Somebody once told me that “Africa is not called ‘the dark continent’ for nothing.” They were referring to what is sometimes called ‘black magic’ or ‘Juju’. Juju is a native, ancient religion that is still practiced in parts of Africa today.
Born into a Nigerian family, I have watched countless Nigerian films centered around this mysterious art. Somebody visits a witch doctor, usually in the hope of being able to set dark forces onto an enemy. Another popular storyline is making a stack of money by sacrificing someone else – sometimes even a family member.
Juju is not exclusive to Africa. Black magic was taken abroad as Africans tried to hold onto their culture when they were transported to new, strange lands during the transatlantic slave trade. Some parts of the Caribbean islands, for example Haiti, still practice this religion.
The problem I have with this religion is that people use it against each other. I rarely see or hear any positive connotations that come with Juju. It’s all blood money and spiritual attacks. Instead of telling people to f*** off, the norm in the Yoruba language is to curse their head, their life or their family. This all creates a dark aura that even the most rational among us cannot deny.
I’m sceptical about what Juju can actually do. I don’t think it’s a simple as going to a doctor, asking for what you want and voila – untold riches are yours! Or that girl who stole your boyfriend will grow old and childless because you told that doctor to make that bitch infertile. However, I do believe that there are forces that can work against us – and a lot of these forces come from the spoken word and evil intentions.
Africans, as a people, are deeply spiritual, and overwhelmingly religious. Which by itself is no bad thing – but to hold on to a belief in something so dark, so backwards (yes I said it) can only hold Nigeria back. In the 21st century we need to be putting our efforts into society. It’s time to shake off this old belief system, which many Christian/Muslim Nigerians still hold onto. We need to be asking questions about the government and officials who have it in their real, human power to make life better for the average Nigerian.
There are tangible benefits of a structured, developed society. We should believe in that.