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Where Money Is God

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In the early hours of one beautiful Saturday morning, a security guard sees something suspicious: a group of young men cooking something in a pot. The guard knows these men cannot be up to anything good.

He calls the police to investigate. The ‘something’ cooking turns out to be a human head. The men are performing some macabre ritual to make them rich. Stupendously so. This sounds like the plot of a wild movie that has no place in the 21st century. Shockingly (or perhaps not with all the wild tales we’ve been hearing) this happened just last weekend in Oke Aregba, Abeokuta. The boyfriend of the victim is a 19-year-old who planned the murder with his friends. I have looked at the photo of this young man several times trying to espy something in his features that would mark him out as evil. He looks – at least in the photograph online- like a normal kid.  But a normal kid wouldn’t kill. He looks as normal as the 36-year old man in Enugu who was arrested in November last year for killing his 7-year old son for a money-making ritual. But a normal father wouldn’t murder his son in exchange for riches.

Money ritual with animal skull
The obvious wickedness aside, killing another human being, killing someone who trusted you, I do not understand how in this day and age, our people persist in their belief of moneymaking rituals. Grown men (if there are women involved, I haven’t seen them) drowning goats in a lake; drinking dirty water; bathing naked in some body of water because they’ve been told by some Babalawo that that is the only way they can make money. Not by working hard. Not by even going out to work. Just perform some rituals and money is supposed to what? Fill the bowl every time they have a bowel movement? Rain down on them like it does in old Nollywood movies?

Maybe it’s always been this way but I don’t recall it being the case when I was growing up that wealth was celebrated this much. These days, it appears that it is not enough to have a comfortable life. Our young men and women want the kind of wealth that buys them the adulation that our wealth-obsessed society throws at the ostentatiously affluent, even when their source of wealth is questionable. Our youth are on social media retweeting videos and photos of the rich and their lifestyle and asking “God, when?” Not “God, how?” because the “how” is less important than the “when” in a society dominated by the love of money. Where money is god, its worshippers pay obeisance to it. What does it matter where it comes from? Even some of our churches preach prosperity as the ultimate sign of God’s love. Their god only speaks the language of materialism and his pastors show off their fleet of luxury cars as proof that they are the chosen ones.

Corrupt politicians, corrupt cronies of those in power, 419ers, drug dealers, kidnappers, dubious pastors are revered as long as they are moneyed. It is not the work that goes into creating the wealth that is applauded, but the wealth itself. So people without a kobo to their names can suddenly catapult out of nowhere with massive wealth and flaunt it with no fear. Sometimes, not even their families question where the sudden “blessing” has come from because they don’t care. A friend told me once of his cousin whose father, tired of having an unemployed son years after graduation asked him when he was going to do what his mates were doing to make money. The father listed names of his son’s agemates who’d built houses and bought cars and asked his son again, “When are you going to join them? Are you allergic to wealth? Are you afraid of becoming a someone?” Yet my friend said, this father- an otherwise reasonable fellow-   knew that many of the people he listed couldn’t have made their money by any honest means.

As long as to “be someone” is to have money by any means necessary, we will continue to hear stories like the ones in Abeokuta and Enugu. Those who can’t do Yahoo-Yahoo, who have no access to drug barons, who aren’t successful kidnappers, who have no political friends in high places, who are not corrupt politicians in high places will continue to fall prey to the dubious dibia that tells them to fetch a human head for money. It doesn’t matter if that head belongs to a stranger or to their child or lover. It doesn’t even matter how many people are arrested, the allure remains. Show me a society where money is god and I’ll show you one where its worshippers will do anything, anything at all to become its high priests.

 

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