Oluwatooni Akanni

Oluwatooni "Tooni" Akanni (Gideon Foundation): Tooni was born in Nigeria and raised in Minnesota. She received her BA in Psychology and African Studies from the University of Minnesota in 2008. At the time of her fellowship she was pursuing her Master’s degree at New York University Center for Global Affairs, concentrating in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance. While at NYU, Tooni also interned at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund. After her fellowship Tooni wrote: “This fellowship has been a life changing experience for me. I see the world in such a completely different way. My field experience can be a book all by itself. I learnt so much information in such a short time in Uganda. What I've learned within this fellowship is invaluable and priceless and it’s something you can't learn from the books or in the classroom.”



My visit to the local police station

25 Jul

Don’t be fooled by the title. No, I wasn’t arrested. I just decided to embark on a friendly visit to the local police department to inquire more about child sacrifice and their efforts in combatting this issue.

Despite not having an appointment, I was able to use my persuasive skills to get an interview with Officer Peter Oduko, who is the Community Liaison Officer in the Soroti district.   Officer Oduko is in charge of all the community welfare including any issues related to child sacrifice. During our interview, Officer Oduko was able to answer some of my pending questions and elaborate on the efforts the department is doing  to help sensitize the information of child sacrifice. Nevertheless, Officer Oduko answers to my questions were extremely brief and short. And after the interview, I was even more confused on what the Uganda Police Force (UPF)  are doing to help bring an end to child sacrifice

Listed below are a few of the questions  I asked Officer Oduko:

Why does child sacrifice exist in Uganda?

Child sacrifice is correlated with economic success. The reason why so many Ugandans seek help from witch doctors is simply to achieve financial prosperity. Those who are entrenched in poverty become very desperate and will resort to seeking advice from a witch doctor.

What are the elements of child sacrifice?

There are three types of individuals that are involved in child sacrifice. The witchdoctors- these are the main players within the rituals. They are the ones who are responsible for executing the sacrifice rituals. The witch doctors believe that the ancestral spirits talk to them and order them to carry out these rituals in order for them to please the gods. The Agent- these individuals are asked by the witch doctors to abduct a child for sacrifice. They can either be family members, neighbors or even friends of the victim. The agents deal directly with the witch doctors. And lastly, the victims.

What evidence is needed to prosecute a perpetrator?

There needs to be proof that a child was murder and the purpose of the murder was for child sacrifice. In order words, for the police to arrest a perpetuator there needs to be evidence such as the militated body parts of the victim.

Why are children generally targeted for such ritual practices?

When it comes to witchcraft practices, the purity of a person is considered to be stronger.   Thus, children are targeted more often than adults for ritual practices because children are considered pure to the gods by the witch doctors. Another reason why children are targeted also has to do with the fact that they can be easily lured by the “agents” compare to adults.

What are the police doing to help combat child sacrifice in the Soroti district?

The UPF informs the community by sensitizing the information to them by 1) partnering up with the radio station and having radio programs that addresses the issue of child sacrifice.  2) going into the community and holding meetings about child sacrifice. 3) producing articles on child sacrifice which is then distributed within the local community.

Here’s a short clip from my interview with Officer Oduko:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LwPwxa6Qhk&feature=plcp

The Flag of Uganda by the office

 

View of Soroti

Children playing football by the roadside in Soroti

Posted By Oluwatooni Akanni

Posted Jul 25th, 2012

3 Comments

  • Andrew

    July 25, 2012

     

    Interesting, I didn’t know that most people go to witch doctors for economic success. Is there a difference in the severity of sentences between “just” murdering a child and murdering a child for child sacrifice? Are there such thing as “repeat” agents, or people who regularly obtain the children for the witch doctors? Have you seen any evidence of the type of actions Officer Oduko talks about in the interview?

  • Annah

    July 25, 2012

     

    Rock on, Tooni!

    Are parents sacrificing their children or are children being abducted for the purpose of child sacrfifice? Also, do you have any idea how common this practice is? How many children per year are sacrificed?

    Finally, aside from the three things the policeman said they do to combat child sacrifice, are they actually prosecuting individuals who commit such acts, particularly the witch doctors? I would imagine the witch doctors would not be that hard to find.

    Hearts,
    Annah

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