Friday, April 10, 2009

Western Civilization, Ojuju Calabar, & African Superstitious Beliefs

My Mind is in over-drive & I can't help it. There are so many things I'd like to yarn about but I'll keep this entry short.

First, so how did the 'West' take manage conquer the whole world? I know there have been so many propositions as to why they managed to basically assimilate the entire globe into their fold. But how did they really do it? I was thinking to myself. For example, how can a small country like Portugal, common portugal manage to colonize Brazil, a whole Brazil? It boggles my mind because now Brazilians, Angolans, Cape Verdeans & so many other small pockets of people speak Portuguese.

Or take the more popular example, the U.K. That tiny mass of land. How did they manage to imprint English on nearly the entire world? And they were not even that many back then. As I sit here typing this entry, I wonder what the world would've been like if the West had not conquered the rest. Perhaps what if we were living in an African Paradigm, where Yoruba or Swahili was the more popular global lingua franca. What would civilization look like? I dunno how the West take manage conquer the whole world but this leads me to another matter.

Ojuju Calabar oyoyo oyoyo. I can only speak from a Nigerian viewpoint. I know that things like witchcraft, mammy wata, ogbanje, abiku, jinns, and ritual killings are very real and affect the daily lives of people. But I can't stop wondering why we (sub-Saharan Africans in general, but Nigerians in particular) are so tied to these ancestral beliefs and old world patterns of thought. In a very general sense, it seems to me that progress usually comes with the overthrow of one generation or the passing along of one wind of change. So perhaps the only real development or growth we can expect to see in Naija will happen when we have moved beyond the stage of 'superstitious beliefs' and beyond the era of paying homage to ancestral deities. Again, I will not generalize to all Nigerians on this issue since many people are quite 'progressive' but I bet a bunch of y'all know what I'm on about. Y'all know about that aunty in the village you've been warned about, or how we don't like telling people the day we're traveling so they don't go & plan for you on the highway (or whichever way you plan to travel).

In the end, I won't deny it - I'm caught up in a half-way house. I have been socialized in a western civilization, I speak English, I think in English, I write in English, I catch myself using words like 'uncivilised', 'barbaric' sometimes to describe things that seem...well, quite barbaric to me; such as the killing of twins, maiming of albinos, e.t.c. But these things were are happening in Africa.

And yet, I culturally subscribed to these things by having a strong awareness of their existence in reality. I remember my mom warning me some years ago to be careful about my friend whom she suspected had ogbanje. This suspicion was because of the girl's erratic behaviour. Needless to say, I wasn't ever really friends with that girl anymore. Call me paranoid or whatever, but I didn't feel like joining any night-time flying squad just yet.

25 comments:

mizchif said...

Are u sure...a night time flying squad does sound like fun...

true talk though....we all have those aunties we know better than toaccept anything from when we go to the village.

Original Mgbeke said...

LOL, man that U.K colonization no get part 2 sha. A tiny mass of land indeed.
I too wonder what the world would have been like if we hadn't been conquered. Questions, questions...

LOL I'm mad you said Ojuju Calabar oyoyo, too funny. I doubt we will ever fully move past our superstitious beliefs o. I mean even till today, if word on the street was that that Aunty was responsible for X and Y's death, abeg prevention is better than cute. I no go chop for her house o. Shuoooo...

LOL @ nighttime squad. You no wan join the lady koi koi clique.

LovePaprika said...

Anya!!!!!!!!!!! back to read

LovePaprika said...

lol @ you not feeling like flying around anymore!!! anyway! this post is something I actually think about a whole lot and I actually started writing an article on western civilisation eradicating patriarchal beliefs and 'minority' cultures? Oh well to be honest I don't think it is something that can be truly achieved. I mean I don't think because we speak English 'and all' we could ever obliterate our cultures... and to some extent the beliefs we Nigerians/Africans hold of witchcraft 'and all' is not our fault!!! oya now if you wan bone am bone am but u know things happen... it is only wise to listen to the elders even when you think they are somewhat myopic. however some people are myopic! lol

Afrobabe said...

lmao @ oyoyo oyoyo...brings back memories men...

I am more baffled at how america became as big as it is...Heard the pioneers were criminals that were shipped there, were the criminals that plenty?

Buttercup said...

Sometimes I wonder what wud have happened if it were the other way around..just what if Africa as a whole took over the world???

hmm..

Kemberly said...

all I have to say about UK colonizing almost half the globe is that it was meant to be. Nothing happens for nothing and out of nothing.

As for Africans/Nigerians and our juju ways, it amazes me! The things I've heard and watched are mind boggling. One just has to stay steadfast in one's belief in God!

Lolia said...

"Night time flying squad"

You're not even serious oh! lol

Meanwhile sometimes I wish that Africans had met the west half way instead of allowing themselves to be completely taken over...Sometimes I wish I thought in my language {which I can't even speak...le sigh} instead of in English...

All this is really distressing to me sometimes but I guess I've come to accept it...

bob-ij said...

lmaoooo @ ojuju Calabar and really I don't know how the colonial masters did it.

On the matter of superstitions, even though I've never experienced these, I believe they exist. Simply because of Christianity I believe that where there is good, there is evil. And where there are angels there are demons.Science has tried but it can't change my mind...lol!

Lol @ the picture tho...please don't join, stay with us...lol..

x!

Rita said...

I have the same questions you have concerning the Western Civilization. Somehow I feel the Africans were doing fine, maybe not as fast in development, but more content.

Ojuju Calabar...when last did I hear that word? lol

Favoured Girl said...

Funny enough, hubby and I were talking to an elderly English couple last week and this topic came up. They were asking us questions about Africa and our languages, and we talked about how the English and Frech came to carve up our continent such that their languages have become our "official" languages. Then they also went to take over Australia, the Americas and so on..

On superstition, I don't think it can be fully eradicated. It's almost as if we are more spiritual in our outlook.

CultureCynic said...

Awesome post.what is amazing about this is the irony. I mean if the juju thing is really strong and powerful, shouldn't they have tried to prevent it by sending some potent juju Whitey's way? Where the gods and high priests on leave on that day???? jsut saying also it is crazy how the belief in these supernatural things completly thrumps common sense and christian beliefs when brought into context. for example, even people who claim to be really religious still subscribe to these ideas albeit not in them, but somehow they are able to acknowledge its existence. it is crazy how strogly engrained these beliefs are in our collective psyche. I don't kno what i believe in nigeria but that shit still creeps back in when i hit Murtala Muhammmed...lol. There are some stuff i just wld rather not know but i still take precaution sha, i don't eat in people's houses when am home in Naija, even here i still feel weird sometimes leaving my food in a communal fridge, in case someone puts juju in it, can u imagine....i think most of it is subconscious!!! it is all relative and hella contradictory.. people just can't help it, like other belief systems people find themselves believing in them even when they don't have any tangible proof to prove otherwise. But i find it quite ironic tho that even religious people still go out of their way to still acknowldge that the juju thing does exist, otherwise why else are their pastors in business just to cast out evil spirits.

Alot of it is ignorance, some of it is traditional (ppl find themeselves subscribing to them cuz thats the way it) but i think on a very basic level it thrives because alot of ppl including christains haven't been able to completly debunk it. the missionaries tried to debunk it wit christainlty didn't they?? Yet, ppl still hang on to them.

the type of shit we believe mehn. any weird quirk or difference was delegated as an ogbanje trait...., my eye colour, my cynicsm, damn i really suffered enh becuz of ppl's ignorance ahahahahahah but who is laffing now...

lol about the flying on a stick thing, mehn that will be kinda rad tho, to be able to fly anywhere in the world without immigration asking u for papers. LMAO....

tobenna said...

Yeah. We are fixated on a lot of crap. Thats Naija for you.
Couple of days ago, I had difficulty reaching a friend on his mobile. When I eventually got through, he said: "bros, no vex. Network been dey bad for this side. E be like say the winches wey dey this side dey hold meeting for air when you try call. Na dem dey block airwaves"
Sigh

AnyaPosh said...

2 mizchif, hmm..my luv there'll be no flying for me at all o.

2 original mgbeks, that lady koi koi clique no need me abeg. but 4real, all that witchcraft shit freaks the hell outta me. Like you can't be free again becus you dunno who has 'spiked' the fanta b4 e reach u.

2 lovePaprika, i didn't get to flying in the 1st place o. hmm, this myopia is seriously affecting everything else. we talk of development but they're killing children in akwa-ibom state suspected of witchcraft. that one pass myopia, more like acute blindness!

2 afrobabe, i'm glad that 'oyoyo' was gud 4 u. I hear they shipped criminals to Australia but those aussie-landers still turned out gr8. america isn't anomaly. I think they took advantage of the very divided native tribes to wreck their havoc & rape a continent.

2 buttercup, i think about nearly everyday. what if we really existed in an African paradigm? i can't even begin 2 imagine what that will look like simply bcos we have NEVER seen it anywhere.

2 Kemberly, I don't like to think it was written somewhere in the eternal annals of history for it to be this way. But yea, it is what it is. And that witchcraft bit is just too sick & unfortunate.

2 lolia, same here hun. i know that weak acceptance that comes when there's nothing you can do single-handedly to change ur fate - sigh. it sucks but africa no try at all. nuff said.

2 bob-ji, my dear they exist o! like you said; where there is good, there is also evil. heck, where there is light, darkness is present lurking somewhere nearby.

2 rita, I think similar thoughts sometimes, like how they say nigerians are one of the happiest people on earth and yet there is so much poverty in nigeria with some of the most deplorable living conditions on the planet. It's a contradiction but there is contentment. I guess "development" is not everything in the end.

2 favoured girl, i think official languages suck becos now I don't speak my native language. And it's nobody's fault really, i'm just a proper product of colonisation & it really sucks.

2 culture cynic, I love your responses! very lengthy that I feel we're actually having a conversation. 1st, my thoughts exactly. why didn't juju save us from colonialism? e be like say whitey won the battle in that one. Just goes to show that the juju no too potent like it claims to be! Or more vividly, why hasn't juju aided in real development? y'know like y hasn't juju improved living conditions, better roads, better healthcare? like seriously what has juju really done for us lately?!
And my mom was concerned about that communal fridge too in my townhouse. She was so concerned that I had to buy a small bar fridge for my room, just incase someone tried to jazz me!
Eyahh, they thought you were ogbanje too? LOL..I'll save my ogbanje post for another day. It's so sad, I started questioning myself, like maybe 'I did' have that ogbanje, or maybe there was something wrong with me for being so hyper. But it's all BULLSHIT. Ignorance is the real canker-worm.

2 tobenna, LOL...as in witches really blocked the airwaves during your call. Your friend shouldn't look to his network providers, whether MTN, Globacom or whoever hasn't upgraded their infrastructure, he should be there blaming the witches. I bet those poor witches were just minding their own business jejely in one coven to even bother messing with the stuff :)

Ladi said...

The truth is there were African civilizations when parts of Europe were 'barbaric.'

And Westerners are equally superstisious, number 13, number 7, Wicca (witchcraft), Ouji boards (misspelt), and go read about baseball players rituals ()

The problem is whatever Africans and other 2nd class folk do is seen as barbaric even when Oyibos do the exact smae thing it is acceptable.

Example. Polygamy vs. One wife and 3 mistresses.

Juju vs. Wicca, Psychics.

I think we should step out of the Eurocentric ways maybe we'll realize that were aren't inferior (minus development..lol!)

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

how did they subjugate us all?

The system, disease, religion (sorry, some might not like it but...)...

The problem is we continue to allow ourselves to be dominated, at least some of us...

Ojuju calabar... lol!!!! Haven't heard that word in ages! Nighttime squad ke?

Third World Profashional said...

Thank God the West conquered the world! I'm not anti-African or anything, but we gotta be realistic, it was for the better. Or the world would have been a superstitious, chauvinistic, backward place, non?

L-VII said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L-VII said...

You know, I have now spent some time thinking about this, a part of me is glad the Christians came over, we were doing some abominable things(as were Europeans pre Christianity) but with that said, the problem I have with our acceptance of the European standard is that we stopped cherishing our own culture. There are Nigerians who take pride in not being able to speak their own tongue, there are folks who will reject their own tradition and live according to someone else's rights and wrongs and that upsets me

I do not believe in Juju, voodoo or obeah, I think like any religion it's all about mind control, I do not think any babalawo can change one's destiny(if there is such a thing). The reason the bloody thing is still in perpetuity is that it has been ingrained in us as Africans and as usual we do not ask the questions that need to be asked.

The idea that someone else is responsible for your problems, the idea that you ills happen because you have enemies, is attractive to us to be honest, it reminds me of the Nigerian Pentecostal church right now, the only difference is that there are no sacrifices being made, oh wait.....

Nice post, very thought provoking.

L.

Enkay said...

Truth is we're not so different from the west in terms of superstitious beliefs and all.

Do you know that they are involved in all sorts of things that aren't far removed from our juju here?

I guess they were much more curious than we were/are and sought to explore more of the world around them and hence take over. We were content to just stay where we are.

You don't need much to conquer. The man with superior knowledge would most likely always subdue the one without.

I guess that's how they did it.

Thanks for the birthday message on my blog!

J'Adore Fashion said...

lol @ ojuju calabar, stories of those nature are scary and barbaric at same time--the thing nigerians believe in or blame thing on all this beliefs is sickening---nice topic/post :)
xx

Naija Babe said...

My dear, I think we all live in a state of cultural schizophrenia...we walk the line...we discuss today's world in western terms but yet it is not uncommon to shout back to sender...yet sometimes I wonder if Africa's fascination with the supernatural is not backwards thinking but forwards thinking...it has been theorized by some that we live in a world of parallel universes...no be spirit world dem dey refer to? perhaps...I agree however that superstition has been used as a tool to instill fear in people, and it is the fear that gets you,not necessarily some chicken legs tied together with red string. Anyway...we live, we learn, we grow...na so e be. Na so e go be...
Be well.

Banky W said...

I like ur blog :o)~

Lady X said...

LOL at you not wanting to join the night time squad haha!
Love the little picture at the end!

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