An apology to the witches (Nigeria), Dec 1, 2009, Carlang Mbofung

Imagine a world where everyone seems out to get you. Let’s imagine that your name is “Carlang”. You wake up in the morning and the first thing you hear is the rabid cry of your neighbour shouting “Dear God. Please kill Carlang.” You take a drive in the car and all around you in traffic people are making quiet prayers to God, to fulfil his promises and destroy the evil Carlang. Imagine if all this was done to you because you were suspected of being guilty for about a million crimes. Imagine if you were only really guilty of two of these. Imagine if you were being framed by the state to take the fall for something you had little hand in doing.

Welcome to the world of witches and wizards.

If there is one thing Lagosians and other Nigerians have become very good at, it is finding a person to blame their woes on. In the case of Nigeria’s tirade of problems, there is only one obvious culprit. The witches of Nigeria. The Witches of Nigeria are quite unlike their western counterparts. They are yet to discover the merits of flying with a broomstick but instead prefer to walk around in slow motion with their arms outstretched in paralytic fashion.

It has been 1000 years since the Chinese invented powder and the Nigerian witch is yet to learn how to apply it correctly. In order to address this problem she simply over compensates with her makeup. Unlike other witches in other continents who prefer a good pot of evil noodle soup, the Nigerian witch likes nothing better than to spend the night sipping on human blood. And, going by the opinions of half the nation, the Nigerian witch is also bent on destroying the country.

The last thing I want to do is suggest that witches do not exist. But it does seem odd to me, that so much is blamed on them when the real reasons are actually right there in front of us. Witches didn’t spin the nation into a cycle of military coups. I honestly do not think Babangida woke up in the middle of the night to meet a witch sitting on his bed.

Staring at him with blood red eyes, she pointed a crooked powder-stained finger and droned.

“Plan a coup Babangida or I will suck your blood. Plan a coup now!” To which the army officer, with no other choice, decided to plan a coup and take over the country. A lot was at stake you see—his blood or those of a 100 million Nigerians. He chose wisely.

So when people pray to God asking for him to destroy the witches who are plotting to bring the country to its knees, I am left seriously confused. Are we no longer held accountable for our deeds? Car accidents are no longer caused by speeding or drunk driving. They are firmly the results of witches who sit on the highway and pick out cars at random. The trailer crash that occurred yesterday on the roads for instance was not caused because the driver was speeding, it was caused because a witch stepped into his car, grabbed his foot and slammed on the accelerator. And whilst he was screaming at her to stop, she grabbed the steering wheel and ran the trailer right into a wall.

“I’m sorry,” she explained to the trailer driver. “All I wanted is a bit of your blood, could you please unfasten your seat belt.” I do not begrudge churches their seminars. Prayers are indeed a powerful thing. But why blame everything on the nitpicking hands of our witches? Children fail their Jamb exams because of those witches. Nigerians wrongly blame witches for so many of our failings, that it is almost possible that God might now allow them back into heaven on the technicality of injustice.

Witches now complain that we are simply mean, unfair and rather not nice to them. As one witch observed, all they do is suck our blood and we blame everything on them. If our blood really was that important, how come no one blamed the crash of the Nigerian stock market on mosquitoes?

I probably am wrong to write this. It will not go down well with many people. However I lately find myself being a tiny bit sorry for Nigerian witches every time I drive by a poster announcing yet another seminar designed to chase the witches responsible for our failure as a nation to prosper.

And so, on behalf of all the well meaning Nigerians out there, I apologize to all you witches that might have been killed by our prayers because we wrongly accused you. The truth is we have only ourselves to blame.



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