From simple sore throats to stubbed toes, Africans are quite capable of blaming every misfortune on witchcraft. Juju or jazz for short. And in 2016, you would think that just maybe, African societies should be moving slowly away from this mindset.
But we’re not. In fact, Africans, Nigerians especially, are more entrenched in the belief system than before. And the reason is not far-fetched: in our search for salvation (read money; fortune) we are getting increasingly desperate. The recession in Nigeria is not helping matters either. Understandably, the more ‘out of our hands’ the situation gets, the more we turn to the supernatural.
All of this is perfectly understandable – most African societies are still quite primitive, with widespread poverty and illiteracy the twin plagues of the typical African existence. Albinos aren’t safe, children aren’t safe. And women are certainly not safe in many many African towns and villages because of the continued practice of human sacrifice.
But so far, we have tacitly referred to the more rural parts of Africa
Not the urban centres like Lagos and Nairobi and Jo’burg. These cities must be as far removed from the spectre of jazzy things as London, Paris or New York. These are the places where the educated and enlightened Africans live. Where ideas are generated, and intellectuals debate the future of the world and the role of Africa in it…while sipping fine imported wines and puffing urbanely on menthol cigarettes.
Alas, nothing could be further from the truth. Educated Africans are elbow-deep in witchcraft. Businessmen and women, politicians, footballers and civil servants at virtually all levels still patronise one witch, wizard or seer for success and ‘protection’. So almost every week in Lagos, there’s a story of either a kidnap or an attempted kidnap. And every perpetrator caught tells the same story: the victims were to be handed over to some mystic for ritual purposes.
Black magic in the Ivory Towers
But most worrying of all is that witchcraft is practised and patronised within African universities. What should be the halls of open-minded discourse and research into the betterment of life across board, are instead bastions of black magic. From lecturers and administrative staff ‘winching’ each other for promotion to students engaging in cultism and vendors paying juju merchants for profit, witchcraft is thriving.
Now most right thinking Africans regardless of their leaning, do not go about broadcasting their ‘other worldly’ activities. Most, except the Education Minister in South Africa. Mr. Blade Nzimande wants to include the study of wichcraft in the 2018 university curriculum. Apparently, there’s a lot to be learned from witches especially their ability to fly, which should help ease traffic jams.
Either said seriously or in jest, this looks like yet another low in the decision-making abilities of many African leaders. Or is it? Regardless, you wonder sometimes – what does the typical European really think about Africans? What do white South Africans for instance, think of their indigenous counterparts?
Black was once thought beautiful
The proliferation of smartphones and the other components of modern communication technology means there is now no hidding place. What was once considered the mysterious continent is now laid bare for the world to see. There isn’t enough ‘good’ to see. In fact, the gap between the 1st world and the 3rd world seems to be widening.
And we have to lay some blame on our religious belief system.
So how does the jazz thrive amidst gospel songs & muslim chants?
Nigeria is one of the most religious countries on earth. There are more mosques and churches per urban square meter in Lagos than virtually any other big town or city in the world. So how then does black magic still thrive? And is all black magic bad?
Interestingly, most reverred black magic practitioners claim to have pastors priests and imams among their best customers. The mainstream spiritualists visit the traditionalists with the hope of learning how to invoke supernatural powers for their own ministries.
So clearly, there must be method to this magic. And in places like Brazil and other South American countries, the fusion of African traditional religion (Umbada as it is known in Brazil) and christianity is officially recognised. Even by the Vatican.
This then is good black magic? Why can’t we have good black magic in Africa? Why has the continent taken the Bible’s denouncement of all forms of divination so literally? Yet African worship is allowed to thrive in Latin America. Once again, the Africans have got the short end of the broomstick.
We have the answer, and don’t call it witchcraft anymore
Africans in Africa had to be completely subjugated. And this could only be done by dominating and taking full control of black people. Physically, psychologically, and of course, spiritually. There was no room for good or bad traditional magic. Hence the Christians labelled all forms of traditional worship bad. And so, like other imported products, the Western religion so nicely packaged and marketed by devoted salesmen outsold the crude local offerings.
While the ‘imported’ system came with a 3,000 year old manual, traditional worship was shrouded in mystery and secrecy. It was thus easy to tarnish it all as ungodly. Christianity had sent African worship underground. Now all its practitioners are evil.
So maybe there is some sense to the South African Education minister’s story. Can Africa repackage African traditional worship for modern Africa? Should African religous systems be given pride of place alongside the imported ‘services’ from Europe and the middle East?
Can entrepreneurs and small business owners find succour with good black magicians and excel like their counterparts in Brazil? Of course, there is much more to economic success than religious worship. But if Africans can sanitize traditional worship and celebrate their own customs more, maybe there will be a boost in self belief.
And now we have come full circle. Learning about African religions in African universities may not be such a bad thing afterall. If nothing else, it may expose charlartans and reduce the sad incidence of violence against the more vulnerable in society.