Londoners were justifiable shocked to learn about a headless and limbless torso of a young boy floating on the Thames exactly 20 years ago. Twenty years on, the “mystery” of this young lad’s ritual voodoo-juju human sacrifice-murder remains “unsolved” but, from my perspective here resident in Nigeria, I think the Met (I suppose it’s the Met, uh?) has done a significant “solving” of the case except for fixing the identity of that hapless kid. For me, tracing the origin of that boy-victim to Nigeria’s Benin province was significantly telling. I was not shocked anymore about the details of the gruesome sacrifice-murder.
The Benin area of Nigeria is easily the last bastion of southern Nigeria that has rejected well-meaning attempts at Christianisation (there is Nigeria’s Benin province and there is the West African country of Benin, both enclaves steeped in voodoo sorcery and animal sacrifice). The peoples at Nigeria’s Benin province (the Bini), their mores and values, are still rooted in African native voodoo-juju paganism of the worst imaginable kind, a veritable representation of the darkest centuries-old crudeness that held Africa back until comparatively recent when contact with Europeans tempered our forebears’ bestiality. African voodoo-juju paganism, à la Benin, is steeped in animal sacrifice where “blood” of graded animal-forms, à la the caste system of Hinduism, is supposed to invoke a correlated graded sequence of magic-power and spell-enablement that the head honcho of the coven doing that sacrifice possesses. In voodoo-juju rituals, there are levels of “power-of-invocation” tied to graded animal kinds that practitioners believe are necessary sacrificial steps to appease some invisible deity that circuits of covens venerate or to appease some carved wooded totem items that are regarded as personal deities of a family group. It is also in order to make animal sacrifice to a “living deity” (in this case, the paramount chief of the agglomerate of tribes making up a distinct cultural group that usually trace a common ancestry to some mythical warrior-jujuman of the group’s oral folklore).
The head of a local coven (or a “shrine” in popular Benin’s Nigerian English usage) does a tribe’s paramount ruler, a “chief” or a “high chief” or an “oba,” etc., some “high honour” when the oba comes visiting that coven’s honcho’s domain (the “ohen shrine” in popular Benin’s Nigerian English usage) by proffering offering of animal-blood in African gourds that the oba may “sanctify” so that small measures in vials of this erstwhile “living liquid” may be distributed amongst far-flung adherents of that “shrine” for veneration at family temples or altars installed in niches in living rooms or bedrooms.
A “big man” is judged by the animal-type he can make sacrifice of and have its blood drained for the visiting “oba.” But a coven honcho may choose to do the visiting “oba” the “greatest high honour” by proffering a gourd offering of the blood of the “purest and innocent ‘un” from the “highest-level animal kind” (that is, an innocent child of the human species). For this to happen, the “oba” would understand the head of that coven is commemorating a milestone event from the past or the oba’s visit coincides with some fabled event, obviously a myth, that the oba holds dearly.
Or, if the oba was not home in Nigeria at the precise time fixed for some annual “tribal festival” that the oba should preside over and to “appease the deities” who must have their direct libations straight from the drinking gourd of the sitting oba (the incarnation of the deities in human form), the head of the “shrine” hosting the oba in some “foreign clime” (like London, England, for instance) must “appease the deities” for the “unforeseen translocation of the oba” by proffering human-blood offering. This situation is a likelihood scenario because the sitting oba may be away to London for medical emergency and thus he would miss that all-important “tribal festival.”
Human-sacrificial rites can also take place to commemorate the anniversary of the passing of a mythical ancestor of the head honcho of a Benin coven-group (that may be located anywhere in the world) who covets elevation to some higher rank in the native aristocracy.
Now, the Met should examine travel records to London by figures from the Benin area of Nigeria at the time of the death of that lad from Nigeria twenty years ago and seek to identify if some high-ranking chieftain was in London for “visit” to “family and subjects.” Such fellow and the coterie of aides around him back them will help the Met crack this vexing case, but the Foreign Office must threaten subsequent, large-scale visa denials if co-operation ain’t forthcoming from narrowed-down suspects.
It is a shame that Nigerians are relapsing to voodooism at the present time. Widespread amongst cult elements of the different tribal groups scattered across the land of Nigeria is the belief that harvested human body-parts (specifically, plucking eyeballs from their sockets and severing female breasts plus their outer sexual reproductive organs) from a living person is assured route to becoming dollar-denominated millionaires. Grievous bodily harms are done to people, and the government at Nigeria dismisses this and other forms of human sacrificial rituals as, well, a return to “native culture.”
Sunday Adole Jonah,
Department of Physics,
Federal University of Technology,
Minna, Niger state