Articles

Welcome to our articles section. The articles below either have been written specifically for ButterfliesandWheels or are appearing here having been published elsewhere previously.

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iDoubt: Critical Thinking and Active Humanism in Africa in an Internet Age

Jul 9th, 2017 | By Leo Igwe
The need for critical thinking in Africa cannot be overemphasized because it is in this region that some of the dark and destructive effects of dogma, superstition, and blind faith are most manifest.  The inability to question claims and beliefs is at the root of religious bloodletting, witch killing, and ritual murders that plague the region. Unfortunately, the spread of education, science and human rights has not succeeded in reorienting the people’s mindset. Pastors, medicine men, godmen and women continue to propagate bogus claims and prey on popular fears, ignorance and credulity. In Kenya; Prophet Owuor has reportedly resurrected a woman from the dead, while a traditional priest in Ghana sustained serious injuries while testing a magic bulletproof. In South Read the rest


Mythologized Cowboy as Anti-Immigrant Narrative

Apr 22nd, 2017 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

The Cowboy, along with the Llanero, Caballero, Vaquero/ Vaqueiros, Gaucho, Paniolos, Huasos and Drover, in the animals that they tended produced a large quantity of calories and vital nutrients per unit of labor/worker, even though it was very low per unit of land. In film and literature, one is so bound up in the mystique of the Cowboy that one rarely notices that they were producing a critical nutrient and calorie input that facilitated a significant transformation in the urban industrial complex from the 1870s on into the 20th century. As with the American Cowboy, the Vaquero, Gaucho and Drover were mythologized while their more mundane but more vital role as producers of food, was somewhat ignored.

Edward Abbey’s Brave … Read the rest



The Immigrants Who Fed Us and Made 20th Century America Possible

Apr 20th, 2017 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

The Cowboy, along with the Llanero, Caballero, Vaquero/ Vaqueiros, Gaucho, Paniolos, Huasos and Drovers produced in the animals that they tended a large quantity of calories and vital nutrients per unit of labor/worker, even though it was a very low per unit of land. In film and literature, one is so bound up in the mystique of the Cowboy that one rarely notices that they were producing a critical nutrient and calorie input that facilitated a significant transformation in the urban industrial complex from the 1870s on into the 20th century. As with the American Cowboy, the Vaquero, Gaucho and Drover were mythologized, while their more mundane but more vital role as producers of food was somewhat ignored.

In a … Read the rest



Cowboy – an English speaking Vaquero? – Hiding in Plain Sight!

Apr 19th, 2017 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

There is no more iconic American figure than the Cowboy. The generic English language terms when combined have lost their original meanings as  boys  possibly herding or milking a cow. Most anywhere in the world, the term cowboy refers to that ironically American (U.S.A. American) figure.

In recent years, there has been an upsurge in seeking to define the “real.” On the very extreme right is the American Renaissance which seems to believe that the real America was created and sustained by native (native in the sense of those who began coming to these shores in early 1600s and not those natives who were there to greet them) white English-speaking males. (See for example – Rep. Steve King warns that Read the rest



Anti-Bullet Charms and Destructive Power of Superstition in Africa

Mar 29th, 2017 | By Leo Igwe

The recent case of a traditional priest in Ghana who was fatally wounded in the process of testing his supposed anti-bullet charms has once again illustrated the dangers of superstitious beliefs in Africa. This incident has amply shown the imperative of skeptical thinking and scientific outlook in the region, and the fact that a dearth of critical temper could damage and shorten the lives of people. Nana Tolofasito, the traditional priest, claimed to have spiritual powers and went ahead to test these powers. He asked somebody to shoot him with a gun in order to demonstrate the efficacy of his anti-bullet medicine. He sustained serious injuries from the gunshot because his so-called medicine could not protect him. Fortunately, the bullet … Read the rest



Violently Ideating About Punching Nazis

Feb 2nd, 2017 | By Anonymous

Disclaimer: If “Nazi” can be considered shorthand for actual “fascist”, then I’ve punched a Nazi. More than once. More than one Nazi, actually.

This sounds like braggadocio and I’m not sure how to convey it any better, but the reality of it all is, like a lot of violence, actually rather pathetic. A couple of years after some of the horrible incidents mentioned in my last anonymous guest post, during which I was probably dealing with undiagnosed PTSD, the brother of an acquaintance decided that I needed to take responsibility in protecting white women – namely my mother – from being raped by black men.

In practice, this supposedly meant that I needed to accept Nazi Bro as my … Read the rest



Gender Equality and Misogynistic Islam in Nigeria

Jan 15th, 2017 | By Leo Igwe

The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar (lll) has made it clear that hatred, inequity, injustice and discrimination against women define the Islamic establishment, which he represents in Nigeria. This was evident in his reaction to the gender equality bill that is currently going through the legislative process at the Senate.

For some time now, there has been a debate on the status of women in Islam or under sharia law in Nigeria. There have been conflicting views and opinions on the issue. This debate, often provoked by issues regarding family inheritance and marriage in muslim majority states, has led to confused notions as to whether men and women are equal in Islam or if Muslim men are more equal than … Read the rest



Tomb Raiders Ride Again: National Geographic’s Breaking News

Nov 21st, 2016 | By R. Joseph Hoffmann

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. …. He is not here.’  Mark 16.6f.

Whether or not National Geographic has found where they “really” laid the body of Jesus is a hot and controversial topic right now.  But right or wrong, it is certain that he keeps popping up.

First the good news for believers:  Diggers (let’s not call them archaeologists) working within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem have discovered what they claim is the tomb of Jesus.  Again.  It seems … Read the rest



Donald Trump faces the Chinese Century

Nov 14th, 2016 | By R. Joseph Hoffmann

“All politics is local. Greatness isn’t.”

It doesn’t matter how it happened now. It happened. And now Donald Trump, the least qualified man ever to be nominated for or elected to high office in America, an untested and completely unworthy president-elect, elected by ¼ of the eligible electorate in a year when nearly 50% of Americans preferred to stay home and watch it unfold as a reality TV extravaganza, this same Donald Trump will be President of the United States. Why? Because Americans, we are assured, love change. It doesn’t matter what kind of change. Change with bacon and cheese crumbles is best. But any change will do.

This is an essay about change. I live in China where change … Read the rest



African Woman but Not Religious

Oct 31st, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

She is from Ndola in the self-proclaimed Christian country, Zambia, but currently, Cynthia lives in one of the European countries where she works as a school teacher. Not too long ago, Cynthia came out as a non-theist. She has joined the growing number of African women who openly and publicly identify as non-religious. I spoke to Cynthia some months ago and she narrated to me her tortuous journey from religion to irreligion. It is a journey that took this brave, thoughtful and curious woman across different Christian denominations but also across continents.

Cynthia was born into a ‘religious’ family in her native country Zambia and had a religious upbringing. The mother was a Seventh Day Adventist, and as a child, … Read the rest



Stopping Olukoya and Witch hunting in UK Black Communities

Sep 6th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe
Stopping Olukoya and Witch hunting in UK Black Communities

Witchcraft related abuse is a very serious problem in African migrant communities in the UK. There is documented evidence that these abuses are linked to activities of African pastors and African initiated churches. Unfortunately efforts to address this problem are bogged down by concerns over racism, minority rights and abuse of religious liberty. We should not allow such concerns to distract us from addressing this problem.

Vulnerable members of the African migrant communities in the UK, particularly children, are at risk of being tortured and murdered by relatives who accuse them of witchcraft. Many of such horrific treatments in the name of witchcraft go unreported because victims are often defenseless infants, and the abuses take place in the name of Read the rest



Hajj Controversy and the Imperative of a Secular Nigeria

Aug 11th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

The reactions that have trailed the decision by the Buhari government to subsidize this year’s Hajj, despite the fact that the Nigerian economy is in recession, underscores the necessity of separating church (mosque) and state. Last year, President Buhari announced the discontinuation of state sponsorship of both Muslim and Christian pilgrimages as a cost cutting measure. He made it clear that stopping state funding of pilgrimages would save some money that could be devoted to development programs.

But Buhari has refused to make good this pledge and his government has continued to subsidize pilgrimages and engage in these wasteful schemes. Now instead of seeing how state subsidization of pilgrimages, whether Christian or Muslim, is impoverishing the country and further destroying … Read the rest



For Our Tomorrow and For Their Tomorrow

Jul 23rd, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

To delegates from the host country Kenya, and attendees from South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Malawi, Tanzania and Burundi; thank you for the honour of inviting me to address this meeting and for giving me the opportunity to contribute to strategizing against witch hunting in the region.

In the past weeks, I have pondered on what title to give this presentation in order to capture the urgency of the situation: In the course of my search and reflection, a popular line by an English poet, John Maxwell Edmonds, caught my attention. It says:

When you go home, tell them of us and say:
For your tomorrow; these gave their today.

On a second thought, I said, look we are not … Read the rest



Death and Dallas

Jul 8th, 2016 | By Bruce Gorton

The Dallas shootings which claimed the lives of five people, and injured at least six others, were a long time coming.

That is not the same as saying that the cops who got shot deserved it, or that the shooter was justified, but rather acknowledging what has long gone on in America.

For years now we have been reading stories about black people getting killed by the police – and stories about the police getting away with it.

Tamir Rice was twelve years old when he was killed by a cop for playing with a toy gun in a park.

The shooting was deemed “reasonable” by outside experts.

Freddie Gray was arrested for having a switch blade, in a Read the rest



Youths and the Imperative of Humanism in Africa

Jul 6th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

Humanism has become a necessity for Africa and for Africans particularly for young people across the region who are struggling to make sense of life and existence.  Youths are critical to any human endeavor because they are the agents of hope, continuity, change and promise. Without young people, any society or initiative will go into extinction. Without young people, there is no future for humanity. So, it is with Africa and the humanist movement in the region.

Africans are not exposed to humanist ideals and values very early in life. This is why the meeting of young humanists in Nairobi, from July 22 to July 24, is a welcome development. Young Africans who are atheists, agnostics, and freethinkers will convene … Read the rest



Buhari: Breaking Ramadan Fast at State Expense

Jul 3rd, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

In Nigeria, politics is tied to religion. The State, Church and Mosque operate like conjoined twins. Efforts have been made to separate them with marginal success. Section 10 of the Nigerian constitution which says that ‘No part of the Federation or State should adopt any religion as state religion’ is a paper tiger because it seems to be of no import and has no practical effect or impact on how Nigerian politicians conduct state affairs at least by the incumbent presidents.

Any time that section 10 is invoked it is usually by the aggrieved ‘religious party or politician’, by the ‘marginalized’, ‘oppressed’ or ‘persecuted’ faith organizations that are negotiating for attention and space.

But as soon as some politicians from … Read the rest



Atheism in Ethiopia

Jun 17th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center has revealed that Ethiopia is the world’s most religious nation. According to this survey, nine-eight percent of Ethiopians thinks that religion is the most important part of their life. This development should not surprise anyone because Christianity and Islam are the dominant faiths in Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity accounts for most of the Christian population.

Though belief in God is pervasive, atheists, agnostics or freethinkers exist in Ethiopia and they are beginning to organize under different umbrella groups. Some of the atheist groups are visible online and they have Facebook pages, with hundreds and thousands of members, where they express themselves and socialize with people of like minds.

Recently … Read the rest



Selective Outrage: The Silence and Denial about Muslim Homophobia

Jun 13th, 2016 | By Adele Wilde

Fifty people were gunned down in a mass terrorist shooting in Orlando; USA. They were deliberately targeted by a Muslim man, Omar Mateen,29, because they were gay. Outrage and shock followed the shooting which has been described as one of the worst mass shootings in US history. I will leave the issue of the gun ownership laws in the USA to one side, which are definitely a big part of the problem.

However, since the news broke I have noticed yet again those on the Regressive Left; Muslims and Religious Right, stating that ‘we should not ‘exploit’ the crime and talk about Islamic homophobia. As Hassan Raza put it:

If one thing that stays consistent every time there is

Read the rest


Beheading a Woman for Prophet Muhammad in Northern Nigeria

Jun 6th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

Some bloodthirsty Muslim fanatics, who wanted to please Allah by all means and get into the good books of Prophet Muhammad, have been on a rampage in Northern Nigeria. The savage quest by those who are drunk with ‘Allah delusion’ and who are desperate to inherit the phantom paradise that was promised to the Ummah in the afterlife has been on obvious display in the past weeks. The Mujaheddin of northern Nigeria have been on the loose and the horrific consequences of their actions are graphic and glaring.

The criminal silence of the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, the Kano state Governor, Umar Ganduje, and the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi 11, is deafening and sends worrisome signals about the threat … Read the rest



Blasphemy and Killing in the Name of Islam

Jun 4th, 2016 | By Leo Igwe

The recent murder of a Christian trader in Northern Nigeria who was accused of blasphemy underscores the threat of Islamic extremism and the fact that Muslims with a Boko Haram mindset are not only in Sambisa forest. The mob reaction that led to the burning of churches and looting of shops shows that this murderous act enjoyed a wider support amongst the local Muslim population. This is unfortunate.

People may interpret what the Christian trader did in any way they can; there is not justification for this horrific killing and other cases of religious bloodletting in a civilized society. It is difficult to understand why any Muslim could decide to take the life of a fellow human being for making … Read the rest