Help a Nigerian Humanist Study Witch Camps

Leo Igwe is one of the good guys. He lives in Nigeria and he’s studying the “witch camps” of Northern Ghana. Basically, women who are accused of being witches are expelled from their villages — and if they’re not lynched, they may end up in these camps.

But how do these camps operate? How are they administered? How did they come about? And how do the accused end up in them?

There’s no good answer to these questions. So Leo has set out to answer them:

“The consequences of witchcraft accusation are dire and diverse,” says Igwe. “Those accused of witchcraft are often subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment by states and non-state agents. They are feared and treated as enemies to the society. Those alleged to be witches are attacked, exiled or lynched by mobs, forced to drink concoctions by local diviners or traditional medicine men and women, subjected to abusive treatment in the name of exorcism by pastors and other god-men and women, persecuted and jailed by the states. Some of those accused of witchcraft who survive the ordeal are then exiled from their homes are forced to live in camps or on the streets. Witchcraft accusations are at the root of egregious instances of human rights abuses and social problems across many regions of Africa. They fuel hatred, conflicts, and mistrust in families and communities across Africa.”

The Foundation Beyond Belief (which I work with) has given Leo a $2,000 grant to pursue his studies, but he could still use more funding. If you think this is a worthwhile cause, you can donate to his project right here.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Gordon Duffy

    I just listened to him being interviewed on The Good Atheist podcast yesterday and you cannot miss his passion and commitment to this issue. He is definitely one of the good guys. 

  • A3Kr0n

    We do that right here to some extent, too. Why do you think the FFRF mails Freethought Today with a plain cover? Why do you think I comment anonymously?
    I’ll listen to the podcast now. Thanks Gordon!

  • Larry Meredith

    soon as I read “Help a Nigerian…” I thought Hement fell for an email scam.

  • Jim Deakin

    If anyone’s interested, BBC World Service has a program on this. Called ‘No Country for Old Women’ on Sun 2nd Sep, at 22:06 and on Mon 3rd Sep at 02:06 . I suspect that’s in BST rather than GMT. It’s only a 25min program.

  • Matt E

    I am in complete awe of African atheists and humanists. They are such a tiny minority carrying on the fight in such desperate conditions, in cultures over run with superstition that is being whipped up by the Catholic church and evangelical churches. These churches use the indigenous superstition, misogyny and homophobia the prey upon and gain converts among the people. I salute Leo Igwe and his fellow humanists and atheists in Africa.

  • allein

    He was on Freethought Radio not to long ago, too. (July 16th podcast)

  • Sam

    Talked about this on Ask an Atheist this week, as a capstone of our “good news” episode.   Hooray for the Foundation Beyond Belief!

  • Drew M.

    Yep. The joke writes itself!

  • Marco

    Hemant, if I can make a suggestion, there are some very worthwhile causes to raise money for  and other initiatives that really should be advertised on this blog on a regular basis.

    For instance, right now I don’t have any money to donate to Leo, but I will in a week or two. Since I often forget what I had for lunch, it is not impossible that by the time I get the extra money I’ll have forgotten.  ut if you could have a simple list of links with a brief explanation to the right and then a page with all the current causes, I think it would help a great deal. You could call it “Atheist giving” or something similar.

    It could also be a great place to publicize petitions or events. 
    I see you have the camp QUest donation widget to the right. That’s great. Maybe below it you could link to other causes as well in a simple



    By the way, the camp quest widget is cut off on Chrome (and probably elsewhere). That’s because the width of the iframe is too narrow. It should be written like this:

     src=”″ flashvars=”color_scheme=red” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” wmode=”transparent” width=”230″ height=”250″

  • kaydenpat

    I’ve read about little children being physically assaulted/killed for being “witches” in various African countries.  All the best to Mr. Igwe.