If you were born in the late 1990s and in the early period of the new millennium, you’d recall the increasing concerns for children to desist from receiving any unmerited gift from strangers or hitching a ride in the vehicle of any person you lack familiarity with.
It was a fair reaction from parents and guardians who were horrified after seeing the news of the gruesome killings of young persons all over the country. Within this period, they were gory news of kidnapped pupils and students who were found dead later by the police with mutilated and dismembered body parts never ceased both in the official announcements and in rumors. The popular colored television disseminated such news daily, and so does the radio and the papers.
The television happened to be a more effective mode to trigger the appropriate shock waves through Nigerians. Naturally, it is an unwritten culture for Nigerian families to gather together after the ceremony of heavy supper to watch the 9’0 clock news in the rampant hunchback Television at that time. The news of mysterious abductions and the butchering of humans, the stealing of life human body parts at the request of a frail uneducated witch doctor for the sake of money, power, or fame continued to make rounds on the news reports.
Mothers would tear their kids with a knowing look that often spelt, “I told you so, now look how they’ve wasted this one.”
One would presume that the ugly occurrences had sprung up mightily at the start of a new century; however, this isn’t the fact. The increased news of recorded abductions and subsequent ritual executions were quickly reported to the public as more technologies made the distribution of information much faster.
Unbelievable discoveries have been made several times that exhibited the sadistic tendencies that greed and the pursuit of ill wealth and power could lead a conscious human.
In March 2014, a forest of horror was uncovered in Ibadan, Oyo state, where a structure was revealed to be littered with the different body parts of humans, a cellar filled with skulls and skeletons, and a room of men and women held captive.
Similarly, in 1996 a famous Chief Duru fondly called “Otokoto” was caught by the police in the Eastern Nigerian city of Owerri with the severed head of a young boy with the name Ikechukwu Okonkwo.
The devilish ritual patterns aren’t made solely with the head of a human. It goes beyond severing heads to vital organs like the heart, private parts, and even the eyes, as in the case of a young lady named Adlyne Eze who had both her eyes plucked out for money rituals by two men in the city of Calabar.
The magnifying issue of ritual killings by some members of the Nigerian public begs the question, “Why Rituals?”
A specific answer might fail to satisfy the question of why some individuals would choose to offer the lives of their fellow countrymen in the altars of bloody means.
The Nigerian environment and the African outlook in totality are based on the primordial beliefs that one might choose to term as a defiant approach to rational devotion.
The lofty quests for power, fame, and wealth can transform a docile Nigerian Deacon to a deleterious schemer seeking artificial means to garner power or wealth.
The depreciating standard of living in a nation that is presupposed to be the giant of Africa isn’t helping matters. Desperate times they say, call for desperate measures. Since the responsiveness of the orthodox outlook of a religion like Christianity isn’t particularly guaranteed to be faster than the ancient methods, the latter is often considered a more practical stand.
However, since the traditional system seems to have lost relevance without a coherent regulatory framework, the outcome of a desperate witch-doctor and client combo results in the loss of innocent lives in rituals.
A Systematic Approach to a Remedy?
An understanding that an unhealthy approach to spirituality bedevils the Nigerian environment is required to devise ways to escape this prevailing menace. A system where it is perceived that the divine, no matter the origin, is in charge of life and the proceeds thereof.
Unless we are ruggedly armed or backed by the heavy assurance of strong bodyguards behind us, we are not expected to stand down on our guard or reduce our consciousness of potential danger lurking around.
Our emotions, most especially greed, fear, and anxiety, should be kept in check in public places as dubious persons are capable of sensing your emotional inconsistencies and use them to trigger you into taking actions that might cost your life.
However, the bigger solution comes in when the leaders of our society takes responsibility for the safety of the lives of Her citizens. The government should exert efforts to understudy the role of tradition and culture in the psychological setup of the average Nigerian.
Furthermore, after the study, a body of knowledgeable men and women that are aware of the customs and traditions of every single ethnic group should be established. This committee will strive to gather all traditional medicine makers and witch doctors.
The committee, after completing this step, should set up a regulatory framework for the native custodians to follow, defaulters of the established policies would be adequately punished.
Of course, the foremost rule that should be enforced is a ban on using any human, man or woman, slave or free, rich or poor, able or handicapped to conduct any ritual upon the altars of bloody means.
Mbam Chukwuemeka can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org