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"ABIKU" ;Child of Two Worlds

Rising smoke and beating drums, as the priestess staggers to the haunting beat. Her wrists and ankles richly adorned with cowries and brightly coloured beads. Her hair wrapped in a thickly knotted red cloth as she staggers in drunken stupor . My eyes water as I try to stop myself from choking on the smoke , as I inhale deeply, vulnerably seated on the tattered raffia mat . The priestess claims I am an Abiku a child of two worlds. A child of land and water. A child who visited the world of the mortals and returned home to the land of immortals in death. All because most of my mother’s children before me had died before the age of two she believed I was one of them who had returned again to cause my mother greif again.

I agree that it had taken , her years to conceive after her marriage but she was was a christian and was always praying and fasting as instructed by the Pastor.The doctors had told her she was fine and that pregnancy would come at the right time but the taunts of other women and complains from her in laws weighed heavily on her mind. At the advice of the older women, the poor girl had visited all sorts of herbalists who had brewed all sorts of herbs and made her drink to make her womb more “welcoming” for a baby as they claimed her womb was too hot for a baby to grow. The herbs had began to “cool” her womb for the years she took this medication. Still nothing had happened until a neighbour’s wife had introduced her to the Priestess . The priestess was the medium between the great sea and the world of mortals. She had taken my mother all dressed in white with her offerings of a white chicken, kola nuts , eggs and other material to the edge of the great sea and called on the water mother through swift incantations as she bathed her with the sea water. After which she had taken the mortal offering and thrown into the sea and sent my mother home assuring her that all would be fine.

True to her word my mother had conceived and had me. As she was scared I might leave her just like her other children had, she had named me Gold and called on the Preistess to give me a tribal beauty scar so I would not go away. According to the Presitess ,if I decided to go away and return again, I would be identified with these scars because I was expected to return with them ! Who are we to question her authority as there is a very thin line between the supernatural and reality. My thought here would have been, was my conception as a result of the offerings or because the time was right?

I am seated here today because I am the only child of hers who has lived up to the age of ten . Mother noticed my body was unusaully hot and as a result had panicked to the preistess who was now chocking me with smoke. She strung lots of cowries around my neck, wrists,ankles and waist and asked my mother to take me home that I would be fine. The poor woman instead had taken me staright to the pastor who had taken one look at both of us seated on the mat and picking up his bible had instructed his “prayer warriors” to take the cowries off my body as it was not a biblical act, according to him it was the practice of heathens. As they screamed prayers and commands over us, I glanced at my mother through and eyelid and sighed at the thought of a mother’s love and what it entailed. The sacrifices she was willing to make for my well being. The pastor had sprinkled holy water on me and given her some more in a jerrycan to mix with my bathing water and bath me with it everyday. The cool water running down my over heating body had a cooling effect.

On getting home our neigbour popularly known as Anty Nurse took one look at me and checked my temperature with her thermometer then shook her head and smiled at my mother, gently assuring her that I would be fine as all I had was just a fever.


aliĝngix's picture

This is an interesting and

This is an interesting and intimate article you have written about yourself and a look into a cultural of two worlds.

I liked reading it, and it made me think: Two cultures, two worlds living together side by side. The practices of each, and the different views each have.

It's just interesting, two cultural practices, and what to do when caught between the two.
Thanks for sharing.

OOLUSS's picture


Hi there,

Many thanks for making the connection.I'm glad you enjoyed it.



Mei Li's picture

Ooluss, Do you ever feel as


Do you ever feel as though these two worlds contradict one another?

I have a photo on my bulletin board. It is an engraving from 1594 by Theodor de Bry, showing Balboa setting dogs on Native Americans for practicing homosexuality. Except, they were not really practicing homosexuality. More accurate accounts of this engraving tell that the people Balboa set out to murder were considered "Two-Spirits," people from the tribe who knew the language of men, the language of women, and the spiritual tribal language. They were, what we would call modernly, transgender peoples.

I just always wonder how things would have been without colonization....would Two-Spirits have lived peacefully and continued to be highly regarded by their tribes? We cannot go back and erase the colonizing, but I ask this question with many cultures presently. That is why I asked you as well. I do not know enough about the history of Nigeria, perhaps you can enlighten me.

I know millions of women and people have been murdered and deemed heretics or heathens, persecuted by Christianity, and I am constantly seekig truth about this. I believe it is partly responsible for so many silenced voices. What do you think about this? Your biography says you are religious and love God, but also that you are interested in Gender issues in Sub-Saharan Africa...I am just wondering what you can tell me about these two worlds?

"...our compassion is the practice of unconditioning." Jakusho Kwong Roshi

Mei Li's picture


I hope you do not think I am an anti-Christian or anything like that. I simply seek truth...and I can seperate belief in God from belief in religion...I have read through many of your posts and I just you have been affected by religion both negatively and positively?

I watched a documentary today that was about homosexuality. And in it, it was mentioned that even hatred toward male homosexuals is a representation of hatred or oppression of women because gay men are persecuted often for their "feminine"nature, because they do not seem to always embody similar male tendencies toward violence...or oppression. I think anyone who has been discriminated against due to class, religion, race, sexuality can sometimes tend to be more empathetic to all peoples who have been oppressed.

I am not religious, but because religion has often been a source of discrimination against me...I seek truth in it to understand. What I have learned is that the Bible should be read in the context of the time it was written, and the culture in which it was born into should also be understood. I understand the teachings of Christ are ultimately love, compassion, empathy, embracing of those who are outcaste, so I struggle to understand how people who hold these teachings in their hearts can also be so quick to spread hatred against people who are different.

I thought of this after reading your poem on polygamy. In the Bible, when read in context, one can see that women were sold into marriage. Multiple wifes are common. The scriptures seem to often contradict what the true teachings are meant to be. What are your thoughts on this?

"...our compassion is the practice of unconditioning." Jakusho Kwong Roshi

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