Meeting Report

July 8, 2012

Leo Igwe

Human Rights Abuses in Africa

No one who hears Leo Igwe speak would doubt that he is a passionate man. The fifty or so people who attended this meeting can testify to that.

Mr. Igwe’s presentation was about human rights abuses in Africa. Having been born and educated in Nigeria, he naturally focused primarily on that nation while making it clear that several other countries in the region share the problem.

And the problem is that superstition encourages ritual sacrifice of human beings, mainly older women and children, the easiest targets of opportunity. Children are sacrificed in the belief that their body parts will bring luck or good health to someone. Women and children are murdered because someone accuses them of witchcraft. Sadly, even organized religions such as Christianity and Islam do not prevent these atrocities, but in fact either ignore or encourage them. And the governments seem helpless to stop them.

Then there’s the internecine warfare in Nigeria between the predominantly Muslim North and mainly Christian South. It seems that religion and other forms of superstition are a curse upon the nation of Nigeria.

This is where Mr. Igwe comes in: He is a humanist and human rights activist, he has been executive director of the Nigerian Humanist Movement, director of the Center for Inquiry Nigeria, the Western and Southern African representative to the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and currently serves on the Atheist Alliance International Council. At great personal risk due to the acrimony his activities arouse in the superstitious, he speaks out against all forms of irrational, harmful behavior in his country and on the continent. He has even taken a stand against gender discrimination in the law, a hot-button issue in much of Africa.

Thank you, Leo Igwe, for your inspiring presentation. I’m sure all of us in that room came away richer in understanding and empathy for the oppressed, because of your work.

Report prepared by Roger Zabkie

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