Monday, June 02, 2008

The prosperity of the head..

Yet another body parts/pastor story, here. N3,000 for a head seems quite cheap, but then they are Benin prices..


Controversial Anon,  6:49 pm  

I think we need more asylums in Nigeria, not only for the guys buying and selling the heads, but i'd include their customers, the press, and the police in there too.

How is it that in 2008, people in Nigeria (including the press, police, and dare i say some readers of this blog) believe that there supernatural powers? Juju? Holy spirit? Jazz? Anointing? Miracle healing? etc.

These people should be treated first for stupidity, and then for lunacy.

Anonymous,  8:31 pm  

Controoversial anon, you are undoubtedly writing from outside Nigeria.

I find that once I leave the US and get back into Nigeria, fear go begin catch me for juju. Of course in the US, I am there boasting: "Juju does not exist", but the minute I step into Naija, with the culture of fear and all, na so so I go begin dey fear.

naijaleta 10:26 pm  

I'd like to reply controversial anon as well. Saying you don't believe in the supernatural is like saying you don't believe oxygen exists since its not visible to the ordinary eye.

Kayode Muyibi 7:41 am  

@naijaleta, your argument is flawed, this is why?

Oxygen has a property, and its presence can be tested. In fact there are solid and liquid oxygen which is visible to the naked eye. You can't say the same for supernatural supposed phenomena.

Controversial Anon,  10:17 am  

Need I say more?

What - in the name of common sense - is Juju? 99% of people who believe supernatural powers have never seen or encountered these so called powers, you believe because you have been told, and because 'every' other person too believes it exists.

It is a problem in this country that people educated to university level believe in juju, what hope do we have? I shall pose a direct question to all who believe that there is such a thing as juju or jazz - Have you ever witnessed it? Have you ever seen a man with no penis (as a result of juju)? Have you ever seen a man shot with an AK-47 and the bullets did not penetrate (i'm talking a proper gun here)? Have you ever seen a wardrobe that coughs money? Have you ever seen a man turn/turned into an animal?

If these things were possible, Nigeria would be the richest country on earth. For our indestructibility (even with an AK-47) the USA would outsource all their wars to us, infantry soldiers would be recruited here. For our ability to summon wealth with a wand, poverty would be history, we would be giving aid to the newly poor in the UK.

It amazes me how such a huge percentage of our population is unable to reason, reason is the very foundation upon which civil societies are built, upon which scientific breakthroughs are achieved, upon which rationale thought is fostered. As a people, why can we not f%*@1n8 reason? Is it too much to ask? What on earth do you think you are supposed to achieve by being educated? You go all the way to university only to believe in handed down superstition and dogma?

There is no such thing as juju, it does not exist, doesn't! The odds of a person in Nigeria dying are remarkably low (probability high), people do not die as a result of juju, they die because of bad roads, bad water, poverty (armed robbers), inefficiency (plane crashes), corruption (lack of health care), and what not. There is no such thing as juju.

Now If you disagree, can you please tell us all where and when you encountered juju? That will be very helpful.

Anengiyefa 10:51 am  

@ Controversial Anon, a lot of what we observe in the physical world today, were once a upon a time considered to be witchcraft. In medieval Europe, numerous insightful individuals were accused of socery and burnt at the stake. But much of what those people were killed for, is recognised today by science as fact. In other words, what is "supernatural" today can in this sense be used as an inspiration for more scientific knowledge tomorrow, through methodical observation and analysis. Methinks that it is unwise to dismiss out of hand matters that defy our understanding.

That said, I am yet to be convinced that juju is what it is believed by many to be. But I would decline from making a sweeping statement as "there is no such thing as juju".

Jeremy 11:01 am  

I have a thesis about contemporary belief in 'juju' which might need to become a book or at least an extended article at some point:

The juju that is portrayed in Nollywood and is practised by the pastor now 'cooling his heels' (I love that Nigerianism) in a Benin clink is a thoroughly post-modern phenomenon. It is the symptom of a culture not-at-ease with itself, and confused in relation to its cultural heritage. Contemporary juju is a manifestation of cultural alienation - where practices have been divorced from context and become fetishised.

Of course, the collapsed education sector plays a role. History is not on the curriculum, and science education is weak. People study chemistry for years without seeing a test tube...

It is in this situation that contemporary juju becomes a business, selling fetish-wear to politicians and gangsters to get leverage.

Contemporary juju is a huge distortion of traditional herbal-spiritual practice, based on fear, prejudice and ignorance.

Anengiyefa 11:20 am  

Jeremy, youre absolutely correct. The western education that most Nigerians receive is half-baked, and so is the traditional spiritual/cultural instruction that they receive. This leaves most Nigerians dangling precariously in confusion and uncertainty. A man who runs a "church", sells to his church members, charms prepared using a head severed from a corpse. Its not easy to think of a more confused scenario.

Controversial Anon,  12:02 pm  

@ Jeremy

We mustn't dance around this issue. You know full well that juju does not exist as believed by most Nigerians, we have traditional rituals, beliefs and practices that are very interesting, and worth upholding. These practices have their social and cultural significance, but they are NOT supernatural. Herbal medical practice is a very physical practice, it is NOT supernatural, it is people in the know, using herbs to cure diseases, you can liken them to Pfizer and Glaxo if you like, but they aren't doing anything supernatural.

Most other practices have social and cultural significance the way that law enforcement does - if you steal you will be sentenced to jail = If you steal the gods will make you sweep the floor until daybreak, it's a deterrent. But you have to say it as it is Jeremy, juju for money does not exist, remote control murder does not exist, etc.

@ anengiyefa

I understand what you mean, but you are mistaken. It is exactly the sort of mindset we poses in Nigeria that led to the persecution of those people in Europe, the Galileos and the Copernicus', it was the lack of REASON. I believe the point you are trying to make is that there is a lot out there that is still not clearly understood by man, I accept that point and I thank you for pointing it out, but guess what, it is not juju. How come we do not marvel at radio waves and call the ability to receive in Nigeria live pictures beamed from Japan juju? Is the exploration of other planets less of an achievement than a babalawo defrauding a woman? Was Feynman is juju man? It may also be worth pointing out that it is through skeptical and critical thinking than you can uncover the truth behind so called unkown phenomena, not by Fear and Acceptance.

I am Nigerian, I live in Lagos, I know that there is no juju because I reason. As a people, lets broaden our horizons, lets escape this simple mindset, lets not bequeath our children the same simple minds as has been handed down for so long, lets not be parochial, the world is big and beautiful, and the universe even more so.

Jeremy 12:26 pm  

Controversial - nothing you say is in disagreement with my comment, however, juju is primarily big business for politicians. We only have to think back to how the shrine at Okija was used and abused...

Juju is of course not supernatural. When people die, its usually through poison. However, the fact that people BELIEVE its true has cognitive and even bodily causal effects, through what we can think of as a cultural placebo effect..

Anengiyefa 1:21 pm  

@ Controversial Anon, I agree that the mindset that led to the persecution in middle ages Europe, is similar to the mindset that many people have in Nigeria today. However, I am inclined to think that in those days, they would have marvelled at radio waves, live television, supersonic flight...even just a few decades age, mobile phones would have seemed like wizardry.

I tend to think that we are blinkered in our perspective by our exposure to the all pervasive Western culture and modern technology, and this being so, we are prevented from seeing much value in the traditional beliefs and practices of our ancestors. It is this, in fact, that I would like to think of as a simple mindset. I think that our history places us in a unique position, and that we should have the boldness and courage to open our minds.

I am not an apologist for juju, neither do I advocate it or believe in it. But my mind tells me that our bequest to future generations should be a broad mindedness that allows for critical and analyical thinking, in all directions. It seems somewhat narrow to dismiss outright all that we are unable to measure when using today's scientific and technological methods.

The Pseudo-Independent 1:35 pm  

These very different points of view share a common conviction: that after generations of being defeated by history, Nigeria should start putting history behind and coming to terms with the obvious.

The ennui brought about by globalisation and the fact that some think God may have vanished from human life is no solution for this modern age.

The antidote I think is to enact more of these:
Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act 2006

In particular, see section 2:

A person who

(b) with intent to defraud, represents himself as possessing the power...through scientific or any other medium of invocation of any JUJU or other invisible entity or of any thing whatsoever; or ...... commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not more than 15 years and not less than five years without the option of a fine.

Nice post.

Anengiyefa 1:56 pm  

@ the pseudo-independent, I agree totally. Because this acknowledges the fact that as remarkable and incredible as it might seem, the idea of juju is still relevant to modern day Nigeria...

'Yar Mama 2:12 pm  

To settle this debate once and for all, will all those who believe in the efficacy of ju-ju, please 'jujurise' @controversial anon to prove your case. Nothing serious, just your basic 'penis snatching' or turn him into an animal. I believe he will be willing to offer himself as a guineapig in the interest of 'african science'.

Anonymous,  4:18 pm  

I don't believe in juju, it's a load of nonsense. And I don't believe in God, especially because of theodicy. But I don't believe in "reason" either. It's insufficient as a way of organizing a society. It leads to atrocities (e.g. French revolution and the Terror). Human beings need balance, wisdom. Science is not the solution, and neither is religion.

Anonymous,  4:45 pm  

'Cooling his heels' is not a Nigerianism - do your homework.

Controversial Anon,  4:55 pm  

Sorry to break it to you but 'Reason' is not a belief.

In any case, your statement - "I don't believe in juju, it's a load of nonsense. And I don't believe in God, especially because of theodicy." - is I believe, a consequence of 'Reason'.

All I ask if for other people to 'think', they way you have. Not asking them to adopt any belief system, just use brain more often, thats all!

Anonymous,  5:30 pm  

"Reason" is not a belief system? I'm sorry. You're wrong. European history (18th c. especially) shows that "reason" is not identical with logic or with reasonableness, but is actually a belief system of its own, for which people killed and died. I agree that we need to use our reason more, but we should also be aware that an aggressively materialist world view is just as likely to create disaster as the God-obsessed situation we have right now. The question is not one of abolishing the supernatural, it's about learning how to relate to it in a way that isn't silly or superstitious.

Anengiyefa 6:47 pm  

@ Controversial Anon, it is because people are thinking and using their brains that they able to present arguments that are contrary to yours. You do not have a monopoly on thinking, and your view on this particular issue is just one out of several possible viewpoints.

Waffarian 12:01 am  

Very interesting argument going on here. As much as I would love to add to this current argument of the existence or non existence of juju/jazz, I would also like to point out the revolting fact that it was a pastor and the members of his "flock" that were engaged in the stupidity. I know people will again come with the counter argument that "not all churches are like that", "you can not generalize" bla bla bla...well enough churches and "pastors" are always getting into the "juju mess"...abi dem swear for una?

I would advise all church go-ers, especially the "miracle seekers" to start investigating their pastors....seriously(especially those that pay "for blessings" and other "services"...una know wetin una dey call that might be paying for human heads in advance!)


Waffarian 12:05 am  

and this seriously cracked me up...too funny:

What brought you to the police?

It was the police that brought me here because they discovered a human head in my house.


abeg, una no go kill person for that country.

Sandrine 1:59 pm  

Two things are very upsetting here.The first one is that somebody who doesn't think that there is anything wrong with having a "fresh human head" in his kitchen has been loose in the community that he was supposed to serve.
Secondly, somebody's grave has been desacralized and respect of a burial is one of the most universal value that define our humanity. Nobody even worried about the pain the family of this young woman is going through.

anonymaus,  4:09 pm  

Just a point I'd like to make

You don't hear about this juju business much from Northern Nigeria.

Is it because the press are:

a) Not free
b) It is going on secretly, but hasn't been unearthed.
c) It is practised less widely

(The last case I heard from the North, was like 5 years ago in Maiduguri, where the skin of a child was found in a house).

I don't think it's because everyone is apparently "Muslim", roughly 30% of Northern Nigeria
is non-Muslim. We don't hear of this happening much in Adamawa, Plateau, Nassarawa or Benue etc.

If it is the case that it is practised less widely, maybe some humble pie could be consumed
by the religious bodies in the South and consult there Northern brethren how they tackle this problem.

The only good thing I can see in it, is that the press have unearthed this offence, rather than look the other way and sweep it under the carpet. That at least is a step in the right direction.

naijalines 6:38 pm  

lol @ Yar mama's comments.

B4 controversial anon can be 'jujurised', he should reveal his identity, otherwise... how can it be proved if the juju works or not?

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