With a wry smile, before I delve into this admonition, as I like to refer to my essays as, let me define juju. Juju or ju-ju is a spiritual belief system incorporating objects, such as amulets, and spells used in religious practice, as part of witchcraft in West Africa. The term has been applied to traditional African religions.
According to popular wiki, the term “juju” appeared in connection with the Priest-Kings of towns in West Africa, upon whom the prosperity of towns was believed to depend. This is recorded by Sir James George Frazer in Folklore (Vol. XXVI.) He prints, under the title A Priest-King in Nigeria, a communication received from Mr P. A. Talbot, District Commissioner in S. Nigeria. The writer states that the dominant Ju-Ju of Elele, a town in the N.W. of the Degema district, is a Priest-King, elected for a term of seven years. “The whole prosperity of the town, especially the fruitfulness of farm, byre, and marriage-bed, was linked with his life. Should he fall sick it entailed famine and grave disaster upon the inhabitants.”
Juju is a folk magic in West Africa, within juju a variety of concepts exist. Juju charms and spells can be used to inflict either bad or good juju, which equate to either bad or good luck. Juju charms can at times employ Arabic texts written by Islamic religious leaders. A “juju man” is any man vetted by local tribal traditions and well versed in traditional spiritual medicines.
Juju is sometimes used to enforce a contract or ensure compliance. In a typical scenario, The witch doctor casting the spell requires a payment for this service.
Let me also tell us a story about juju; a mother and her son was arrested late last year by Nigeria Police Force for the murder of final year Theatre Arts student of Lagos State University (LASU), Miss Favour Daley-Oladele. The mother, Mrs Adeeko and her son, Owolabi Adeeko, lured Favour from Lagos State to Osun State, where she was murdered and some of her body parts were dismembered.
Through the police investigation, Favour was traced to a white garment church in far away Ikoyi-Ile in Osun State. The church was pastored by one Segun Philip.
“When asked what pushed him to such devilish act, Owolabi explained that he decided to go into money ritual because things are not going well with his parents economically most especially his mother who used to be the breadwinner of the family; and when he sought for assistance from the pastor, he was asked to bring a human being for that purpose and the available person at that time was his girlfriend.”
The ritual boyfriend confessed to the police “that that while the girl was sleeping, the pastor gave him a pestle with which he used to smashed Favour’s head and the pastor quickly used a knife to cut off her neck, ripped open her chest and removed her heart which he used in preparing a concoction for him and his mother to eat.”
Police authorities described the gruesome murder of the deceased as “superlative degree of wickedness” and vowed to ensure that all the suspects face the full wrath of the law.
This ‘superlative’ degree of wickedness is everywhere, it is same juju that is used by those yahoo boys that require the utility wear of their girlfriends, mothers are loved ones, it is the juju that some men of ‘god’ plant underground to grow members, do miracles and magic. Juju everywhere, do you work in some very competitive environment, then you are sure to encounter a form of juju or the other.
Anini the great armed robber of old Bendel state was some Robinhood who was alleged to use juju, juju often came with some rules, a queer amount of ‘dos and don’ts’. I once was told of a serving senator who needed to return to the not too hallowed chambers, a juju man (voodoo chief) asked him to pick beans from a big 100kg bag, one after another into another bag signifying how people would bite for him. He still lost the elections.
Let me at this stage apologize quickly and ask that you still follow me, in this juju tale. It is strange that we have not seen wild protests fueled by inflation, insecurity, mass unemployment and poverty; all of which are present in Nigeria. This is so because Nigerians are so divided on these issues by religion, ethnicity, nepotism, chopism and other selfish modules that include the juju of our leaders.
To curtail the downward trend in the country, our leaders do not have the plan, the will; they simple pay lip service to change…just like a labourer changes his shirt day by day without choice to the same work wear he is used in 50 long years. The juju don catch us, we make excuses for them. “How can you blame Mr. Lagbaja, can’t you see that he came when things were really bad”, a long list of mass ritual induced excuses are adduced for the failure by both citizenry and leadership.
I know that for Mr. Buhari despite the best of intentions for 2020, his APC cohorts will not have urgently and comprehensively addressed the job issue, nor improved on the business of government. There are no plans that will translate to the provision of housing, water, and education for all Nigerian children to the Senior Secondary School grade, but what can we do, when the juju is potent.
With more billions spent, electricity will still not be available, reliable and affordable, but the juju will see to it that Nigerians are paying more for less. That in itself juju at it’s potency.
I had started this essay with the story of the lad who alongside his mother and Pastor used his girlfriend for juju that failed. Let me ask, how come our juju does not have the potential of civic education to develop citizens. Our juju makes it impossible for us to tell the difference between fact and opinion. The juju is not helping teach our youth digital literacy, civility, and community engagement to foster good.
Our juju as administered by our leaders, leaves us with poor teacher quality; our juju has not helped curb under-support and short supply in all facets of education. Our juju has left us in awe of a broader definition of learning and skills. Creativity and problem-solving skills are an anathema to the juju used by our leaders.
Looking ahead into the New Year and next decade, we are hopeful that progress can be made but we must question the voodoo man, the juju chiefs leading us must be interrogated.
I beg to re-echo again that except there is a honest search for understanding, education, organization, action that raises the cost of state violence for its perpetrators or that lays the basis for institutional change, and a quest for accountability by citizens; ‘Dem ‘go’ use juju finish us. There would be no answers; rather we would continually be plagued by the same questions.
Mr. Buhari has not solved our problems, like Jonathan before him, he has not disappointed with superlative performances. Like me there are many that would surprisingly with shame eat our words if there is a remarkable surge forward, if we can stop complaining about the same problems. If we can set ourselves free from the shackles of the juju-infested leadership—Only time will tell
*** Written by Dr. Prince Charles Dickson