Battling Ignorance and superstitions

Posted by By at 16 February, at 19 : 39 PM Print

Battling Ignorance and superstitions


Two recent stories informed this write-up.


  1. “Drama unfolded at the Takoradi Market Circle on Tuesday morning when a strange crow was set ablaze by some traders and an evangelist who suspected the bird was possessed by witchcraft.

    Evangelist Nyame-Akwan of the Christ Healing Power Church and the traders poured ‘anointing oil’ (olive oil) on the crow amidst intensive prayers and speaking in tongues, around 1100 hours on Tuesday.

    Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview at the Takoradi Market Circle, Evangelist Nyame-Akwan said he daily goes to the market to preach and pray with some of the traders.

    In line with this routine, he said, God instructed him to ask the traders to fast for three weeks because of their complaints about poor sales in recent times.

    He said while they were praying, a strange crow flew frenziedly from nowhere and entered the stall of Mrs. Sophia Aggrey, who was praying with them.

    The evangelist said they initially became frightened but they gathered the courage and prayed fervently on the bird, which desperately sprawled and rotated on the floor.

    After the prayers, he said, they picked up the bird and brought it into an open place and poured anointing oil on it and set it ablaze with the hope that the person whose spirit it possessed would also die.

    The incident attracted a number of onlookers, some of whom shouted ‘anyen’ anyen, which means witch in Fante. Source: GNA (

  2. “A 72-year-old grandmother suffered one of the most barbaric of deaths when she was burnt alive by a mob at Tema Site 15 after being accused of being a witch.

    A student-nurse, who appeared on the scene, attempted to rescue the old woman from her ordeal but the woman died of her burns within 24 hours of arrival at the Tema General Hospital. 

    Five people who allegedly tortured and extracted the confessions of witchcraft from Ama Hemmah before drenching her in kerosene and setting her ablaze have been arrested by the Tema Police. 

    But the suspects, including an evangelist, denied the crime and claimed that they were rather praying to exorcise the evil spirit from the deceased, Ama, when the anointing oil they had applied to her body caught fire. 

    Two of the suspects are Samuel Ghunney, a 50-year-old photographer, and Pastor Samuel Fletcher Sagoe, 55, the evangelist. 

    The rest are Emelia Opoku, 37; Nancy Nana Ama Akrofie, 46, and Mary Sagoe, 52, all unemployed.

    Briefing the Daily Graphic on the incident, the Tema Regional Police Commander, Mr Augustine Gyening, Assistant Commissioner of Police, said about 10 a.m. on November 20, 2010, Samuel Fletcher Sagoe visited his sister (Emelia) at Site 15, a suburb of Tema Community 1, and saw Madam Hemmah sitting in Emelia’s bedroom at a time Emelia had sent her children to school. 

    Mr Gyening said Samuel then raised an alarm, attracting the attention of the principal suspect, Samuel Ghunney, and some people in the neighbourhood. 

    According to him, the suspects claimed that Madam Hemmah was a known witch in the area and subjected her to severe torture, compelling her to confess to being a witch. 

    He said after extracting the confession from Madam Hemmah, Ghunney asked Emelia for a gallon of kerosene and with the help of his accomplices, poured it all over the woman and set her ablaze. 

    Mr Gyening said a student-nurse, Deborah Pearl Adumoah, who chanced upon the barbaric act, rescued Madam Hemmah and sent her to the Community One Police Station, from where she was transferred to the Tema General Hospital, but she died the following day. 

    In their caution statement, the suspects denied the offence and explained that they poured anointing oil on the old woman which caught fire when they offered prayers to exorcise the demon from her. 

    The docket has since been sent to the Attorney-General’s Department for advice, while the body of the deceased has been deposited at the Police Hospital mortuary for autopsy.”  – Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana

It is incredible that in this age and time, we can still be reading these types of totally barbarous stories in our national daily.

If the first story was a comic that could draw from us laughter of scorn and provide us with some relief in these stressful times, the second story is most horrendous and should draw from us very loud condemnation.

How on earth could people, in this age of Internet and stuffs, find it within themselves to subject an elderly woman to that type of agonizing torture and death?

It has since emerged that the poor woman was visiting her son in Tema when she got lost as any elderly person could. Instead of helping the poor woman locate her child, the damned priest led a group of mindless youth to torture and eventually killed her! And the manner of killing, my gawd!

Why couldn’t the crazed priest find it within his Christian’s heart to give succor to the old woman? And why are our people still so ignorant as to believe nonsensical stories about witches flying though the night in search of blood to suck?

Sometime ago in my favorite city, Kasoa, I saw a large crowd of excited onlookers at the old Kasoa Police Station. On enquiry, I was told that a witch has ‘crash-landed’ somewhere in the market city (Kasoa means market in the Hausa language).

“What!” I asked, incredulous.

A young woman explained to me that a young lady from Takoradi has been dragged to the police station on suspicion on being a witch. The lady’s brother, who resides in Kasoa, and whom the witch (oops, the lady from Takoradi) was visiting had returned home and saw a Cobra by his doorsteps. He tried to kill the snake and the snake turned into his sister. The cries of the baffled young man attracted neighbours and passersby and busy bodies. Before long a sizable, excited crowd had gathered and they manage to drag the lady to the police station.

“Do people really still believe in the existence of witches?” I asked the narrator.

She gave me a long look before answering: “Of course, they do exist.”

I studied her face. She looked intelligent enough like someone with some education which left me completely baffled. If the lady was capable of turning into a snake, why didn’t she turn into something that would make her escape easy as not to be dragged to a police station in ignominy? Why didn’t people ask what type of strong drink the brother had been drinking?

The young woman looked like someone with some education and I know that education does not come cheap, so some good money must have been expended on this beautiful and educated lady, who still believe that witches not only exist but that they are powerful and that they rule the night and are capable of turning into Cobras.

I have no scientific proof but it looks like most of our people are firm believers in witchcraft. Although I’m yet to come into contact with someone who had actually seen a witch, many have their own witch-tales to tell.

For strange reasons, belief in wizardry is not as pervasive as that in witchcraft. There are many tales about old grannies who have been subjected to every form of indignities imaginable on the suspicion of their being witches. Being chained like chattel slaves and beaten mercilessly is among the most common form of violence meted out to old women, whose only crime was to be old and unable to express themselves adequately.

There are many illnesses that are common to older folks with Alzheimer and Parkinson among the most renown. Elementary Biology teaches that we lose not only our physical capacities, but many of our mental capabilities as we get older and our brain cells wither away. We get progressively less mentally and physically capable as we get older.

This simple matter of biology have been twisted and mis-interpreted in our unscientific society which is still being largely ruled by ignorance and superstition. And thieving and parasitical priests are cashing on this unfortunate situation big time. They took an old woman, beat and extract a ‘confession’ from her and with that, they killed her. And this is a republic which is supposed to be ruled by a duly constituted authority!

How on earth do people take it upon themselves to resort to this type of jungle justice? How would this idiotic priest feel were he to be subjected to such jungle justice? How would he react were his own mother to be so badly treated?

Parasitic priests will pounce on hapless people and subject them to very severe mental and physical torture and use the extracted ‘confessions’ to condemn them, sometimes to death. And we allow them to get away with every form of crimes because we are too afraid to speak out against ‘men of god.’

In our ignorance, induced largely by intellectual laziness and mental lethargy, we always look for easy answers. For us, scientific enquiry is a long, laborious, brain-taxing tasks, so we look for simple, irrational explanations for problems that could easily be explained in simple rational terms.

In our illiterate society where people find it difficult to read anything more serious than their Lotto papers and the dubious ‘Holy Books’ they carry around, we look for easy way out of everything we do. Most baffling is why we pretend not to know why our lives are all ‘basa-basa.’

We enjoy all the creations of modern science and technologies, yet we are not prepared to invest in creating anything. We want to pack the latest iPod, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry plus all the latest technological marvels in town, yet we do not ask ourselves what would happen if the other races are as somnambulant as we are.

We failed to realize that there will simply be no scientific progress if the rest of humanity is wasting its time the way we do in our useless supplications to the goblins of the air.

It is only in our society that we see professors of science and engineering asking for prayers or divine interventions to solve problems. It is only in our part of the world that political leaders ask us to beseech the almighties to solve purely temporal problems. It is only in our land that leaders waste time seeking the support of religious leaders in the affairs of state. It is only in our dear society that a president will constantly enjoin us to beseech the almighty for solutions to our worldly problems.

It is time we realize that organised religion is a fraud, a gigantic fraud. There might be or might not be a creator, but if it does exist, his creations should be able to relate to him without the intervention of all the con-artists who call themselves ‘men-of-god,’ – mere swindling, cassock-robed rogues who continue to prey on the ignorant.

Last year in The Mirror I lampooned a priest who said that he had gone to the Akosombo Dam to pray for rains. I wrote that the sciences of rains are too well known to require divine intervention and advise that the charlatan priest find better employment for his time.

This drew the ire of the Christians with many of them replying with their usual vitriol. Those that go around asking their father in heaven to forgive them as they forgive those that transgress against them, were up in arms against me. I wonder where the fraud of a priest is today when the Akosombo dam has so much water that some have to be spilled! He is probably somewhere peddling another money-spinning scam or praying for his god to come and help drain the Dam.

I say that we are courting serious trouble if we fail to call these fraudulent priests to order. It is not every one of us that has the temperament to wait for our slow-paced judicial system if confronted with these types of barbaric and savage attacks on innocent grannies.

Many citizens on Cyberspace openly vow to take the law into their hands if their relations are subjected to such barbaric action. We should understand their sentiments. I cannot guarantee to retain my sanity if my relation is subjected to a savage such like the one visited upon Madam Ama Hemmah – may her poor soul find peace in the bosom of the ancestors.

And what are all the Christian organisations doing? Is it not strange that no Christian leader has come out to condemn the actions of the mis-guided and deluded priest who led the assault on the innocent, poor woman?

A proverb says that it is the gourd will that provide the neck with which to hang it. I have said it several times in this column that the priests will soon overreach themselves and they will soon start to get their just comeuppance.

But we shouldn’t wait until mayhem happen before we take proactive actions to curtail the nefarious actions of the lawless and daring priesthood.

f there are no such laws, it is time our over-compensated and under-performing legislators justify some of their fantastic salaries by making laws that strictly regulate the activities of these charlatan priests.

Of course, the constitution guarantees religious freedom and freedom of assembly. What it does not guarantee are rights to assemble and commit egregious crimes like setting fire to human beings. What our constitution does not guaranteed are rights to disturb our neighbours’ sleep by chanting prayers to our gods in the middle of the nights.

We need laws to regulate this whole business of bible peddling. We shouldn’t wait until the parasitic priests become too emboldened before we call them order. A firm example should be made of this dastardly priest. The full sanction of the law should be visited upon his callous, if ignorant head.


About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and Correspondent for the New African magazine. Femi lives in both Europe and Africa, and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

He is also the CEO of Alaye Dot Biz Limited Dot Biz, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organisation that specialises in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

His highly-acclaimed books (“Africa: Destroyed by the gods,” “Africa: It shall be well,” “18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories” and “Ghana: Basic Facts + More”) are now available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:

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Femi Akomolafe


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