THE SOCIAL ECONOMY OF CHILD WITCH LABELING IN NIGERIA: THE CASE OF AKWA IBOM STATE
By Uwem Essia
This paper set out to analyze the social economy of child witch labeling in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Such an exercise is needful because Akwa Ibom State has, in recent times, made news, locally and internationally, over the rising spate of child witch labeling and its popularization by pastorprophets of deliverance ministries. Child witch labeling incapacitates the accused children, and generates waves of suspicion and counteraccusations that depletes the social capital required for self sustaining development. The paper agrees with earlier researches that the religious discourse of the new Pentecostal movement, which generally attributes failure and misfortunes to Satan (witches), has heightened belief in the existence and potency of child witches, but goes further to analyze the social diseconomies of child witch labeling; it victimizes the accused children and renders many of them permanently incapacitated, the pastor-prophet and others who legitimize child witch accusation are often victimized through counter-witchcraft labeling, and society suffers when more people abandon hard work to fight witches. Based on findings gathered from focus group discussions (FGDs) conducted in Eket, Ikot Ekpene, and Uyo Local Government Areas (representing the 3 senatorial zones of the State), the paper submits that since the religious discourse of the pastor-prophet and deliverance ministries have enormous impact on how Akwa Ibom people think, enlisting their support through regular educational and reorientation programmes is key to dealing effectively with child witch labeling.
Keywords: Social Economy, Witchcraft, Protestant Ethic, Child Witch, Pastor-Prophet, Deliverance Ministries, Pentecostal Churches, Misfortunes,
JEL Classification: A14, D63, K42 Download