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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The Invisibility of Gender in the debate on Race and Violence

Jul 26th, 2013 | By Adele Wilde-Blavatsky

‘Just because Shaima Alawadi wasn’t killed by an American racist doesn’t mean that there isn’t cause for activist outrage.’ Blogger comment

Last week, from New York to LA, it was reported that thousands of protesters took to the streets to voice outrage over the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who was cleared of the murder of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. President Obama described the death of Trayvon Martin as “a tragedy”, but appealed for calm and called on Americans to accept the acquittal of the teenager’s killer, George Zimmerman. It is a tragedy. However, the level of public outrage, frustration and media coverage about the killing of a black man sadly says more about our current current double standards and … Read the rest

A Week in A ‘Witch’ Camp in Ghana

Jun 2nd, 2013 | By Leo Igwe
A Week in A ‘Witch’ Camp in Ghana

I just concluded a week long stay in Gnani ‘witch’ camp as part of my field work in the region. Gnani Tindan, as it is locally known, is one of those safe spaces where alleged witches and wizards fleeing persecution or execution can find refuge. Other ‘witch’camps exist in Kukuo, Gushegu, Nabule, Kpatinga and Gambaga. Witch camp is a traditional mechanism for containing and resolving witchcraft related crises in the region. In local communities, expelling an alleged witch or wizard is still currently observed as a traditional law and practice, as a measure to maintain social peace and order. One special feature of Gnani Tindan is that it has male refugees. Yes, it is a ‘witch’ camp with alleged wizards. … Read the rest

Breaking the Taboo of Atheism in Black Communities

May 4th, 2013 | By Leo Igwe

The black discourse is characteristically presented in polarized – black versus white or in a binary – black and white manner. The white factor is often construed to be the only frame – or better the principal dynamic – that defines, drives or makes the black text or the black talk meaningful. Personally I find this approach to be narrow, unimaginative and unscientific. It leaves so much unexplained about the black world and experience. This approach conflates so many issues including the diversity, dialectics and dynamism, the contrasts and contradictions, peculiarities, particularities and commonalities in black life, history and experience. Hence I find fascinating the possibilities of the emerging dynamic of atheism or the black versus god debate. But these … Read the rest

Skepticism and Freethought in Lagos

May 3rd, 2013 | By Leo Igwe

I would like to salute fellow humanists and skeptics, and other curious and inquisitive friends for honouring our invitation to the meeting of April 28, 2013 and for considering being there the best way to spend their time and observe their Sunday. Their presence was a clear indication that the idea of a skeptical Lagos of doubters, critical thinking and questioning individuals and groups was one whose time had come.

A day before the event, I was out in Sabo area distributing some flyers and inviting the people I met on the streets to attend this event. Interestingly some of the people whom I gave the flyers without looking or reading the content simply said “God Bless you”. Yes, God … Read the rest

Formation of reformatories and industrial schools

Apr 8th, 2013 | By Marie-Thérèse O'Loughlin

I would like to begin by summarising an overview of parts of a report into the historical background of reformatories and industrial schools in Britain and Ireland. The report laid out by *experts was requested by the commission to inquire into child institutional abuse (CICA), which was set up to deal with allegations of child abuse in Irish reformatories and industrial schools. Prominent survivors had raised their voices to tell Ireland and the world of the secretive systemic inter-generational abuse that occurred behind closed reformatory and industrial school doors. They demanded to be heard. Hence the instigation of the CICA by the then taoiseach, Bertie Ahern’s Fianna Fáil-led government. The Commission was thus established on 23 May, 2000, pursuant … Read the rest

The Necessity of Atheism: A New Agenda for Nigerian Youth

Apr 5th, 2013 | By Gilbert Alabi Diche


The purpose of this article is to (a) stress the need for the development of a more freethinking society, particularly among the Nigerian youth, so as to arrest the increasing intellectual aridity crippling our society; (b) offer some personal reflections on the nature of skepticism; (c) examine religious phenomenon in Nigeria and suggest a more robust secularist agenda for the country.

From 5-7 January 2007, the Sixth World Atheist Conference took place in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India. It attracted over 600 participants – atheists, freethinkers, humanists, rationalists, anti-superstition activists, and the like – from all over the world. The theme of the conference was: “The Necessity of Atheism”, which I have chosen as the title of my article. In … Read the rest

Women’s Day versus Islam

Mar 12th, 2013 | By Jahanshah Rashidian

Women’s Day on March 8 was declared by the International Socialists. In a conference in Copenhagen in 1910, it was declared an International Working Women’s Day (IWD). The idea was proposed by Clara Zetkin, a Marxist woman of the then Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).

The battle for equal rights of women to hold public offices, their right to vocational training, and an end to inequity in other conditions was the goal. Therefore as a historical day, Women’s Day is since commemorated and is a national holiday in many countries. It symbolises an age-old struggle of women of all ethnic, cultural and social backgrounds against the long existing gender discriminations further expanded by the Abrahamic religions from which Islam … Read the rest


Mar 9th, 2013 | By Marie-Thérèse O'Loughlin

Shunning Part I

There’s been a lot of talk lately in the blogosphere corners I frequent on shunning. It has prompted me to write a few thoughts on what shunning means to me personally. 
The very thought of the word absolutely sends shivers down my spine. Shunning is indicative of pure ruthless social rejection, a thing I grew up with in Goldenbridge. I also associate it with children who were very friendly with each other in the institution, who, alas, were severely mocked and jeered and separated from each other by staff. The latter called them ‘love birds’ then castigated and shunned them. There were also children who were different from others, and they too were deliberately avoided by other … Read the rest

A Hostile Farewell to the Catholic Church

Feb 20th, 2013 | By Lauryn Oates

The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has prompted, naturally enough, assessment of his time at the helm of the Holy See, with some consensus that it was not a particularly fruitful period for the Church. There’s an abundance of recommendations on how the Catholic Church can get back on track. These include calls to get more serious about the need for reforms, to buckle down and stay true to orthodoxy no matter what, to focus on recruitment, or to work much harder at cleaning up its image.

New York Times columnist Bill Keller, for instance, compares the Catholic Church to a giant corporation facing a prolonged public relations crisis, and advises:

          The first major task facing Benedict’s successor will

Read the rest

Cruelty Toward “Nejis” Animals

Feb 12th, 2013 | By Jahanshah Rashidian

The strollers on this photo* unconcernedly watch the scene of cruelty while the kids beat the poor dog to death. They do not seem to be willing to prevent the sadistic act; after all, the dog is “nejis/ najes”, impure in Islam, let it be!

For non-Muslims, it is impossible to find a suitable word to describe such a cruel act, unless one is familiar with the cultures where such animal abuses are practised. As divine purpose, killing or torturing animals is a vicious ritual still practised in some tribal cultures, but this is not the case in Islam. Animals like pigs and dogs are considered as “nejis” or impure. The Islamic legal tradition has developed several injunctions that warn … Read the rest

Witch Hunts in Papua New Guinea

Feb 10th, 2013 | By Leo Igwe

The news of the murder of a 20 year old woman from Papua New Guinea, Kepari Leniata,  for witchcraft has made headlines across the world.

Leniata’s relatives accused her of killing a boy through sorcery. They ‘tortured her with a hot iron, stripped her naked, tied up her hands and legs and threw her into the fire in front of hundreds of people’. Police and firefighters were at the scene but couldn’t save her life. They were outnumbered by the lynch mob.

In its reaction, the UN human rights office in Geneva said it was deeply disturbed by the killing of Leniata, which it said “adds to the growing pattern of vigilante attacks and killings of persons accused of sorcery … Read the rest

Child Witch Hunting and Our Justice System

Feb 3rd, 2013 | By Leo Igwe
Child Witch Hunting and Our Justice System

The belief that evil magic and witchcraft can possess infants is largely behind the wave of exorcism-related abuse of children ravaging many parts of Nigeria and Africa.

Many families and communities make scapegoats of their kids.

They blame and hold them responsible for the ills they suffer. Children who are believed to be possessed by the demon of witchcraft are then subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment by pastors, prophets or any other self-styled man or woman of god.

Many of these children suffer severe health damage in the process of exorcism. Some actually die as a result of the torture and abuse inflicted on them by the exorcisers. In August, a 5 year old girl named Goodness Offiong reportedly … Read the rest

A New Wave of Reason in Africa

Feb 3rd, 2013 | By Leo Igwe
A New Wave of Reason in Africa

At least 55 persons attended the international freethought conference recently held in November in Accra. This meeting hosted by the newly formed local humanist group was the first of its kind in the history of Ghana – a country recently polled to be the world’s most religious nation. The conference generated both local and international media attention, with reports carried by Reuters and the BBC. Humanist and skeptical activists from other west African countries – including Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone – attended the program. Many foreigners living in Ghana were also at the event. To many local participants, the event was a great opportunity to meet physically with people of like mind. It was a great boost to the … Read the rest

To tell the world his daughter’s name

Jan 18th, 2013 | By Lauryn Oates

Two weeks after being gang raped and penetrated with an iron rod in Delhi, India, a 23-year-old student died of massive organ failure resulting from her injuries.

The brutal nature of the attack, the prevalence of rape in India (and especially in its capital city), and the inadequate police response triggered an unprecedented outpouring of public rage. The case has received widespread media coverage.

The photos of Indian women, and some men, passionately demanding justice in public demonstrations have become ubiquitous, powerful images of a nation dissenting against a crime too often written off as, at best, the fate of women, and at worse, their own fault.

Part of the anger stems from the reality that the Delhi bus rape … Read the rest

Kukuo: Inside a ‘Witch Camp’ in Ghana

Jan 12th, 2013 | By Leo Igwe
Kukuo: Inside a ‘Witch Camp’ in Ghana

Kukuo is a small community located off Bimbilla, near Oti river in the Northern Region of Ghana. It is one of those communities where banished ‘witches’ take refuge. In December, I visited Kukuo village as part of a pilot study. Like other villages in Northern Ghana, Kukuo has a chief, but currently the chief is dead and a regent is overseeing the affairs of the village till a new chief is appointed. There is also a traditional priest. One of the duties of the priest is to carry out a ritual of ‘purification’ on any alleged witch that arrives in the village before the person is allowed to live in the community.

Kukuo hosts one of Ghana’s ‘witch camps’, but Read the rest

The Necessity of Humanism in Africa

Dec 13th, 2012 | By Leo Igwe

According to Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, “Fear created the gods, and fear preserves them, fear in bygone ages of wars, pestilence, earthquakes and nature gone berserk, fear of acts of God. Fear today of the equally blind forces of backwardness and rapacious capital.”

Sadly this saying was true of Africa of Nkrumah days and true of Africa of today. Millions of Africans are suffering and dying due to fear and ignorance. Many people across the region are languishing under the tryranny of objects and schemes created by fear – fear of the unknown and of their own mortality. And this underscores the imperative of humanism; the urgent need for an outlook based on reason and compassion that enhances humanity. … Read the rest

Polk County Sheriff Investigating Cyberstalker of Atheist Activist

Dec 7th, 2012 | By John Kieffer

Lakeland, Fla. – Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd does not take internet bullying of its residents lightly, even if it involves EllenBeth Wachs, the former Vice-President and Legal Affairs Coordinator for Atheists of Florida and current President of Humanists of Florida Association, who recently asked the sheriff to investigate a relentless case of cyberstalking aimed against her.

Judd assigned a Special Investigations detective to investigate a North Carolina man who has, for almost two years, employed an arsenal of social media such as Facebook, Youtube, Google+ and Twitter, to conduct a relentless campaign to harass and abuse Wachs.

According to Florida statutes the term “cyberstalk” means “to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be … Read the rest

Mummy bloggers – the retail industry’s secret weapon?

Nov 27th, 2012 | By Aisha Isabel Ashraf

They’re just like you and me aren’t they? Down-to-earth, honest-to-goodness parents giving us the inside scoop on child rearing. But access to family email inboxes nationwide makes the mummy blogger a marketing man’s dream. What if some of them embrace the Dark Side?

The other week a group of mummy bloggers got a little flustered when I suggested a link between the commercialization and sexualisation of children, and child abuse. They pooh-poohed the whole idea and suggested I’d had too many sherbets (followed by some self-congratulatory backslapping at their own wit).

The two faces of mummy blogging

Parenting’s a tough gig; you learn most of it on the job and mummy bloggers can offer friendly information on anything from chemical-free … Read the rest

Paul Kurtz: A Tribute from Africa

Nov 12th, 2012 | By Leo Igwe

I was deeply saddened to hear about the death of American philosopher Paul Kurtz, the father of secular humanism, on October 20, 2012. Kurtz was my friend and mentor. I came to know him when I was a seminarian in the 1990s. A colleague of mine used to receive copies of his magazine, Free Inquiry, and other publications. I found Kurtz’s thoughts and writings to be quite fascinating. His publications and initiatives inspired me to found the Nigerian Humanist Movement in 1996. I formally contacted Kurtz in 1997, as I was building local and international partnerships with likeminded groups. Since then, we partners have been in touch working together to promote humanism, skepticism and freethought in Nigeria and other … Read the rest

Day of Agreement

Oct 7th, 2012 | By Maryam Namazie

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and One Law for All are calling on everyone to join the Day of Agreement.

It’s quite easy to do.

On 10 October, upload the day’s logo as your avatar on social media, Tweet #dayofagreement or try it with your colleagues, family and friends.

You can also join our five minute flash-mob at 12 noon in central London. (Email for more details).

Just remember, you can’t disagree with anyone – your colleagues, spouse, lover(s), mates, neighbours, children, bosses, or even politicians…

You are not allowed to dissent, ‘offend’ or question.

And before anyone gets too excited, they have to remember that they must also agree with everything you say. It’s only fair…

Seems impossible?

But … Read the rest