With all the Nollywood hype on juju, money rituals, power rituals, witches and wizards, and prayers that cure all problems, one would have thought that Nigeria would be among the developed countries.
But regrettably, it seems the potency of the juju dwarfs our Country. Or, perhaps the citizens of developed continents pray better and harder than we do. Or, put more resignedly: Maybe God loves these nations more than Nigeria.
Sometime last year – precisely on July 25 – the media reported the arrest of two men from Nasarawa State, near the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, with the fresh head of a seven-year-old boy. The victim was identified as Samu Danjuma, the child of their neighbours. According to the confession they made to the police before the media when they were paraded by officials of the State Security Services, they had lured the boy with a loaf of bread, drowned him, and beheaded him for sale to a man who had promised them N250,000.00.
On July 27 2012, two men were arrested in Lagos with the decomposing, mutilated body of their 39-year-old brother, Akinbuyi Ajayi, in their family house in Festac Town. Some body parts such as the head, hands, private part and a part of the two legs had been removed from the corpse. The decomposing corpse was discovered after the two were caught by the police allegedly selling some human parts. That led to a search of their house, a duplex which their parents had left behind for them.
Just like these two unfortunate people murdered by men without consciousness, many have been killed in like manner. Many have disappeared and have never been found till today.
The reason for this wicked act is that many have been made to believe that using some human parts such as head, heart, eyes, lungs, and genitals for rituals makes one rich and powerful. It is also believed that elections are won easily when charms are prepared with such human parts. There is also the belief that such human parts can be used to prepare charms that will make someone invincible, with such a person’s body impenetrable by bullets, arrows and machete cuts.
It is futile arguing whether these claims are true or false, for mystical issues are never empirical and open. But one question nobody has been able to answer is: If human sacrifice or the occult gives such stupendous and inexplicable wealth and power, why are the top ten richest men in the world not all Nigerian men of the occult, since the money that comes through the occult flows in like a river while the money that comes in through businesses and investments comes in countable proportions?
This belief that money and power can be obtained through human sacrifice and the occult has been accentuated and promoted by many of the films produced by the Nigerian home video industry. It is a fact that the 1992 home video, Living in Bondage, which was the first Nigerian home video that kick-started what is today known as Nollywood, focused primarily on the making of money through the occult. A young man, who saw himself living from hand to mouth as an employee, was convinced to sacrifice his wife to the occult to become rich. He budged and suddenly became a multi-millionaire. At the end of the film, a pastor delivered him from the grip of the occult. Interestingly, many people believe that such rituals can indeed give them wealth and power, and so they seek occult powers and human sacrifice as the solution to their financial problems.
While the film producers and directors are producing films that promote the quick-fix life, many religious leaders intensify that same way of life by making their members and those who watch them on TV or listen to them on the radio to believe that one can go to bed a pauper and wake up with duplexes and exotic cars just by ‘praying’ and ‘sowing a seed’.
That same quick-fix mentality runs through all our life as a nation. It is the driving force behind drug-trafficking, advance fee fraud, armed robbery, bribery and corruption and embezzlement of public funds. Many compatriots have been made to believe that all they need to succeed in life is a supernatural occurrence, which will happen like a bang.
So, on all fronts, our nation has been reduced to a nation of men and women who are eager to reap from where they did not sow; a nation that does not work but wants to eat; a nation that believes more in good luck than in hard work; a nation that believes that its duties and responsibilities will be carried out by supernatural forces one bright sunny morning and all its challenges will be a thing of the past.
We have jettisoned the biblical injunction that he who does not work should not eat, as well as that which says that faith without work is dead. Seeing our desperation to make quick money and achieve quick feats, some conmen in the name of medicine men or religious leaders simply feed on our weakness by making us believe that some rituals or prayers can catapult us overnight from penury to wealth and power.
Our movie makers assume they are teaching a lesson by making these movies that show people involving in human sacrifice, becoming stupendously rich, suffering later and being saved by pastors at the end. On the contrary, many who watch these home videos get a different message: that the occult men who got retributive justice in the home videos were not smart enough to abide by all the tenets of the occult. They, therefore, believe that when they make their own money through the occult, they will be smart enough to avoid all the loopholes. These occult-based home videos teach no lessons in effect: all they do is show the youths that there is a quick way to make money and obtain power.
In addition, the home video makers are inadvertently portraying Nigeria as a land where all rich men and women are members of the occult and people who have made their money through human sacrifice. I have heard some West African nationals dismiss the wealth of Nigerian men and women as “blood money”, a term which in Nollywood means money acquired through human sacrifice and occult powers.
The time has come for Nigeria to directly or indirectly intervene in the type of films released to the public as well as the type of message some of our religious leaders preach. That may keep us and our children safer, and make our youths appreciate the beauty in working and earning a living.
•Onwuka, a brand specialist based in Ikeja, Lagos, wrote in via firstname.lastname@example.org