Leo Igwe speaks up once again for the universality of reason.
Whenever I try to apply logic, critical reasoning and scientific temper to issues during public debates, I am often accused of not thinking like an African. I am always told that I think like a white man or that I have a western mentality. As if critical thinking or the scientific outlook is for westerners alone or that critical thinking can only be exercised by people from a particular race or region. No, this is not the case.
Even in this 21st Century, reason and science are still perceived as western, and not African values. I have yet to understand how we came about this mistaken idea. Hence, it is often portrayed as if the African does not reason and dare not reason or that the African does not think or cannot think critically. It seems thinking like an African means suspension of thought, logic or common sense. Thinking like an African means not thinking at all- thoughtlessness or thinking in spiritual, occultic or magical ways.
For instance, whenever I try to challenge or question the irrational and absurd claims of witchcraft, juju and charms, and other ritualistic and religious nonsense that dominate the mental space of Africans, I am often reminded that my mentality is western. … Whenever I try to fault or expose the absurdity of witchcraft accusations or the persecution of alleged witches or wizards, many people often urge me to set aside this my oyibo (white man’s) mentality, as if critical thinking is the exclusive cultural preserve of white people while mystical thinking is for blacks and for Africans.
Full letter: http://thenationonlineng.net/web3/editorial/letters/23078.html
Meanwhile, in case there is any doubt as to the severity and pervasion of superstition in parts of Africa, Ghana awaits the verdict on six alleged killers in a “witch hunting” case.
Six people are currently appearing before a magistrate at Tema, near Accra, for allegedly burning a 72-year-old woman to death, in the belief that she was a witch. Earlier, the media had made fun of an elderly woman who, it was claimed, was “arrested” by villagers who claimed that she had “fallen out of the sky” after running out of “witches’ gas” on a flying expedition with her coven, and fallen under a tree.
In both cases, anyone with the slightest knowledge of dementia would recognise symptoms of the disease from the accounts given of the behaviour of the women. They were where they were not supposed to be, and when they were asked what they were doing there, they could not explain themselves. This is because dementia sometimes robs its victims of the ability to speak coherently.
The woman who was burnt to death, Madam Ama Ahima, hailed from Ajumako Assasan in the Central Region. She was found in a bedroom of a house in which she knew no one. She had alighted from a lorry at the wrong place and got lost. But she could not explain this and a mob soon gathered around her and subjected her to angry questioning. One of the questioners happened to be an “evangelist”, and the suggestion soon gained ground that she was a witch.