By Bons O. Nwabueze

The population of Nigeria is fast growing, though, depending on which population report one wants to believe, Nigeria has over one hundred million people and it’s still growing. Within the past twenty years, the geographic fabric of the nation has dramatically changed. Buildings are replacing our forests, farm lands and pasture areas. Increase in population means increase in the number of buildings to support the population.

A modern day Nigerian wants his or her own home. During the days of our ancestors, families lived in single huts as still practised in some parts of the world. Though in some cases, the man of the house centers his house known as the mans "Obi" in Igbo land at the middle of the compound while his wives and children surround the obi with their huts. That was basically done to preserve the farm land and defend the family in case of enemy attack. Unfortunately, with the days of our ancestors behind us, one must not fail to ask what will happen to the legacy our ancestors left behind, including the good, ugly and the bad? Buildings are replacing our forests and farm lands, but not without noticing dilapidating "Okwu-alusi" (shrines) left by our ancestors next to them. People are afraid of clearing the shrines because of fear of sudden death to all the family members or attack by members of the idol worshipers.

No one knows how to remove the shrines because of the spells left in them. The people closer to our ancestors did not pay close attention to shrine worshipping and now we have problems removing them. We are no longer in the era of paganism, why are we still dying from what our ancestors left behind? The shrines are not even as dangerous as the deadly "Eke-Ogba" (pythons) they left in our homes. Thirty years ago, the pythons were seen in huts around the villages. Growing up in Nigeria as a child, I was told never to kill the "Defender of the Land" or the Mother Goddess", as they were referred to. Six years ago, I had an encounter with a python in the toilet, and while trying to kill it, I was advised not to for the interest of my life and the lives of my family members. Having lived in America for almost twelve years at the time, I thought that our ancestors have all died and so was their idol worshipping. Unfortunately, not. While researching into this python worshipping, my auntie indicated that there are still idol worshipping people left and that they are very dangerous. The group can kill, poison or bring spell to one and his or her family. It was then I realised that all Chinua Achebe, the great African author, wrote about the "Mother Goddess" (Things Fall Apart) was not fiction.

I received an ear full when I heard that people around the Ide-nmili area lose their lives every day because they kill pythons. According to the village elders, the Ide-nmili area also have a lot of "Osu" (outcasts) people. This Osu is one thing I still do not understand. We are entering the millennium, yet people in some areas of the world are still ostracised and, in most cases, killed because of the beliefs of our great grandfathers. The pagans left in the villages should let the Python spells and the Osu die with our ancestors. They should focus their efforts on one of the good legacies left behind by our ancestors, the Alternative Medicine.

The world is entering into a new century and witnessing the arrival of a new form of medicine known in the medical world as "Alternative Medicine." The orthodox scientific medicine generally accepted and practised in the western world has recently started embracing the arrival of this unproven form of medicine, although the school of thought is still divided on the acceptance of alternative medicine. However, most of us from undeveloped nations have always accepted alternative medicine which has been in existence since the turn of the century in Africa. Some Nigerian trained medical doctors in America have indicate that while practising medicine in Africa, they faced challenges from idol worshipers and their superstitious beliefs that alternative medicine is better than scientific medicine. Idol worshipers should spend more time researching medical help for our people, instead of worshipping pythons and wasting time identifying "Osu" people.


Date Uploaded 1/23/2008
Copyright Africa Economic Analysis 2005