Friday, May 22, 2009

Horror and Superstition in Africa

If you didn't already know, many countries in Africa have very serious problems with murder and oppression carried out in the name of superstition. Not the least of these is Gambia, where brutal dictator Al-Haji Yahya Jammeh, who insists on the honorific "His Excellency President Professor", has destroyed the lives of most of his country's citizens. Not only does he spread ridiculous and deadly misinformation about herbs and bananas being able to cure AIDS, threaten to behead anyone found to be gay, and plaster his disgusting portrait over every surface he can find, but he's also apparently commissioned gangs of soldiers and witchdoctors to roam the countryside and violently root out people suspected of being witches. In what sounds like a scene from Eyes Wide Shut gone horribly wrong, red-robed figures accompanied by gun-toting soldiers have been forcing people out of their homes and to undisclosed locations where they're forced to drink some kind of hallucinatory concoction. According to Amnesty International, at least six people have died just from drinking this potion, and many more may have been killed trying to escape their captors. Sadly, this isn't a surprising development on a continent that seems to have violent superstition flowing in its veins. Enter the Center for Inquiry, which has set up a new initiative to combat ignorance in Africa and provide a reasonable, secular alternative to murderous magical thinking. You can learn more about this initiative here. If you haven't already, this is an excellent reason to donate to CFI. The situation in Africa can seem hopeless, but it's a small comfort to know someone is trying to make it better. More details about Gambia here.

Blog Archive