LABELLING OF CHILDREN AS WITCHES IN EKET, AKWA IBOM STATE, NIGERIA


LABELLING OF CHILDREN AS WITCHES IN EKET, AKWA IBOM STATE, NIGERIA  

ABSTRACT

ImageWitchcraft labelling, which is mostly associated with the aged, and which attracts ostracism and stigmatisation, is a common phenomenon in traditional African societies to address the question of social order. Existing studies have focused on adult witches and approached the discourse from the perspectives of power relations, social control, gender bias and occult economy, paying inadequate attention to the labelling of children as witches and its implications for social order in Eket, Akwa-Ibom state. This study, therefore, examined the conception of witchcraft held by Eket people, the raison d‟être for child labelling, its consequences on social order and the reactions of the community and organisations in Eket.

The study adopted Taussig‟s Commodity Fetishism. Ethnography was conducted at two levels: the Eket community and the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN), a centre for labelled children. Participant observation was undertaken at the CRARN centre and selected churches. In-depth interviews were conducted with 95 informants purposively selected from Eket: one paramount ruler, two village heads, two women leaders, 25 men; 25 women; five police officers, five parents of labelled children; five clergy, five members each from the three churches studied; 10 labelled children from among street children. At CRARN, in-depth interviews were conducted with 80 purposively sampled children and four key informants.  Data were analysed qualitatively.

In Eket, witchcraft was widely constructed in the form of behavioural deviation with familiars signifying witches. Labelled were individuals, considered to be maliciously evil, covertly jealous and resentful of others‟ good fortune. Children manifesting these traits were labelled as witches and abandoned to the street. Labelling was linked to profiteering on religious pretext resulting from exorcist activities for which huge sums of money were charged by the clergy in “prayer houses” as attested to by the parents of labelled children. It also latched onto familial instability, economic crisis and serial misfortunes. Labelled children blamed their predicaments on step mother‟s imbroglio which offered the readiest pretext to get rid of them. Sampled social workers affirmed that many poor parents used labelling to side track parental responsibilities to disavow their children and dispense with them. Street living, resulting from witchcraft labelling, constituted an aberration of order because it exposed them to child trafficking, separation from their families and deviant sub-cultures. The traditional rulers expressed the view that indiscriminate labelling of children defeated the original purpose of using witchcraft labelling for strengthening social order. While the community ostracised and tortured the children, CRARN responded positively by rescuing and rehabilitating them.

Eket child witch labelling, motivated by social, economic and religious reasons, and received differently by the community and CRARN, had exclusively negative effects on labelled children and bore dangerous implications for the Eket community. The extremity and mercenary dimensions of the practice defeated its traditional goal of preserving social order in Eket society.

Therefore, efforts such as those by CRARN should be intensified to rehabilitate the children and reconcile severed child-parent relationships.

Key words: Child witch, Social order, Child labelling, Street children, Eket Word count: 490

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title page

i

Certification ii

Dedication iii

Acknowledgements iv

Abstract v

Table of contents vi

Chapter One: Introduction 1

1.1 Background to the study 1

1.2 Statement of the problem 3

1.3 Research questions 4

1.4 Aims and Objectives of the study 5

1.5 Scope of the study 5

1.6 Study area 6

1.7 Significance of the study 10

1.8 Limitations of the study 11

Chapter Two: Literature review and theoretical framework 13

2.1 Introduction 13

2.2 The concept of street children 13

2.3 Categories of street children 13

2.4 Factors promoting street children 15

2.5 Public perception of street children 16

2.6 Labelling theory 16

2.7 Street child as a label 17

2.8 Social order 18

2.9 The belief in witchcraft 20

2.10 The perception of witchcraft in Ibibio literature 25

2.11 Witch hunt 26

2.12 Theoretical framework 30

Chapter Three: Methodology 33

Introduction33

Study site34

Research design37

Characteristics of the study37

Population sample37

ImageSample Procedure38

Data collection technique39

Method of data collection39

(a) Key informant 39

(b) In-depth interview 40

(c) Informal interview 42

(d) Participant observation 42

(e) Focus group discussion 43

(f) Photograph/audio and video recorders 44

Method of data analysis45

Chapter Four: Data presentation, analysis and interpretation 46

Introduction46

Statistical presentation of demographic data46

(a) Sex distribution of the informants 46

(b) Family Background 46

(c) Place of origin 47

(d) Reasons for being on the street 48

(e) Place of label 48

(f) Exorcism 49

The norms and values of Eket people49

Family disintegration, bedrock of labelling52

Economic reasons underpinning labelling55

Elites and religious profiteering57

The concept of a witch in Eket59

The role of the churches in detecting child witches62

Labelling process in retrospect: the means to capital accumulation77

Exorcism80

The dilemma of reintegration81

Chapter Five: Street life and reconciliation with the society 84

The culture of the street84

CRARN to the rescue88

Reconciliation efforts92

New developments at CRARN96

CRARN in public view97

ImageChapter Six: Summary, conclusion and recommendations 100

Introduction100

Summary100

Conclusion102

Recommendations103

References 105

Appendices 116

LIST OF FIGURES

1 Map showing Nigeria and Akwa-Ibom State. 7

ImageMap of Eket showing research sites. 34

LIST OF PLATES

1 Sign-post condemning the branding of children as witches. 35

2 Picture showing sideview of Child‟s Rights and Rehabilitation

ImageNetwork (CRARN). 36

3. Picture showing Showers of Grace Church 63

4 Picture showing Mount Zion Light House Full Gospel Church 67

5 Picture showing Tabernacle of Testimonies Church (Obot Iko Ntinse) 70

ImageLIST OF TABLES

Table 1. Sex distribution of informants 46

Table 2 Family backgrounds 46

Table 3 Place of origin 47

Table 4 Reason for being on the street 48

Table 5 Place of labelling 48

Table 6 Exorcism 49

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

ImageThe critical issue in this thesis is the alarming presence of street children at road junctions and on the streets of major cities in Nigeria. This development has drawn concern from all and sundry especially in regard to the fate of these street children. The volume of media reports and scholarly publications on the subject has increased (Cunha, 1992; Black, 1993; Anyuru, 1996; Ebigbo, 1996; Ennew, 1996;

Bibers, 1998; Dowran, 2006; Aderinto, 2007 and Akintunde, 2009).

The reason for this is that the phenomenon, particularly as experienced in Eket, Akwa-Ibom state of Nigeria, mirrors the magnitude of this social problem and the concerns about the instability of the social order. Hundreds of children in Eket have been labelled witches by „men of God‟ and are subsequently sent out of their homes by their parents unto the streets. This has led to high incidence of street children and has made children objects of public discourse in news and dailies. But there are other issues in the dynamics which have, ironically, a touch of the secularity and are connected with the egoistic and materialistic interest of man. The „men of God‟ have worsened the dimension of the soul problem when they labelled these children as witches and claimed to be acting on biblical injunction which says “suffer not a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18). They may consider it their duty to exorcise the spirit of witchcraft from the children but their engagement is not totally altruistic, particularly if the matter is considered in the context of the exposition of one Bishop Williams, popularly known as Ulup Aya. It was reported in The Nations newspaper of 14th May, 2009 that he claimed to have killed no fewer than a hundred children suspected to be witches. Also, he was reported to have charged between N2 Million and N4 Million for each case of exorcism, depending on the gravity of the problem.

Therefore, the children are on the street not only because they are labelled as witches but also because there is the existence of a culture of materialism pursued at the expense of the vulnerable children. This development stems from the prevailing avaricious religious practices that have engrossed the church and the society at large and that are deeply rooted in the obsession with monetary gain. This has initiated a change/shift in value and resulted in the unwholesome culture of commoditization of

everything, including the human body. Moreover, this now imparts on the way social relations are created and regulated in the society.

ImageWitchcraft among Eket people calls for urgent attention and intervention, because it threatens the lives of individuals as well as the corporate existence of the society, (Ekong, 2001). Thus, efforts are made to exorcise the spirit out of the accused at all cost. But, when this fails, rejection and abandonment become the next option. Those abandoned consequently seek out others who are similarly labelled. Eventually, these children constitute themselves into an association of peers that organize a deviant subculture that is antagonistic to the main culture. Such attitude threatens the fabric of the society and impairs social order. On the street, life for them is rough, particularly for Mary Sunday Udoh (personal fieldwork, 2010), a young girl of about sixteen years old. She had rough scars on her forehead that would easily draw the attention of any curious observer. The scars are the results of the ordeals she passed through, starting with her mother who poured caustic soda on her because she was said to have been responsible for the misfortunes that befell her family .The girl went through her movements across the various sociologically layered and subdivided groups in the society, negotiating her pain. She was eventually labelled a witch at Qua Iboe Church, situated at Oron, and was then thrown out unto the vulnerable and unprotected life of the street to fend for herself. Mary did survive this inhuman treatment but what about others?

One of the churches that have been linked to the child witch saga by the Nigerian press is the Liberty Gospel Church. It is a very popular church in Akwa- Ibom and Cross-River states of Nigeria, with headquarters in Calabar. The church was indicted in the popular documentary titled “Saving the African Witch children”. In the documentary, the producers alleged that Liberty films, a franchise of the church, produced a movie in 1999 titled The End of the Wicked, which graphically portrayed children as witches (Itauma, 2008; Harrison, 2008 and Foxcroft, 2009). Equally indicting the ministry is a book titled Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft, authored by Evangelist Helen Ukpabio, the founder of the church. In the book, she identified signs that characterize children (0-18 years) susceptible to witchcraft spirit. Some of these signs include screaming in the night, lying, stubbornness, possessing unusual boldness, and being destructive, like breaking of plates and glasses as well as other items in the house (Ukpabio, 2003:76). These (the film and the book) raised public consciousness about the existence of child witches. Subsequently, parents started to

observe some of the identified signs in their children/wards and to regard those who manifest these signs as witches to be taken to churches where men of God can pray and drive out the „evil‟.

ImageThis was the social climate in which fears of child witches emerged in Akwa- Ibom, only to be heightened by the experiences encountered in the prayer houses through the activities of men of God who capitalized on the charged social atmosphere to offer prophecies that finally indicted the children as witches. The most vulnerable ones of these victims were the domestic helps (a very common syndrome in Akwa-Ibom state, prior to the prohibition of child labour following the adoption of the child‟s rights acts by the state government) who, in the course of carrying out their domestic chores, might accidentally break utensils or destroy furniture in the house. These mistakes were counted as expressions of witchcraft. These scenarios motivated the choice for this research topic.

Statement of the problem

The issue of street children is one that was initially seen by scholars as an exclusively urban phenomenon (Ebigbo, 1996; Osemwegie, 1998 and Fakoya, 2009). It has, however, transcended the urban conception as a crime, and through such local nomenclatures as “Watoto wa mitaani” of Kenya, the “Moineaux” of Democratic Republic of Congo, the “Malunde”, “Malalapipe”, “Sksdukinders” of the Zulu and Afrikans of South Africa (Ennew, 1996) has assumed trans-cultural dimensions. In Nigeria, the “Almajiris” of the North, the “Agaba boys” of Calabar, and the “Area boys” of Lagos are street children who have made the street their permanent abode, and through labelling they tend to see themselves, and to act, in the light of the evaluation and responses of others, as dangerous. The danger inherent in their labelling is that they, as Becker (1974) observes, sooner than later, embarked on a “deviant career”; that is, on a course in which the labelled continue in the act for which he was labelled and graduate into various and varied scales of different, dangerous and disorderly acts. There on the street they create a sub-culture based on street life and device alternative ways of meeting their basic needs, which in most cases are antisocial. The subculture has so far marred the unity and cordiality that exists in the family as well as in the larger society since, molested by hoodlums and preyed upon by child traffickers, the children-society relations have constituted new risks and uncertainties. Soiled is the image of the community as it turns her posterity

unto the street and eventually loses the connection to its future through a wreckage of potentials.

ImageThis study turns its searchlight on street children‟s situation, for the purpose of developing a better understanding of street condition and, as well, engages in a robust debate on witchcraft in Africa. Literature is, no doubt, replete with several studies on street children from diverse disciplinary backgrounds as Sociology, Psychology, Economics and Education (Oloko, 1989; Ebigbo, 1996; Osemwegie, 1998 and Aderinto, 2007). Although, while they, undoubtedly, investigated the problem of the street child, the anthropological content of their research is little. This anthropological inquiry focuses on the category of street children otherwise called „child witches‟ which is yet to be examined in the growing literature on the subject. Literature is vast on witchcraft, but the scholarly discourse on witchcraft as a form of label, and the reticence of the involvement of children in the discourse of witchcraft among anthropologists, necessitates this study. More so, that literary view had been restricted to treating labelling as a sociological and/or criminological concept (Tannenbaum, 1938; Lemert, 1972 and Becker, 1974). In this regard, this study has become necessary as an anthropological investigation of this phenomenon with overt emphasis on culture. The study explores new dynamics in street children (the anthropological discourse of witchcraft labelling) as one primarily interested in investigating why children, rather than the aged, are the targets of witchcraft labelling in Eket. What is critical to this shift in focus is the concept of evil, as a mediating force in materialistic relationships and the driving force of subsequent labelling.

Research questions

This study is guided by the following research questions:

I. Why are children the objects of witchcraft labelling in Eket?

II. How do Eket people conceive a witch?

III. Why is the church, rather than any other institution, in the forefront of the labelling act?

IV. Is sending the labelled unto the street the panacea to the prevailing problem?

Aim and objectives of the study

The main aim of this study is to examine witchcraft labelling from the standpoint of evil in order to unravel the inherent capacity of labelling that can mar social order.

The specific objectives are to:

I. Examine the norms and values of Eket community and the extent to which the street children shared or deviated from them.

II. ImageExamine the concept of a “witch” held by Eket people, in relation to how norms and values are shared among the people.

III. Investigate the role of the church in detecting child witches, and examine labelling processes within the church and the society, and the implications of exorcising the suspects.

IV. Investigate the activities of labelled children on the streets and in the remand home and see if there is any difference.

Scope of the study

This study is limited to the investigation of child witches as it is practised in Eket to designate children abandoned to the street as a result of witchcraft label. The specific focus are male and female children between the ages of 2-18 years (statutory age) who are on the streets as well as in the institutionalized home, the CRARN (Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network) located at Ikot-Afaha in Eket, Akwa-Ibom State. The home shelters and cares for over 70% of the street children in the community; most of them have been labelled and were experiencing street life before they were rehabilitated.

It also covers three churches (prayer houses), which are located at Atabong and Afaha-Uqua quarters in Eket, and one institutionalized home (CRARN). The churches attract large membership, more as a result of being prophesy dispensing churches than as a result of anything else. They have been involved in labelling and a sizable proportion of the children on the street are connected to them individually or collectively. The churches have developed a sub-culture of their own, which is worth investigating and we have done so because they have become the rallying points for individuals and families seeking spiritual help to life‟s problems, particularly through prophecies.

ImageEket is chosen for this study because it gained popularity through the “child witch” saga, particularly in the wake of the broadcast that brought her to the fore of national and international scandals. The broadcast was by a British television channel, of a “C4” documentary titled “Saving the African Witch Children” sponsored by Stepping Stone, a UK based Non Governmental Organization (NGO).  The piece featured one Bishop Sunday Williams alias „Ulup Aya‟ (which translates as “there is nothing under the sun that I cannot do” in the native Mbo dialect) who claimed to have killed one hundred and ten (110) children said to have witchcraft. The same story was reported by Jike Obeta of the Daily Trust of 27th December, 2008 in an article titled “Nigeria Tackling the Witchcraft Question in Akwa Ibom State”. The self-acclaimed Bishop was arrested in May 2009 by the state government and charged to court where he is standing trial for alleged murder. To date, nothing substantial has emerged from the trial to deter others who engage in similar practices.

Study area

Akwa-Ibom is one of the thirty six states that constitute the nation, Nigeria. It is located in the costal south-southern part of the country as shown in figure 1 below. It lies between latitude 4°321 and 5°331 North, and longitudes 7°251 and 8°251 East, within a tropical region marked by two distinct seasons-the rainy and dry seasons. The landmass is 6,900sq km, and is bordered on the East by Cross-River state, on the West by Rivers State, on the north by Abia and on the south by the Atlantic Ocean. The state is made up of 31 L.G.As., and the capital is Uyo. There are three major ethnic groups living in it, namely the Ibibio, Anang, and Oron. The communities, taken together, have a rich culture that is sustained by abundant human and mineral resources. Akwa-Ibom is, in fact, one of the richest oil producing states of Nigeria, and that is why it is also known as „the land of promise‟, the land where new changes can occur in peoples‟ lives.

Image

ImageFigure1. Map showing Eket Local Government Area in Akwa-Ibom State (shaded area) (Source: Eket local government council 2010)

ImageEket is a serene and quiet town devoid of the heavy traffic and the boisterous atmosphere of big cities such as Lagos, Kano and Port-Harcourt. It is, however, not lacking in glamour, infrastructure and social amenities that are found in modern cities. There is a good network of roads, constant power supply of electricity, and a relatively dense population making it the second largest town in the state and the headquarters of Eket Local Government Area. It is located in the southern coastal region of the state, bounded in the north by Nsit-Ubium, the south by Ibeno, the west by Onna, and the east by Esit-Eket L.G.As. It lies within latitudes 40N to approximately 5035N in the North and from approximately 7040E in the west to 8030E longitudes in the East, in the hot tropical zone, with heavy rainfall. Eket people have their hometowns in Eket and Esit-Eket L.G.As, which in recent times have become a conurbation engulfing separate villages made up of indigenous ethnic groups.

The origin of Eket people is a matter of historical speculation/assumptions. Some scholars claim they were among the Jews (Israelites) who migrated when Moses led the people out of Egypt (Enodien 2008); others claim that they migrated from Cameroon during the great movement of the Bantu stock in Africa (Eket L.G.A. profile 2001). Whereas Eket claims to be a distinct ethnic nationality from the Ibibio or Efik (Enodien, 2008), most scholars would classify it as part of the major Ibibio ethnic group (Udo, 1983; Offiong, 1991 and Ekong, 2001). The researcher followed the path of those who see it as part of the major Ibibio nation because, culturally, there is no significant difference between the Eket and the Ibibio except for slight phonological differences in language. Eket people speak a dialect of Ibibio language known as Ekid which, realistically, is mutually intelligible to the Ibibios.

The political structure can be rightly described as a tripod, that is, as “abu ite enyi Ekid” (three central beams own Eket), embracing Afaha, Abighi and Atebi. The three are further divided into sub-clans of Okon, Afaha-Eket, Idung-Inan and Ekid- Odiong, among others. Eket is administered by a paramount ruler who, as one at the helm of affairs, oversees the clan heads under his jurisdiction. The paramount ruler and clan heads constitute the administrative council that legislates over the communities. There are village heads at the respective villages; they are subordinate to the clan heads. Each village appoints a chairman and secretary that assist the village head in carrying out his judicial functions. The headship of the various positions is by appointment, but succession rules are mostly undefined. This does lead

to rivalry and jealousy which fuels witchcraft accusations aimed at denigrating rivals among the nominees for appointments. Each family is headed by the eldest man of the extended family. The Ibibio cannot conceive of the nuclear family in isolation from the extended family because they have no single word for the nuclear family (Ekong, 2001). Minor disputations like thefts and quarrels are settled at the family level, but major issues such as the accusation of witchcraft are taken to the village heads to resolve.

ImageThe people are patrilineal, unilocal, or patrilocal, with large-knit web of relations comprising extended family. This large-knit web of relations, in some cases, results in conflict (Wilson, 1951) because the Eket, like other Ibibio which Offiong (1991) studied, accept that any departure from socially approved norms should incur the displeasure and vengeance of the ancestors who are believed to watch over the affairs of the living and they may be resistant to the expectations or the sanctions. There is a saying that “Ekpo akpaanyi, Ikpaha Utong” (the dead hears though their eyes may be closed); this, as a belief, influences the daily life of the people.

There are innumerable churches scattered around the city; many of which believe in the Holy Spirit (Edisan spirit,), who some thought inhabit the church altar where prayers and sacrifices are made to God. The pervasive fear of witches has bred deep sense of spiritual insecurity expressed in conversations, and necessitating several precautions to be taken within and around the churches. There is a high patronage of prayer houses, particularly those noted for prophecy and proffering solution to misfortunes, because of the deep-seated sense of insecurity arising from the fear of the known and the unknown. The high patronage most probably accounts for the desire to plant churches in every nook and cranny of the growing city.

Eket people are predominantly farmers, fishermen and hunters. As a coastal town with abundant rainfall, which could make all year round cultivation possible, agriculture is lucrative, but then there is a greater preference for white collar jobs, particularly from the high paying oil companies, and those provided by companies rendering supporting services to the oil industry. This development has, ironically led to increase in unemployment and poverty levels, as a vast number of people is left unemployed by the companies when they fold up. Some of the jobs are, in any case, temporal. Those displaced blame their predicaments on witches rather than employers.

ImageThe influx of various professionals and expatriates living and transacting business with the oil company and other affiliated companies located in and around the area has changed the complexion of the city life. The multiplier effect is felt on the socio-political, cultural and economic climates of the community through a commodity economy that is segregated in favour of the oil workers. Incidentally, as inflationary prices set in, living has become relatively expensive and competition for jobs has become intense due to few opportunities available for employment, thus mounting undue pressure on residents who have to struggle daily to meet basic needs. Since societal expectations are high in the new context and definition of success, it is a struggle of the “survival of the fittest”, forcing people to engage in routine tasks in the informal sector, and chasing limited conventional jobs outside the oil industry.

The busiest part of the town is the market/motor park area. It is densely populated. Living and working there are commuters, traders, pedestrians, cyclists, as well as numerous street hawkers. The crowd that throngs the city centre engages in both legitimate and dubious activities. Not unusual, there are hoodlums loitering around. The street children mingle with the crowd around this area in their bid to fend for themselves and, usually, by the evening when the beehive of activity begins to recede, and people retire home, they also retire to a sequestered part of the town such as the sports stadium and the Qua-river hotel premises and take shelter there.

Significance of the study

To conduct this study has always been my greatest desire, having lived in Eket over the years and come to appreciate the issues of insecurity in everyday life as expressed in conversations and prayers raised in churches. Lately, seeing children abandoned on the streets, brutalized, violated and rejected, on account of their supposed involvement in witchcraft, brought up the passion to study their culture. More so, personal efforts to relocate them from the street to orphanage homes within and outside the state have proved abortive, as they constantly escaped from those homes. Frustrated and discouraged, one resigned to fate, hoping and desiring a better date and way to get to the root of their problem. When the opportunity came for further studies, the researcher considered it wise to undertake the study of these children. The opportunity to come to terms with her feelings came with the consent of her supervisor, who equally recognized it as an issue of significance, and one that requires anthropological enquiry.

ImageThe problem of street children, it is important to emphasize, has drawn the concern of academics, government and non-governmental organizations, and the advocates of human rights, such as UNICEF (United Nations Children Emergency Fund), Save the Children‟s Programme funded by USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development), and others whose aim was to address the problem of abandoned children in order to eradicate the phenomenon or at least bring it to the barest minimum tolerable. This present effort complements the approaches as it explores the culture of labelling from the angle of a flourishing enterprise fostered by pastors, parents and the community leaders willingly or unwillingly. This will be of interest to policy makers and aid policy decisions on children. It will interest advocates of human rights and point to the need to intensify their efforts.

Akwa-Ibom state has adopted and signed into law the child‟s rights act which criminalizes labelling and stigmatization of children; yet the constant abuse and violation of the rights of children still persists. This present effort will contribute to the ongoing debate on the child rights acts enacted by the government, and move resolutions on the issue towards effective implementation by law enforcement agents and designated government agencies.

It will uncover the ills of labelling both for the children and the society and will underscore the repercussions of violating collective conscience. This will serve as an eye opener to children, parents/guardians and the community at large on the dangers of ignoring the insidious cleavage of the society by such acts.

Its focus on the involvement of children embodies a significant contribution to anthropological discourses on witchcraft. Its application of the concept of labelling to anthropological enquiry is a new dynamics that broadens the horizon of knowledge and enhances intellectual gratification. It will provoke discourse among academics, and be of great interest to the general public.

Limitations of the study

A major setback for this study is that the subject of witchcraft is one that people are less inclined to speak about with an „outsider‟ (non-indigene) due, probably, to fear and also skepticism. The typical Eket/Ibibio is cautious in revealing matters that border on security of life, and witchcraft is conceived as a threat to life. So, their responses to the questions were always with great restrain. More so,    the

„child-witch‟ scandal has tarnished the reputation of the state both nationally and

internationally. Akwa Ibom State might have adopted the Child Rights Acts and placed embargo on child abuse and stigmatization, but the matter, at individual and collective levels, still borders on state security and has to be approached cautiously.

ImageGenerally, eliciting information from some of the children, particularly those outside CRARN, was quite difficult as they were unwilling to discuss their experiences on the street. Even getting to meet some of them was very difficult, just as it was with meeting with the royal fathers and opinion leaders. Several attempts were made before the researcher could get an appointment with some of them. They all claimed to have busy schedules. Several visits had to be made to them, sometimes without any significant result. The fieldworker did succeed with some though, but in all, the ethnographic study was capital intensive as there was no grant to support the work and it was necessary engaging the services of research assistance and a translator who assisted in transcribing the recorded interview some of which were in the Ekid dialect. Finally, one must also hint that transcribing and presenting the information verbatim in the native Ekid dialect (the language of the interview) was difficult, as it posed a challenge establishing in written form the proper orthography for Ekid dialect from the formally written Efik/Ibibio languages. This barrier was bridged by the kind assistance of Mr. Udoh, who transcribed the interviews conducted and recorded the in Ekid dialect.

.

LABELLING OF CHILDREN AS WITCHES IN EKET, AKWA IBOM STATE, NIGERIA



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