By Prince Charles Dickson PhD
This is not just primitive rural superstition; [juju] is practiced by all kinds of people, from illiterate herd boys to multi-dregreed university professors. If you don’t understand the power of this belief, you will never truly grasp the rich albeit often incomprehensible spirituality of Africa. Lawrence Anthony, The Elephant Whisperer
Nobody respects the law of Nigeria. Judges don’t. Police don’t. Lawyers don’t. Politicians don’t. Citizens don’t. Why? Because there are no consequences. Those who fear the laws are the downtrodden who have no godfathers. That is why stealing a goat is more dangerous than stealing billions. Nigeria is a country of absurdities. J. S. Okutepa. (SAN)
No be juju be this…
So, wetin be or what is juju?
juju; plural noun: jujus.
A charm or fetish, especially of a type used by some West African peoples. Supernatural power attributed to a charm or fetish. “Juju and witchcraft”.
Juju, an object that has been deliberately infused with magical power or the magical power itself; it also can refer to the belief system involving the use of juju. Juju is practiced in West African countries such as Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Ghana, although its assumptions are shared by most African people.
Juju comes from the traditional African religion popularly known as voodoo. Juju refers specifically to objects used in conjunction with spells or curses, and like any practice or belief it can be manipulated to create power over people.
Witches and juju things are absolutely fascinating—they can fly on broomsticks, do magic spells with their wands and stir up incredible potions in their cauldrons. They can ask for and do the unimaginable, in Nigeria it is just about the unthinkable things they can and cannot do or are held liable for doing or not allowing to happen.
The Harry Potter books for example have made witches (and wizards) really cool recently – who wouldn’t want to be as smart as Hermione Granger, as brave as Ginny Weasley or play Quidditch as well as Cho Chang? However, in Nigeria, it is about Child Rights abuse and killings.
This admonition is not about juju or witchcraft but it is about juju and the witchcraft ‘worrying’ Nigeria. Kindly follow me for the next few paragraphs and then we can share thoughts.
Almost eight years and the government could not get one refinery working at full capacity providing employment and serving Nigerians in a land blessed with the resources. A nation of all typologies of expertise in the oil sector and still cannot simply have an agreement on whether there is subsidy or not and what to do with it—no be juju be that!
Police follow PHCN abi DISCo officials to disconnect electricity from another police station. Meanwhile DISCo is indebted to WaterBoard and WaterBoard is indebted to local contractors that supply purifying chemicals and the contractors cannot pay local tax because they are indebted to the local electrician who repairs household electronics destroyed as a result of terrible electricity current supplied to homes. We have changed names, balkanized the utility company, privatized it, funded it yet the energy problem persists, it is one hellish vicious cycle—No be juju be that!
How many times have you seen policemen wear protective gloves, or collect forensic evidence, do we have a data bank, a country of different data capture for NIN, another for driver’s licence, another for BVN, even another set of data for ‘unavailable’ Nigerian passports (printed in another country). Yet there’s ‘no-go-to’ data bank, wait…have you seen a desktop in a local police station, not-to-talk of a laptop, apart from the ‘big boys’—No be juju be that!
We close factories to build places of worship and then pray for jobs, every national celebration has an interdenominational service and Juma’at prayers as accompaniment, yet we are a religiously wicked people, every Christian with his personal juju-man, and every Muslim her own ‘boka-man’. We do interfaith prayers at official events, meetings and steal afterwards, and then do thanksgiving; saying ‘na god ooo’—No be juju be that!
A government official builds a hospital, and calls it world class, and yet he goes to another country for healthcare, they commission schools they describe as world class and yet they are kids, are schooling in puppet colleges in other climes, they live in villages and build castles in the US, and beg these dudes for aid and loans—no be juju be that!
We are venting on power relations across balance of the geographical spread called Nigeria, in other words, we want power to go south, north has had its share, we are talking Muslim-Muslim ticket, and can’t say Christian-Christian ticket. No one is talking about the Ogboni-Krishna ticket. Sadly, we are stuck with if the President is from here the Vice must be from there in the only nation with the aberrations such as South-South, North East, North West, South East and too many juju-like political expediency laced necessities such as federal character, catchment area, indigene and non-indigene, educationally disadvantaged; still no way, Infact historically we have no history so we cannot agree on who is at fault or what the solution is—No be juju be that!
Who remembers, in 2015, the Witches and Wizards Association of Nigeria (WITZAN) announced that it had endorsed Goodluck Jonathan as its candidate for the 2015 Presidential election.
“We just held a meeting of witches in Kogi State where it was revealed to me that Jonathan would win the presidential election. He has the support of all witches to continue in office” said a certain Dr Iboi, the President of the association.
Well, we can see that WITZAN’s pick ended up not winning the race. The following year WITZAN made a cry for help, as the association released a statement for Nigerians to stop persecuting them, we are waiting for them towards 2023—no be juju be that!
Last week in the news, brother and mother collide to murder brother, another son attempts to kill his mother, young lads eat their ‘poo’ in public, same week, three lads, the oldest being twenty beheaded the girlfriend of one of them, all for money ritual. A trend that has seen scary rise in the last two years, and being the pretentious people that we are, acting like it’s new, only a few years back it was ‘panties stealing’ and till date nobody has been arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and jailed—no be juju be that!
Our Federal Road Safety Corp Officers only work during the day and close by 5:00PM and the roads can be left unsafe at night. Nigerian cannot be ‘de-jujulized’ by praying, by big grammar, by protests, the juju has to be engaged, the gatekeepers of power and resources in Nigeria are not up to 5000 but their juju is strong and is holding the nation down.
It is a sad reality that 2023 really does not offer much if we refuse to address the witchcraft that has beset the motherland, if we refuse to see that all is not well, and keep behaving like a bewitched people, a big storm is not far away, and if we don’t act, the disaster that looms—Only time will tell.
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