Prisoners of myths

My sister and my niece had a bit of argument on things my sister was sure I would have done to my children as part of our ‘culture’, my niece told her mother that although she has not asked me but was positive I am a different person than my sister had in mind.

So there is this believe that a newborn baby need to be bathed with palm oil and powder in order for the baby to be perfectly clean. The reason for this is that if a child is not thoroughly cleaned the first time, such a child may develop bad body odour later in life.

To my sister’s surprise, my niece was right – I did not bathe my girls in palm oil because there is no need for such – my principle is ‘when in Rome…’ actually, my girls were only cleaned with soft cloth at the hospital and they both only got proper bath at home with mild soap and water.

And they were clean, still are.

Some of the ‘must do’ that were passed down to us were due to resources available to our predecessors, times are different now, so must we.

So I asked my sister, do you still believe in money rituals? Or that the myth of money rituals continues because we live in an environment where wicked people get away with horrible crimes? This is a topic that she and I have had so much discussion on. Almost every week another half body is found somewhere with key body organs removed, lots of Nigerians especially in the SW believe this is a case of money rituals. One could wonder, how is it possible that a lifeless body can throw up cash after some powerful juju was placed on the corpse?

We are not raised to ask such question, we are only told to believe money rituals using human body is prevalent in society. Somehow people make up colourful stories about this and we ended up suspicious of one another, and the murder crime continues.

I recently read a fantastic crime novel focussing on money rituals in Nigeria that gives me hope that there are many people out there educating the public on how to look at this case of money rituals differently, Easy Motion Tourist by Leye Adenle. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in putting this money rituals myth to rest and treat people disappearing or corpses on road sides as serious murder crime that it is. Even though it is a fiction, I could see so many of the vivid pictures in my mind’s eye. 

From simple case of hygiene such as how newborn must be cleaned to a more serious issue such as money rituals – while both are myths, the reason the society remained spellbound is the believe that we must not question or approach issues differently just because that is how it has always been. Both of these started threading long ago while traveling 50miles away from home was a big adventure – I am sure ancestors will be shifting in the afterlife now if they could see we refused to move with time.



Categories: Africa, Myths I grow up with, Nigeria, Women

Tags: ,

18 replies

  1. Dear Folakemi,

    Thanks for bringing your searchlight about societal ills on a couple of medieval beliefs in Nigeria, including a mention of Leye’s incredible fast-paced crime thriller. I had delayed this because I needed the time to also shed some light on the subject.

    I must confess, right away, that Leye is my nephew-in-law, and in a chat we had about the book recently, I told him how surprised I was – and remain – at the level of degradation in Nigerian society that such criminal enterprises (as you’ve pointed out) are still prevalent. I also told him that even back in the 1950s and ’60s when I grew up in Nigeria, just about all the criminal enterprises as described in EASY MOTION were unheard of. Of course, one heard of ritual killings as tales, but even in the rural community where I grew up where one would have thought such might have occurred, I never heard of such brutality, such madness as not only contained in EASY MOTION but as being prevalent in today’s Nigeria.

    Twins were believed to be evil in a part of S.E. Nigeria (Calabar) as we learnt in elementary school in the 1950s, a fact we learnt used to lead to twins being slaughtered at birth! The barbaric practice was ended with the arrival of Christianity but learning about the belief was so traumatic that I remember vividly that a girl in my Primary Five class cried inconsolably because she had twin brothers.

    Of course there were ritual murders in the distant past: humans buried alive with Kings who died, or to appease gods beyond Africa. There exist excavated evidences of human beings used for human sacrifice during the Iron Age in Europe, including Germany, Netherlands and as far North as Scandinavian Denmark. Those, however, happened well over two – even three thousand years ago.

    Nigeria, and indeed, many parts of Africa, continue to have these practices still on.

    The descent into hell in Nigeria, a subculture that supposedly includes not only ritual murders but killing to “make money” started with the unprecedented corruption that came along with oil discovery and wealth.

    Time was when Nigerians’ aspirations and goals were grounded in reality but with people coming into sudden wealth through massive corruption, everybody – so to say – started believing they could become millionaires and billionaires.

    During the chat with Leye about his book, my Significant Other (his uncle) narrated the story of a person we knew (he was in his early 20s back then in the 1980s) who went to his aunt if he could see a medicine man that could give him something that he could use that would make him walk around UNSEEN, AS IN INVISIBLE!

    The young man’s aunt who told us the story, cried out.

    It was the of the cocaine pushing in Nigeria when young men and women ferried drugs abroad to make money, and it was when the present president, as a military ruler, had four young men executed publicly. There were outcries, not only in Nigeria but especially from the Western world. Incidentally, the crimes immediately stopped but have long bloomed.

    Governments in Africa need to step up having these crimes not only prosecuted but educating the public about the futility of killing human beings could not deliver wealth – as such. As an old man once said, anyone who would kill for money would do ANYTHING to get rich.

    Thanks.
    TOLA.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for sharing your views on this.
      Isn’t that something …wanting an invisible medicine? And the medicine man will keep collecting fees until the fool is parted with all earnings.

      As Nigeria goes, eventually it will be people rescuing one another – providing different and more plausible explanations to supposed mysteries that imprisoned our people – going undercover to expose bad people. I believe Easy Motion Tourist did this brilliantly in the book.

      Like

      • Dear Folakemi,

        You are right: we, the people, need to start finding ways to end these evil practices.

        Age does bring many advantages. Personally, all I’ve always done – thanks to upbringing – is ask people for corroborating evidences. “A beggar So,eome helped”, according to a friend, later appeared to a woman on the top floor of a 2-story bldg …” It was by way of warning me several years ago when I was home for 6 wks by myself.

        Too long a story. “Did you personally witness the event …” I asked. Of course not.

        Someone who used AFE E ‘RI – potions that make people invisible … ask for clear evidence as in “I can pay for it if not expensive and we can try it out on somebody … Et cetera.

        May sound simplistic but if you cannot go that route, just dismiss because myths are just myths.

        We can all stop these by fighting the scourge with education, not of the school variety but by spreading knowledge.

        Regards,
        TOLA.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have never heard of either ritual, Fola. Thanks for sharing.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read; this post, immediately I got the notification. Its a good read, and I feel you are right, but it’s our belief system. We Africans still have a long way to go, in learning. When I gave birth to my daughter, I remember the procedure was performed, but I probably would not have done such,if I was alone. Myths…

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good point that such practice is mostly common at home. All cultures have myths of types, I think it only gets boring when we limit our imagination to other possible solutions. Thankfully, we are that generation to share our stories.

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  4. Much as I do not believe in the myth of bathing newborn baby with palm oil, I would like to subscribe to the fact and believe that money ritual really exist, it is a fact except we just want to deceive ourselves. It will be delusion of highest level for anybody to wish away the existence of money rituals being carried out with use of human body parts. It is just as for someone to say that Devil does not exist simply because he believe in God. Devil exists likewise the Demons and people who consult them for evil purposes including money rituals through use of human parts, in fact they are very close to us and are within our reach and neighborhood, the prayer is that may the Lord save us and deliver us from them all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen. You may be right, it is just that the evidence we see around us suggests differently.
      I just can’t fathom why Nigeria especially the SW will be this poor if we can easily ‘housed’ a few hundreds of people to produce cash in any currency.

      What I do believe though is the organ harvest by wicked people selling to those needing transplants. Usually, it is only rich people who pay for organ transplant, the poor die easily not even know what the problem is.

      Who knows, maybe one day someone will come out to show off their money ritual skills to proof the Thomases wrong.

      Like

      • “Who knows, maybe one day someone will come out to show off their money ritual skills to proof the Thomases wrong.” – I laughed so hard at this. You could surely start your own comedy slot in future.

        Anyway to a more serious point, in this age where proof and replicating one’s assertion and opening it to scrutiny is the way we make progress. Making assertions without proof and being secretive does not build confidence. Yet this body part money making idea, has taken root in Nigeria and no one has stepped forward under the full glare of public scrutiny to prove or disprove it. It is fear and superstition and intimidation that is clouding people’s thinking and allowing those who do these things to go about their ‘business’.

        If this were such a full proof concept why don’t all those who do it club together and generate enough money to bail Nigeria out of debt?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Glad I made you laugh.

          It is unbelievable how fear and superstitions have consumed our people.

          Providing proof of anything isn’t one thing Nigeria is good at so over time people are used to repeat tales without asking for a proof. A grown man was on and on about this until he later confessed everything he knew was from Nollywood.

          Like

  5. Interesting myths you shared Fola. In my lil red dot, culture or myths for chinese prescribes a new born on reaching a month old must shave head bald for future crowning glory of hair and a good life. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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