Is African Black Magic real?

Roots and Leaves for traditional African herbs

I've heard and seen many people including one of my favorites On-Air-Personalities, Murphy Ijemba, in the strongest terms, cast doubt and even derision on the existence, realness, or efficacy if you like of African Black Magic.

One of their lines of thoughts has to do with the provability of its efficiency in accomplishing many of the lofty and near awe inspiring feats that have been ascribed to it.

Although, the media personality mentioned above is a proudly Lagosian who was born and bred precisely in Mushin Oloosha, which when translated would roughly, very roughly means "Mushin, the abode of the deities" and had, time and again on his shows, confessed to encountering the priests of these deities whom he respects a lot for their esoteric art, he nevertheless still has his doubts.

As an exuberant youngster, he likewise craved the indulgence and sampled some of the charms especially one which has a lot to do with commandeering the female members of the community he, like many in his age-grade couldn’t muster the courage to talk into a relationship.

Talking from his experience, the juju (referred to in the local parlance as "touch and follow" just didn’t work.

Sometimes, its use also does boomerang, to say the least, he submitted on one occasion. Because it is not uncommon to see ladies the pranksters have probably indecently touched in the bum with the charm confident that it works turned round to give them a dirty slap.

Being privy to such an experience has led him to conclude, inter alia, that there's nothing like African Black magic. If there's, how come it hasn't positively impacted on the society like its counterpart from the western world? He regularly queried.

Well, you might say he has a valid point there. But the voodoo priests and indeed white-witch diviners and doctors would counter such a narrative with the repartee that “a failed charm is but deficient in one leafy ingredient”. And more so that African black magic generally has for ages been positively impacting on the society save that its detractors would not accord it its due respect.

Of course, there are well-circulated stories of African magic's ability to accomplish say for instance a disappearance act.

But since nobody could scientifically prove such things as ever happening, they are just as good as stories to the gods.

They are mythical tales to Murphy Ijemba, to say the least. And he has many times on his radio shows, "The Murphy Ijemba Show and The Rush Hour Show", labored to pick holes in those claims and severally too, challenged anybody to take him to a voodoo priest who has such powers to make someone appears and disappears as he or she wishes and with monetary reward too.

And as far as I know, nobody has come forward for the challenge.

Another claim that has featured on his show is the ability of the practitioners of alternative medicine in the field of orthopedic medicine to completely heal a broken bone no matter how terrible.

Yet, stories abound of such feats as being accomplished on a daily basis from Lagos-Maiduguri; and from Calabar to Sokoto.

In fact, some of the procedures are hard to believe. For instance, a live chicken is widely reported to be a prominent feature of the healing ritual.

It involves the breaking of the chicken's bone at the exact point where the patient had suffered a fracture.

And as long as the chicken continues to respond to treatment with every application of natural medicine, in like manner, the patient also continues to heal.

It goes, however, with relevant incantations we are told. How more unscientific can a process be, cynics and doubters have continued to ask?

At the end of the day, they all appeared to be imaginary stories, on the one hand, crafted by the custodians of these ancient secret powers which at best are hoarded and taught only to a select few or handed down to family successors.

And on the other hand, by people who have had impressionable but unverifiable encounters with one form of Indigenous Technological Know-how (ITK) or the other.

In conclusion, it all still appears or down to the fact that a “thick harmattan haze is hanging on an African spring" (paraphrase mine) to borrow the title of Wole Soyinka's book whose preoccupation is essentially about the subject of Africa's claim or right to some forms of advancement distinct from what's obtained in the west.

Having said that, could it then mean that all the related experiences of the efficacy of African Indigenous Technology are lies simply because they cannot be scientifically proven?

I doubt and very strongly too, that’s the case. The fact that something cannot be proved or verified by sight or touch is no reason to infer of it as being unsearchable. And indeed, African magic belongs in this realm and its efficacy is never in doubt even from my experiences.

Before I go there, let me cite a story shared by that avatar of African literature, Wole Soyinka which was alluded to in his magnificent book: “Harmattan haze on an African spring".

The renowned author narrated the near-miraculous healing story of his Ghanaian friend who had an industrial accident as a dock worker in the US. He suffered partial spinal cord damage.

And he was subsequently checked into an American hospital but there was no improvement in his condition after a lot of efforts by the assemblage of qualified doctors on parade at the hospital.

He was even suspected of suffering from malingering, a disease that was first discovered in world war two, and for which many soldiers were killed and later posthumously honored for avoiding battle.

In the middle of his friend's misery and hopelessness, a suggestion came that he should try a hospital back home in Ghana which specializes in traditional medicine with a rich history and lists of successes.

Without wasting time, arrangements were made and he was flown to Ghana. Shortly after arrival, he was diagnosed and his condition was quite familiar to the chief medical doctor at the facility.

Treatment procedures included sacrificial rites to be performed at a location in the forest.

This was carried out with the speed it deserves and he was returned to the hospital facility to complete his treatment. And in less than a month or thereabout, a total cure was achieved. That's too good to be true.

Wole Soyinka revealed how one day, while in his office, a man walked in and was dancing what he literally described as "Palongo" - an energetic African dance.

And the character treating him to an unsolicited dance entertainment turned out to be his once miserably sick and bed-ridden Ghanaian friend. He hardly could recognize him.  He looked all completely transformed - all fleshed up.

There you have it - a case of where an orthodox medicine failed, an unorthodox or African traditional medicine if you like which, more often than not, is scoffed at as scum of the earth has succeeded in spite of it so called unscientific limitations.

Now let's go to my own personal experiences. As a youngster, my growing up years was so full of amazing experiences of which the most impressionable and lasting were the encounters with my father's skillful manipulation of nature to accomplish the healing of infirmities ranging from pounding headache, stomach pain to other more complex ailments, spiritual and physical whose terms I can't seem to lay my mind on right away.

On many occasions, he would use a combination of numbered and chewed alligator pepper sex-specific, though, - seven seeds for a lady and nine for a male and incantations chanted under his breath to the bottom of the broom which he would then administer by rubbing it on the affected body parts. And voila, the ailment is gone. The experience each time gives me goose pimples.

There is nothing in life more magical than the healing effects of his mastered art. And you wouldn’t believe he was professionally a teacher.

Before his death, I look forward to laying my hands on his magical resources. When he died, however, they were all gone. I looked everywhere for the booklets in which he documented his knowledge to no avail.

And I was told in confidence by a senior family member that some smart alecks got into our house immediately the news of his death filtered to them and carted away this rich resource of a cutting edge African traditional medicine.

It took me quite a while to forgive the perpetrator(s) and let go of the disappointment.

Otherwise, I would have today become a selfless guardian of such powers just like him because he never commercializes the knowledge.

The point behind this post is not just to prove the realness and efficacy of traditional African medicine and any other from its spring but to point to some of its undoing which has continued to constitute a haze in the perceptual path of interested onlookers.

And I made bold to say the challenge is down to the non-systematization of these bodies of knowledge.

I don't for once think that people like Murphy Ijemba do not believe in African magic like they may sound in their every conversation.

Yes, there are exaggerated claims here and there. For instance, a dose of African medicine can be said to be capable of healing a thousand illnesses.

And they are being hawked everywhere - on the streets, motor parks, in public transports, name it. One of their stock-in-trade catchphrases is “if you don’t buy lies, you can never buy the truth”.

But again when the custodians of African medicine, for instance, are not organized in such a way as to enable people to access them in the open market place of ideas like their foreign counterparts, the problem of wide unacceptability in terms of being a formidable component of a shared global enlightening process will persist.

However, like we today have what's like an arcane end of engineering which is exclusive to some countries, some aspects of African traditional know-how would also remain exclusive to the inner recesses of minds careful not to allow the negative ones, especially, fall into the wrong hands for fear of misuse.

Above all, I'll recommend the establishment of the center for the development of indigenous knowledge in the sphere of alternative medicine that can rival their counterparts from around the world which in the view of many including Africans is superior for the singular reason of their products and services are based on scientific inquiries.

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