Ogbanje III

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,

shrinking superstition,

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 Responses to “Ogbanje III”

  1. 1 Susan L Daniels June 11, 2012 at 10:25 am

    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.

  2. 2 Noel Ihebuzor June 11, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Yoiu are so kind to me…and your comments are always greatly awaited and strongly appreciated.

  3. 3 Noel Ihebuzor June 12, 2012 at 6:23 am

    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!

  4. 4 Ochi Opara June 12, 2012 at 9:42 am

    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.”

    • 5 Noel Ihebuzor June 12, 2012 at 10:20 am

      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.

  5. 6 Victor Emeana June 12, 2012 at 11:36 am

    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)

  6. 7 Noel Ihebuzor June 12, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Vicki nnem, ndo. I did not know you went through this Ogbanje exorcism ritual and ordeal!

  7. 8 Patricia Chenayi Nyandoro June 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    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!

  8. 10 Patricia Chenayi Nyandoro June 16, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    What? Sir? A blog? You are definitely teasing me. Lol! Very hard! Sign… Okay…. I think about it.

  9. 11 Noel Ihebuzor June 17, 2012 at 11:02 am

    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”

  10. 12 Patricia Chenayi Nyandoro June 19, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    I get you sir. I always do what pleases me. Your are a great motivator!!

  11. 13 Noel Ihebuzor June 20, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Just recognizing talent and watering a seed. Go on, explore your talent and expand your boundaries!

  12. 14 Boomie Bol June 25, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Reminds of Soyinka and JP Clark’s Abiku

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