By Noel Ihebuzor
Thick as moonless night, debilitating damp
was your grip on our minds, clammy,
our thoughts misty fogged, drugged by mystical myths,
sights clouded, we saw the horned dog,
eyes red chilli, schools of skull carrying
fish flying and whirling around, transporting
red toothed ageless mermaids sucking young blood
and souls, never questioning
the cry of the night owl calling to mate
made mothers freeze, cowering in fear,
covering the feverish body of
sick children lest the hollow hooting of the owl
their mournful summons siphon their spirits out
mothers, fathers shivering, sweating
ignorance thick on them
like wet blankets, minds haunted
New day, new dawn, the frontiers of your kingdom
roll back by half every quarter
the native doctor’s beads and amulets
now gather damp and dust,
shallow short red earth covered mounds
sad resting places for souls spirited away
slowly vanishing with the roll of time
new wisdom, knowledge and vision replace
specious séances garbed in obscurity
progress breathes, heaves rolls forward in waves, freeing,
washing away ignorance,
knowledge unrobes untruths and lies,
its rays piercing illuminates the dark kingdoms
where once you roamed, raged
ragging souls and joy with your minions,
uncovering why children die
that for which we blame the gods recedes
memories of starless bleak nights and deadening days
when mothers and fathers drained by truncated childhood
now distant, your shuttles, abrupt wailings,
the dreaded terror of childhood
ended in infancy by feverish frequent returns
to spirit-land recede, the suckling mother gay
suckled by the sound of happy progressing infancy,
bonding and binding to a child who stays
Victory, we rejoice and regale,
cakes and candles
celebrate another passing year new and many more to come
But let us beware,
one victory signals another battle
new Ogbanjes could be spawned in the emerging
sterile and suffocating space
where politicians with sterile policies
men and women caged by greed
minds manacled and shackled by corruption
the grabbing hand, ending up throttling life and sucking it
in resources siphoned and stolen
our red eyes survey the empty and emptying clinics
the dying and decaying social provisions
the death of vision, and we weep
beware also of kindred new spirits that end childhood
lurking in sprouting new religions that reinvent
the power of witches and wizards
selling smoke, suspicion and superstition
to unsuspecting slumbering followers,
shallow bewitched, emasculated by fear, minds entrapped
The bank accounts of preachers, politicians, public servants swell
as ranks of new ogbanjes now begin to emerge,
to swell in ever increasing shallow graves,
and the soul draining groans of parents in pain.
17 thoughts on “Ogbanje III”
I want to hit like a million times for this. Sigh…it will only let me do it once. Very strong, incisive; and yet lyrical and so very human. Well done.
Yoiu are so kind to me…and your comments are always greatly awaited and strongly appreciated.
Addressing two of the key drivers of the Ogbanje/Abiku phenomenon –
http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)60907-6/fulltext – add malnutrition and you are again closer to tjhe underlying causes!
A good one with your trade mark all over the place. As before, it “brought me near zero; misty – eyed with a vision of sadness, like the closing of a coffin.”
Ochi, it is sad that children are allowed to die because adults who have the duty to see that they live fail them so badly. it is sad that policy, government and community failures conspire to make children to leave this world before they have had a chance to live.
I recall wayback in the village when I was about 4 years old how an aunty of mine ,nda Kadnu famous for being a powerful Ogbanje godess would come to cast out the evil Ogbanje spirit from us her nephews and nieces.Everyone lived in awe of Nda Kanu.She had a lot of myth woven around her. It is said that the hair in her head rotates in a spin whenever she commences the ritual of cleansing each child of the Ogbanje.Nda Kadnu usually rode on a bicycle,wearing a dreadlock with worn- out wrappers on her waist and a blouse that was overdue for laundry.Her teeth were brown from constant licking oif tobacco with the upper part completely gone.She spoke with a lisp.Whenever nda Kadnu rode past on one of her several rescue trips to neighbouring villages the women held their children closely greeting her with dignifying curtesy but without looking her directly in the face.You must look away when greeting her least she casts a spell on you.And so all the children stood trembling beside their trembling mothers in the courtyard for nda Kadnu was about commencing the cleansing ritual each waiting for their turn. Nda Kadnu grabbed me roughly from Mama’s clutch gave me a sharp slap with a loud cry and tears running down my cheeks she demanded I show her where I kept my”Eyo Uwa”(the recurring spirit of incarnation) to spare myself from more slap I did what the other children before me did by pointing to the ground.She then proceeded to dig at the spot soon she pulled up a little piece of broken bottle and there was a thunderous ovation from everyone.At last I have been rescued from the 0gbanje spirit.Nda Kadnu then incised my arm with a sharp blade reciting some incantation whilst rubbing my bleeding arm with some black substance.I still have the scars today as a sign that I am Ogbanje-free. (To be contd)
Vicki nnem, ndo. I did not know you went through this Ogbanje exorcism ritual and ordeal!
Since I read” things fall apart ” by chinua, I froze, at the name Ogbanje. I was only twelve . They are in very African nation. Thank you for demystifying them. Yes new ones are coming up. Slithering snakes! Loved Ogbanje 3!
Patricia, thanks for your very kind comment. You should start a blog!
What? Sir? A blog? You are definitely teasing me. Lol! Very hard! Sign… Okay…. I think about it.
Patricia, the world is waiting. Let these words encourage you
“Will you look back on life and say, “I wish I had,” or “I’m glad I did”?” – Zig Ziglar”
I get you sir. I always do what pleases me. Your are a great motivator!!
Just recognizing talent and watering a seed. Go on, explore your talent and expand your boundaries!
Reminds of Soyinka and JP Clark’s Abiku
Meaning this is a job well done 🙂
Glad you liked it, Bumi! 🙂
Those two are classics – each with its own appeal and force!