Recently, I stumbled on a video on social media. Apparently, many mothers in Uromi, Esan North East Local Government Area of Edo State, had gone to the palace of the Onojie to lay curses on anyone who was against the progress of their sons and daughters.
According to reports, a town crier had gone round Uromi town, calling on everyone to come to the palace to lay curses on anyone using the Police, EFCC, Interpol, and other security agents/agencies to disturb the sons and daughters of Uromi abroad looking for what to eat, and send home for development.
Let’s try to interrogate this directive further:
It’s true that some security agents/agencies in Nigeria and elsewhere, have become so corrupt, they’re used to witch-hunt hardworking Nigerians in the diaspora. It would seem once you’re a Nigerian in the diaspora, you automatically become a candidate for undue harassment, police brutality and exploitation. It’s even worse if you’re young, with dread locks or tattoos on your body.
This is not to say however that there aren’t hardworking security agents, who strive to surmount the corruption in the system to arrest fraudulent Nigerians, who engage in dubious businesses, chief amongst which is stealing from unsuspecting folks in varying degrees of cyber crimes/fraud.
In the first case, corrupt security agents/agencies would truly be enemies of hardworking Nigerians in the diaspora; especially if they make it a point of duty to exploit and harass them as they try to legitimately struggle for daily bread.
We cannot however call those agents/agencies our ‘enemies’, who strive to bring Nigerians in the diaspora to book over crimes they may have committed, or civil rules they may have broken while in the diaspora.
Having made that clarification, let us again further interrogate the directive to lay curses on enemies of Uromi sons and daughters in the diaspora.
On face value, nothing seems to be wrong with this call to action. After all, there’s freedom of religion in Nigeria, which means adherents of African Traditional Religion can stand anywhere in this country, and lay curses on whomever, if it is in their tradition to do so. But even then, they would still have an obligation to ensure that those being cursed are truly enemies, and not simply ‘perceived’ enemies.
However, I dare say that some of those who gathered in the Palace of the Onojie of Uromi on that fateful day are Christians.
On the one hand, as Christians, we know that vengeance is for God. We must therefore desist from the ‘curse’ mentality, and leave that to the adherents of African Traditional Religion. We cannot be Christians and be adherents of African Traditional Religion at the same time.
When did it become Christian tradition to lay curses on our enemies? Is this the example that Jesus gave us in the new law?
Nonetheless, that we Christians are usually at the forefront of fetish customs and traditions in this part of the country is not news. I know many of us who see nothing wrong with consulting oracles, diviners, fortune tellers and the likes. It’s like parts of our traditional ways of worship have refused to be truly converted. We end up suffering from a religious syncretism of sorts.
It’s therefore not strange that we sometimes carry this ‘curse’ mentality into our churches. All our enemies must die by fire. Witches and wizards must be burnt at the stake; evil doers must be summarily executed, while those who refuse to comply are termed ‘carnal’ and ‘worldly’.
As a full Uromian myself, and as a Christian, I will always pray for the success of my brothers and sisters in the diaspora, who have to bear the brunt of trying to legitimately make ends meet in a foreign land, in the midst of the harsh realities of racism, politice brutality, and other unavoidable setbacks. This is what is in my tradition to do.
I will however, not support my brothers and sisters, who engage in varying shades of illegal deals in the diaspora, in an attempt to make quick money for whatever reasons.
While it is also in my Christian tradition to pray that these brothers and sisters of mine make better choices, and discover better ways of making ends meet, it will not be out of place to encourage whistle blowers who call on security agents to arrest these bad eggs should they refuse to relent from their fraudulent lifestyle.
So, who did our mothers curse?
© Oselumhense Anetor, 2020.