The HAMU supported project – Omuo Humanist Against Witch-Killing and Stigmatisation (O’HAWK) of the Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA) kick started its series of town hall meetings with the people of Omuooke-Ekiti and the Kota-Ekiti Youths. The enlightenment meetings tagged ‘Safeguarding Human Rights and Addressing Superstition for the Sake of Development’ were successful as they bore immediate fruits.
As the people of Omuooke-Ekiti celebrate the new yam festival with the traditional breaking of new yam by his Highness, Oba Valentine Otitoju, on Tuesday 30th July, 2013, the members of the community were enlightened on the need to protect ‘accused witches’ rights as failure to do so retards development. The people of the town who gathered in large number at the palace of Oba Otitoju were sensitised on human rights, evils of superstition and the quest for development in modern Nigeria. The message generated debate among the people as they were divided on the ‘supposed rights of accused witches’, however, the enthusiasm showed by some of the audience who volunteered to partner with the organisation on the promotion and protection of the rights of accused persons testifies to the optimism that the meeting would go a long way to affect the orientation of members of the community positively.
Earlier on Monday 29th July, the youths of Kota-Ekiti, a neighbouring community that shares border with Omuooke-Ekiti, were enlightened on the same subject by members of the organisation. The youths numbering about fifty four (54) at the NURTW Hall, Kota, the venue of the Youth Town Hall meeting questioned the appropriateness of allocating any rights to accused witches and the protection of such when the ‘accused witches’ are perceived as enemies of the good people of the community. Their question was however answered by bringing to their understand, the fundamental issue that the ‘accused witches’ are primarily human and so has the rights as every other humans regardless of what they are being accused of, and hence, their rights must be guaranteed and protected.
The youths who at the end of the enlightenment meeting showed appreciable understanding of the universal allocation of rights exhibited their understanding by volunteering. The meeting produced five (5) volunteers.
As a testimony to the success of the meetings, Major E. K. Ogunsakin (rtd), an indigene of Araromi Quarter in the area and a man considered as the custodian of “peoples’ rights” met and discussed with members of the organisation and promised his full support for the organisation on the project.
- By Seun and Babatunde (O'HAWK)