I Thought I Was a Witch…

Children Accused of WitchcraftImage: SAFE CHILD AFRICA. I remember when I thought I was a witch. It was sometime in the year 2000 or 2001. My parents were strict and required us to stay at home always; unless absolutely necessary. They also didn’t encourage us to have friends or people over at the house. Maybe it was because of their strictness or the fact that we were always indoors but, my house became the hub for our friends and neighbors when they weren’t around. And yes, we had so many of them; especially me. When my parents were out, our friends would come over and we would have all sorts of craziness in the name of fun. If my parents knew just how many people came to our house and caused havoc when they were out, we would have been flayed. This is not to say that we weren’t caught once in a while. But they didn’t know just how bad it was. It was during one of these visits that a friend came to beat me in the house. Funny story. Omoh (fake name alert) and I were closer than most of our other friends. The group used to call us ‘husband and wife’. For some reason which I cannot remember now, we had a fight and stopped being friends. Then I heard that he was trying to tarnish my reputation and spreading lies about me. I got so mad and began to write a letter. By this point, I had just learned words like ‘scalliwag’, ‘nincompoop’ and the all-purpose French word, fuck. I peppered my letter with those words – and others like them – in what I thought was a take down of his entire existence. When I was done, I gave the letter to the same friends who brought the tale to me. Turns out my words struck a million nerves. He was so mad! What I didn’t know was that the letter had been read aloud in front of the rest of the group and with each ‘big word’ they saw, the guys would fall all over themselves, regaling in laughter. And then they would check the dictionary for the meaning and upon discovering what it meant, would break out in even bigger laughter. By the time they were done reading that letter, Omoh was in a rage. I had barely been told he was coming to beat me when he burst into my house brandishing a belt. He asked me to repeat myself if I dared. I was scared out of my skin but I was never one to show it. So I went, ‘I have said all I wanted to say to you. If you didn’t understand it, that is your concern.’ Wrong move. I felt the sharpness of the belt eating into my flesh just as the rest of the group decided to intervene. Maybe most people didn’t think it wouldn’t get to that or they wanted to see me get beat, which I think is what really happened, but the delay in their response sent me into a rage. I reached for him, hoping to throw a blow; even though I was not a fighter. I remember that the biggest guy in the group held me back as the others held Omoh. As I was kicking and throwing blows, I kept saying, ‘You don’t know me! I will show just who I am. This is the biggest mistake you have made in your life and you will so regret it. Get ready to face who I am.’ There was nothing I was going to do. I knew I was bluffing but I kept going. Heck, I couldn’t even tell my parents. They would have continued the beating from where he left off. But I was livid and kept going. In a way, I was thankful that I was held back. If they had let me attack, I most definitely would have run away. The fight was eventually broken and everyone went their way. I heard that Omoh planned to still beat me up in the streets whenever he saw me. I was scared of what would happen to me when I didn’t have other people protecting me. I know that I talk a big game but honestly, I don’t know how to fight; then or now. So when my mother sent me the market two days later, and I had to pass through his house, I was scared out of my wits. When I passed by on my way to the market and nothing happened, I was relieved; for a little while. I think the fear doubled when I was returning because I kept imagining him jumping out of nowhere to descend on me. When that didn’t happen, I finally breathed a sigh of relief when I got home. I was free! I had barely let out that sigh when another friend came in. ‘Oh girl! I dey fear you oh! Wetin you do Omoh?’ Even though he said it in a joking tone, I could tell that he was a bit wary; of me. I looked at him and wondered what he was about. ‘Omoh is sick. He has been lying in bed since that day that he beat you. What did you do?’ I looked at him and hissed. ‘He must be joking.’ I thought to myself. But he wasn’t. The rumor had spread that I had cast a spell on Omoh, which was why he was sick. It was then that it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen any of my friends since the fight. They were actively avoiding me! I felt so bad. So I included every one of them in the anger I was still smarting from. It wasn’t until the next day that a delegation of friends came to plead with me to forgive Omoh. I was shocked. What were these people saying? What could I possibly have done? ‘Remember as you were

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