21 May Bound to the Truth
Whilst driving through Lagos in the sweltering heat sweat dripped down my face. There was traffic everywhere I turned. I felt claustrophobic I couldn’t breath. People with large wooden bowls overflowing with market items balanced on their heads stared at me through the car window.
“Victor, turn back. I can’t do it. I don’t feel good.”
“Joyce, you must free yourself, the fear of the Juju magic will kill you.”
My brother Victor wanted me to speak with British detectives about Ikpomwosa, the young boy who was sacrificed for power and riches in England ten years ago. Ever since we were small we feared the wicked man behind the Skelton mask. Everyone in Cantanou is afraid mostly for the children.
“Joyce, it’s murder killing animals and children for power? Come on, it’s nonsense.” He said with anger spread across his face and his eyes bulging with fury.
“You’ve kept it inside too long, you must repent. Do you know how much money and time these people have spent? You must tell them what happened,” He continued.
“Ok, I will go but not today I’m not feeling good. My brain hurts I need medicine.”
“Stop this nonsense at once. It’s your conscience that should hurt, nothing else!” He shouted.
“I’m not good! I’m not good today, Victor. Turn the car around and take me back home,” I was begging for my life.
I could feel a hex was being cast on me right then. They knew I was going to speak; they were with the Bokor chanting, dancing and drinking blood for my life. More sweat dripped down my face. My eyes became blurry I couldn’t see.
“Victory, stop! Stop the car… I can’t speak… They are hunting for my blood, my children’s blood. You must tell them, I can’t speak.”
Victor stopped the car. We were outside Lagos Central Police station. Two white men dressed in suits were waiting outside. My head banged back and forth against the window I was losing control.
“Joyce, calm down we have arrived,” he said nervously trying to unlock his seatbelt.
“Victor, don’t let me speak… Please! They’ll kill me, my children… Look at me I am dying.”
“OK, I will tell them two weeks,” he said disappointed as he open the car door.
He reluctantly walked over to the two men eagerly waiting. He told them I was sick and needed medicine. The detectives thought it was a breakdown but it was the power of the Loup Garou working. I could feel it in my spirit; I could see it in my mind.
When Victor arrived back to the car frustration beamed through his yellow almond shape eyes, his bushy eyebrows rose to the sky.
“You must stop this, Joyce! I will wash my hands. I’m not condoning it. It’s madness Joyce, madness.”
I remember being taking over by evil spirits. I started chanting.
“Loa’ Loa’ Loa’
Please come and save me.
Save me from the wicked, save me from the wicked.”
“My dear sister you are losing it,” Victor screamed over my chants.
“Loa’ Loa’ Loa’. Victor you must help me!” I was swaying erratically side to side.
“Help yourself! Look into your heart and find love for that child. The river boy is what they call him.”
I knew Victor was serious and had had enough, he didn’t want to be a part of my shame any longer.
* * *
A few days later, Victor moved me into a single-storey, breezeblock dwelling in the small town Nikki where he worshipped. I once again felt at peace and was no longer afraid.
“Victor! I am ready! Let them come to see me I am ready to talk everything.”
“Joyce, are you sure? We don’t have time to waste.”
“Bring them to me, I’m ready,” I assured him.
“Joyce, these people cannot wait another ten years for you to mess them around,” he was not convinced.
“Bring them. I will speak everything, I will bring justice for Ikpomwosa,” I told him as I looked deep into his eyes.
* * *
Two days later I sat on the floral patterned sofa waiting for them to visit. I was ready to speak truth. The detectives would not come, just a reporter. The detectives gave up on my story, they said I was mad and couldn’t get it straight. They even had doubts that I knew Ikpomwosa at all. But I did know him! I cared for him like any mother would care for their child. I cared for him the same way I cared for my daughters.
I remember it like it was yesterday I was living in Germany with my then husband, Sam. Life was good, we had finally settled after seeking asylum a couple years earlier. Sam and I set up a private witch doctor service for those seeking to rekindle love, healing, fortune and even fame. We made animal sacrifice sometimes lambs, goats or doves depending on what the spirits requested. In return we were given powers as higher priest and priestess. People flocked from all parts of Germany in hope of their troubled lives to be quickly sorted.
Sam danced around ecstatic.
“The God’s love me they bring me best luck. My beautiful Joyce, owo eyo, owo eyo, it’s coming,” he said playfully waving his hands in the air.
“Let’s celebrate,” I said with excitement.
“Joyce, when we buy house then we can spend.”
“Ah, yes! I want a big house in England. Lets take the children there and make a fresh start.”
“Soon, first we must do more sacrifice our protection is dying,” he said in a serious tone.
“Sam it’s too hard, they will lock us up. To these people animal is their friend.”
“Don’t be stupid woman animals are no good. Human blood! A power that will last forever,” he said whist rubbing his hands together like a magician with a new trick.
I got firm with him “NO! I won’t do ritual murder.”
“It will show the Loa that we are serious. That we will do anything and in return we will be blessed. Our power mighty.”
I told Sam I wouldn’t kill. I knew what human sacrifice meant, a small boy unblemished by circumcision. Sam’s greed for power was tremendous, he would stop at nothing to get it. He promised he would forget the idea and got involved with other things. He started work with a man called Bawa. He spent less and less time at home and would only return to set up space for immigrants that he shipped over. Sometimes up to ten people at one time and packed them all into the tiny flat like sardines squashed in a tin.
Early one morning Sam called and woke me from my sleep.
“Joyce! Wake, It’s urgent.”
“What! What is it?”
“The Police have picked me, they want to ask me questions about people smuggled into Germany. We know nothing about it.”
“Locked up?” I whispered not wanting the children to hear.
“Yes! You must listen. Soon Bawa will bring our cousin Efe, his wife Yemi and their small boy, look after them.”
“Sam, you promised there’d be no more?”
“Just do as I say. Ah, and take feathers from my draw, speak to Loa for my return,” he snapped before hanging up.
The next few days Sam was released for further questioning he said Bawa risked big sacrifice for his freedom. He washed with blood for three days and put bone dust in his food. I said nothing; I did not know who this man was, my husband was gone. He now spent all his time with Efe and Yemi attending secret rituals day and night. Their child Ikpomwosa was pushed into my care.
I was in the kitchen preparing food when Sam approached me from behind.
“Joyce, you will now look after the boy, make sure nothing brings him harm. Not even one fall, he is precious.”
“Is Yemi’s hand no good?” I mumbled quietly as I slowly stirred the food.
“She is no longer his mother… He will be her sacrifice.” He said in the wickedest voice as he grabbed me towards him.
“ I won’t! “She is a wicked woman, her own child.” I said raising my voice.
Before I could finish, Sam’s heavy hand smacked my face. Blood fell from my lip, dripped into the boiling pan of okra stew. I was terrified. Sam’s anger for his dying power was out of control.
“Tomorrow I will go back to England, I don’t have time. The pigs will be back to lock me.”
“Sam, promise me… no murder?”
“You are now carer for the boy, until Bawa comes for him. If you do otherwise you will bring hex; you will put Mecca and Bijou at harm.”
“Will you be back?”
“No, Bawa will sort it.”
I felt a tug on my leg, as I looked down at Ikpomwosa with his bold eyes, and a magical smile. My heart bled with anguish as I knew his days were numbered and there was nothing I could do. He had been marked.
A few days after Sam left immigration came. They took Efe and Bijou. I declared that Ikpomwosa was my child as I was under Hex orders. I was afraid of the spirits that would attack. I would be killed, my children punished.
Ikpomwosa was a joyful boy he was like a little brother to Mecca and Bijou. I became fond of him; he had a strong energy and intelligence. I could not understand why his mother and father would sacrifice him.
* * *
Almost a year had passed when I was disturbed by a loud bang at the door. It was Bawa.
“Where is he?” He calmly asked.
He pushed a note into my hand and a sachet with many herbs inside.
“Follow dis order. I be back in one week.”
“Where’s Sam?” I muttered hiding behind the door.
“E’eryting is dere,” he shouted back spraying spit in my face.
His oversized intimidating body wedged in the door, his eyes stared at me as if to eat me alive. I pressed my weight against the door forcing it shut.
As the days went by I followed the orders. A week later Bawa came for Ikpomwosa.
What is this evil thing? I thought to myself as I packed to leave Germany. I want out of it. I wanted to get Ikpomwosa. I would get him when I got to England and look after him myself.
* * *
When I arrived in England, the first thing I did was make call to Sam on the number that Bawa had left on the note.
“Hello,” I knew the voice it was Bawa.
“Bawa, where is Sam?
“He will pick you soon.”
My heart was racing “and, the boy. Ikpomwosa, where is he?”
He was silent I thought the phone had dropped.
“Bawa! Bawa! Are you there?
“He’s gone. Sam will fill you,” he relayed in a deep cold voice before abruptly ending the call.
A movie played fast in my mind, the herbs I fed him every night, the orange shorts I was told to pack – the poison I boiled.
When Sam came to pick me up, I refused to go. I screamed from the top of my voice for all to hear.
“YOU ARE A MURDERER. You are messing with wickedness.”
Sam did not stick around, he told the Taxi to drive. Still screaming at the top of my voice, two men from immigration grabbed me. I told them everything I didn’t care about punishment. I cared about Ikpomwosa.
“My husbands involved in ritual murder. They killed a boy and put him in water for power. Fed him poison to still his body, then drained his blood. Oh Loa’ Loa’ why? They cut his body into pieces and shared it out to all those who were there. His mum and dad were there they are the ones who gave him to the Gods for power and riches.”
The tallest man with the baldhead looked at me confused. These people do not understand what the people in Africa are fighting for, the spirits they are playing with.
I told them I would speak everything so they took me to a house in Glasgow for protection. They told me a small boy dressed in bright orange shorts body parts had been found in a river. I knew it was Ikpomwosa. But when they came to interview me the next day, I had nothing. Sam had got to work. I was sick, trembling, shaking the children was afraid. It felt like death. I had nothing to tell the police anymore so they sent me back to Nigeria.
I have asked the Loa to forgive me. I want another chance to speak. It took long time because I am afraid. Ever since I spoke last time I’ve been sick, my brain, body, everything is aching and in pain. I can’t even care for Mecca and Bijou. They make cast for me to be this way. But I can’t forget Ikpomwosa.
* * *
When Victor came back with the reporter, my spirit drifted away. My mind vanished. As the beautiful woman came to shake my hand, I froze. I couldn’t even remember why she was there. Victor looked at me shocked he thought I was messing around. But I wasn’t the power of the wicked had returned and taken over my soul. I told her I knew Ikpomwosa and that was it. I couldn’t speak only in my head. All that I knew was buried in my bones only for my flesh to muster. I knew I was being punished… I should have saved the boy I grew to love… I should of saved Ikpomwosa from the wicked when I had the chance.
Written By: Aysha Scott