Witchcraft is the act of practicing magic or use of any fetish power which is often not popularly acceptable in a particular society. There is a belief in all parts of Nigeria that there are witches who go about causing havoc in families and the society at large.
Popular belief have made us believe that witches can be found in villages and not in cities hence the reference to ‘village people’. This is because many people often identify traditional worshipers as witchcraft practitioners. And most traditional worship is predominant in rural areas where westernization isn’t yet predominant. Another popular belief by people is that only older people are more likely to be witches in Nigeria while disregarding the young ones.
It is common belief that there are a lot of evil things believe witches do and which they also believe causes lots of havoc. Especially because innocent people are always at the receiving end of the evil plans by the witches. Many Nigerians believe that witches, for example, can kill someone through charms, steal destinies, and tap from a person’s good luck.
On the other hand, due to the popular belief of witchcraft in Nigeria, innocent people have also borne the brunt of false accusations. Children have been accused by parents of being witches and often have to suffer dire consequences like starving, emotional abuse and in extreme cases physical violence. There is every need for the Nigerian government to look into the issue of witchcraft accusations in Nigeria. This seemingly small problem is a major cause of often deadly conflicts in many nuclear and extended families and the society at large.
This write up is going to discuss the 10 weird ways Nigerians identify witches.
Note that identifying someone as a witch does not guarantee or establish the fact that the person in question is a witch, but is just a feeling of suspicion.
That said, let’s get started!
The mode of dressing can a hint to Nigerians that you are either a witch or not. An individual who dresses decently can never be identified as a witch by people around, but an individual who dresses suspiciously will always be identified as a witch. As the popular belief goes that older women or women of advanced age are the ones always seen as witches, the kind of dresses they were can make people identify them as a witch or not.
For example, a witch in Nigeria might either wear red on black or white on white in almost all occasions whenever they are going out or even staying at home. A woman who is civilized and has certain knowledge about the dressing of witches will not dress like them so as not to be considered or suspected to be a witch.
However, a witch in Nigeria, even with the above knowledge, will still want to dress like a witch because they want to honor the gods they are worshiping and getting their powers from.
2) Seen at odd hours
The time of the day in which you see people can mean that they are witches or not in Nigeria. Since witches are always known to be out of their house during the middle of the night, many Nigerians believe that anybody you come across during that time might be a witch.
It’s popular belief in Nigeria that there is not an individual who can be seen around 12am – 3am outside their homes who doesn’t have plans of doing something bad; there are few exceptions. Nigerians always identify people as witches when they often see these people at odd hours of the day.
3) Crave for power
Anyone who craves desperately for power can be seen as a witch in the Nigerian setting. Power is a means of control as being the head over someone or a group of people in a society.
A witch is always chasing the ambition of having power over their subject because they feel that being a member of a secret society entails having power over their subject in other groups. In this way, Nigerians can identify that a particular individual is either a witch or not.
4) Lack of interest in religion
A witch can also be identified in the Nigerian setting when they do not have an interest in religion such as Christianity or Islam. During the worship days, they prefer to stay in the comfort of their homes even after their husbands or other family members may have tried to convince them to go to church or mosque.
Note that this case is different from that of an atheist or a pagan who does not believe in God. The case of witches is that they are against any other God or gods that they do not worship.
This is one of the weird ways Nigerians identify witches. A lot of people are being taught that older adults are witches, and young people cannot be seen as witches. It is amazing to think that someone who has lived for over 80 years without having any association with witches will now begin to join the association of witches while their death is ever approaching.
In fact, some people believe that a person who has outlived younger people in their family by several years is extending his/her age by feasting on the blood of the young people. Weird? You haven’t see anything yet! Some parents are not helping matters as well as they tell or take their children away from their grandparents because of this same belief. Nigerians identify witches through their old age.
6) Strange behavior
Witches are often believed to naturally exhibit behaviors that are uncalled for. For example, they might be laughing at funerals/burials when there is no need to laugh, they might also become jealous or angry when a male child is born into a family, and they can also become a thorn in the flesh of the children that are under them. They do not care about what people might be think about them; rather, they do what they feel like without minding the consequences.
Nigerians can identify witches when they begin to behave suspiciously. In fact, many mental illness cases in Nigeria are often, ignorantly, confused for witchcraft.
This is another weird way Nigerians identify witches. Since witches do not want to reveal their true selves so that because they are afraid of what would be done to them, they become secretive.
As an individual, you might begin to suspect that a particular person is a witch or not due to their secretive nature. They begin to hide certain things from everyone around them especially if it has to do with their witchcraft.
8) Double attitude
Based on popular belief, witches exhibits a double attitude in that they act well to people sometimes and show their bad and true character other times. This often leads to people being branded as a witch. Witches do not like to expose their true selves, so they often pretend when they go outside of their homes like a good and imitable individual. .
9) Fetish stuffs
People believe that people who have lots of fetish things around them are witches. These fetish items can include skulls of dead birds, clay calabash, cowries and blood splattered wood carvings. Witches believe a lot in fetish things, and when people see any fetish things around a person, they often begin to believe that the person is a witch.
This is a weird way of identifying witches in Nigeria, but not everybody who uses fetish items are referred to as witches.
10) Identification marks
Another weird way Nigerians identify witches is through their identification marks. The majority of witches in Nigeria have one or two means of knowing each other, and in this way, people can identify if someone is a witch or not.
They might have a scar or a tattoo located at their hand or at their back to signify that they belong to an association of witches. It could even be a secret handshake!
11) Sleeping position
Many Nigerians believe that if a person often lies face up and raises their legs while sleeping, they are witches! They believe this because they say the position allows their spirit to easily re-enter their bodies.
Other ways include flogging them with broomsticks, by the pets they own (often times, owning a black cat, an owl or a snake in Nigeria puts you at risk of being branded a witch!) or even torturing then into a confession. Of course nothing here is fact, they’re all often based on suspicions. All these might seem incredulous, but there are some really strange happenings in Nigeria that foster these beliefs. And of course poverty and ignorance are the fuel that add fire to these beliefs!
Do you know other weird ways Nigerians identify witches? Let’s hear it in the comments!