VOODOO, RELIGION AND POLITICS IN THE AFRICAN SHRINE


“You have to bring three strands of beard from a toddler, two teeth of a mosquito…Etc” the several gap toothed wealth-shaman looked menacingly at an open-mouthed patient who had come to him for help; the doorway to immense wealth and prosperity. The ‘jazzman’ ended with a note of finality saying “the only way out for this hapless victim was to comply or remain rooted in poverty”. This TV ad is the latest attempt by a Nigerian financial institution in encouraging more customers to its retirement savings scheme.

Well finding a mosquito’s canine could be equal to finding the Golden Fleece in Timbuktu, but what isn’t in doubt is the widespread belief in voodoo in several African countries. A love potion, success rings, Fertility incantations, security belts, everything and anything is possible in Africa. This week revived the Spanish inquisition in Gambia, when police and jazzmen working hand in glove discerned 1000 witches and wizards. The elves, goblins and bad fairies vomited substances which the authorities claimed were evidences of their diabolical leanings. But the witch-hunters failed to tell an irked audience that those sorcerers’ digestive systems had been hexed with corrosive substances which the unfortunate villagers were forced to drink leading eventually to 2 deaths from diarrhoea related symptoms

Three months ago, Tanzanian president, Jakaya Kikwete was forced to raise the amber alert on albino killers in his country when a 3 month ritual siege left more than 300 albinos dead. The scrupulous Tanzanian Shamans had informed gullible rural dwellers that harvested albino body parts would lead to prosperity. President Kikwete in a swift reaction banned all ‘Juju’ priests from operating without a newly regulated Government licence and has also embarked on his own witch-hunter revealing exercise-several cities hosted closed  public tribunals where residents were asked to reveal the names of the perpetrators of the heinous crimes-the results are still being awaited

A number of factors have led to a widespread belief in the occult in the continent. Nigerian movies are plagued with a constant barrage of diabolical plots. These plots were to blame for an increase in ritual murders in several neighbouring West African States in the latter part of last century-leading to targeted attacks on Nigerians in these countries

Though preponderated with several churches and mosques, Nigeria is home to a vibrant culture of occultism. In the 90’s, several South Easterners were arrested in a crackdown having been fingered in a muddle of ritual murders. However the truth remains that there has been no legal affirmation linking wealth to the activities of the Shamans. Recently the Nigerian police was made a laughing stock when it paraded a goat as a robbery suspect. It quickly recapitulated the claim when the story failed to hold water

Six years ago a former Governor of one of Nigeria’s South Eastern states was accused of being a patron to a cult. The Governor was quick to offer a rebuttal, but the release of posters showing him in a plain white wrapper; an initiation apparel, did little quell the uproar.

Investigations into the saga were upended when the shrine’s priests threatened to reveal names of several prominent Nigerians who were members of the cult.

Religious bodies have also fuelled this juju syndrome, regularly ‘deliverance sessions’ are conducted in several of Nigeria’s Pentecostal churches to exorcise demons, leading to widespread belief that poverty is a product of the machinations of witches and wizards.

Last year a septuagenarian was nearly burned alive by an irate mob for being a witch. She was rescued by a stunned relative who identified the sickly woman as an aunt who had gone missing for several days. But then some haven’t been so fortunate; they have fallen prey to either marauding shamans or irate mobs

Adopting President Kikwete’s option may just be the best option outlaw and re-licence shamans, traditionalists, Jazzmen, Juju men then hold a public inquest on all ritual deaths. You’ll be amazed by how much the public knows.

Rather than engage in endless public seminars, workshops and prayers which like the insurance ad above equates to looking for the goatee of a toddler and the wisdom tooth of a mosquito in finding a way out of witch hunting and human sacrifices, let’s match real solutions to real problems

Aghogho, CONNECTAFRICA

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One Response

  1. Keen concepts here and I enjoy your take on things. One thing I have witnessed is what we think about is 100% what we receive. We create our own reality.

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