Nigeria: Anja Ringgren Lovén – founder of Land of Hope, and Nsidibe Orok – the Director of Child Development, took Michael on a home visit last week. Land of Hope is a leading NGO battling to safeguard the thousands of children in Nigeria accused of being witches.
The NGO stated that Michael’s mother was pregnant when they visited her in 2020. She was in despair and told them, “I am tired of life. The suffering’s too much.”
While outlining the tragic story of Michael, Anja Ringgren Lovén said, “When Michael was born, he was the second child. A few years later, Michael’s mother gave birth to her third child, a boy. When Michael was seven years old, his father died, and Michael was accused of being a witch. To accuse children of being witches has become a way to explain misfortune and hardships such as death, divorce or illness in families and communities.”
“Michael was beaten almost to death but escaped. David and I were alerted about the case, and we rescued him. This is nine years ago today. While in our care, Michael’s mother found a new man and gave birth to two girls. Life has become even more difficult with a new man and four children to care for. It is very tempting to blame Michael’s mother for all her hardships and desperation to survive. Why give birth to more children you cannot feed?” added Anja.
She said that before anyone points fingers, it is important to understand that women in Nigerian stay at the bottom of the social hierarchy and added, “Women are reduced to second-class citizens, and if the pastor in your village or the village chief ( all men ) tells you that your husband died because evil spirits possess your son, there is absolutely nothing a mother can do to protect her child.”
She said that this is why home visits are so important. When the family and villagers see the incredible transformation of their children, it undermines the level of scam and brainwashing done to them by the pastor, witch doctor or other villagers.
“Superstition and gender inequality in Nigeria are important to highlight if we want to understand why women are forced to accuse their children of being witches. If someone is to be blamed, the Nigerian government has failed to protect its people,” stressed Anja Ringgren Lovén.