Zik, High Priests and Curses

by Taju Tijani

The Owelle of Onitsha’s lament was truly lamentable. A treasonable cabal smothered his septuagenarian dream of a second honeymoon as the president of an embattled Nigeria. The horror of that political crash was neither ignored nor forgotten so easily. He was manifestly angered by the aftermath slimy slur and ruthless condemnation of his re-entry into the swampy river of democratic political office aspiration. He felt brutalized beyond belief!

Rather than return quietly into his Onitsha domain and wait to be transmogrified into a shinning banner of a gallant fighter, the Owelle became frenetically pissed, unbiddable, vengeful, dangerous and unromantically senseless. He turned into silly old ninny, flagellating like a convulsing Brazilian Voodoo priest. As an aside, it is easy to see through the myopia of our political history and accuse the Owelle of Onitsha as an ancient subscriber of the noxious hypotheses of do-or-die political orthodoxy of this realm before the fashion slipped into the soft palms of one babbling Obasanjo. It is just an aside!

Pacified, calmed, charmed, restrained and tenderized into accepting the etiquette of defeat, Zik accepted all the nice sounding homilies that sailed high above his head; homilies that emanated from a variety of orbiting and highly respected elders. He accepted all the febrile, dirty lies that formed the concrete foundation of our corrupt polity. Then something happened. A young man who will fumble witlessly toward his untimely death emerged to irate the tendered heart of aging Owelle of Onitsha.

In the East like the West the supremacy of culture is sacrosanct and many still make the journey back home to consult high priests in sacred groves for divination of favour and curses on perceived enemies. Elders are equally venerated as earthly carriers or vessels of cultural heritage and as such their big toes must not be stepped upon by anybody, not in the least, a rising political upstart in the ugly mould of Dr. Chuba Okadigbo the then Senate President, who, shimmying in the bright light of political euphoria of the time, called Owelle’s political effusions ‘ranting ant.’

Zik was galled at Okadigbo’s audacity to trespass his turf. The giant Zik of Africa, the Owelle of Owelles; the elder of elders, the Ewele of Onitsha felt embattled, disrobed, disrespected, wounded and conflicted.
Rather than see Okadigbo’s ugly sidekick as an acid humour or at worst, a benign blether from an ambitious political office jobber, Zik saw a chilling Kafkaesque aberration in the insult. Rather than dignified the insult with reasoned rebuttal, Zik sought supernatural settlement. Then noxious vapour of the attack against Zik wafted across the noses of Onitsha council of elders and in unison, an agreement was reached to turn the debacle into a napalm strike with the payload heavily tipped with life destroying curses. The deadly stricture of Zik’s invocation of curses on Okadigbo became a novel, public-fulfilling prophecy. He paid dearly for the semantic recklessness deployed against the elder statesman.

When Chief Obafemi Awolowo was metamorphosing dangerously between life and death, it was reported that he pronounced a ringing curse of political darkness on this realm which had remained stuck and impervious to exorcism ever since. Nigeria had remained in the darkest side of darkness since the passage of the great sage to the beyond. The same malevolent power of curse worked its enfeebling magic on Ariel Sharon’s Premiership and political career when a group of land-dispossessed Jews invoked curse on him which then led to his political oblivion.

The book of this nation never closes on massive, unredressed social wrongs. Damaged Nigerians should now consider curse on those who put them under crushing burden of generational wastage. The only counterforce that is as potent and strong as the force that puts Nigerians in timeless, unbroken chains is the invocation of curses with all their mélange of mystery from our sacred groves. The interventional, supernatural power of the unseen and the unsearchable must be urgently sought to end the counterfeit manners of a hypocritical and uncaring governing class; the keloids of our generational suffering, our common moan, coarse veils of our damaged self-belief, lost direction, misplaced compass, shit-faced resignation, social wreckage and shameful amnesia. Zik, Awo, the Jews and millions of people who consult high priests in order to invoke curses on enemies, nation and wicked politicians have given us guidepost and sure auguries of what lay ahead.

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