Concerned students at the University of Nigeria Nsukka are meeting this weekend to discuss the topic of witchcraft. In an apparent display of true studentship, they want to revisit the topic of witchcraft.
The title of the event is Who is Afraid of Witchcraft? The Advocacy for Alleged Witches and the Basic Rights Counsel Initiative are facilitating this interactive session. The program presents an opportunity for the students to debate the topic of witchcraft and correct the impression that witchcraft is a taboo idea that sends fears down the spines of Nigerian (christian)students. Last November, an academic seminar on witchcraft generated so much controversy following protests from christian students, and opposition from the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. The protests forced the organisers to change the venue and theme of the event.
Incidentally it was not all students at the UNN who opposed the conference on witchcraft; not all christian students bought into the idea that a seminar on witchcraft was an open invitation to the forces of evil and darkness to the campus. Many students were worried by the gradual erosion of the culture of debate and critical examination of issues in our universities. They were perturbed by attempts by religious authorities to dictate what is to be discussed on campuses.
Thus this seminar is a significant development. First it presents an opportunity for students to freely exchange ideas on a topic of so much academic value and social relevance. The event is an occasion for the members of the university community to reclaim their academic heritage and show that curiosity not panic, courage not anxiety, critical examination not dogma and blind belief, are veritable dispositions towards the topic of witchcraft in a university setting.