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Yetyne: But Why Are You Afraid of Juju?



My mother had a land encroachment problem. It wasn’t the typical ‘neighboring land owner trespasses by a few feet’ matter, this was a case of ‘trespasser moves in with construction men and machinery to boot’ land grabbing.

She had purchased the parcel of land for speculation purposes a few years ago and sold it sometime after to a colleague. The said colleague had been unable to secure the property, thereby resulting in this unfortunate episode. My mum had been called in to assist in resolving the matter and in her usual superwoman manner dove into the issue head-on.
Time after time they went to the site requesting to meet the person responsible for the construction work, the responses they got from the construction workers rapidly declined from the ”Ah! And he just left o” *laden with concern*, to an “I don’t know” shrug *with fake confused facial expressions* and the firm “he’s not around” defiant stare down. They met with the family who sold the land to them, requesting that they wade into the matter, the family stated they didn’t want to get into the middle of it. A court case was out of it, her colleague who was a widow couldn’t afford that option; it is not uncommon to see pending court cases over land disputes being passed from one generation to the other. They needed to meet with the trespasser to dialogue on a resolution… but how?

As she drove past a busy market while on her way to the site for an umpteenth time, she had a light bulb moment. Immediately she turned around, parked at a convenient spot close to the market and dashed inside to make some much needed purchases. Within the hour, after the stopover at the market, she was parked at the construction site, head buried in the boot of her car assembling items. First she tore a strip out of a yard of red cloth she had purchased earlier, this was tied firmly around a small calabash, a large feather was strategically placed in between her lips and off came her footwear. In a performance that would rival that of any diabolical character played by Patience Ozokwor, she walked into the site, barefoot, in a trance like state. She trudged on till she got to a spot she perceived as the mid-point of the land, all the while ignoring the shocked looks being directed at her, and then proceeded to smash the calabash on the ground in a dramatic manner. Immediately all hell broke loose; grown men and women were screaming for their lives while scampering to safety, within minutes the elusive trespasser had materialized at the site and my mum was able to proceed with the next steps.

She relayed the episode to me over dinner after I returned from work, in between my peals of laughter, I managed to ask her if she wasn’t scared one bit while going through her make believe act, she retorted with “won fin Sango sere!” (They don’t play with Sango).

I remember an episode in University during my 2nd year, a girl’s phone in my hostel had been stolen…this wasn’t unusual. She stood outside her room, venting and bellowing threats…nothing new about that. After a while she dashed into her room and came out minutes later with a weirdly packaged candle… this was getting interesting. She set the candle on the passage, lit it, then made a pronouncement that if her phone wasn’t returned before the candle melted off completely, so so and so would be the fate of the thief and then left the hostel. Immediately the hostel went into overdrive, people chatting in small excited groups. “Her father is a medicine man o”, “Mehn! Don’t try that girl, she can do and undo”, “Haven’t you noticed that the candle flame hasn’t flickered once, though today is windy?” To cut the long story short, the girl’s phone was returned before the candle had gone halfway, neatly tucked under her pillow with an apology letter.

Nigeria can be labelled as a very religious country, if you take into consideration the number of churches and mosques that dot every habitable space. The street I used to live in had 4 churches and a major mosque, as a result you would think my street would be sane…but…that’s a story for another day. Anyways back to the topic, Nigeria has an estimated population of 182 million people¹, and according to the World Factbook² by the CIA, about 50% of Nigerians practice Islam, an estimated 40% are Christians while roughly 10% practice traditional indigenous religions or no religion. So don’t you find it perplexing that if a spouse needs to assure his/her partner or partner’s family about their fidelity, the most popular route is going to swear in the village shrine? Isn’t it amusing that our politicians at times have to swear their loyalty to godfathers in places that are neither churches nor mosques? Anybody remember Okija? Don’t we find it scary that human traffickers carry out diabolical rites on their victims to ensure their silence in spite of the heinous crimes committed against them?

My observation is that no matter your gender, age, educational qualifications, exposure or ‘spirituality’ you go fear ‘fear’, when juju is brought to bear in your matter. So why is this? I’m a Christian so permit me to ponder based on my perspective, is it because God’s ways are not our ways? Or is it due to the fact that God is slow to anger and merciful unlike a god who will visit his anger in say 7 days on the intended if they fail to comply with its request? What exactly perpetuates this irrational fear? How do we combat this? Do our religious places of worship, parents, schools etc. need to go further than what they are currently doing to instil the fear of God within us and wipe out the dread for ‘smaller’ gods? Hmmm…so many questions.

Have you ever experienced a real or make-believe voodoo situation? What’s your take on the respect afforded by Nigerians to Juju? Do you think we can improve on this? Let’s share.

¹ ²

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Frizzantine

Yetyne is a number cruncher by day, and an aspiring event planner. A music aficionado, she tweets @yetyne and blogs occasionally on


  1. Africhic

    November 9, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Juju setting Nigerians straight since 1200

  2. missappleberry

    November 9, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Omgosh! This article cracked me up and is so true lol. All i need to know is did your mum still back the land? Your mum is truly a very funny woman. I applaud her. Meanwhile, i have experienced such a thing too in my family. An uncle of mine came back from the united states with a very sophisticated, expensive mobile phone he kept flaunting around. During one of our family meetings, his mobile phone was stolen. Everyone searched and searched, but no one found it. After a while, they began to suspect one of our family friends from nowhere. I think because he had such a thief thief past history lol. His mum who was a typical benin woman would not want to have everyone’s suspicious story. She called her son, and then after grilling him for hours to be sure he was not the one… she spoke out to everyone that she was going to call Ayelala lol, that if they don’t return the phone and continue to blame her son, we would all see what will happen. Everyone thought she was joking lol.
    Lo and behold, a day later some men and women dressed in red cloth came to the family house and worked round for a number of times, hitting a metallic gong and announcing that in 7 days they will put a curse on the thief, so everyone should be informed before the 7th day.
    My fellow BN commenters, to cut the long story short, some minutes after they left, the phone was found lol. I won’t go into details but the thief was a trusted older aunt of mine, who was the closest to my uncle in the family.
    Trust me, all this fetish stuff works in Nigeria till date. Its the fastest way to recover stolen items. Don’t waste your time on Nigerian police or any forms of Nigerian law.

    • Thatgidigirl

      November 9, 2015 at 11:26 am

      I am also Christian so I’m responding from my perspective. Juju is respected in Nigeria partly because of how diligent it’s worshippers are. It’s not uncommon to see Christians flaunt Christian laws eg tithing, fornication and adultery etc, because God is ever merciful. But a juju priest tells a worshipper “you can’t eat snails, you must offer this sacrifice every fortnight…”etc and that person would comply. So the juju answers to them swiftly because they have done all that it has asked them to do. Whereas a lot of Christians serve God on our own terms and abuse grace, yet still expect Him to be loyal to us.
      I grew up in a town where there was a popular water deity predominantly worshipped by women. They would dance in their white wrapper across their chest from one end of the town to the stream where they offer sacrifices, some of them sharp babes o. pls tell me why you would not be afraid of someone who appreciates and reveres her God that much in the open? Come and tell a Christian to go for evangelism and see Na…..

  3. ATL's finest

    November 9, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Lol Voodoo/Juju/jazz etc no be small matter for my Country. I remembered my neighbor didn’t want my brother & I to pluck her oranges & she’s warned us seriously. My mom was so upset but u know guyz now ( my brother was STUBBORN) so we kept plucking it. One day we went there & found out she’s got red cloth with a Lil calabash tired on it ????????( LAUGHING so hard now). My mom kept saying pls don’t go there smh. Now that I’m all grown up, I realized that red cloth & calabash was nothing but a mehn scare??? smh. Lol @ her papa na medicine man. Do u really think her Dad will waste his time to do Juju for a common phone? Well thanks to God for restoring all that belongs to me & bringing us outta that darkness.
    Few years ago, I was in Nigeria & I walked passed where they sold voodoo items & immediately, I PUKED d smell was a Disaster.. To all those that still believe in it, no vex o

  4. ATL's finest

    November 9, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Lmao! @ Since 1200.. But u know at d mention on Juju some backward folks respect themselves. I had a lady messing with my mom back in Nigeria when it came to her meds. All my mom did was put a piece of broom from the house in d bottle & that woman was history.. Myself & my mom laughed so hard.

  5. Tosin

    November 9, 2015 at 11:14 am


  6. Marthilda Amen

    November 9, 2015 at 11:37 am

    I think the fear of juju starts with being guilty of a wrongdoing. pple who are scared must have done something they believe will come back to hunt them.

  7. Nikky

    November 9, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    When I was a day student, on my way to school sometimes these juju practitioners will package their sacrifice at this one particular junction. It contained the usual calabash with boiled yam or plantain, with red oil, and sometimes a dead chicken or lizard. One particular day they decided to switch it up. They left out their garden variety side of dead lizard or chicken and they put a little poppy. I was pissed to say the least, the poor animals neck was twisted at a 180 degree. Can you imagine the pain of such a violent death.
    This juju always lays there until the resident mad man comes to eat the sacrifice or the community people will take it out. You can imagine a dead animal laying there for days even weeks. I use to kick sand Into that calabash sometimes, but when that poor poppy appeared, I just couldn’t do it. Not that I did not want to. I was scared straight. Knowing what I know now I will not only kick sand into that calabash, I will smash it and even bury those poor animals (maybe except the lizard, I hate those things)

  8. Hanee

    November 9, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    You article cracked me up and I think Nigeria movies didn’t help the matter at all. As old as I am I still ask around if people truly disappears because it only happens in movies.

  9. Hanee

    November 9, 2015 at 1:48 pm


  10. gurl_wendy

    November 9, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    That’s what you called been “scared straight “, lolll…..

  11. el patron

    November 9, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    omode o mor ogun on pe ni efo!

  12. CEO

    November 30, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    So so dramatic, lovely . Lol.

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