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The Juju In Your Village

When Baba took the opere from his late father, he had you in mind but your mind was on the streets of Lagos, on flashy cars and beautiful women.

You told him to let the gods take care of themselves but he wouldn’t listen.

Every morning, after chewing bitter Kola he would take some gin and wash his mouth, you knew what he would do next because he came to your hut, the one that smelt of your six year old sister’s urine, to wake you up for the morning sacrifice.

oya dide, eledumare ti dide, orunmola naa, opere sii ma side ni sin yii.”  wake up, God is awake…opere is waking.

You would roll to your sides and pretend not to hear,  he would repeat it like some kind of chant and you would stand up slowly irritated.

“Baba, tell eledumare to wake opere up by 9am, that way I can have enough sleep!”

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You would shout back in Yoruba and Baba would say you were acting childish.
So when you followed him to the shrine, at the back of his hut, he would pour the contents of his mouth on opere and make long incantations you couldn’t decipher. Then he would proceed to draw patterns on the floor, nod his head and look up to the sky.

You would pity opere, he was decorated in such ugly fashion and it looked like he was crying.

“Baba, e je ki kini yii simi naa.” Let it rest.
He wouldn’t answer, he would tell you to drink a reddish liquid, the one you would later throw up by placing your finger down your throat.
He wanted you to learn the rituals so that when he died, you would take charge, he believed  opere watched  his entire household and must be dutifully served. Once, when aunty Simi had complications at child birth,  Baba brought some water saying opere had blessed it. You had been the one that got the water from the beach and he made sure it entered the shrine.

“If you bring water from the beach to opere, he blesses it and makes it clean” Baba told you. You didn’t understand why it had to be beach water but Baba said he was following instructions and that if you worked hard enough  to know opere’s chants, you would hear from him too.

Curiosity got the hold of you when you learnt a two line praise incantation. That night, you saw a man in your dreams and was scared to your pants. He was beckoning to you and pulling your hands. Baba said it was the spirit of your grandfather dwellng in opere. You dismissed the idea because you actually thought about grandfather the night before, you even asked your aunty about him because you discovered he had been to Lagos.

The thoughts of Lagos lingered on your mind everyday so when chief Mazi said he needed to send someone to his son on the island, you immediately volunteered to go. The streets of Lagos was like gold, on arrival, you stamped your feet and jumped in awe. Lagos finally, you thought. Chief Mazi’s son welcomed you to stay for three days but you had other plans because you do not want to return home, you would do anything.

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You cajoled your host to be his house cleaner and roamed the streets of Lagos when sent on errands. It was like you were looking for something. Baba got upset about your choice  to stay back in Lagos and called on the name of opere to deal with you. His temper issues always made you irritated but the love for Lagos life was overwhelming. Joints, women and booze. Your host didn’t help matters, his parties were like honey bees every Friday night.

On one of those nights when you got drunk and woke up to clean the house the next day, you started to hear sounds, incoherent at first, then it became clearer in repetitions.
” opere alaseka, ele mi ni”

opere deals with who errs, for he breaths.

“What is this?” You muttered. In fear, you searched for the voice but didn’t find it. You dismissed it, perhaps, the alcohol was yet to wear off.
That night you tossed and turned on your bed, sweating profusely. Then a slap came- once, twice, you jumped out of bed and squatted on the floor, then you saw him laughing and standing on the wall, his head upside down.

He approached you with a long cane, shock struck you shaking  like a leaf about to fall off a branch.

“or… opere, please…” you whimpered as the figure raised his whip and laughed hysterically.

opere ooh, please, please I will return home” you shouted as it landed.

“Whoosh, Whoosh.”


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