OPINION: COVID -19 AND WITCHCRAFT: EXPLOITING THE CLIMATE OF FEAR AND UNCERTAINTY

A branch of the Foursquare Gospel Church has announced a four-day prophetic power crusade. The theme of the crusade is: Breaking the Yoke of Witchcraft. The prophetic service will take place in Nsukka in Southern Nigeria from April 23 to 26 2020. Authorities in Nigeria should be concerned about this religious service because it has the potential of spreading misinformation and panic in the community. This event is happening at a time of so much fear over the nature and spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The number of infections in Nigeria has continued to rise everyday and people are desperately looking for ways and means of containing the spread of the virus. At this time, many people are vulnerable, gullible and susceptible to taking any measures including witch hunting to stay safe, healthy and alive. Existing research has shown that witchcraft allegations happen more during a time of social stress and tension.

And Covid-19 has occasioned so much tension in the communities. It has provided a breeding ground for witchcraft imputation and witch hunting. The organisers of this church service want to exploit the pervasive fear and tension across the country.

They would get the people to buy into a spiritual and supernatural causation of the disease, and reinforce occult fears and anxieties. This church service is a mechanism to mine the uncertainty and anxiety in the society. It has the potential of inciting hatred and violence, and getting the church members to use the narratives of witchcraft to make sense of the spread of the pandemic.

Authorities in Nigeria should take appropriate measures to call the organizers of this prophetic power crusade to order.

*** Written by Leo Igwe.

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