Pastor Enoch Adeboye claimed that he was alive today because a ‘witch’ saved his life many years ago. He made this statement as part of his New Year message to his congregants. In what appears to be an attempt to change the narrative of witch belief and distance himself from the pervasive demonization of witches and the destructive trend of witch hunting in the region, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God told his congregation early this year that a witch stopped him from eating some kola nut that would have led to his death.
In his sermon, Adeboye recounted a story which he told his children on how they used to take kola nut not coffee to stay awake at night. Then one day he said: “…the number one self-confessed witch in our compound, called me and said: ‘Dejare, why won’t you stop eating kola nut? The witch warned me to desist from what can lead to my death’”. Adeboye attributed this encounter to be an act of God: “I think God spoke through the witch and I can say God loves me”. So God loved Adeboye so much that he saved him through the craft of a witch.
Clearly, Adeboye used this story to send a message: that God could intervene in people’s lives through a witch and in fact, that God could use the witch to save a person from dangers and harm. Whatever might be the intention behind this forged testimony, the story does not change the witch hunting profile of Adeboye and his church. Instead, it reconfirms Adeboye as a believer in witches and a peddler of the notion of witchcraft as a force that could change or affect people’s lives.
Now let us take a critical look at this story. Adeboye said that a self-confessed witch existed in his compound. Now, what does a self-confessed witch mean? What makes a person a self-confessed witch? A declaration that one is a witch? What does confessing to witchcraft mean?
In fact, these details were missing in Adeboye’s witch story. Certain critical aspects were not highlighted in the sermon. These details would have put the story in proper perspective. Pastors often fabricate stories or distort real life experiences in order to pass across a message. At the end of the day, they make incredible ahistorical narrations appear credible. They make counter intuitive narratives seem as if they happen in time and space. Pastors make fake claims appear as facts, and get gullible minds to accept their concocted stories as truths.
For instance, pastors claim God talks to them, or that they encounter Jesus, the angels or satan, or as in this case witches or wizards. Do they? In fact, these so-called men and women of god invest imaginary entities such as angels, spirits, ancestors and witches with abilities and capacities which they do not have. Such as abilities to make people pass or fail exams, succeed in elections or in business. They market mystical idioms to their congregants who use them to make sense of their fortune or misfortune.
Witches are imaginary beings. Witchcraft, whether for good or ill, has no basis in science, reason or in reality. To claim to have been saved by a witch is a make belief. Unfortunately, when pastors such Enoch Adeboye, Sam Olukoya or Helen Ukpabio claim that witches perform saving or damaging acts, they give credence to absurd notions of witches and witchcraft.
Nigerians will not stop believing in witches, and persecuting accused persons. They will not cease using the idiom of witchcraft to make sense of their misfortune till pastors stop fabricating and using baseless fake stories of witches and witchcraft experiences in their sermons and preachings.