BY OLUSOLA AJIBOYE
Who is a witch?
A witch is human but possessed of powers to hypnotize, cower into submission and afflict physically in the spiritual realm.
From the dawn of history, man had fallen prey to the wiles of witches. Their awesome extraterrestrial powers have either advanced or retarded man’s destiny, his quest to succeed and his capacity to navigate the tortuous journey of life.
Man, in the process has lived in constant dread of witches and serially kowtow to their influence and demands.
The English dictionary defines witches in different ways and meanings sourced times immemorial, from their weird beings. A witch is person who practices witchcraft. A medieval definition however zeroed in on a woman learned and actively engaged in witchcraft.
English iconic playwright, William Shakespeare amplified the powers of witches and how men of valour stood in dread of them. Many of his epic plays gave credence to this.
In Macbeth, he called them the weird sisters. In another, he referenced them as the old women of Branford. William Shakespeare was not the only literary mind who gave copious pages to witches in published narratives.
Daniel Olorunfemi Fagunwa, Nigeria’s most captivative writer of Yoruba fiction and imagination made several allusions to witches in all his books.
Pioneer stage actor and film writer of Yoruba mythology Hubert Ogunde dwell extensively on the power of witchcraft but was unwavered in exhibiting the supremacy of the Order of White Witches over others.
Duro-Ladipo, the Yoruba melo-dramatist and playwright was very much influenced by the primordial roles of witches and how they served as tools of manipulation in the socio-cultural and political order of the Yoruba nation.
His world acclaimed stage play Oba-Koso aptly chronicled the powers of witches in the events that culminated in the rise and fall of ‘Sango’ the fire-spitting second Alaafin of Oyo kingdom.
Scholars, mainly of the English genre nursed a general negative out view of witches or witchcraft. They regard a witch (assumably a woman) as ugly and unpleasant, but who exercised more than a common power of attraction.
A witch can thus be outwardly charming and yet given to mischief as a woman or a child.
The existence and dominance of witches in a primordial African setting were largely spiritual and cultic. That however did not preclude African life as scientifically regulated. Africans with outstanding characters that conferred the status of deified gods and heroes on them displayed powers that could be supported by science but were treated as demigods, because of the limited scope of human knowledge and civilization in that period.
Ogun, Jakuta, and Orunmila among others, were venerated African deities on account of their mystic powers that bore every semblance of witchcraft whereas, they were icons in specialized areas of science. They were inventors in engineering, metaphysics and medicine.
Ogun invented blacksmithing and metal production, Jakuta discovered the invocation of thunder while Orunmila was the inventor of curative Herbs. If the Yorubas had developed their language, knowledge and thought-flow into writing at such ancient times, these Men would have been inducted into the Hall of science in addition to their admittance in the Pantheon of Yoruba gods.
What about the Egyptian pharos and nobles who invented Hieroglyphics which in Egyptian translation means; Holy-writing? The inventors could not have been treated less than gods with powers of witchcraft because they discovered the origin of writing. But they were scientists.
Witchcraft is not an exclusive preserve of humans but is extended to the aquatic kingdom of fishes classified as the stormy petrel. Any of a number of flat fish recognized for their bewitching nature are found in the North Atlantic and New Zealand.
The Glyptocephatus, otherwise called, Torboysole, Leo-pidonhorribus whiffigonis and Arnoglosus scapia are prominent aquatic animals believed to be heavily possessed of witchcraft. The common bond between and among these aquatic animals is the relativity between them and Man in bewitching their preys.
All religions, from ancient to medieval and contemporary periods recognize the existence of witches and their uncanny manipulation of natural forces to accede to their whims and caprices.
Witches belong to the Esoteric Order and employ it’s authority as a vehicle to prey on the affairs of Men. The Holy bible, in the book of Acts chapter Eight (8) verse nine (9) alluded to a man in the city of Samaria whose name was Simon the witch.
Witches originated from a primordial order of cult groups of immense spiritual and ritual powers. The result is that their persona have determined the survival of nations and their governments.
Earthly reforms and civilizations in science and technology that spanned human societies for centuries, have not subsumed or eliminated witchcraft and its dominion on man but rather injected its influence on empirical scientific breakthroughs.
Science is perceived as a departure from the spiritual belief system. But this is wrong as research has proved that nothing can exist from nothing. It is a notion which no scientific theory can dismiss. Do you know that Versiera, a religious concept of the Third Order, developed by Maria Agnes with the symbol of a curve, has a scientific root in geometry?
I have in the course of researching the nexus between science and spiritism discovered how inventions and breakthroughs ultimately require some forms of divine or celestial authority to become tangible in usage and functions for human existence.
A friend of mine once told me the story of how a Nigerian technologist in an automobile factory hid himself in one of the hundreds of cars being processed for automation the following day. He wanted to confirm his curiosity that something beyond science was behind every engine that works. Unfortunately he was fished out of his hiding place and summarily dismissed before he could unmask the masquerade.
Although thrown into the snoe infested street, his failure to identify the secret behind science did not wane but rather strengthened the general conviction that witchcraft is not just a part of science but its ultimate layer.
Why is the African belief system hanging on the female gender as the centrepoint of witchcraft? The answer resides in the socio-cultural and religious settings of African Kingdoms where women are the denizens of the palace and the barometers of spiritual equilibrium.
The significant roles of the female gender makes them the powers behind the throne. In the Yoruba Country, the King defers to them in major decision making.
The 46th Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II did not lose sight of this age long convention when he recently declared that every woman has witchcraft spirit in her.
On the first (1st) of December 2023, the traditional Ruler hosted the cast of the Real Housewives of Lagos in his palace and was quoted in these affirmative statements that reveal so much of the feminine features of witchcraft.
“Every woman has a manipulative spirit which black people refer to as witchcraft”.
The Monarch looked straight into the faces of his female guests and declared, “You are good witches….” .
The Native Ruler aligned with those who hold the views that the world should be a better place if women deploy the heritage of psychic powers in them.
“You are very powerful…..you rule the world…. Your power is limitless, you have so many influences on society…”.
By his adulations, Ooni Ojaja II lent credence to the age long perception of dread and influence of witches upheld by all Races with specific allusion to the African belief system on witchcraft.
The traditional Ruler told his guests to join the vanguard of a new society that advances the Religion and Culture of the Yorubas and use their feminine touch to place women at the appropriate levels in which the society will no longer regard every witch as a harbinger of all evils.
Witchcraft according to Ooni Ojaja II, is all about manipulation that should be used in positive ways….”
What lesson was taken home from the royal parley?
Surely, the cast of the Real Housewives of Lagos must have learnt a lesson from the Royal Court of Ife on how to be a good witch.
Olusola Ajiboye is a Veteran Journalist and Media Consultant.