A seller of magic charms in Nigeria has been killed this week while demonstrating a bullet repelling charm. The sale of charms and potions is commonplace in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, and the charms are very popular.
In this instance, the seller first offered to demonstrate the charm's effectiveness by shooting his client. The client refused, and instead the seller decided to use the charm himself and have the client shoot him. Unsurprisingly, because magic isn't real, the charm seller was killed.
Sadly, this isn't the first death from a bullet proof charm. In January, a man in Nigeria purchased a bulletproof potion and had someone shoot him to show that it worked:
Prominent Nigerian Humanist Leo Igwe has written about other incidents of people being killed when testing out bullet charms, including one in March of last year in Ghana and another back in 2003 when a traditional healer was shot in the head in a fatal test.
Leo Igwe thinks that many incidents like these don't go reported. I find it interesting that for a large percentage of these incidents, the person who is shot is not the customer but the seller of the nonsense. It suggests that these people really do believe that their potions are effective. It's unfortunate that they don't think of a less risky way of testing their products.
Leo will, thankfully, be in New Zealand later this month, and will be speaking at an international Humanist Conference in Auckland in early August. His visa was denied at first, but after an appeal he's been allowed in to the country. I'm looking forward to hearing him talk about the struggles of being a rationalist in a country like Nigeria where there is so much irrationality in people's everyday lives.