Nigerian Christians and their practice of Closet Juju

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For about a month now, a certain lady on Nigeria’s social media space, who claims she is an Ogbanje, with ties to river goddesses, has been a subject of criticism among social media users. She markets items that she claims can bring good fortunes to people and turn their lives around for the better.

All they have to do is to carefully observe the rituals that come with each product and maintain positive energy. Her products which come in different categories, cost between #30,000 for a hand bracelet and #50,000 for a waistbead or body scrub which she claims are all fortified against evil. She calls herself the digital Ogbanje and has over 100,000 followers on her Facebook page.

The recent criticisms of her activities led to some of her followers coming out to say that the products they bought from her, to attract good fortune, did not work. Instead, they were faced with more problems.

Some of her critics also criticise her followers who are mostly Christians who deny their faith on her wall to benefit from the giveaways she does from time to time. They wonder why any Christian should be following someone who has openly confessed her ties to marine spirits.

I am not in the least bit surprised that her followers are 99.9% Christians. Not just Christians by way of a religious nomenclature, but Christians who go to church at least once in a week. Christians who profess Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and saviour and believe that at the mention of his name, everything that is the antichrist and inimical to their well being in life, must bow. They profess Jesus as Lord and believe demons and all of life’s challenges, must bow at the mention of his name; they believe the name of Jesus is a strong tower that can shield them from every arrow shot from the enemy’s camp, yet, they buy into the rituals of blue eye beads, abortion scrubs and the other rituals she sells on her social media accounts.

I will tell you why.

The average Nigerian Christian is a low key/Closet believer in Juju. A closet African traditional religion adherent. He may be a faithful churchgoer, a tongue talking and Holyghost fire-spitting Christian who believes the name of Jesus is higher and stronger than any other name.

However, in his subconscious state, he still believes that the juju his ancestors served before the introduction of the so-called “Whiteman’s Jesus,” is stronger and better.

You don’t need to go too far to prove my assertions right. Listen to your Christian friends talk. E get where matter go reach, Dem go begin make reference to how one juju for their village fit perform wonders. Am l right or am l right?

A friend of mine, from one of the oil-producing states, is one l could confidently refer to as a truly born again Christian. If making heaven was by the lives we live outwardly, then as far as l am concerned, that guy has a front row in heaven’s temple.

One evening, someone drew our attention to a story. The indigenes of a particular local gov’t in one of the oil-producing states, were in a fight with an oil-producing company that had taken some of their lands.

“This kind of nonsense cannot happen in my state,” my friend said. ‘My people will just use Juju and settle the matter. You go com my state com carry land? It is not possible. For my place, nothing like court o. By the time we carry Juju go keep for gate for una, we go see as una go wan com collect our land na.’

‘Even if the land was given to the company by the state gov’t?’ I asked him.
‘Which Yeye Gov’t. For my place, govt no get mind to carry people land give company. Dem no dey fear?’
‘Well sha, before you talk go far. Every land for this country, according to the land use act, na gov’t property. Na govt dey decide how dem wan allocate the land. So if your state gov’t say dem wan carry una land give company, nothing wey una fit do. Besides dis one whey you dey hail juju like this, u no be Christian again?’

‘Babe forget that talk. E get where the tin go reach, u go go hol the religion of your forefathers’ he said, with so much conviction.

My friend is still outwardly born again but once in a while, he alludes to the power of juju. Subconsciously, he is a Juju adherent, Christianity notwithstanding.

In the Idoma culture where l am from, when a woman dies, you don’t bury her in her husband’s place. You take the corpse back to her father’s village for burial. This has caused non-Idoma men who would have married an Idoma woman, to change their minds. I have never had an Idoma suitor.

Every suitor in my life has been a non-Idoma person. Some of them stopped in their tracks when they learnt about the culture. Since it was becoming obvious l may never marry an Idoma Man, l had to ask some people l respect so much, what happens if l die and l am buried in my husband’s place. Two of them were honest. They said they didn’t know. They only grew up to know there was such a culture. Why it is there and what happens when it is broken, they have no idea.

The third person, a believer in Christ and l mean a true believer, said ‘ Alekwu will start killing your children until your corpse is exhumed and brought back to your father’s village.’
‘Really?’ I asked.
‘Yes.’
‘And you believe that?’
‘Of course, l do. That is our culture and if we fail to adhere, Alekwu (spirits of our ancestors) will not take it lightly.’

‘Haba Ma. And you call yourself a believer in Christ. How can you believe in Christ on one hand and hold tenaciously to your belief in Alekwu on the other hand? Choose one na. How is Alekwu supposed to have a hold to deal with my kids when l belong to Christ and have never sworn allegiance to any alekwu deity?’

She began to stutter. I didn’t bother to pursue the conversation any further.

Someone once dared a certain atheist who was fond of posting articles attacking Christianity, to attack an African god the same way he was attacking the Christian God. The person assured the atheist that he was going to die within a certain period if he dared to.

That post went viral on Facebook. Christians gleefully trooped to the challenger’s wall, daring the atheist dude to pick up the challenge. They were so sure that the said atheist would truly die as African gods are known to be powerful, no-nonsense gods. The same Christians who would still go to church in droves on Sunday morning and profess Jesus as all-powerful. At whose name, every other god bows. Need l tell you that even the atheist refused to take up the challenge? He didn’t want to die l guess. Obviously, his atheism was the type that didn’t believe in the existence of the Christian God but believed in the existence and efficacy of African deities. Please remind me again of the definition of atheism.

Or is it my prayerful, tongue-speaking, the blood of Jesus pleading friend who never allows me to leave my slippers outside her door whenever l visit? She says the world is filled with wickedness. Someone might just jazz my slippers while they are outside.

One day l was so pissed that l had to tell her to stop disturbing God.
‘You wake up every night to pray. Yet you don’t believe that God can protect you against jazz. You have to pack your slippers and hide. You can’t leave your clothes outside till the next day. Someone might put juju on them.

Then why do you disturb God and your neighbours if you don’t believe in his power to save? Juju is more powerful than your prayers. Kuku follow juju na. Leave God. Leave the church. Chest Juju with pride. Stop this annoying thing you are doing. You are only breeding unnecessary fear in people,’ l chided.

Did she listen? No. She is still wearing her fear of juju on her sleeve, with shameless pride. God on one hand and the subconscious belief that juju is more powerful than her God, on the other hand.

Go to our markets. Traders have one form of juju or the other aimed at helping them boost their businesses. How about our drivers who ply interstate? Check inside engines or dashboard. Most of them have juju hidden in there to ward off accidents or death in case of an accident.

Ironically, they still have chaplet hanging on their windscreens or somewhere in their shops. I don’t even want to mention our footballers. Their use of juju is legendary. For all these groups of people, If Jesus doesn’t work fast enough, juju must work.

These same people troop to their various churches on Sunday morning to proclaim Jesus as the lord and master of the whole world. The all-powerful God that every knee trembles at his presence. Every knee except the knees of juju and African deities.

The average Nigerian Christian believes subconsciously that when God is taking his time to make things right, the Juju of his ancestors can take his place albeit temporarily. The average Nigerian Christian subconsciously believes that although God is powerful, Juju is more powerful and gives faster results. He also believes that because God is all-merciful, he can hold onto God with one hand and use the other hand to romance juju.

That’s the reason why although churches are filled to the brim on Sundays, people like the social media self-acclaimed digital Ogbanje, can still be in business. After all, she provides them with a quick solution to all their lives problems.

Good a thing such people eventually find out for themselves that God cannot be mocked and though he may tarry longer than we think, it is only his gifts and blessings that make one rich without adding any sorrows.

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