BY Busuyi Mekusi
Man seems to know himself, but inevitably exists in the contradictions of his existence. This is as the physical component of man struggles with the spiritual aspect, in order to understand the epistemologies governing his present and future. As the generic man attempts to unpack the many contradictions that reinforce life complexities, he has nonetheless been committed to using the spiritual dimensions of his assumptions to guide his physical trajectories.
To this end, a number of people and societies hold the opinion that physical beings are responsible to supernatural forces, who are, just like themselves, presided over by a super coordinating God. From different religious orientations and creeds, the Supreme God is sought and reached through lesser spiritually-created gods. With assumptions given as assurances by each of these religious groupings about the efficacy of their chosen path, the principle of relativity appears best to determine believability. Notwithstanding these uncertainties, man continues to operate on the interfacing border of physicality and spirituality.
Pre-science societies dwelt sufficiently on the praxes of Voodoo, magic, witchcraft, and sorcery. While their lived experience paid off for them as long as the dispensation lasted, the development of science and empirical studies have continued to exert a huge strain on the relevance of witchcraft in the face of the deployment of science and technology, to achieve enquiries about humans, and attain required prognosis for the resolution of complications. The attempt to achieve a sciencetification and medicalisation of witchcraft has been randomly pooh-poohed due to the unverifiable ontological claim ascribed to witchcraft, in relation to the experimental paradigm in science. However vexatious the assumptions are in relation to the ability of the supernatural to affect the natural cosmology, witchcraft and demonology remain subjects of enquiries in western education, while the prevalence of spirituality, including magic, Voodoo and witchcraft are still popular in most socio-political and economic activities of 21st century Africans.
However potent the facts are that magical realities are not same with scientific discoveries, there is a ‘super’ that is above the natural and an ‘extra’ to the ordinary in human existence. Evidences are palpable that natural orders could either be positively or negatively altered. Whereas such an alteration could be achieved through specific cosmological objects, magically manipulative processes could be used to achieve certain results beyond what science could promise. The idea here is not to promote any form of the available possibilities in the use of the supernatural to tinkle the natural, but to establish a reasonable locus for the place of human sacrifice in enhancing one’s socio-political and economic worth and values. Little wonder, the saying is valid that a piece of vegetable would remain so to a non-initiate that lacks the knowledge of the spiritual potency ingrained in it. Therefore, it would be redundant for anybody to argue that using human beings for sacrifice is mere ruse, in an obvious response to the cannibalisations that have gripped mostly Southern Nigeria in recent times. This is more so as the solution to a problem is not in denial, but in the open confrontation and deliberate mitigation of same.
The younger generation of southern Nigerians in recent years systematically up-scaled the issue of questionable wealth accumulation, as they popularised internet scams (notoriously known as Yahoo), and gradually but progressively added a plus (+), with the sign denoting additional variations that are inclusive of cultism, drug peddling, money rituals, and criminal acts, such as kidnapping, bunkering, human organs harvesting and trading, etc. Amidst several controversial deaths in the country, involving often times the mutilation of the bodies of the dead, three successive recent instances of reckless murders and mutilation that happened in the space of two days got one worried. They are: the killing of Ebunoluwa Osatuyi, who was killed right in her parents’ sitting room with axe and pestle in Akure; the arrest of Timothy Odeniyi in Ondo Township with fresh human parts, the body of the diseased he buried in a shallow grave; the gang-raping and killing of a housewife in Igbotako, Ondo State, allegedly by rampaging Fulani herders; and the ‘slaughtering’ of Rofiat in Abeokuta, Ogun State, and arrest of the three teenage satanic musketeers, Wariz Oladeinde, Abdulgafar Lukman and Mustakeem Balogun, that allegedly killed their victim, severed her head, and cooked it in a local pot for money ritual. No doubt, cannibalism is now a constant refrain in our existence.
Like I have argued before, these atrocious butcheries are reflective of a nation that departed from its communal humanity, and embraced greedy material accumulation, signposted by political and elite classes that steal and flaunt their ill-gotten wealth, to the chagrin of systematically impoverished majority. The desperate lot from the disadvantaged group who have been psychically violated have become paranoids and numbed to the extent of escaping poverty at all costs, including the robbing of Peter to pay their Paul, including human sacrifices. There is no gainsaying the fact that capitalistic dispositions are inscribed on the principle of cheating and dispossession, made possible by advantageous positioning. For this pattern of human cohabitation, it is more of the end justifies the means, whether crooked or perfidious.
One characteristic of man that exposes his propensity towards corrupt appropriation of what belongs to others is the perversion and manipulation of known processes. Such manifested in the Bible when Jacob and her mother corruptly supplanted the blessings Isaac had for his brother, Esau. It is not similarly out of place for some to misapply the Ѐjìogbe Verse in Ifa, which in cosmogenic terms is “the primary impulse of expansion, evolution and ascension”. Assumptions are rife that the various modes of money rituals are not necessarily to birth raw cash, depending on the currency of the country of the agency, as found in magical conjuring. Osó Sísé (money charm) is believed to be used to enhance the venture an individual who subscribes to it is into. For instance, a farmer that patronises this method of money ritual is assumed would have good yields and flourishing harvests, while a business person in the practice would sell more than usual. The idea is that the extraordinary performance per term would be a product of the acceleration of what should accrue to the person later in future.
Ănóbò (spend and return) is believed to be a spiritually manipulated process that would make what one spends to return, with damning consequences on the seller(s), who would not be able to account for some of his/her proceeds. Spiritually inclined sellers, nonetheless, have a way of neutralising this. Lùkύdì (charmed gourd) is supposed to be an ingested supernatural force that would inspire someone to prosperity and wealth, with inexplicable successes in business. The list is almost endless, with specifics differentiating one from the other. Bye and large, the focus of spiritual enhancement for an individual through witchcraft is demeaning to either the player or someone outside to him/her. Some may have to sleep with mentally deranged people, eat on the dunghill, bathe in the market square, etc., to ensure the betterment being sought.
Fundamentally, when human blood or body parts are involved, it is believed that the fortunes of the victim would be spiritually transferred to the benefits of the initiate. Human sacrifices are believed to be usable for the purpose of life renewal, good luck in business and politics, etc. Like the cases mentioned above, there are supernatural forces that are believed to be responsible for the performative effects in each of the spiritual processes initiated. While all these spiritual circumventions have negative repercussions and taboos for the person that gets involved in it, a circumspect herbalist is traditionally forbidden from igniting processes that would hurt fellow humans, who are expected to ordinarily benefit from his witchcraft. However, the codes of practice for witchcraft have been thrown overboard by greedy practitioners who are fixated more on personal aggrandisements, that they would do anything for money.
Regrettably, like Armah’s Chichidodo, who hates human excreta but delights in eating maggots, the Nigerian society merely groans under the belligerence of their cannibalistic children, but celebrate their ill-gotten wealth, and pretentiously agonise over mindless killings. Every community knows who these cannibals are, and the time has come for the people to bury their complicity and rise against everyone with questionable riches. The government must hold community leaders responsible for any form of infraction in their domains, and decisively exterminate these cannibals that have almost hijacked all the seats of power. One isn’t sure whose blood the vampires would desire next! Our Chichidodo don do!