THE DAY I SAW A WITCH

By David Francis E.

It was an amazing day, that hot afternoon, when the heat of Ekpoma hills dealt with us in the valley. I had just finished eating my first ever black soup with pounded yam when he came in. I mean that tall, huge and muscular boy with a thin-long face whose father was a chief in Auchi. He, the boy, had been called so many names, names because of his father’s wealth, but I chosed to call him Anderson.

 

Like the teens of his age, Anderson was quite as much curious as he was social. When he knocked at my door that afternoon, it wasn’t a surprise. I had thought he wanted to pick up my violin for another round of worthless playing and noise making. “Sir, Sir,” he sobbed quietly, “the whole village is calling her a witch.” I left the book I was reading on the table immediately. When I turned to face him, his eyes drooped.

 

“Are you talking about Josephine or what,” I had asked in shock. I wasn’t in want, to suspect it was Josephine. I never did see her myself, but I could imagine how Anderson loved her from the way she spoke about her. “Sir, even my dad threw me out of the house.” Our eyes met painfully and with an expectant courage, he held my hands firmly and said, “Sir, please come and talk to my dad. He’ll listen to you. He respects you.”

 

It had seemed as if even time itself was against my impromptu visit to Dr. Erugbe’s house. I stood there thinking if I should go and see “the witch” girl first or go straight to meet Dr. Erugbe inside. “Sir, please don’t go to her house. It’s dangerous,” Anderson seemed to have whispered with concern. I had looked right into his eyes and thundered, “are you stupid? In fact, I am going to her house right now!” I turned and walked away from his right. “Take me there my friend!” I said, as I started moving.

 


We entered a hilly compound whose walls were fading away. Anderson stood at the wood gate, which seemed to have been supported by a single nail. With fear in his eyes, and reflecting in his voice he said, pointing to a fallen door, “that’s where she stays sir.” I stared at the direction of his fingers and moved my gaze towards him, wondering why the Chief’s son came here in the first place. Just as I was about to knock at the door, a young lady came out. I never doubted she was the Josephine. Only that, with almond eyes and oval lips, she came out fair, beautiful and attractive. “Is this the witch?” I kept muttering even before I realized I didn’t introduce myself.

 

After my encounter with Josephine that melancholic evening, I went back home. I went back to my library and discovered a history I never paid attention to. It was the history behind witches: “we owe that shadow to the patriarchy — the masculine societal rule that has pervaded the planet for over five thousand years. This is important — not male , not gender, but a perversion of masculine energy which brutalized, raped, suppressed the feminine.

 

The witch-hunts of Salem and Europe whipped up a hysterical mob mentality against women, against the feminine. It rounded up and killed the wise women, the natural healers, any women with land they wanted or those outside of the societal status quo, who refused to conform to Christian and Patriarchal rule.

 

Basically, in fear of the power of the feminine, women, the earth, and its creatures, were slaughtered under false and hysterical pretenses.”

 

Ironically today, unlike “the Malleus Maleficarum,” (Latin for “Hammer of The Witches”) which was a witch-hunting manual written in 1486 by two German monks, Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger, Sarah Durham Wilson, had even went as far as stating rather brilliantly, what she termed, “signs that you are a witch” (in www.rebellesociety.com/2014/01/17/13-signs-youre-a-witch/).

 

Her approach to witchery offers hope to folks who align themselves to Mother Earth and to Nature. This would make sense to you if you understand that the Malleus Maleficarum was used by both Catholics and Protestants for several hundred years, outlining how to identify a witch, what makes a woman more likely than a man to be a witch, how to put a witch on trial, and how to punish a witch. The book defines a witch as evil and typically female.

 

One way or the other and like Richard’s article titled “Causality in African Ontology (in www.reasonchapel.com), the phenomenon of witches are even more obvious in Africa today than anywhere else. One wouludn’t also be so blind to the Patriarchal systems of Medieval Catholicism and Protestantism where witches were either devils or worshippers of devils.

 

Hence, fears about witchcraft rose to fever pitch and sometimes led to large-scale witch-hunts . The key century was the fifteenth, which saw a dramatic rise in awareness and terror of witchcraft, culminating in the publication of the Malleus Maleficarum, but prepared by such fanatical popular preachers as Bernardino of Siena.

 

Throughout this time, it was increasingly believed that Christianity was engaged in an apocalyptic battle against the Devil and his secret army of witches, who had entered into a diabolical pact . In total, tens or hundreds of thousands of people were executed, and others were imprisoned, tortured, banished, and had lands and possessions confiscated. The majority of those accused were women” (cf. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witchcraft).

 

Each time I ruminate on the thoughts of Josephine, I will always ponder intermittently on the remote causes of the belief in witches in 21st century Africa and Nigeria. Refreshingly, while the book on witches was banned and outlawed by Medieval Europe in 1490, Modern Africa, by oral tradition still preaches that: a rich boy who falls in love with a poor girl was bewitched to do so; a  businessman who never succeeds was bewitched by her finance; a male student who fails helplessly was bewitched by the mother, and so on.

 

Unfortunately, some pastors, bishops, Imams, dibias, academicians, etc still at different altars, preach a new kind of witch-hunting on the African soil. A deadly kind of witch-hunting that massages the ego of the wealthy as well as the blame game of thousands of tribes and of citizens, who are yet to take charge of their lives.

 

Shamelessly they wail about witches in offices, in market places, in relationships, in lecture halls, in resident areas and even inside coffins. Shamelessly they create an illusory entity wielding it with unimaginable powers that needs truncating. “The devil is alive,” they’d say, “he lives within that witch!”  For the sake of the next century, may this unseen book of ignorance be, not only banned but burnt!

KISSES OR HISSES? WHY YOU SHOULDN’T BE A PASTOR, PRIEST OR IMAM.

By D. F. Effiong

When I visited the University of Jos sometime ago, we came across a young man who was introduced to us by Dr John Thomas. “He wants to be a priest,” he’d conclude, after telling us he just graduated from a certain department. I just shocked my head in amazement while continuing the serious discourse. It wasn’t until I met him few hours after in the school canteen, not so far from the female hostel where I was at the moment that memories of a man I met in  2013 rushed back. Unlike him, the other fellow I met (in Calabar) was not just a graduate but also working in a hospital. He was well built too and gives that smile that’ll tell you life was good. But he wanted to be a priest – until he met me.

The meeting took place the very day I went to the ‘watt’ market to buy fresh fish. He excused me (obviously he met me discussing politics with a priest and lecturer in UniCal) and begged to hear his story. I couldn’t resist his charmness and gentlemanly approach. For the next two hours, we would stand right there at that spot talking about something – the priesthood. “Sir, I have a good job,” he began “but each time I meet people, even strangers in church, they’d always say I look like a priest.” Many times too, even when I want to forget about it, I keep dreaming of touching souls at night. So I’d ask myself, God are you calling me?” He would go on and on, telling me about the sudden desire to become a priest. After listening, I asked him some questions: first, if he discussed it with a priest, to which he replied enthusiastically, “yes sir, I did. Infact, he even gave me a book titled ‘the joys of the priesthood’ and asked that I pray and fast about it.” “Is that all Mr ehmm…” “James sir, its James!” “Okay Mr James, do you have a girlfriend?” I inquired. He never expected to be asked such ‘unholy’ question. The expression on his face said it all. “Am sorry,” I continued, “but I just want you to be honest please.” “Well, I have a girl…, I mean I used to…” he muttered. “James, you have a girlfriend. It’s okay. Did you tell her about your choice of becoming a priest? What was her reaction if you did?” 

In the few minutes James would tell me about his girlfriend, how she loves him, how angry she was with him, yet still stayed, still visited. I could see the glow, the soothness in his face each time he spoke about her. I now had two variables to weigh and present to  him namely; the life he wasn’t sure of (priesthood) and the one that was right before him (family/job). Right there at the market, I told him shocking but certain truths about the institution he desired to belong. I asked him if he, at his age would be ready to obey his juniors. I asked him, if he could afford to do manual labour, accept to carry out certain absurd punishments, wake up everyday at particular hours, be sent to places he’d never ordinarily choose to go, etc. I asked him daring questions and placed them side by side with the life before him – a comfortable job and a ready lover. I suggested to him not to reject the ‘love’ of a lady because he was listening to the voices in his head. Voices of perfect strangers who studied sorcery and knew what or how a priest should look like but never the ‘love’ of a woman or the pleasures and happiness of a fulfilling job. “I would want you to weigh these two together and make a mature choice,” I said finally as we departed. 
Last year, while I visited Calabar again, I was opportuned to meet him during a public function. “Sir, please meet my girlfriend Maryann.” She stood there with a toothy smile and chubby cheeks and would later offer me a warm handshake. After our conversation that evening, I roamed in the thoughts of knowing the difference between showing someone what a thing is and what it is not. Many a times, pastors, imams or priests as well as religious citizens have lied about or refused to present issues objectively to their followers or admirers. Can we begin to have imams who speak about Islamic tolerance? Can we begin to have priests or pastors who talk about making mature decisions? Can we begin to talk about people who see certain vocations or occupations as exclusively Mr James’ or Miss Rita’s despite signs showing the contrary? We have exposed illusions to our youths and massaged their egos. We tell them, “leave your job and serve God,” not because it is their choice but, because we want them to fill a void we couldn’t feel. We have introduced ‘hisses’ to people’s lives rather than the ‘kisses.’ We have been untrue, and worst of all, we are not even aware of it. Can we say no to absurd and immature decisions?

GAY SEX

By D. F. Effiong

“How did you do it Barnabas” Professor Henry inquired with a glow of excitement. “Do what Prof?” “Your project on ‘Riz Ahmed’s concept of the Importance of Representation” was rated the best during our last Academic Council meeting. With a twinge of pride, followed by a stretch of silence he said, with hands clasped, “thank you very much sir! I mean ehm..mm Prof!” That was the day he would go home forgetting about the harmattan. The day his legs were hit by a drunk ‘okada man.’ In Abuja where his parents stayed, the harmattan was a mere veil of haze, but in Kaduna, it was a raging mercurial presence; the mornings were crisp, the afternoons ashen with heat and the lights unknown. Clothes would even, when washed inside the room get dried up quickly. The leaves from the tree just outside the apartment were nothing but a depressing look at the romance of the cold breeze. Attoh would at most nights, snuggled next to him on his mattress, listen to the whistling pines howling outside, in a world suddenly fragile and breakable. Barnabas’ legs were hurt and weak . 

He lay on his belly, and Attoh would go ahead to cuddle him, expecting a soothing relief from the ranging cold. He straddled him, massaging his back and neck and drawing his hands from under his thick shirt down to his navel. “Come on, let’s praise the weather.” “Yes.” They laughed together as if those words were heard outside the room. Barnabas groaned in pleasure-pain as he raised his two knees to Attoh’s hands. “You should have treated it before you came back na!” Attoh said in a whisper while thickling his underarms and kissing his neck. His body looked frail next to his huge frame, and they seemed somehow to fit effortlessly. “You know what?”

“What? What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. Just go on.”

“Bae, don’t forget that when you say nothing, it’s always because you don’t trust me enough to tell me the something in the nothing.” Barnabas chuckled. He was refreshingly different, muted and quiet but never tearful. He longed for a world that would be proud of what he shared with Attoh. A world that’ll still celebrate his success despite his choice. Yet ironically he couldn’t face to tell Attoh about the most recent of events. Attoh was horny already and wouldn’t even listen to him even if he wanted to say anything. So he thought.

“Nothing…ehm don’t worry,” Attoh’s hands had already found it’s way down his pelvic area. Barnabas had a 6 inch penis that was capable of responding to touch in the speed of light. “Ahh! he gave a piercing sound, half certain. He did not want him to stop, but Attoh had imagined this differently. “Come on bae,” he said, gravid with meaning. Barnabas had turned over, not surprised at the swiftness of his erection, stiff nipples and raised hair. His eyes were fixed on the ceiling. So that Attoh would continue to bask in the euphoria of anything happening, Barnabas undressed himself and did not stop as usual at his underwear. Despite the rustling and cracking of the pages of text books on the table and the descent of the sharp cold wind, Attoh also pulled off his clothes and  raised Barnabas’ legs slowly to his shoulders. As he kissed Barnabas on the lips, he would imagine the impact of April’s first rain. The same month he’d always remember what Pastor Danbaki did to him. He was just 12 years old then. Barnabas laid there thinking about how he will memorize Riz Ahmed’s speech, “representation is fundamental to what people expect from culture and from politics. It’s only when government steps in to set the rules of the game, that you will foster true innovation.” He wished that during his project defense, he would talk about inclusiveness too, as relating to what Riz wrote about. But he feared. He could feel Attoh’s hands moving softly towards his small buttocks, darker-coloured than his legs. Releasing a stirring and throaty moan, he said with eyes closed, “don’t forget to use Mbaka’s Olive Oil.”

  • Time elapsed and my struggles hardened,
  • Sooner or later we ate not the meat again,
  • I sat and pondered what wrong I did too,
  • But discovered you never saw me as human.
    1. Do you think gays deserve to be elected into public office?
    2. Do you think gays deserve to be called humans?
    3. Do you think gays are sexual deviants destined for Hell?

    CHRISTMAS MOSQUITOES

    BY PRUDENCE ERUETEMU O. 
         “Bobbai! Bobby. Wake up”
       I opened my eyes a little. It could not have been wider because of the harsh rays that passed through the window of my room which was ajar. I turned my head it was Ndip. She flicked on the light using the switch around the door, walked across the room and closed the window.
       “Wake up. Basan is in the parlour.” She said tapping me.
       “Ohh!” I hissed “Okay.”
       I slipped out of my blanket and sat up scratching my head.
       “Look!” She said pointing at my left palm. I looked at the blood and crushed mosquitoes on it. I checked my right palm, the same thing. 
       “I can’t even remember killing them.”
       “That’s what happens when you come back home late, drunk and slept without closing your window.”
       “It was Christmas vigil. What did you expect?”
       “Even with the curfew?” She asked and sat beside me.
       “I didn’t go out of Ungwan Maigizo. Was at Bossan’s crib.”
       “Anyway. Let me go back to the kitchen.” She walked towards the door and turned to face me “Ehen. Expect harsh questions from Mummy.”
       “As usual.” Shrugging my shoulders. 
       “No, double of it. You got drunk” She smiled “plus you missed Mass on Christmas morning.” 
       “Thank you Mummy’s P.A.”
       “You are welcome”
       We both laughed as she left the room. I followed her shortly after putting on a Jean short and a T-Shirt.  At the parlour I was greeted with the scent of spiced stew, fried meat and chin-chin. Bossan wore a sad face, I was petrified, but I was more petrified by my mother’s angry face. She was about chiding me when Bassan came to my aid. 
       “Yakubu is dead!”
       “How comes?” I sat on the sofa, next to Bossan.
       “He was in church yesterday. What killed him?” My mother asked.
       “He was killed by Fulani men.”
       “Did Fulani men attack Garaje?”
       “He went to Goska to help them resist a Fulani attack.”
       “Who?” Ndip asked as she entered the parlour from the kitchen adjoining it.
       “Yakubu. He’s dead.”
       “Yakubu is dead?” She sat on the tilled floor crying with her hands on her head. “No! No! No!”. My mother stood up and pulled Ndip to her side on the sofa. She cuddled her,soothingly.
       I was sad; my friend, Yakubu was dead and my sister lost a prospective husband.
       “There’s curfew. Jama’a is crowded with soldiers. How then did the Fulani people get there?” Ndip asked.
        “I don’t know. This Fulani people are becoming a threat to us.”I said shaking my legs.
        “And their sponsors” Bossan said.
       I looked at my palms. If I was able to kill the mosquitoes that threatened to suck my blood and infect me with malaria, why can’t the government consciously stop the people that threaten the lives of the people they vowed to protect? If one should consciously allow mosquitoes to bite any part of his body continually, it will imply two things; either the bite does not affect me or I love mosquito bites. 
       “This is injustice.” My mother said.
       “God will surely revenge for us.” Ndip said. Still resting her head on mother’s chest.
       My eyes went to my palms again. A mosquito will never stop fellow mosquitoes from sucking human blood. Humans have to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
        “We have to do something.” I said.
        “Yes we have to.” Bossan replied.
        “Please don’t go and have yourselves killed” Ndip said.
        “Don’t worry.” Bossan said.
        I looked intently at my right palm till my vision got blurred and tears fell on it. The tears mixed with the blood and fell on the white tilled floor like blood on a specimen tile in a lab. It was a test too. A test of will.  
       

    THE DAY AQUINAS GOT ANGRY

    (MY PROBLEM WITH HIS FIFTH WAY)

    By D. F. Effiong

    She took a purposeful look at the article on the notice board that read, How to do it like a woman and smiled. I moved close and held her hands that felt like a pillow. ‘Why are you smiling Atim?’ I asked. She headed towards the door. ‘Hmmm, must I have a reason for doing everything?’ She replied. A sudden blankness enveloped me at the thought of this uncommon question – ‘Must we have a reason for everything?’Atim’s insightful question and melodious voice kept singing skelewa within me.  Just as I began dancing to the tone of skelewa,I heard a coarse voice, ‘Hey! Atim, guys, guys.’ The voice sounded like Aquino’s. I turned, behold, it was Aquino. My countenance went down. I could not continue with the rhythm of skelewa. I looked at his stomach which was like that of a pregnant womanI felt like throwing punches at it. However, I admired his froglike eyes and hairstyle that looked like that of Papa Ajasco.  I quickly remembered the inexhaustible argument we had the previous night. ‘Hello Atim,’ he said, ‘how are you?’ ‘Am good,’ she replied, as though empty of expression. With an edge of impatience, I interrupted, ‘Aquino, I wonder why we ought to justify everything by giving reasons.’ Aquino asked what the matter was. I narrated, ‘Yesterday, I was so enveloped by our dialogue about deducing the certitude of God’s existence by the use of reason. You said with an aura of confidence that since we cannot order things to intelligent-effective ends, so there must be a supreme source from which purposefulness arises.’ Aquino cut in, ‘yes, that is correct.’ ‘Of course I couldn’t have agreed less because you gave me a cup of mimbo,’ I said, ‘but now I am ready. Let’s talk.’ Atim immediately muttered into my ears, ‘Hello! What’s going on here? You know Aquino is too intelligent and indefatigable, be sure to lose this argument my dear.’ I turned suddenly and gave her a furtive look, displeased at what she told me.

     

    With that aggressive authority I said, ‘let’s all sit down under that tree and see how this shall end.’ I looked at Aquino straight to his eyes and said, ‘Aquino, every tree for example has its purpose. They either end up as charcoal, timber, paper or as furniture. The same is applicable to animals. Most of which we rear and eat. The trees cannot become men neither do the animals become men, for their purposes are determined and distinct from each other.’ ‘There you are my guy!’ Aquino interrupted with a surge of vigour. I immediately continued with my argument, ‘But Aquino, I have a little problem here, if all things were to have a purposeful end which have their source from an intelligent agent how then would you rationally justify the existence of hell and purgatory? This intelligent agent surely must have had these two kept purposefully for man. Indeed the intelligent agent seems here to be the Cause of all things. Now Aquino, what purpose can we see in the events surrounding us? What about the era of slave trade across the Atlantic, the World Wars, the Nigerian Civil War, the Rwandan genocide and today the menace of Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen? What purpose can we hold to, Aquino?’ I felt at this time a smoothing of my palms and a feathery gentleness. How could I have forgotten that Atim’s soft palms were still buried in mine?

     

    ‘Aquino, were these actions not determined as the tree is determined to become ash or charcoal? Or does this intelligent agent not know about these purposeful ends? Isn’t he the director of all things toward their ends?’ Aquino straightened his feet and belched disgustfully. I continued, ‘The pain of it all is when I hear preachers say in a hopeful tone, “God knows what you are passing through; let us be grateful that we did not perish on so and so bomb blast yesterday because he loves us.” Didn’t he love the massacred victims too? And some other Preachers would say, “Nothing happened to the religious leaders because God knows how to protect his own.” Since when did religious inclination become a pre-requisite to attract God’s favor and protection? Aquino, indeed your fifth way is too reasonable to be reasonable in these circumstances.’ I was still speaking when Aquino stood up unceremoniously, looking like a sea of flickering flames as if he was touched at the wrong side of this body. There was this scornful resentment I noticed in the endless silence that ensued. ‘I’ll see you two later,’ he murmured as though encoded with meaning. There was an emotional rioting when Atim searched my eyes. I had imagined glimpses of her moving towards me. Confused of what to do or say I mumbled, “All I want to know is Christ and the power of his resurrection.” She gave a fawning smile and said, ‘well I think you’ll agree with me now. We mustn’t seek to give rational explanations to sublime mysteries, for in so doing we falter even the more.’ Her smile was so attractive and her grip seemed like a magnet when she leaned upon me. I only remembered saying, ‘I am hungry, Atim, let’s go home.’

     

    Find not reason for everything,

    Though it hurts and destroys,

    To see our limitations in the story of life,

    Seek not to ask questions beyond you,

    For in so much knowledge,

    Comes in time the kiss of death,

    Run to contentment and sleep with her!

     

    O wisdom enshrined,

    Within the men’s walls and heart;

    When the ‘why’ questions seem so unending,

    When hope seem betrayed and lost in itself,

    Giving reasons to worry about life,

    Run to contentment like the child she says,

    This is my Clarion call!