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Nigeria: Turn Off The Dark

If you wake up your great-great-grandfather and tell him that someone went to the moon, he will think you have gone crazy. But American astronauts did that in the 1969 Apollo mission.

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If you wake up your great-great-grandfather and tell him that someone went to the moon, he will think you have gone crazy. But American astronauts did that in the 1969 Apollo mission.

They also returned in 1972. One of the things American astronauts found out about the moon is that it is older than the earth. A piece of the moon that they brought back to earth dated many years older. So the moon is not a part of the earth that broke out as was once thought.
The moon is always showing the same side to the earth. It rotates on its axis and at same time turns around the earth. Since only one part of the moon has been explored, the unknown part is still a mystery that fuels many speculations. Among the speculations is that the dark side of the moon contains wires and electronic boards that prove that the moon is a satellite of some Unidentified Flying Objects, (UFOs).
What is no longer a speculation is how moonlight shines on earth on certain nights. When the earth turns, it places different areas of the world on a direct view of the sun. These areas see daylight. The areas on the other side see darkness. When the moon is at a position where the sun’s rays hit its surface and the reflection lands on those parts of the earth that are in the dark, we have moonlight.
That phenomenon is what Russian scientists are trying to make use of in an astonishing experiment. They want to turn off the darkness anywhere in the world with just a remote control.
This is how they plan to do it.
Russian scientists plan to mount a giant mirror on the moon. After the construction of the International Space Station, they plan to transport pieces of the mirror to the moon.  When assembled, the mirror will capture the rays of the sun by convergence. It will reflect the rays of the sun onto the dark side of the earth. And darkness will go away forever.
That is a fascinating possibility for me. But not for 14-year-old Comfort Sunday of Akwanga, in Plateau State, Nigeria.
Comfort’s ordeal started when she returned home from a brief holiday and found out that her grandfather, who had been ill for a while, had died. She wept over the death of her grandfather because he loved her. The next day, her aunt came home from Abuja where she worked. She arrived with a pastor. The pastor told the family that Comfort was a witch and a member of a secret club and that she was the one who killed her grandfather.
Comfort’s father believed the pastor. Together with his sister, they queried Comfort. They pressed her for a confession but she told them she did not know anything about secret cults and witchcraft.
Comfort was ordered to return home from her maternal grandfather’s place where she was staying and attending school. Two weeks after her return, her brother took ill. Her father immediately said she was the one who caused her brother to be ill.
The next morning, about 4.00 AM, her father asked her to follow him to the village. Like a good girl, she got ready and they started to walk to the village. When they arrived at an uncompleted building in a secluded area, her father who was carrying something in a bag asked her to sit down.
Here is the rest of the story as she told it to the Vanguard Newspaper.
“At that point I became afraid. He looked at me and shook his head. He then started folding his trousers. He then opened the bag and removed a container with some liquid in it. He poured some in a cup and gave it to me. He said if I was a witch and I drank it I would vomit. That If I was not, I would not vomit.
“I said I was not a witch. I took the cup. I first tasted it with my tongue and the thing burnt my tongue. So I refused to drink it, and I poured it away. He said I must drink it, but I refused. So he held me and we struggled.
“I started to run, and he was pursuing me. As I was running, he threw the liquid on my hands and my legs. I felt it burning my skin. I ran very fast, and then I hit something and fell. That was when he reached me. He grabbed and pulled me up, and I started begging him to have mercy on me. I told him that if I was a witch, he should take me to our Reverend Father to pray for me.
“But he dragged me back to the uncompleted building. When we reached there, he poured the liquid on me again. By now my hands and legs were burning and my back too. He said I must drink the liquid. I said I would not. He started forcing me to drink, but I refused.
“He was shouting: “You must drink this”! But I pleaded with him, saying: “I don’t want to drink it, please Baba “.
“When he could not force me to drink it, he splashed the liquid in the cup he was holding on my face. I started shouting. He poured some more on my body and I started running, not seeing where I was going.”
The acid disfigured Comfort. With the help of strangers, she made her way to her maternal grandfather’s home where she received treatment. This included rubbing engine oil on the wounds. As you might guess, Comfort’s father was released after a brief visit to the police station. Her father will not allow her to return home. Her step sister, who is a teacher, is threatening to set her ablaze if she returns. Even local church leaders were unwilling to help her.
The tears of children like Comfort all over Africa are the reason why God does not answer many of our prayers.
“The guilty one,” Victor Hugo said, “is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.”
Nigerians descend into deeper darkness in the 21st century is shameful. Pastors as well as witches need darkness to make a living. Without darkness, life on earth would be transformed.
For one, the witches of Nigeria will have nowhere to hide. And pastors who use witches to frighten ignorant members of their congregations will have to find something else to use to scare people.
N/B: A Version of this piece was first published in African-Abroad newspaper.

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