Are you even Nigerian if your parents didn’t tell you not to collect food from strangers, classmates, neighbours, because they didn’t want you to be initiated into witchcraft?
Because I was interested in knowing if anybody ever got initiated, I put out a call for stories. Here are the answers I got.
I was 6 at the time, and a new student in Primary 2. My seat partner was a girl called Oyiza. Becoming her seat partner meant that her best friend had to move to another seat, and she hated it. It soon became a serious issue, very serious that teachers had to intervene. They made us ‘hug it out’ in front of the whole class.
I was skeptical of the ‘hug’ as a solution to everything. Oyiza had been mean towards me, she tore my notes, lied against me, and hugging her was the right solution? But they were our teachers and they knew best, so I went along with it. The next day, Oyiza brought me candy.
In retrospect, I shouldn’t have taken it. But we were turning a new leaf, so I collected it and licked. My weird dreams began that night. In the dreams, I was being sent to retrieve bones and skulls for a skeleton queen. And there was a condition: I had to arrive on time or I would die at the end of the mission. The dreams went on for three more days before they stopped. For a while after that, whenever I wished something bad on people, like sickness, it would happen.
This was when I became convinced that I’d been initiated, I became scared and confessed to my parents. They took me for deliverance and I missed school for a week. When I returned, Oyiza had transferred out of our school.
This happened back when my parents needed someone to stay with their younger children while they were away at work. My mother spoke to her relatives and they brought someone from the village, a young girl whose age I can’t remember now. She was older than me and my twin sister, but we were very young, so she wasn’t that old. Perhaps in her late teens. She would cook, and do the necessary things, but most importantly, she looked after us (me, my twin, and my younger brother) while our parents were away at work. Naturally, we were close to her. After all, she was the only older figure in the house with us.
One day, we were playing in the house and she carried one of our teddy bears and said she would use it to communicate with her boyfriend, Kelvin. Right there, she started talking in a very weird voice.
“Kelvin, Kelvin, I summon you!”
We thought it was a joke, that she was play-acting to entertain us. But she wasn’t. She told us she was sending him madness. It didn’t exactly make sense to us, but nobody pressed her further. Now, there was this other lady in our apartment block who was friends with our maid, and who, in our maid’s later confession, happened to be a witch too. One day, they were both licking ice cream. The lady offered it to me and my sister. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, so I collected it and licked, but my twin sister refused.
Not long after, things started to go bad in the family. Money issues, and my parents were fighting a lot, so my mother attended a prayer meeting with the maid. I wasn’t taken along, but it was during this prayer meeting that she confessed.
In the story that we were told by my mother, the plan was to initiate me and my twin, but according to her confession, our orisa ibeji was too strong for her to penetrate. We went for deliverance after that, and she was sent back to the village.
I was 3 and we had a housemaid, Aunty Lara. My mum had always warned that I let her know whatever I eat or I’m given outside, but one day, I took a stroll with Aunty Lara and she bought me fried fish. She asked me not to tell anyone, but I told my mum about the fish. Aunty Lara was angry, and I apologized because she really liked me a lot.
I slept in my parents’ room that night. When I woke up in the middle of the night to pee, I saw different types of birds trying to take me away. I screamed, and my parents woke up and began to pray and call Holy Ghost Fire. I kept screaming. Eventually, “fire” caught one of the birds and it melted on the floor. Then the rest disappeared. That was when Aunty Lara knocked on the door. The conclusion my parents drew was that I was to be initiated with the fried fish. I went for deliverance, Aunty Lara too. But deliverance or not, she had to leave our house. Life continued, I grew older, we relocated and I forgot all about it.
About 10 years later, I went to visit my family friends who took over that house from us. When I went into the room where the incident happened, I saw the stain from the melted bird. So I asked them, “You people didn’t clean this stain?” and they said “What stain?”
Apparently, I was the only one who could see it. My mother swears Aunty Lara was really a witch who confessed that she wanted to initiate me. But which African mother won’t? I’m not even religious now, and I have psychosis. It’s a condition that affects the way your brain processes information, and it causes you to lose touch with reality. You might see, hear, or believe things that aren’t real. So, while my mother confirms the incident, it could just have been my mind in a state, because to me, there’s no logical explanation for the whole incident.
My father was abusive. He often hit me and my mother, and one day I told this girl, my classmate, that I was having problems at home. I didn’t know about her; I just needed someone to share my story with and she was available. One day, she told me that she could give me something that would help me do anything to my dad because he was the root of the problems. All I just had to do was eat whatever she brought for me. I wanted to be done with my father’s abuse, so I agreed. I was 8, same as the girl.
She started bringing boiled egg, boiled plantain, banana, eko (agidi), moin moin. I ate it for like a week and then she told me that after school the following day, I would follow her to a place where I would be given the powers. I said okay. I didn’t want my mother to be worried if I came home late the next day, so when I got home that Thursday, I asked for permission to follow the girl. That was when my mother started asking questions and I answered everything. My mother beat the hell out of me. She said, “So you want to be a witch? You want to be a witch, abi?”
After beating me, she took me to a church where they did deliverance for me, white-garment style. They lit coloured candles around me, burned incense and told me to kneel down inside the circle of candles. Then they flogged me with a broom, and gave me something to drink. I vomitted for two days straight.
By the time I was going back to school, my mum told me to avoid the girl. I didn’t want to, so I went and tried to talk to her, but she was running away from me. The next day she didn’t come to school and that was the last I heard of her.
I wasn’t initiated but I came very close. This is why I dislike Amala till date.
I was 7 or 8 then, and we had a housegirl. She was about 16. My mum was pregnant and she needed extra hands since me or my siblings weren’t old enough to assist her, so she reached out to her friend who brought the girl. My father enrolled her in school, and her duties were to prepare our meals, clean the house and assist the cleaning lady to wash our clothes. I often joined her to do whatever she thought I could handle, and we soon became so close that I started to follow her about. I was young and gullible, and I had no sister figure, so she filled that gap.
But my father soon began to suspect her. Her spirit, he said, was antagonising his. He is a traditionalist, and sometimes calls himself a herbalist, so he knows things. He kept the suspicions to himself; I think he wanted to have concrete evidence.
And then my dreams began. In it, a cloaked figure was always trying to grab me, but just before it happened, I would blurt out “Jesus! Jesus!” and be jolted awake. I thought I could handle it, so I never told anyone. Once, I told her about the dreams, but she didn’t look fazed. I did not read any meaning into this.
Until the night she served Amala. That night, my mum told her to prepare Amala for the house. When she was done, she dished everyone’s portions in separate plates as always. But for the first time, she specified which food was mine and which one belonged to my siblings. That was what spiked my father’s suspicion.
He told her to serve him my food instead but she insisted that the food was meant for me and no one else. My dad insisted too, and she declined vehemently. According to her, the portion she dished was the size I always ate. I didn’t see the big deal, but it was already becoming an argument. Finally, my dad ate the food, and she became angry.
When he ate the food, my father felt something in his body. But whatever it was, it didn’t work on him, because he wasn’t her target. That was when she began to shout that the food was for me and not my father. She was hysterical. She confessed that she put something inside my Amala, and that the food was the last stage of my initiation. She confessed that she went to meetings too. It then clicked that she was the reason for the dreams because the meeting days coincided with the days I had those dreams. Her luggage was checked, and we found some of my personal items, including my hair comb.
My father can tell a more detailed story about this period. But I don’t want to ask him because it would bring back memories. Since that time though, he has been very protective of me. And we never employed another housegirl after that.