Connect with us


Blood-sucking women, Penis-theft: Myth or return of sorcery?




By Alhassan A. Bala

Around August – September, 2023, rumor of a gang of blood- sucking women spread across northern Nigeria to a frightening level.

The alleged syndicate, comprising mainly of women, were said to be entering residential areas and communities either asking for water to drink or restroom to use, but that their benefactors would suddenly lose their consciousness and blood, leading to their sudden death.

The event, mostly reported on social media, was alleged to have happened in Katsina, Kano, Abuja, Niger, Bauchi and Sokoto states.

In Nigeria, this can be a new issue, but for people in other parts of Africa, it is as routine as sunrise, because, in 1948 to 1949, when Malawi experienced its worst famine, people believed that bloodsuckers were moving about in cars and vans at night.

The onslaught only ceased after cars were burnt and a curfew imposed by the village chiefs.

Similar rumours re-emerged in 2002, a year in which Malawi experienced erratic rains and hunger. In certain southern districts, villagers became so afraid of mysterious blood-suckers that they left their fields unattended, while suspected vampires were violently targeted. This resulted in mob justice by villagers on suspected strangers. One killed and three others badly injured as it was reported.

There were two similar issues between the blood-sucking gang in Malawi and the one in northern Nigeria; all happened when people were going through a devastating hunger and economic hardship. Secondly, the major target were all strangers.
Authorities in most states affected said that the allegations had been investigated by the police and were found to be unsubstantiated rumour fabricated with the sole aim of promoting hate for strangers.

The issue of blood sucking women wasn’t completely over when a similar one, involving penis theft re-emerged.

A penis-theft typically involves four stages:
first the “victim” has an odd encounter, such as a stranger unexpectedly shaking his hand. Second, is the sensation of feeling of an electric shock or chill traveling to his genitals. Third, he checks his crotch and becomes convinced his penis, testicles, or both have been stolen or shrunken. The fourth step is crying “Thief!” and enlisting others to confront the suspect, sometimes with the “victim” stripping on the spot to prove his genitals are gone.

There was a time when men walked around grasping their penises to prevent theft!

Issue of penis theft is not only a Nigerian thing; in fact it happened in 14th Century in Europe.
An evil woman took a man’s penis and stored it in a bird’s nest, along with a brood of other stolen members, which she fed with oats.
After a long quest, the man found the witch and demanded that she return his manhood. She told him to climb a tree to find the nest filled with squirming penises, and take whichever one he wanted.
When he tried to take a big one, she said, “No, that one belongs to a priest.”

This story, told in the Malleus Maleficarum (1486), the most popular witch hunting manual in history, encapsulates the crime of witchcraft: witches were women who literally unmanned men. And penises pop up everywhere in witch trial records.
A witch had a lot of power over the penis. Witchcraft could make a man impotent, but only with a certain woman. A witch could turn a penis invisible, transforming an innocent man into a Ken doll. Or she might steal it completely and treat it like a pet, storing it in a box and feeding it grains.

In 1997 about seven men were killed in Ghana over alleged penis-theft.
In 2008 in Congo, urgent messages went out by radio to avoid strangers wearing gold rings in taxis, leading police to put 13 suspected sorcerers into protective custody to prevent lynchings.

In Nigeria, it is often believed that individual genitals were stolen for ritual and occultic purposes.

Although there are many theories to the issue of blood sucking and the penis theft, the former which medical experts say there is no way blood can be removed without using technological equipment, while for the latter; Kramer and Sprenger believed that penis theft was a genuine psycho-medical phenomenon.

Whatever the case it may be witches or sorcerers were usually feared, and they used a variety of means to attempt to achieve their goals, including incantations (formulas or chants invoking evil spirits), divination and oracles (to predict the future), amulets and charms (to ward off hostile spirits and harmful events), potions or salves, and dolls or other figures (to represent their enemies).

Witches sought to gain or preserve health, to acquire or retain property, to protect against evil spirits, to help friends, and to seek revenge.

The two issues may possibly be a sign of how sorcery (tsafi) is gradually eating deep into the society.

I was once traveling to Kano which I couldn’t get flight and needed to be in Kano that very day, I sat at the front seat of a car, around 8:30am we were already in Kaduna heading to Kano discussing about religion, to my shocker, the driver told me that he did not believe in Islam and Christianity as he is a follower of the African Traditional Religion (ATR).

Luckily during my university days (100-200 levels) I offered a course on African Traditional Religion, which made me to have a little knowledge about it, we had a very understanding conversation as the guy said he studied Political Science.

He claimed that very soon the ATR followers will demand official recognition because in universities, public offices, national ID, International Passport etc, there is no room for them to identify themselves.

He insisted that the number of people that believe in ATR is at the increase saying that they believe their forefathers were more protected by what they believe then now.

The recent events, although many see them as myths, but Islam and Christianity believe that voodoo and sorcery exist but the two religion are against them.

The emergence of the two events shows how some people are gradually returning to the act of sorcery for a reason best known to them.

It is high time people intensify their daily morning and evening prayers of protection against all evil including acts of sorcery by some
elements in the society.

Bala writes from Abuja and can be reached via balahassan2007@gmail.com


Dr. Idris Abdulaziz Dutsen Tanshi: A Case Consuming Ego Interferring With Reason



Idris Abdul'aziz Dutsen Tanshi

Na’Allah Muhammad Zagga

“Knowledge can be dangerous. Smart people can do monumentally stupid things. Intelligence can be put to a bad use. But this doesn’t mean that knowledge and intelligence are to be avoided. It means only that they need the proper accompaniment–wisdom.”
~Tom Morris.

Even Tanshi’s worst enemy cannot dispute the fact that he is colossally learned. So, why he is so isolated by other scholars, including his own fellow Izala brothers? Sheikh Idris Abdulaziz Tanshi achieved distinctions in all his scholarly studies in prestigious universities in Saudi Arabia.

Why should such a great scholar become such a controversial figure? To say he is learned is an understatement. His is a case of virtue spoilt by style. I have not come across a preacher with penchant for insulting other scholars as Dr. Idris. He hardly acknowledges the knowledge of other scholars. He uses his platform to engage in name calling. He spares no one.

No how do you attract people to Islam by using your knowledge to scare rather than inspiring others? Over 90 percent of his preaching is dominated by name calling. He publicly calls Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi and Prof. Pantami nasty names. His latest altercation is with his own Izala brothers. He openly insults Sheikhs Bala Lau and kabiru Gombe.

If we go by Islamic history, the Prophet Mohammad had used wisdom and personal examples to inspire and attract people to Islam. He demonstrated incredible refinement in his attitude towards others. He had never used foul language to address even his own enemies, those who disagreed with him or those that mocked him. He demonstrated patience and emotional intelligence in his interactions with others.

Incivility was not in the character of Muhammad. How can you openly call other people’s faith into question day after day without making needless enemies? He unapologetically calls Dariqa members kafirai. Dr. Idris Abdulaziz Tanshi talks as if your salvation depends on his approval; he behaves as if he controls the keys to heave or paradise!

It’s high time Dr. Idris Abdulaziz humbled himself and do a soul-searching on his own way of doing things. Leadership requires composure, patience, calmness and remarkable comportment. Don’t inspire your followers with uncultured behaviour or encourage them to insult others. Respect is the foundation of relationship at any level. You can’t belittle, vilify and insult other scholars without creating needless enemies.

Vanity can destroy even great people. Vanity is like Vodka. It intoxicates and intoxication impairs our reasoning ability. No man is an Island. The most dangerous delusion is the spirit of self-righteousness. A self-righteous person is like a patient who believes he is in perfect health, despite all the dangerous signs of his condition. He argues even with his own doctor, despite the fatal consequences of his own obduracy.

Continue Reading


Climate Change’s Stealthy Impact on Health-Faith John



Faith John


Maiduguri, the heart of Nigeria’s Borno State, is silently grappling with an adversary that’s affecting more than just the environment – climate change. The rising temperatures and erratic weather patterns might not scream catastrophe, but their toll on public health is undeniable.

The increasingly hot days are more than just discomfort. They bring a surge in heat-related illnesses, from heat exhaustion to heatstroke. Vulnerable populations, including children and the elderly, bear the brunt of these health risks.

Changing climate patterns influence the spread of diseases. The city has seen an uptick in diseases like malaria and dengue, as rising temperatures create favorable conditions for disease-carrying vectors.
Water scarcity resulting from droughts and shifting rainfall patterns leads to unhygienic water sources and a higher risk of waterborne diseases, jeopardizing public health.

Another risk faced is air pollution from extended droughts which leads to respiratory issues, affecting both children and adults. Dust and air quality pose a growing threat.

For the past few weeks, Maiduguri have experienced haze weather known as harmattan haze during the season typically between November and February. Harmattan haze is caused by the movement of dry, dusty air from the Sahara Desert. This haze can have several effects on health.
Respiratory Issues: The fine dust particles in the haze can irritate the respiratory system, leading to symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and worsening of preexisting respiratory conditions like asthma or bronchitis.
The haze can reduce visibility, making travel and outdoor activities more challenging and potentially increasing the risk of accidents.

Dust particles in the air can cause skin dryness and irritation. Additionally, they may lead to eye irritation, including redness and discomfort.

Increased Vulnerability to Infections: Prolonged exposure to haze can weaken the body’s natural defense mechanisms, potentially increasing susceptibility to respiratory infections.

To mitigate the health effects of Maiduguri’s harmattan haze, individuals can take precautions such as staying indoors during peak haze hours, using air purifiers, wearing masks, and staying hydrated to help soothe irritated respiratory passages. It’s important for local authorities to issue health advisories and take measures to reduce the impact of haze on the population.

The health implications of climate change in Maiduguri are crystal clear. Urgent measures are required to protect the health of the city’s residents. We urge the government to invest in healthcare infrastructure, public awareness campaigns, and sustainable practices to mitigate climate change’s impact on health.

Maiduguri’s fight against climate change is more than an environmental struggle; it’s a battle for the health and well-being of its people.

Faith John
University of Maiduguri

Continue Reading


Low Birth Weight” Impact on Newborns




Faith John

The significance weight of a newborn carries more than mere numbers on a scale. Low birth weight, a silent but profound challenge, casts a shadow over the promising dawn of infancy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) sees low weight as weight at birth less than 2500 g (5.5 lb). Low birth weight continues to be a significant public health problem globally and is associated with a range of both short- and long term consequences. Overall, it is estimated that 15% to 20% of all births worldwide are low birth weight, representing more than 20 million births a year.

At the forefront of concerns is the vulnerability of these infants to a myriad of health complications. From respiratory distress syndrome to developmental delays, low birth weight amplifies the risk of a spectrum of issues that can cast a long shadow into childhood and beyond. The fragility of underweight newborns demands vigilant medical care and heightened attention to safeguard their well-being.

Cognitive development, a cornerstone of a child’s future, stands at the crossroads when low birth weight enters the narrative. Research suggests that these infants may face a higher likelihood of cognitive impairments, affecting their learning abilities and academic achievements.

Low birth weight babies are more likely to have health problems later in their lives. These issues may be related to also being born prematurely, or to failing to get the nutrition they needed at critical times during their gestation. Early intervention and treatment are critical to helping growing kids develop normally.
The goal of the World Health Organisation is to achieve a 30% reduction in the number of infants born with a weight lower than 2500 g by the year 2025. This would translate into a 3% relative reduction per year between 2012 and 2025 and a reduction from approximately 20 million to about 14 million infants with low weight at birth.
WHO’s Member States have endorsed global targets for improving maternal, infant and young child nutrition and are committed to monitoring progress. The targets are vital for identifying priority areas for action and catalysing global change.
As medicine allows smaller and more prematurely born infants to survive, we see these children developing a range of health outcomes. Some have no illnesses or negative outcomes at all, while others continue to have slower growth, more illnesses, and other problems throughout their lives. Babies with low birth weight born into situations where they are at risk socially or economically are more at risk for health problems

About 80 percent of low birth weight infants suffer some long-term side effects, from impaired immune systems or lung problems to learning disabilities, behavior problems or even cerebral palsy. About 20 percent of premature and low birth weight babies go on to have no health problems at all. However, parents of all low birth weight infants must provide good nutrition and health care throughout childhood to ensure the best outcomes for these children.
Advances in medical science, coupled with proactive healthcare measures, offer a beacon for positive change. From innovative interventions during pregnancy to specialized neonatal care, the healthcare landscape is evolving to provide tailored solutions for newborns on the lower end of the weight spectrum.
The societal response to low birth weight must transcend the confines of the clinic and extend into communities, fostering a culture of awareness and support. Education on prenatal health, access to nutritional resources, and destigmatization of preconceived notions surrounding low birth weight are vital steps toward a more equitable start for every child.
Governments and health practitioners can play pivotal roles in addressing and reducing low birth weight by Investing in accessible and affordable prenatal care services, ensuring that all pregnant individuals have timely and comprehensive healthcare throughout their pregnancies.
Health practitioners should emphasize the importance of early and regular prenatal visits, monitoring the health of both the mother and the developing fetus. Implement programs that focus on improving overall maternal health, including nutrition, mental health support, and lifestyle guidance. Educate women on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle before and during pregnancy, addressing factors such as proper nutrition, regular exercise, and avoiding harmful substances.
Governments should work towards reducing socioeconomic inequalities that contribute to disparities in birth weight. This involves initiatives that improve access to education, employment opportunities, and social services. Ensure that healthcare facilities are adequately equipped to provide specialized care for low birth weight infants, including neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and trained healthcare professionals. Health practitioners should receive ongoing training to stay updated on the latest advancements in neonatal care.
By adopting a comprehensive and collaborative approach, governments and health practitioners can significantly contribute to the reduction of low birth weight, fostering healthier beginnings for the next generation. Thanks to the WHO Global nutrition target which is aimed at reducing low birth weight.

Faith John Gwom
Department of Mass Communication
University of Maiduguri

Continue Reading


%d bloggers like this: