The Long Juju Of Arochukwu and Other Shrines
The Long Juju Of Arochukwu and Other Shrines – Igwenazor Chinaemerem
In Igboland and beyond, Juju of diverse perceptions abound. One thing is peculiar with all of them – they are seen as the bastion of justice that deals decisively with anyone who contravenes its law. It is always the last resort for many to consult on difficult matters while a whole lot of people and ideas are backed by these dreaded Juju. Although many in Igboland refer to it as Juju, the word Juju is a borrowed word. Shrines are better known as Iyi or Arusi.
The antecedents of the Long Juju Of Arochukwu – Ibini Ukpabi, seems to overshadow any other earlier or existing Arusi East of the Niger. It was seen as the last resort for any challenge in the society before the coming of the white man into the hinterlands and it lived up to the billings of that era. Today, the site of the dreaded Long Juju of Arochukwu is a Unesco site courtesy its specific role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
From a whole lot of information available today, the Long Juju of Arochukwu was more of a business empire built around a feared deity. The dexterity of its originators, managers and that of its widely spread ambassador are top notch. Perhaps no other deity or business investment has well situated ambassadors across all major towns in Igboland like the Long Juju of Arochukwu.
The summary of the activities of the Long Juju of Arochukwu is thus:-
- It has hidden representatives in major towns and trading posts across Igboland. These clandestine foot soldiers report to them in details about any issue there is before the seekers or pilgrims to the shrine sets their foot on its groove.
- The clandestine ambassadors does the job of fanning the personality and efficacy of the deity constantly.
- Many of the victims of this shrine are sold to slavery while blood of goats and chickens are poured into the flowing rivers to attest that the deity has killed and eaten the victim.
The location of the shrine is unique – a stretch of about a kilometer with bushes, caves and river ending into the ocean. The wonderful thing is that it remained uncharted and inaccessible to many non-members of the Juju owners. The area was well guarded by macho men and spirit styled humans that makes pilgrims to the site to remain awe stricken and behave as they are told to or else, they will be eaten by the gods. All these made the dreaded Long Juju of Arochukwu a positive business enterprise for a long time frame until it was unmasked, dismantled and destroyed by the British expedition. The high volume of livestock especially Cows when it was a rare animal and bags of cowries emptying into the purse of the managing chief occult priests of the shrine was a windfall beyond compare.
So what does the Long Juju of Arochukwu and other shrines have in common? All and everything – but more of a tool of control and business. Being displayed as an object of justice, its owners receive constant flow of financial and material resources from its patrons. Once you are to ask for their services, money begins to move into their coffers. From delivering the writs of summon to answering their summons, money is doled out. Then when the issue is finally resolved, they also get a fair share of funds. Not forgetting the sums demanded for sacrifices and free will donations from the parties involved.
The truth be told, you cannot shove aside the power of Lucifer and his demons on earth. Yes they are real and are always at the disposal of men to deal a great blow on others. Such satanic powers are readily available to the owners and managers of Juju based enterprise today. However, the eternal question is – why did the Long Juju of Arochukwu not kill the white men who destroyed it? So also so many tagged evil forests where churches are situated today.
If the experience of the Long Juju of Arochukwu packed up being a business venture, it could be succinctly said that many of them out there are pure profit making ventures. In Nnewi Anambra state, there is a notable deity/Alusi known as Edo. It is believed to the deity that govern the land of Nnewi, thus Nnewi is referred to by many as Ani-Edo meaning Edo land. As powerful as the deity is said to be, there is a common saying about it by the Nnewi people that is worthy of mention …..it is ‘we’ the Nnewi people that asked Edo to be our god – ‘we’ own Edo and it is whom ‘we’ tell Edo to kill that it kills……
In examining the activities, personification and the aura attached to deities [Iyi/Arusi] in Igbo culture in relationship to the Igbo-Hebrew origin, deities of all kinds that dot the land and breadth of Igboland are aberrations and abominations. The dialectic nomenclature of Juju – Arusi sums it up: Aru – abomination; si – from. Every shrine is tagged Arusi meaning that they are foreign gods and abominations allowed free range among the people. This suggests that they are not part of the original Igbo ethos as Igbos believe in CHUKWU OKIKE the one and only creator and supreme God.