When I was 17, my mum came home one day and narrated how one of our family friend, who was also my age mate, was scammed. According to my mum, the scammers had hypnotised her, made her take them to her parent’s house, and carted away all her mum’s gold jewelry. Her mum was a businesswoman who sold lace materials in Lagos Island, so she was quite the society woman with a sizeable collection of gold jewellery. The scammers then dumped her at the estate gate and it was a kind neighbour who saw her sitting there looking lost and dejected who took her home. Her mum was not too pleased when she heard the story of how her precious gold jewelry was carted away and insisted her daughter found a way to get them back.
My mum’s goal of telling us about this incident was to warn us to be very careful of scammers when we go out but as I always make light of everything and make everything a joke, I laughed very hard and brushed it off as unlikely to happen to me or my siblings. Whenever any of my siblings was going out, I would jokingly say “be careful of hypno oh” and laugh even harder.
Little did I know I was going to be a victim very soon.
On the day I fell victim to scammers, I was going back to my house in Magodo from UNILAG. I took the campus shuttle and planned to alight at Ketu bus stop, after which I would board a keke marwa to my estate gate and walk home. The bus arrived at Ketu with no issues and I got off.
An old woman who was in her 50s or 60s walked up to me and asked if I knew a certain street in Ketu to which I replied in the negative. She asked a middle-aged woman who was in her 30s or 40s if she knew the same street and the woman said yes and asked her to cross to the other side. I had to cross the roads thrice from the bus stop where we alighted to the other side where I would take the keke marwa to my destination. The old woman began saying many things to the middle-aged woman about someone in her family who was ‘doing’ her and promised to reveal the person’s identity to her whilst also warning her not to treat the person any differently after the revelation. She then turned to me and began giving me all sorts of advice including asking me not to eat certain foods and attend parties late at night. She also mentioned that it’s only my mum’s prayers that have been keeping me. Because I knew my mum indeed prays hard for her kids, I began paying keen attention to her as I still naively assumed it was a great chance meeting someone like her. And then she said somebody was plotting evil against me and she could reveal the person’s identity. Immediately, I perked up and was very interested in knowing who the person was. I had even started going through a list of all the people I knew trying to figure out who could possibly be the culprit.
We finally reached the other side of the road and she said to us that each of us would go to an orita meta (crossroads) along the road and say “I have over crossed my enemies” thrice while swinging our right arm over our heads in an anti-clockwise, circular motion. She also asked us not to look back as we went and said that since we didn’t come into this world with anything and wouldn’t leave this world with anything, we would leave our bags and jewelry behind before proceeding to the orita meta. Once we obeyed these instructions fully, she would tell us the name of the person plotting against us on our return.
The middle-aged woman took off her jewelry and her bag and dropped them with me. The old woman kept saying a bunch of things I don’t remember now as I wasn’t paying attention and only wanted to find out who the person was. A few minutes later, the middle-aged woman returned from her pilgrimage, and the older woman said a name to her. Suddenly, the middle-aged woman began weeping profusely, she was shaking with long, racking sobs that would easily have won her an Oscar. She kept going on and on about how the named person is her sister-in-law and how she’s done everything to help the woman and can’t believe the woman is plotting evil against her. The old woman asked her to maintain her composure and not behave differently when she returned home. She thanked the woman and wore her jewellery.
Then it was my turn and the old woman repeated the instructions to me. I had been drinking SuperYogo and dropped its wrapper on the floor when I finished it. That day, I was wearing my mum’s gold jewellery which I borrowed a few days prior and refused to return, and my sister’s gold chain along with its heavy gold pendant. In my bag, I had
N5000 I had just withdrawn from the ATM, my UNILAG ID card, and a new pair of glasses I had just made. I handed over the items to the middle-aged woman and began my journey to the orita meta. I kept walking and walking and did not arrive at an orita meta. I was too scared to look back for fear of turning into a tuber of yam (I watched a few Yoruba movies as a child where this happened) so I just kept going. After a while, I became convinced there was no orita meta and turned back. I arrived at the spot where I stood with both women but, obviously, they were long gone. I initially doubted I was in the right spot but the SuperYogo wrap I threw on the floor confirmed it was indeed the right spot. At this point, I knew I had been scammed but just to confirm, I asked a man if he knew the street the old woman initially asked me about and he said no such street existed in the area. Suddenly the tears began to stream down my face because won ti get me. The man, out of concern, asked me what happened and after I narrated my ordeal, he shouted at me saying I was stupid to follow strangers and walked away.
I needed only
N30 to board a keke marwa to Magodo gate and I started begging for it but not a single one of the almost 10 people I begged gave it to me. I decided to walk home as it was obvious I was stranded. At the time, I used to wear this very high pair of platform slippers that wasn’t suitable for long-distance treks but I had no choice but to keep walking in them and swaying from side to side like a mad woman because I was very tired. I stopped at a few shops and a church to ask for pure water to drink as I was parched but they all turned me away. I eventually asked for water at a shop where the owner took pity on me and gave me 2 sachets of pure water, even though I had no money to pay for them.
I finally got home, saw my family seated in front of my house but I was too ashamed to narrate my ordeal to them and just went straight to my room to think about my life. I ended up telling my brother the following day and it was he who told my parents and siblings. My mum didn’t even sympathise with me; she laughed hard at me, said it served me right, and this would teach me to stop making light of everything she tells me.
You guys, all the above aren’t even the worst part of the story. I shared the experience with one of my friends and neighbours, a few weeks later, she asked me to accompany her to a friend’s house in Magodo and when I complained that I couldn’t go because it was too far, she said, “ahn ahn, what do you mean it’s too far? Is it not you that walked from Ketu to Magodo?”
Kai! The thing pained me die!
Anyway, I no longer laugh at my mum’s weird broadcast messages on WhatsApp oh! I don’t pay much attention to them but I also don’t laugh at them.