The den of an African witch doctor is a terrifying place to be. Very few victims get in there and live to tell the story but just months ago, I happened to find a man in western Nigeria who actually did. Hear his story.
After the long trip from Lagos, I finally arrived Linda’s apartment at about four o’clock that Friday evening to find that my key no longer worked – she’d changed the lock. At first, I thought she wasn’t home, the windows of the apartment were closed, but a neighbor assured me that she was because her car was parked right outside in the compound.
That one confused me because my Linda didn’t have a car, couldn’t afford one on her moderate salary, but then the man showed me the car. One look at the glittering white Toyota Rav jeep with another jeep, a Mercedes, parked directly behind it, and I knew my relationship was in trouble.
I marched right back to Linda’s front door and renewed my knocking with a vengeance. In a few minute, Linda opened the door wearing only a dressing gown and behind her was a well-fed man of about forty in only boxer’s shorts. He had a possessive arm around my finance’s waist and an irritated look on his face like I was bothering him.
I never said a word, never waited to hear any. I just turned and walked away.
It was about five o’clock now, barely two hours to nightfall and I had nowhere else to go except to a friend’s place on the outskirts of town.
The Sango area is located on the outskirts of the city and so we had to go through the Toll-gates at the city limits. Once we were though, of the men sitting with the driver in front abruptly brought out a gun and my heart skipped several beats. A man seated directly in the next row behind me got out a gun too and the first armed man spoke.
“Alright, everybody, bring out the things on you now!” he barked from the front seat.
There were actually three of them and a woman, not counting the conductor and driver who were clearly in on it. They collected everything from the passenger; I gave them my wallet and all the things inside including my I.D cards.
My thought that this was a one chance robbery and we would be dropped off somewhere beyond the busy Sango area, soon began to fade as the driver sped over the Sango Bridge and headed out into the heavily forested countryside, through which the highway ran.
There was a police van parked by the roadside some distance after the bridge and as the bus sped by it, one of us, a man, made a desperate attempt to shout but got a gun smashed into his ribs by one of the men who pushed the window next to him carefully closed.
Once the bus sped past the police van, the armed man hit the would-be whistleblower several vicious blows with the gun and then they warn us all not to try anything funny else they waste our lives. The bus kept driving along the highway at speed and I realized that I was in big trouble.
After about half an hour, the bus suddenly slowed and turned onto a dirt road that ran directly into the thick forest. I hadn’t the slightest idea where I was.
Our captors abruptly put white handkerchiefs to their nose as two of them quickly sprayed something around in the bus from spray cans. I suddenly felt dizzy and then passed out.
When I came to, we were driving up to a brightly lit one-story building of modest size sitting in a wide clearing right in the middle of the thick forest.
The bus came to a halt in the clearing and we got herded out like cattle. It was at this point I discovered that there were only seven of us, passengers on the bus. All the others were actually members of the gang, there were nine of them including two middle-aged women, the driver and the conductor! They marched us off to the edge of the clearing, bundled us into a metal structure that was more of a cage than anything else, looked the gates and left. They all went into the big house.
I prayed to the living God above.
About an hour later, we got a visit from our host. Some of our captors, four men, and two women came to the cage with a man dressed in the odd attire of a witch doctor. He was of average build and wore a long red wrapper that covered his lower body from waist to feet. His upper body was bare and crisscrossed with strange markings of white paint, his face and arms too. Around his neck hung a necklace of charms and shells, including that of huge snails.
The witchdoctor looked us over, and then, ordered us to take off all our clothes. The men made us obey, taking the clothing all away, then made us stand in a line in front of the cage, facing the witch doctor, all seven of us, four men and three women.
The witch doctor did a very strange thing. He got out a white shell, the size of a large coin, with a red rope tied through a hole in it. Standing a few feet away from, he tossed the shell at the chest of each one of us and it actually stuck there firmly like a piece of powerful magnet throw at an iron gate. This happened to all of us except one of the two middle-aged women. Three times the witch doctor tried but three times the shell fell to the floor, refusing to stick to the woman’s ample bosom.
At a nod from the witchdoctor, two men dragged the naked woman off into the darkness of the forest and we all heard the gunshots.
Our captors, the four men, and two women shaved all the hair from our bodies, and then, they put us back in the mosquito infested cage and went away, going into the house.
Our captors weren’t done with us that night. Soon after, one of them, a big rough looking man with bushy hair and beard came back, seized one of us, the elderly looking man among us, dragged him off into the house, then brought him back to the front of the cage, and right there in front of our eyes, slaughtered him with a knife like a goat. The demon of a man hacked his head off completely and, like a trophy, held it up for us to see.
I went numb with shock, my blood ice-cold with horror. This was by far the most gruesome thing I had ever seen in my life, though I’d read of how the Islamic terrorist’ group up north, Boko Haram did it all the time. One of the two women remaining among us, a young woman, began to scream in horror and the older woman desperately tried to shut her up.
The demon man, the executioner, looked at us and chuckled. “This is the fate that awaits all of you and there is no running away from it.”
The man had barely finished talking when a woman emerged from the house, escorted by two other men. They came up and carried the head and corpse off to a small low building to another side of the clearing. They were in there for several minutes, and then, emerged with the woman carrying a small blood stained white bucket. They all headed into the house, the executioner with them.
I sat in a corner of the cage, crying quietly and thinking about my life. Was this how it would end, all because of a woman that didn’t even care for me after all? I couldn’t sleep that night and none of the others did. Time dragged on, and then, they came for another one of us, the demon executioner and another man this time.
The second man was young and he screamed and struggled desperately as they dragged him away to the house but there was no help anywhere.
They were back with him a short time later, and like the elderly man, he was slaughtered right there before our eyes. God alone knows the kind of knife the man were using, it was so sharp, it could sever the head clean from the body with little effort. Again, the woman and her escorts were there to carry the corpse off to the small house, emerged again soon after with the same blood-stained bucket and went into the big house.
I wept and pray repeatedly to God, making all sorts of promises I never would have even dreamed of under normal circumstances. I kept at it for a long time, and then, God answered.…. I was the next to be slaughtered!
The night was cold with dew now, which showed it was the small hours of the morning. The executioner and his friend came matching back to the cage. As always, the other man opened the gate of the metal cage and waited while the executioner entered to select the next victim. I was chosen and dragged out of the cage. The other man relocked the gate of the cage while the executioner started dragging me off towards the house. That was when the idea suddenly occurred to me.
There were big granite stones around on the ground, visible in the bright white lights from the big house. As the executioner dragged me on, I deliberately stumbled and fell to my knees, seemingly helpless, but I secretly grabbed one of those big stones in my hand. The arrogant man cursed and as he started to drag me roughly to my feet, I hit him with the stone square in-between the legs with all my strength.
The big man bellowed with pain and let go of me even as he dropped the cutlass in his other hand. I hit him hard with the stone again in the face for good measure and he went down heavily like dead wood. I ran for the forest and behind me, the second man started shouting.
I made it across the clearing fast and entered the dark forest. I ran blindly on for a while, and then, remembering I would be pursued, changed direction, heading to my left. I changed direction one more time and ran on for quite a while before falling into a ditch, hit my head on something and lost consciousness.
When I came to, I was lying in a ditch overgrown with vegetation. High above me, beyond the thick canopy of the mighty trees of the forest, the sky was already lightening up fast. I clawed my way out of the ditch, took my bearing as best as I could and began to run again.
I spent the whole day on the move in the depths. of that virgin forest, running and falling, picking myself up and running again, I hardly rested in my desperate flight.
By the time I emerged onto a wide dirt road, it was almost dark again. The first person I came across was a well-dressed young woman. She was a God send, I know that now.
The woman kept her distance but the hesitation and doubt in her eyes started to fade as I explained my circumstance to her in perfect and begged for one of her wrappers to cover my nakedness so people who saw me wouldn’t mistake me for a lunatic.
The woman was richly dressed in the Yoruba fashion like a person of wealth, one long wrapper covered her lower body, wide-sleeved buba top, expensive bead ornaments – necklaces and earrings – all in shades of green. An extra wrapper was folded over one shoulder as the native Yoruba fashion required and it was that one she released to me.
I covered my nakedness and she led me off to a small town nearby where I discovered that her father was the highest traditional ruler there with a big mansion to show his wealth.
The people gathered to hear my story and it frightened most of them. With the young lady who helped me translating my English smoothly into the Yoruba language for all to understand, they asked me for descriptions and directions to the place but I couldn’t tell them much. I was in terrible shape and certain couldn’t retrace my steps in a forest that vast and dense.
The king, the father of the lady who helped me, was with his chief and they didn’t look surprised at all to hear my story. It turned out that they’d been hearing stories like mine for years and guessed my predicament the moment they saw me.
It turned out that the town I had emerged in was called Arigbajo, and it was located clean in another state…Ogun State!
I became the special guest of a rich king and his well-educated daughter. Both were the only people in the whole town who understood the English language I spoke and I got on with them so well. The princess, in particular, she helped me greatly with the emotional and physical rehabilitation I needed.
I stayed in the palace for about three weeks in which time I got visits from police officers investigating the matter. My relationship with the princess grew very fast in this time until it got to the point where I took the bold step of asking her father for her hand in marriage. That’s the Yorubas for you, one could marry that fast.
Even as I tell this story, I have no idea what become of the other people I left behind, but I strongly suspect they were slaughtered for parts like the others were. As for me, I am now based in the city of Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun state. I live in a nice house with three exotic cars and a princess for a wife who is five moths pregnant with my first child.
Oh, and I go to church regularly now. God indeed does work in mysterious ways.
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