all these cell phones, laptops? I mean, they announce it in the US, iPad or iPhone. Within weeks or months is here in Nigeria. We have many Nigerians. You manufacture cars, and within months, the cars are here.
Now, stop killing your parents and relatives in the name of witchcraft. They say, "ah, but you know, it takes time." I say, "how long did it take you to adopt the cell phone? How long did it take you to adopt the cars, and how long did it take you to start having virtual conferences, virtual internet websites, and things like that?"
So yes, I hear about this culture thing and changing it, but I also don't [01:03:00] want to hear, because in one sense, people change at a snap. Immediately something comes out there in your country, is right here within the next aircraft coming to Lagos or Abuja, has that very thing in it. Okay, good. Now, in another sense, somebody says, "oh yeah, but we need to, you know, it takes time."
No, it's an excuse. I dunno how they say it in English, it cop out something you are trying to use, in order not to follow the same rhythm you are following in other sectors of life. So what I'm saying is this, no. If we can connect on the internet and nobody says, "okay, please can we wait for another century before we can do this, we can go virtual and connect with people?" No, they don't do that. WhatsApp messages, WhatsApp code, they are doing it. Okay? Then when it comes to other issues, he said, "oh yeah, but you know, our cultures are different." 
Somebody was asking me yesterday, [01:04:00] "don't you know about African culture?" I said, "I don't know what you mean by African culture. You need to explain it to me. If African culture means believing in nonsense, I I'm not African, count me out, and if you think it has to be gradual, I'll tell you no, no, no. It will not be gradual. I did not, I did not ask that we take a gradual approach to doing this virtual meeting. Otherwise won't do it today. We may not even do it this year.
Okay, so why should we introduce the gradualism when it comes to other cases? When I want us to move very fast? I want Africans and Nigerians to join Europeans and Americans in post-witch-hunt phase of life. And somebody is telling me it's gradual. Okay? If it is gradual, please take the same approach in adopting the cell phones. After all, we shouldn't actually be using cell phones by now, because it had to be gradual also. So let up, in fact, lemme come with this. You know what, Josh, let make everything gradual. So the, the time we adopt the cell phones, then that's the time we'll also [01:05:00] adopt and stop witch-hunting, because they want to adopt one immediately. Another one, they say, "oh, it has to be gradual." Why? Why does it have to be gradual? 
So, what am I trying to say? Cultures change. Cultures are dynamic, but it is important that there should be people who push the boundaries. Yes. And that's what I want to do. Yes. That's what I want to use my doctorate. That's what I want to use my life. That's what I want to use my expertise to do, because people are dying. 
A woman, they, they killed a woman, cut open the tummy, put stick inside the vagina, private part, because they accused her of witchcraft, in October in Nigeria. In Malawi, some days ago, they pushed another woman inside the grave trying to bury her with the person, the alleged bewitched.
So how can we be gradual about this, Josh? How can we be gradual about this? I told them, lock these people up. Let that gradual thing, [01:06:00] let them be taking it in prison. It'll be gradual when they're locked up, when they're put in jail, not gradual we allow this people to be walking the streets freely. If somebody has now murdered the uncle just about a few days ago in Bauchi State, how are we going to treat it as gradual? And you ask him, he said, "you initiated my son." How? How do you initiate somebody into witchcraft? It's nonsense. Tell the person it's nonsense, and put the person in jail so the person gradually will live. Please. I agree. Let us go gradually, but let those people be in jail first. Okay. 
And let the people making this argument go back to the analog phone. They shouldn't actually use the phone by now, because it's going to be gradual. So that is it. So what am I trying to say? Are we using gradual to keep condoning atrocities? Are we using that argument to still allow witch-hunters to be going on our streets, criminals, murderers, to be given license to continue their murder? No, I disagree with that sense of [01:07:00] cultural gradual growth or development. No. Those people. No, I have moved on. I'm an African, like I tell them, but I have moved on, and I'm ready to adopt what I think is good and dignifying about life, whether it comes from outside or comes from inside, and move on.
I'm not part of the gradual thing that will want witch-hunters, because this is exactly part of the thing. They will tell us, oh yeah, but Africans are not Europe. We are. The same blood flowing in you is the same blood as flowing in me. I have the same sense of shock when people are killed or tortured, the way you do.
So it is sometimes even Africans use this to internalize their own racism, to be racist among themselves. "Oh yeah, but we are not Europeans." And you are what? Are you not a human being, but you fly the same European airlines. Why do you do that? Why not go with the witchcraft planes? I'm sure you people know that Africans, they believe in witchcraft planes, right? Witchcraft planes that are always on the ground. You can't see it [01:08:00] fly an inch above the ground. We don't need gradual approach to that. They should either make it fly, or they should put it in the dustbin of history. That's where it belongs.
Sarah Jack: You said you're ready to adopt what makes life good, and that's why people quickly adopt technology and are ready to take on the things that make their life better and good. So to stop the gradual effort they have, it has to be seen as something that is going to immediately make a personal goodness occur for them. And I was thinking about how you are working to get critical thinking to the students, to the young students of your country. And that's, that's a way.
Leo Igwe: You know what I have done over the years, I've been thinking how do I also put in place a mechanism that will weaken the grip of what you can call superstition, [01:09:00] especially superstition translated into action that harm other citizens. Okay. You can decide. For instance, I went to the U.S. They said they don't have a thirteenth floor. Okay? Yeah. In the U.S., they said they don't have a thirteenth floor. I was like, what? I tried looking for the thirteenth floor. I could not find it. I was like, okay, something is going on here, but it doesn't harm me. Does it? It doesn't. Okay. Yeah. They have it and you laugh about it and things like that. I don't have issues with that. 
But it's also important for people to understand that when you don't have a thirteenth, you have twelfth, fourteenth floor, you have to ask a question, what happened to the 13th floor? And you need a reason. You need a reason. And when they tell you something that sounds stupid or nonsensical, you tell the person, okay, yeah, you don't have a 13th floor, but you don't have a good reason for that, period. So what am I trying to say is that I was asking myself, "how do I also begin the process of weakening the grip of this superstition in America?" 
[01:10:00] Because the grip is so fierce that people respond in a snap, they have killed somebody, they have murdered somebody, with impunity. 
So I said, okay, it is important that I begin the introduction of the subject of critical thinking. Okay, so what did I, what did I do? How actually do you define this becomes a problem.
So now after going through. Do some research online and trying to understand how to approach it. Because here they teach you critical thinking at the university level. And I want to tell you, Sarah and Josh at the university level, people's minds are formed if people want to get certificate and go and get a job or marry and start family. People are so busy with some other things, they're not really interested in learning, per se. Okay. Yeah. So I said, "no, the approach is wrong. Can we begin a process to introduce this subject from primary schools?" Which is my focus at the moment, and I want you to go [01:11:00] hand in hand with the efforts to tackle harmful superstitions, because one of the elements here is this kind of dogmatism. 
I was in a car yesterday, somebody was telling me fiercely that they have a charm, anti-bullet charm, that they can use it on my body. I said, "don't use it on my body. Use it on your own. And then you later tell me how it has worked."
He was defending anti-bullet charm and was telling me that, "look, somebody can shoot you with a bullet, and it will not penetrate." I said, "the person did not shoot you, or he didn't shoot you with a bullet, maybe with water cannons or something like that. I don't know." So what am I trying to say? People are so dogmatic in their superstition, so how do you weaken it, their critical thinking, but how do you deliver critical thinking to primary schools in a way that they will also accept, like science in schools? So that was how I operationalized it. I came up with the idea of rewarded for [01:12:00] generating questions from in all areas of human endeavor. So there isn't something like a right question, wrong question, no. They are rewarded for generating questions based on what they see, what they thought, what they feel, what they taste, and all that. So we started with it, and it's going on pretty well. 
The critical thinking is an effort to respond in a popular way to this wave of superstition, dogmatism, authoritarianism. So that if people, if from primary schools, pupils are encouraged to question ideas, they're rewarded for questioning ideas, it will predispose them to not blindly accept what people say or what they are taught.
So that is what I'm doing in the area of critical thinking. It's still challenging, because we still need to translate that [01:13:00] into resources. We still lack the resources, because very often, when they're supporting you from the West, they want to dictate to the minute details what you do. I tell them, "no, give me some liberty to innovate. Give me some liberty to adapt program to suit the environment. Don't dictate as if I don't have a brain." Okay. That's exactly the challenge. So we are discussing ways that we can have that critical thinking to be adapted to suit the needs of Nigerians and Africans. Then non-Africans could draw from it insights, which they could also adapt to enrich their own critical thinking programs.
So this is part and parcel of what I'm doing. Apart from campaigning against witch persecution, we are also trying to put in place critical thinking programs, training teachers on critical thinking, and also having pilot schools where we do these programs, hoping that at the end of the day, a more critical thinking society [01:14:00] will be less disposed to persecute people in the name of witchcraft. They'll be less disposed to make accusations, and of course they'll be less disposed to take extreme actions like killing and maming of relatives in the name of witchcraft.
Josh Hutchinson: Thank you to Leo for speaking to the issues occurring in his country and other countries right now. Thank you for coming on our podcast. We hope that we're able to give you some kind of a platform to the best of our ability, and we hope that you find more platforms to get your message out there while you're still where you are needed and doing what you are doing.
We came out of our conversation with Leo changed, and one of those ways that I changed [01:15:00] is that I have more hope and believe that change can happen quickly, more quickly than I thought was possible. 
Sarah Jack: And he's, I'm telling you there's a need. Listen to me say that. Listen to me say there's a need and I have the plan. Support me. I heard him, that's what changed. I heard him say that. 
Josh Hutchinson: It's about hearing Leo and others and it's about getting behind them with the support that they ask for, because Leo knows what he needs. Other leaders in the area know what they need. They don't need people coming in telling them, do this and do that. They just need backing. They need some change to happen in the power structure in their countries to understand the urgency of the situation and to act [01:16:00] as befits that.
What I got from Leo was just, be bold. Be bold. Change can happen now. You don't have to wait for a culture to change for harmful practices to end.
Leo needs a voice. Give him your platform if you have one. If you don't, use your social media, use your power of conversation.
Do like Sarah's been calling us all to act. For four months, she's been calling us to use our social media to share these messages, to amplify these voices, to get out the word that needs to get out. And one of these days, that message will get to the people that need to hear it. And we're hoping that your voices will be part of that. 
Sarah Jack: And if you're doing that, we will see it and it'll get shared further, because every day we [01:17:00] are messaging and tweeting and putting posts out there. We want them shared and we wanna share what we find, and we look to see what's being said.
Josh Hutchinson: And follow Leo Igwe on Twitter and Facebook, you can find the Advocacy for Alleged Witches social media, and on Twitter follow @LeoIgwe, @LEOIGWE, as Sarah's been encouraging us all to do. 
The people in the affected regions should be the primary voices on this. Don't just listen to us, listen to Leo, listen to others like Leo. 
Sarah Jack: Help us amplify what they're saying. The more we amplify his message, the more time he can spend in person advocating. 
Josh Hutchinson: Help [01:18:00] us to give him a platform. If you have a platform that can expose Leo's voice and message to more listeners or viewers, we want you to reach out to him and his advocacy and give him a voice in the world. 
Sarah Jack: When you do that, you're giving a little bit of power back to the children and to the women that are being harmed.
Josh Hutchinson: We want to challenge all of you listening to just do what you can. Listen to what Leo has to say and then get him on your television show. Get him in your documentary. Get him on your radio station. Get him on your podcast, in your newspaper. Speak with him directly. Let him speak for himself. He's been directly [01:19:00] involved in trying to resolve these cases of violence against alleged witches, and he needs to continue to be involved and gathering other people like himself. More action can be taken directly in the locations where action is needed. Just elevate his voice.
Remember to tell your friends, colleagues, and everyone you meet about what you heard from Leo today. 
Sarah Jack: Support Leo's efforts and the efforts for the Advocacy for Alleged Witches.
Josh Hutchinson: Take action today and have a beautiful tomorrow. 
[01:20:00] [01:21:00] 

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