Juju or charm is generally believed to be an object or totem that has magical powers. Juju comes in form of a grimy, dirty object that can be invoked to wreck havoc or do something good. It may not be an object at times. It may just be an intangible essence or power believed to have supernatural dimensions. The belief in magic is the basis of the belief in juju and it’s widespread in West Africa.
There are different presentations of the juju. It can be a ring which if you wear on your finger, you can slap someone and the person dies immediately or starts convulsing. Or if you use it to touch a lady that has hitherto been playing hard to get, you will successfully sleep with her before she comes to her senses. Another one can make you disappear and reappear somewhere else. Or it can make you dodge a bullet or make your skin impenetrable to sharp objects. One form of juju can make you live as long as you want or help you heal any kind of illness. It can make you extremely intelligent or even know exam questions beforehand. There’s virtually nothing we’ve not heard that juju is capable of.
Juju is defined as a West African obsession but it’s important to note that superstition, talismanism, and belief in magic are global. All peoples in all cultures have one talismanic belief or the other. They’re components of tribal religions as opposed to the organized religions notably Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. To stretch it further, magical beliefs are the bases of all religions whether tribal or organized.
In fact, the difference in magical beliefs between tribal religions and organized religions is blurred. For instance, a devout of the traditional Yoruba religion believes that tying an object round his arm can make him impenetrable to gunshots. At the 2016 Annual Convention of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor E. A. Adeboye, the General Overseer promised if his members raised their white handkerchiefs up and he prayed them, they would be able to use the handkerchiefs to raise the dead and heal the sick. Is there any difference between these two? Not so much. Even though Christians would typically attribute the armlet to the devil and attribute the handkerchief to Jesus, they’re both supposedly being used for good purposes and are both based on magical beliefs. There’s only one difference: the armlet belongs to an indigenous tribal belief system while the handkerchief belongs to an imported, organized belief system.
If something doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work. You can attribute the lack of efficacy to anything that comforts you but it doesn’t change the fact. Someone tried to use juju on you and it didn’t work but you went to church to give testimony that Jesus prevented the juju from working. The same thing happened to a Muslim and he keeps testifying that Allah prevented the juju from working. Of course, a juju man would attribute the failure of another person’s juju on him to his own superior juju power that prevented the inferior juju from working on him. Can all these three claims be true at the same time? Or isn’t it more correct to conclude that the juju was actually never efficacious?
For me, if juju never works, Jesus, Allah, or Obatala would surely appear to prevent it from working. Before we conclude that these Gods can prevent juju from working, we need to first of all ascertain whether juju works or not. And that’s what this article is about. Read on. We’ll briefly examine 12 reasons why juju is not real. I can actually write a hundred but I like the number ’12’. 12 tribes of Israel. 12 disciples of Jesus. 12 calender months. So let’s work with 12. Let’s perforate the juju myth and drill 12 sick, nasty holes in the nonsense. Let’s go!
1. Juju could not save us from European invasion
We were the ones worshipping the most powerful, the most ferocious deities in the universe. We worshipped Sango that could strike you dead with thunder. We worshipped Ifá and Orúnmìlà that could divine anything and expose any evil plans. Ogún was an angry god that could be invoked on anyone. We had evil forests that were inhabited by the craziest of spirits. Our kings were the most powerful embodiments of supernatural powers.
Yet our kings were taken away with chains round their necks to strange lands. The oyinbos bulldozed our evil forests and erected schools and post offices on them. The statues representing our ferocious gods were carted away and have been on display in European museums ever since. When we engaged them in military battles, our jujus bowed down to their military ships and more sophisticated instruments of war. Where were our gods? It’s not because their talismans were more effective than our juju. It’s because juju doesn’t work at all.
This is why I laugh at those who still boast of efficacious juju centuries after that incident. To still believe that there’s something called juju in 2017 shows a defect in one’s reasoning capacity.
2. And juju still hasn’t made us as developed as the whites
When they invaded our lands back then, they had ships. We didn’t. They had superior military firepower. We didn’t. Of course, we had our civilization and lived in organized societies but we were less globalized tribes and nation-states. Our juju didn’t make us the ones to invade their lands. Rather, our gods kept us on a spot and made us the successful targets of colonization. All the libations and human sacrifices we made didn’t put us on the same level as those who were more determined to get what they wanted. Determination is real: juju is fake.
And today, we still boast of this juju. The developed world is boasting of technological advances while we boast of juju power. Universities in other parts of the world are publishing results of breakthrough research while our own university campuses are inhabited by superstitious people. Professors and folks with doctorate degrees still propagate the fear-laden gospel of juju. What a pity!
Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife is particularly notorious for this. Frequently you’re driving around on the campus in the morning and you encounter pottery shards with pap and oil at road junctions. These are oblations, sacrifices offered to the gods. This happens everytime the vice-chancellorship race is on. Please, we need to shake our heads in shame and sorrow!
3. Ooni of Ife couldn’t be rescued by juju
It’s the belief of the Yorubas that Ooni of Ife is the embodiment of all cosmic powers. Whoever occupies that throne is in himself a totem of worship and an incarnation of juju. We’re told that the fiercest sorcerers and babaláwos are in that palace and there’s at least a god that’s worshipped every single day of the year.
At the same time, it’s the popular belief that powerful people die in powerful ways — like just returning from a ceremony, going into the bedroom and dying there. Or like entering the forbidden forest and dying there. We hear stories of spiritually powerful people whose deaths were preceeded by earthquakes or loud, creepy voices renting the air around the house of their death. Or something.
However, the last Ooni of Ife died in the most ordinary way. The old man was struck with an illness and the cosmic powers that inhabited his frame couldn’t save him. The babaláwos at his service in the palace couldn’t cure him. He had to be admitted in a Nigerian hospital — a whole Universal Custodian of Juju admitted in an orthodox hospital to be treated by small uninitiated ‘boys and girls’. What a shame! He was later transferred to a UK hospital where he finally died. When a man of valour had to go and die in a land being ruled by a woman, you know juju is fake. The most valiant man in Yoruba mythology roamed far away from his kingdom to die in the hands of an uninitiated strange woman — Queen of England! Shior! You still believe the juju thing is real?
4. Money ritual is a myth
I don’t need to waste time talking about that here as I already wrote an article on it sometime ago. The article is titled ‘Money rituals: 3 Reasons why you shouldn’t believe the myth’. Click here to read it.
5. Highly placed people in our society don’t trust juju
It’s strange that in a society where almost everybody believes in juju, influential people don’t show any confidence in the same juju. Regular nobodies will be arguing with you about the efficacy of juju that prevents sharp objects and bullets from entering the skin while traditional rulers, politicians, and billionaires go around with police escorts, bullet-proof vests, and bullet-proof cars. Don’t these people have access to the most competent babaláwos that can make this juju for them? Have you asked yourself why they still waste so much money on orthodox security methods when the so-called more efficacious juju can be manufactured just at the snap of their fingers? Some of you believe that certain people became rich by juju but folks who became rich by money rituals can’t afford security juju. Can you see that something is wrong with your reasoning now?
That was how they confused one poor boy in Osun State and sent him to his early grave. Very young lad. He was convinced by a babaláwo that his juju was efficacious and to test the juju, he told the boy to stand in the line of a gunshot. He made news headlines for the wrong, stupid reason. Poor boy! Just like everything religion or superstition, it’s for the poor masses. The big people know how to take care of themselves. Bishop Oyedepo, Pastor Adeboye, etc know how to go to the hospital when they’re sick while their poor followers believe in faith healing. Governor Rauf Aregbesola knows that juju can’t keep him secure and thus he uses the police, body guards, and thugs for his security while the body guards and thugs themselves believe they can be protected by juju. Pscheewww! Once again, nonsensical beliefs are for the poor.
6. The more enlightened a society is, the less their juju belief
Have you asked yourself how established are talismanic beliefs in Europe and North America? Of course, a few people in those places still believe in talismans but they’re only a tiny minority. Such beliefs can only be deeply rooted in backward societies where ignorance is rife. Societies like ours, you know. So is it a mere coincidence? Did the inverse relationship between the level of development of a society and their level of superstitiousness just exist by chance? Why must a society drop juju beliefs before they develop? Or why must a developed society find it difficult to uphold juju beliefs? It’s not by accident. It’s because juju is a myth.
7. Juju hasn’t won anybody anything in sports
Football teams who have lots of juju (like Nigeria, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso) are yet to win the world cup. One former popular Nigerian footballer, Taribo West, once spoke about the use of juju in football. He said he used juju and that was why he was so successful and won so many matches. But why didn’t the juju make him win the Balon d’Or? Juju in sports is fake.
I’m sure you heard the story of the 99-1 scoreline between India and Nigeria. In the said fable, there was so much juju on display. The ball was transforming to a lion and all sorts. I’m sure you know the story isn’t true.
8. We spent the gods’ money and ate their food
When I was a kid, I lived in rural communities. In a rural community, you tend to trek through bush paths on your way to school. Along the path to my school, there are several ‘orítas’. An oríta in Yoruba Language is any junction where at least three roads or paths meet. It’s believed that spirits inhabit these places and they’re the best locations for placing oblations. In one of the communities I lived, there were three such spots on my way to school.
Since I noticed that people loved to put stuff at those places, I started leaving home quite early. You know you want to beat other people to the goodies. Sometimes money (coins and notes). Sometimes food. I took the monies and left the food because it was unhygienic (exposed food in a bush path) but some of my friends who were really hungry did eat them. And sometimes we caught the people that dropped the oblations celebrate that the gods had accepted their offerings. Unknown to them, we were the gods. We’ve eaten their food and taken their monies and many years thereafter, the gods simply made us succeed in life. Juju is fake joor.
9. Why hasn’t any of these supernaturally powerful people helped us confront Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen?
Yeah. This one beats my imagination. How can the citizens of a country like Nigeria believe in the power of juju? We’ve been ravaged by insecurity in the different parts of the country and these powerful juju men can’t do anything about it. They can’t help the government. The government still needs to invest so much money to equip the military and all. What happens to the charms? Why can’t we just equip our military with these juju things? What about giving our soldiers odeshi or okígbẹ́ that will prevent bullets and bombs from entering? It will develop the economy. It will develop the local content. We won’t need to lose so much for ex any longer. China and Russia won’t harass us any more. The babaláwos and the dibias will be gainfully employed and we only need to ‘buy Naija to grow the Naira.’ But while they boast of so many powers, none of them has come out to offer to help the government. Pscheewww! Juju is very fake!
10. Many diseases that were ascribed to juju have been successfully treated in the hospital
The popularity of juju people keeps reducing as scientific knowledge keeps increasing. An increasing number of diseases that people were once convinced they were due to the effects of juju are now being successfully treated in the hospital. May centuries ago in Africa, when someone had varicella zoster or camcer, people were convinced he must have been ‘stoned’ with juju. Today we know better. Juju was basically the explanation for things people didn’t understand. Same thing goes for àbíkú which we now understand to be anything from Rhesus incompatibility to childhood killer diseases. Utilizing adequate antenatal care and immunization, we’ve chased the abiku spirit away.
You might conclude that your illness is because of a spiritual attack. It’s because your knowledge about disease and illness is too low. Nowadays we know too much to still be labelling any illness spiritual or due to juju.
11. Nobody can give a coherent narration of what juju is
Ask anybody about mágùn. They can’t explain clearly. It’s generally defined as the juju that’s placed on an adulterous woman such that any man that has sex with her dies. But we’re yet to get a coherent explanation of how the death occurs. Some people say he will somersault three times. Others say he will crow like a cock. How will someone who has never had an acrobatic training somersault? And how will a human being who is not endowed with the same anatomy and physiology as a cock be able to crow? Others say he will ask for water. And so on. But they’re all retrospective explanations people put forward when they meet a dead man in a room with another person’s wife.
Same goes for bullets. When someone tells you the story of a man that repelled 50 bullets, ask him whether he was there to witness it. If he said yes, ask him how he was able to hear gunshots and still be brave enough to stay in the open and be watching the bullets drop off the human target. Just like other myths, people narrate things they didn’t witness and sometimes, even when they witness it, they either don’t understand what they’ve witnessed or they even didn’t notice everything that transpired.
To avoid all these incoherences, we’re working on a public demonstration of juju that will be caught on tape. A babaláwo has volunteered to publicly demonstrate a juju that will prevent sharp objects from cutting through human skin. The logistics are being put in place. Once it’s done, the video will be uploaded on this blog for all to see. We want to confirm whether juju power can be caught on tape. Hopefully the age-long controversy will be put to rest.
12. Juju exhibits geographical differences
Juju depends on geography. Yorubas have mágun. I doubt whether other Nigerian tribes have the same thing, talk less of going outside Nigeria. West Africans have juju that can prevent bullets from entering. I doubt it if they have the same in India. Pick sorcerers from different parts of the world and they can’t even agree on the names of the spirits they invoke in their talismans. It seems in the juju world, things aren’t centralized which shouldn’t be. If juju works by cosmic powers, they should all be the same irrespective of where you are. The objects should be the same as they will evoke the same spirit world. The available charms should also be the same. But just as something that’s a myth, humans can’t agree on the specifics.
I know you believe that juju is real. There’s nothing anyone can say that can convince you otherwise. I perfectly understand. Why you believe lies that lack evidence will be explored in subsequent articles but for now but it’s sufficient to tell you now that you don’t need to live your life in an excruciating fear that is based on a lie. One selling point of the different gods is the ability to save you from the evil forces of juju. If that’s your motivation for clinging to a god, you’re simply not living to the fullest. Imagine someone running very hard, fleeing for dear life when nothing is chasing after him. You can live a better life, a calmer, more organized life without superstition. And if we’re to develop as a nation, we need to start becoming forward-thinking and dropping all these primitive things.