We sent out a team of people to gather a list of things that scare Nigerians. The list they brought back was whittled down to the four things that Nigerians are most afraid of:
The most common thing that Nigerians are scared of is voodoo, aka juju, aka jazz. By whatever name you call it, it sounds like fear.
Even if you’re one of the fancy Nigerians, reading this on your flatscreen monitor with broadband internet, rolling your eyes that you don’t believe all that jazz, there is probably a forest in your village that you won’t enter. And even if you were comfortable entering it, your loved ones wouldn’t let you.
Others are rolling their eyes thinking, “Pish-tosh, Africans and their silly superstitions.”
No no no.. it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe it. The problem is that there are other people out there that believe it. If you get hacked to death in a ritual killing, dead is dead regardless of where you stand in the belief spectrum.
So when an occultist says, “we need some blood to complete our charm”, the appropriate response is not “Gentlemen, have you contemplated the fallacy of your-” Hack!
3) ARMED ROBBERS
Until I was about 14, I didn’t know ‘armed robbers’ was two separate words. Nigerians always pronounced the words together ‘harmrobbers’ as one fear-tinged word, like a mythical creature.
They never address them simply as “thieves”, because for Nigerians, thieves are completely different from armed robbers. If a thief steals from you, you shout “ole, ole” or “barawo” and they’ll scurry away back into the shadows but if harmrobbers show up, you shut up.
What are they armed with? It doesn’t matter.
Most people who have an armed robber story never really address their weapon configuration. During the retelling, no one ever asks, “How many of them carried guns? Are you sure they was loaded?”
It is the mindset not the weapons that makes armed robbers more respectable than common thieves.
Armed robbers could break into your house with slings and catapults, they could be armed with only their fists, the instant they talk to you in that gruff voice their leader always has, it is over.
You’ll give them your gold, give them everything that is not nailed down in your house and help them load it into your car. Push-starting the car too if necessary.
Unlike armed robbers which are a common enough occurrence to make them a legitimate fear, snakes aren’t that common. Ask if any Nigerians know someone who died of a snake bite or even was bitten by a snake and you’ll realise just how rare an attack by these “terrors” are.
But when you hear people tell snake stories, they always give them frightful names.
“It was a black mamba”
“It was king cobra”
“It was a python, the head was up and it was spitting”
Seriously? Do snakes even spit? Research says no. Encyclopedia says 80% of snake species are harmless. But try telling that to these people.
Their snakes are half genetic-experiment, half acid-spitting alien lifeforms out to eliminate man.
And the number one thing that Nigerians are afraid of is:
All the other things (voodoo, armed robbers, snakes) are all only subsets of the fear of family.
Nigerians who are scared of voodoo are even more scared of family members who are out to get them with voodoo. After all, who else has access to your food and can put a juju calabash under your bed.
They are scared of family members sending armed robbers to their houses with directions on how to break in and a map of where all their valuables are.
They are terrified of family members turning into snakes and attacking them.
The Nigerian family is a vault of information, a study in over-enthusiastic information management. There are sections of your family you do not tell when you’re traveling, others you don’t tell when you’re home. And an entire group that you don’t tell when you’re having problems. You definitely don’t tell them when you’re pregnant or when you are about to get a new job.
God forbid you have a child that doesn’t know the rules and just blabs truths to your extended family. You would be forced to keep that child locked up until they learn the rules.
If someone asks, “How is your mother?” You always say fine.
You never say, “She is out of town.”
And if they are more specific and ask, “Where is your mother?” You say, “Probably at home, I’m not sure” and then you start coughing and excuse yourself.
The family members go away with the impression that you’re lying to them, and when they act hostile, you say they are out to get you and create even more lies to keep them away.
It is a perfect circle of distrust.
“Secrecy is a vacuum and nothing fills a vacuum like paranoid speculation”
Did I miss anything?