As I might or might not have mentioned before, growing up as a kid I was more afraid of Nigerian movies or Nollywood movies as they are now called than I was of your typical Hollywood horror flick. I was more afraid of the witches, wizards, evil spirits, demons and witchdoctors (aka babalawo aka dibia) that were common in that period of nollywood history than I was of Freddy Kruger, Jason, Candyman or Chuckie (ok maybe Chuckie freaked young me a little bit). Why is this you ask? To my younger mind the threat of witchcraft, someone using native medicine to make you go mad, kidnapping you and using your body parts for rituals was realer (more real?) than Freddy Kruger who I knew was not real and seemed to only attack oyibo children (oyibo translates as white but refers to ‘western’ people). I was safe in Nigeria from Freddy Kruger I thought but was not safe from the Nigerian occult. Why did I think that? Growing up and this is still true today, the Nigerian society has stories of occult happenings floating around, stories perpetuated by people that never witnessed the original event or the real reason behind the event.
I remember stories about children who collected sweets from their nursery school teacher and the sweets turned into human fingers. How did they know this? Well apparently one of the kids did not consume his sweets when he was given and left it in his pocket. When his mother took his trousers to go wash them she felt something in his pocket and lo and behold it was a human finger. This was one of those stories parents told their children back then so they did not collect things from strangers. The weirdest part is that some of these parents believed the BS (Cow Excrement) they were telling their children. pauses to engage in hearty laughter. That;s the one I can remember from when I was a kid.
I remember reading in a newspaper that Nigerian police once arrested a goat for a crime. What was the crime? Did the goat eat grass that wasn’t his? No, not at all. The goat apparently was a thief who transformed into a goat to evade capture by the police while he was being chased. You would think this would be in a tabloid newspaper or paper of low repute but no sir, It was in one of the most widely read newspapers in Nigeria. I have read stories of people being arrested for stealing peoples genitalias by use of magic just by exchanging handshakes. All this are part of perpetuating the myth of “Juju/Jazz.”
What is Jazz/Juju? Unfortunately in this context Jazz does not refer to the genre of music that made men like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock and Duke Ellington famous. Jazz or Juju as it referred to in some circles has a different meaning.
Jazz/Juju is a form of Nigerian spiritualism often referred to as voodoo in many other cultures that supposedly involves communication with spirits, ancestors and traditional deities who grant mystical wishes to those who entreat these spirits. Most of the time this communication with spirits or ancient Nigerian deities occurs through the use of a native doctor or witch doctor who is the intercessor between the devotee and these spirits. This transaction often involves some form of sacrifice, be it monetary or in kind. Sometimes animals, body parts and even human beings are requested (This is according to popular belief). When said exchange is made the person can gain whatever they requested for be it money, power, love or the destruction of an enemy. Jazz is a newer term for the phenomenon. It used to be called juju years back.
So you see based on this definition. A lot of people in our society despite being Christian or Muslim believe that these spirits have an effect on their lives. In fact in addition to a belief in their religion of choice for the sake of belief or upbringing, many people see Christianity or Islam as a means to protect them from the influences of evil spirits often conjured by their “enemies” who have to be “godless” heathens. This leads to especially in Christianity which I am more familiar with to battleground Christianity.
Battleground Christianity is that type of Christianity that sees the world as spiritual battleground where spirits of the devil are fighting with the spirits of light for the human soul daily. These are the people that are always casting out demons and evil spirits. These are the people that are on the constant search for witches and wizards amongst them. Those covert agents sent by the devil to infiltrate their household and use jazz/juju to destroy them. It is the battleground christian who if you were to face facts fears the devil more than he fears God. Because honestly, if you place so much emphasis on the devil and more than half of your prayers are spent rebuking the devil rather than praising your God, my dear friend you probably fear the devil more than you fear God. That’s just my opinion. Why would anyone place God on what seems to be equal footing with the devil. Do you not know that he created the heavens and the earth?
With this belief in juju/jazz comes the belief that a woman can completely bewitch a man into falling in love with her. Maybe she went to a witch doctor to tie down the man’s spirit and tether him to her. Kind of like a spiritual bluetooth remote control. Maybe she went to a traditional medicine practitioner who gave her a potion that he claimed will capture the man of her dreams for her. The how is not important to the people who believe in this and the plausibility of such things never occur to them. I recently read a story on Linda Ikeji’s Blog about an actress who used a “love charm” to tie her millionaire boyfriend and as a result he bought her lots of fancy things until his pastors let him know what was going on spiritually (read it here). Are you serious? He gave her all those things because of a love charm. Maybe/perhaps the bedmatics were that lovely. I strongly believe that love charms are a farce. A woman does not need spiritual help to completely have a man under her control. There are natural ways this can be done and in most cases, that is the case. Dear ladies who use jazz/juju to attract men, first of all stop being so damn desperate. Second of all, learn the art of seduction. Use google, it is your friend.
Another unfortunate product of the belief in jazz/juju is the victimization of children as witches and wizards. Now before you start to think, “oh these savages”. I will say this, the fact that things such as jazz/juju are seen as devilish by Nigerians and I am guessing Africans is the missionaries fault. You see when the ‘white man’ came to Africa he discouraged the traditional religion and preached and propagated the message that it was of the devil and as a result you will find that the people torturing these children as witches are mostly Christians and have this mindset embedded in them from birth. No one like to torture children but apparently some people do it for the greater good. Go figure.
Now I can go on for days about Jazz/Juju and how I think it is all a load of bollocks but then my fingers would hurt from typing. I personally think this pre-occupation with juju/jazz in our society is detrimental for many reasons. By believing people get rich through juju/jazz many people are not taking responsibility for their own wealth and well being, they are looking for a magic number to get rich quick. By thinking love can be obtained by the wave of a calabash so to say, we are hurting ourselves. By thinking we are in a constant state of spiritual warfare and appointing ourselves as the physical instrument of God’s pain we are doing ourselves and our children plenty of harm. Its also a shame that many of our leaders keep witch doctors by their sides and consult them on their “enemies”. This issues cuts across all areas of our society. I feel that as a people if we put our minds to better things than believing fairy tale stories we would go far as a nation. Let those who want to do jazz do their jazz. It is their business. Great countries were made on hard work and defeating enemies in the physical realm. We live in the physical jo!
What are your thoughts on jazz/juju? Do you have any stories to share? I especially would be interested if you witnessed them first hand.
Video of comedy by I go dye below, skip to around 2:05, at some point he says, “abi AC dey kill juju”