Witches on Campus
I clicked on my WhatsApp, and a poster of a conference on witchcraft exploded on my computer screen. A witchcraft conference in a Nigerian University! Wow! Interesting! My mind wandered off as I imagined witches cruising into the conference with their broomsticks, shamans riding on their walking sticks, an unusual storm, a mid-day moon atop the venue, and an African X-men and women exhibition.
I zoomed in on the poster and was a bit disappointed. It was just ‘Speeches and Profs’ with no witches as speakers. I knew the conference would not live up to my ‘wicked’ expectations; still, it was a good start. I would attend.
As expected, the storm came. Christians rattled by local ‘witches’! Bishops declaring night vigils and war against speeches. Jesus, save us from pseudo-Christians! One would imagine these pseudo-Christians would issue a ‘cross and die’ warning saying if any of you cross our main gate, we will show you power! On the other hand, that in an act reminiscent of Elijah and the priests of Baal, bishops would fire a cruise missile-of- a-curse and alert their congregation to watch what would happen to those ‘witches’ as they approached the venue.
The organizers had synchronized with my brain wave. They had come up with the ultimate ‘Kick starter’ and ‘Tech-Hub’. The long awaited ‘Maker and Hacker space’ was in sight. Nigeria was now serious about giving Silicon Valley a run for their money. Though the intended conference flew over many of my techie friends who seem to believe in AI, Crypto- Currency, Google and Facebook, oblivious to the fact that their future would not consist in the abundance of RAM (Random Access Memory).
I imagined this conference hosted in a university in California and made a mental note of organizations likely to attend anonymously: DIA, NSA, CIA and FBI. And those who would attend ‘nymously’ – the many ICT buffs, geeks, and nerds looking for creative points of departure in their trade. Even attendance by a pseudo-witch might lead to creative synergies in understanding other dimensions to installing and handling ‘Internal and External Interrupts’, ‘Remote Method Invocations’ aka Ikpo Oku, Secure Point-to-Point communication and Remote Viewing protocols.
Last year, a shaman invited me to a ‘conference’ of a revivalist group known as Ekumeku somewhere in a mangrove forest in Obioma, Udi. Contrary to my expectations, it was a mid-day event. Friends who know of my scientific interest in anomalous phenomena aided in my invite. I was glad I came. The mother lode for me was when a Chief of Akaokwa in Imo State – a PhD holder, invited the attendees to the high table – a low plastic-table – to see his Ofor. He said the former custodian of the Ofor handed it over to his family in the early fifties. He hinted his Ofor could under the right conditions drop a man dead. His statement got my attention because I had earlier read Deadly Magic and the Australian Pointing Stick by the British Colonel F. J. Hayter, which had the same effect. I was convinced that if Australian bushmen could invent the boomerang with an aerodynamic structure rivaled centuries later by Northrop-Grumann’s B2 Stealth bomber, then the Pointing Stick should be moi-moi – a piece of cake. The Pointing Stick must be a beyond-state-of-art taser – a device used by the police to stun miscreants.
Aside the many blusters and bluffs in the conference, this ofor absorbed my attention. It had two copper-wire coils of three loops each wound at each end of a burnt horn of a warthog (bush pig). Connected to each coil, at the center of the horn, was a set of four cowry beads in a diamond configuration, and in the same way rectifier diodes used to convert AC to DC is setup. Electronic engineers will recognize the makings of a resonant circuit in the equivalent of resistors, capacitors and inductors.
There seems to be a link between geometry and science. The geometric features of the ofor give the impression that it is a scientific device. The traditional users of this device may have no inkling to the science behind it, and might have lost it to antiquity. Though their offspring might make replicas to remind them of a forgotten gadget, in the same manner one might build a TV with an empty carton and polythene bag after World War III, in remembrance of the real TV that is no more.
Then the bomb dropped. A friend informed me that the organizers cancelled the conference because the Pentecostal and Christian Association of Nigeria were vehemently opposed to it. In a damage control maneuver, the university authorities suggested a renaming of the conference topic to appease those who disliked titles that contain the substring ‘craft’: spacecraft, priest-craft, witchcraft and aircraft. From the witches viewpoint, this attempt at appeasing ‘non- witches’, masked as ‘management with a listening ear’ is a betrayal of academic trust by the University. This is in stark contrast to how the presiding shaman handled the Udi convention.
In the Udi conference, local pastors also setup night vigils, prayer, and fasting sessions to thwart the conference that went on anyway. In the spirit of fair play, on the day of the conference, the Ekumeku shaman setup his palm fronds (omu) perimeter in a ‘cross and be maimed’ defense. I scratched my head to understand this strange psychological distancing and overcompensation by leaders of Christian communities. Then I remembered that quite a few would be members of different fraternities and esoteric lodges, and had to issue such statement else their congregation might begin to suspect a link. Their politically correct reaction reminiscent of Donald Trump’s distancing of the Russians while still married to a Russian.
I was overjoyed when, on the second day of the conference, I learnt the conference kicked off with a massive attendance. Although I could not attend, I had to write this article in solidarity and as a remote contributor to the conference. I believe this conference represents a huge success for the organizers and a huge contribution to the technological growth of Nigeria. Long live the organizers!
Author: Python and the Rainmaker.