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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: Fate, Karma or Good Ol’ Juju?

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There’s a common joke in my family about how cheap I am, especially with the way I get to the Metro station and scan the environs for Day Saver tickets. Before I approach the ticket machine, I always do a careful, calculated sweep to see if anybody has dropped a ticket. It started one day when I randomly saw a Day Saver ticket for ALL ZONES; since then, I make sure I check that there is none lying around before I fork out £3.80. Things are tight in Soweto!

This habit of picking things from the floor is a recent development. Growing up in Ilorin, and being inundated with all sorts of Yoruba movies – where people turn into goats because they picked up a coin from the floor, I had a morbid fear of everything untoward. I wouldn’t speak to strangers, or give directions if I was asked – I didn’t want to be struck with dumbness. If I drove over something odd and strange I would ‘plead’ 50 litres of the blood of Jesus over my car. And picking something from the floor? Ah! Never. I didn’t want to become barren.

Over the years, I have slowly become desensitised to all that. For some reason, the effect of the subliminal conditioning of those films have worn off. I stopped watching those films when I moved to Lagos; my circle of influence changed, and the things that I worried about with it. However, I am very aware that many people put a lot of stock in these things.

As Nigerians/Africans, we generally believe in the existence of the evil from supernatural forces. Things don’t just happen because life happens. No. If something untoward happens, it’s largely attributed to a higher being.

So, what’s the origin of our inherent belief in juju/jazz? We are descendants of people who strongly believed in black magic. Our forefathers passed it down to their children, who in turned passed it to us. We, in turn fuel these teachings with the infusion of movies, which stir our imaginations. With the arrival of Nollywood, and the stories sold to us in visual form, our fear of unseen evil is magnified. Interestingly, the advent of foreign religious beliefs have done very little to water down our deep seated consciousness of the malevolent.

It is our fear of black magic that makes us scared of everything and anything. Recently, my friend and I were joking about how people don’t like to disclose their travel dates for fear of the plane being brought down by evil forces. I asked whether those perpetrators of evil were incapable of harming you with or without you embarking on a journey. Don’t bad things just happen… the same way good things do?

An offshoot of our belief in black magic is the element of generational curses. I heard the story of a family where the new wife was diagnosed with lupus, and she died not long after the wedding. It was reported that her husband’s family did an investigation into her background and found out that women in her family died shortly after marriage. According to them, their son should have taken their research findings a little more seriously and not married someone who was prone to early death. This makes me wonder if death is a genetic thing, or do we need to be more enlightened? Generational curses are supposedly placed on families as a result of evil done by ancestors, and the consequences of such evil is borne by the later generations – sins of the fathers. However, one wonders if generational curses apply to only Africans. Are Hitler’s descendants suffering for the evil meted out to a generation of Jews? Who determines the scale of punishment for these retributions on the future generations. For instance, if I steal a pen from Barclays, will my great grand daughter be pushed in front of a moving train aAtoke Cheerioss punishment for my actions? Or if I cheat someone out of a promotion they deserve at work? Who will be there to inform my grand son that his inability to get a bank loan approved is because his Nana was a shyster? Simply mind boggling.

Personally, I have suffered the death of very close family and friends, and in ways that can be termed ‘weird and mysterious’ too. However, I don’t want to cage my mind and say these things happened because someone, somewhere ‘called’ it to be. So, what if someone dies? So what if it’s cancer? So what if it’s a plane crash? So what if it’s a fire? I’m not going to enslave my mind with a constant fear of something bad happening? I just don’t think that’s how I want to live. But that’s just me. Maybe I haven’t been struck by the right kind of Voodoo.

Until then, I’ll keep picking Metro tickets… and pray I find something more valuable.

Have a fabulous guilt-free Christmas. Don’t do anything bad this holiday…*spooky voice*

Peace, love & Christmas Pudding.
Toodles!

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website atoke.com for more information.

22 Comments

  1. Thor

    December 22, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Humans have an innate need to impose order on chaos, it does not suit many peoples thinking to accpet that things can happen for no other reason than the natural chaos of the world.

    Superstition is one way of coping with this randomness of life, it allows people the comfort of blaming other agencies for a life lost or an opportunity missed.

    I for one believe shit happens all the time and is part and parcel of life and will focus my energies on getting past it rather than looking back and trying to figure out if my twice removed cousin by way of my mum is doing me.

    • Banjo

      December 22, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      What you belief hold momentum in the physical realm. There is an invisible spirit our eyes can’t see. Believe it or not. There are good and bad ones. Is all about choice. We have the power and choice to keep strengthening our mind toward God-our maker. Only his remembrance, meditation and continuity in seeking his knowledge can guarantee peace and firm.

  2. 1luv

    December 22, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    [email protected] 50 liters of… Too powerful a name to mention. At topic, so long as God exists suffice it to say that black magic or evil powers exist too! Go ahead with your picking spree in Jand but do not try it at home(nails)

  3. 1luv

    December 22, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Naija. Which one be nails…touch screen and over sabi

  4. F Oy

    December 22, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Oh, there is the existence of supernatural powers. While I don’t live in oblivion of these powers, I don’t think every black cat walking around is a witch sent from my village.

    But in the mean time, grab yourself those left-behind rail coupons, just don’t do it in Lagos or Lokoja, because you never know with our people. It could be that they need to raise $5 million for GEJ’s campaign and they need to borrow $5 million from your future; the bait being N500 on the road.

  5. Nike

    December 22, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    It is difficult to grow up in Nigeria and not believe in juju, witches and wizards and all sorts of supernatural creatures and beliefs. One is trained to ‘avoid’ them. From not collecting or eating anything from the old woman in the village whose children all died under suspicious circumstances, to not revealing travel and delivery dates, to holding back from celebrating joyous occasions lest you ‘anger’ jealous people.

    Ladies unmarried at 30 years are being hindered by their great grandmother’s sister who had always been jealous of her sister and as a result cursed the said sister’s descendants. You hear all of this a lot and then begin to imagine that negative happenings in your life are as a result of the evil machinations of your father’s house. The belief in and fear of juju is real. Evidence is in the number of Nigerians who go for deliverance to break the yoke placed upon them by their ancestors.

  6. Jo!

    December 22, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Christmas Pudding! Yayyyyyy

  7. Gorgeous

    December 22, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    LMAO!!! Funny thing is oyinbo people believe in picking money from the ground as a sign of good luck. There was a day i was walking on the road. Lo and behold, $40 sitting right in front of me. I picked it up and announced if anyone dropped money, no one responded. I saw it as the universe rewarding me for good behavior. I took the money, even my mum was fighting for half. Hehe

  8. Neo

    December 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Lol! U sure say 5O litres dey enough. As much as I believe in God I kn0w there is evil in the world but I also know that “shit happens” to ascribe every bad thing that happens to me in life as “home support” is to cheapen the grace of God over my life. I know Him and I know what he has said over my life, so he will now sit down and allow one toothless aunty in the village play kalo kalo with the plan he made for me before he made me? Mbanu! That’s not the God I know. I’m not saying there are no witches and their brethren oh, I’m saying “odenshi, because God pass them” I will travel and if possible snap pic with the pilot and put on my dp b4 take off, call the plane, the line will be engaged.

  9. Frances Okoro

    December 22, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Hah!
    All the stories our parents used to scare us “don’t pass under signboard, some one will take your shin
    Don’t pick biscuit on the floor, devil don eat am”.
    Lol.

    Fun times but after a while all the ishawuru juju feeling fades.

    Merry Christmas in advance to everyone!

    imperfectlyperfectlives.com/end-of-year-appreciation-giveaway/.com/end-of-year-appreciation-giveaway/

  10. omole

    December 22, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    you are a great writer.you make every article come alive with your words.as nigerians,we cant run away from these juju stories but hey we are wiser now and know how to seperate truth from myth.can you give me writing tips pls? i just love the way you write.merry xmas to you too!

  11. TA

    December 22, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Lol! Atoke of life. Am an active card-carrying member of the foodie club. No retirement plans over here. Lol 🙂 Nice read as usual.
    I don’t pick up stuff from the ground not because of fear of ‘ juju/jazz’ but because I feel it is dishonest,if it is not mine, I won’t be picking it. I know if I don’t someone else would anyway and the owner may likely not get it back but hey, that’s just me!
    Congratulations on the completion of your Masters. My sister, E nor easy. Eku-ise.
    I see you are still publicity shy. You still dey use your pseudonym (I assume Atoke is) dey write. Issokay o. One day one day…Meanwhile, ever thought of doing a post on the online persona of commenters on BN? The BN article on 2014 Epilogues got me thinking along those lines.
    Have a great week y’all.

  12. Person

    December 22, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    ‘Eni ti Sango ba ti oju e wole, ko ni ba won bu Oba koso’ is my general philosophy and attitude to all things ‘supernatural’. I have a healthy fear and respect for these things based on personal experiences. I do not let my experiences control my life but I do not deceive myself about their existence and/or potency. I guess with all the technological advances and the removal from our communal living, it is far easier to scoff at things we know nothing ability 🙂

    • Person

      December 22, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      *about.

  13. tunmi

    December 22, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    My own problem with the superstitious belief is that with all these juju wahala…Una no get light? Your juju no dey reach engineering level? No light, no good road.

    I work with Sierra Leonians and the juju belief is real. Especially when it comes to romantic relationships. Rather than consider that one may be dickmatized/pussymatized…nope, na efo e eat or na juju den do. It’s funny until you realize how they apply this thinking to their daily lives.

  14. Mimi

    December 22, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Even white people believe that there are evil forces. My dear TD Jakes preaches against witchcraft! So my dear Africans have deep envy,especially Nigerians! And envy was equated to witchcraft in the Bible! So it practiced all over the world in different forms and dimensions. But it is worse in Africa where they fly in the morning, I witnessed a woman in Nigeria in deliverance who confessed that she goes to the river with her whole body on alert! She does not have to sleep and her spirit will go! She goes in flesh! Half of the yoruba movies are based on true stories! So it is up to anybody on what they want to believe as Jesus Christ is the Head of principality and powers! But you must know the word to apply that authority anywhere you are in the world.

    • chi-e-z

      December 22, 2014 at 8:38 pm

      Chai MiMi stop being stupid. You have you ever seen any human being fly. If we could just up and go across continents why do we need planes. Science over Superstition please.

  15. oj

    December 22, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    while I believe in supernatural evil, after all the bible says the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one (1 john 5:19), hence wicked people will do their work, I also believe that at times “time and unexpected events” overtakes people too (Ecclesiastes 9:11). Apart from that, sometimes, we are the architects of our problems. E.g., a lady had done 5 abortions and when she gets married and is ready to have a child, she can’t because of the effects of her actions. Is her old aunty in the village to be blamed? Hence, we need to be balanced when attributing blame.

  16. aj

    December 22, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    you couldn’t keep things light as per Christmas time…ehn Atoke? Its all good…maybe because i am listening to carols as I read your article.

  17. Isis

    December 23, 2014 at 7:56 am

    i love you Atoke #nohomo#

  18. Easy n Gentle

    December 23, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    i have seen enough Nnkan nbe episodes that my doubts have been cleared. And how almost the entire cast of that Ajilore movie Koto Aiye died within a few years of each other is enough for me to give what is Ceasar’s unto him. I would stay my lane, hopefully they’d stay on theirs. The sky is enough for all bird to fly. That Sango proverb above was just apt; **shaking my tail feather for dem Mama oooooo**

  19. Moyo

    January 5, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    LWKMD,

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