The Neo-juju

The Neo-juju

“Ya Allah na ba ka zuciya naaa… Ya Allah na ba ka rayuwa naaa…” Jeremiah Gyang’s sweet song sailed from her father’s small radio into her soul.

Zainab sat, as she did most mornings, frying the groundnuts she would sell. She was only nine but she swore she would escape the poverty in this village. Few years later, her parents sent her from rural Zamfara to live with their kinsman in urban Lagos.

Uncle Hassan had wanted her to concentrate on hawking Agege-bread. But she managed to finish secondary school, especially by fulfilling his paedophiliac sexual fantasies. Afterwards, her family wanted her to marry and settle down in the neighbouring village. Zainab rebelled. She still had dreams; dreams of being a graduate, dreams of being empowered.

“I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly. I’ll do what it takes till I touch the sky… Take a chance. Make a change. And breakawaaay…” Kelly Clarkson’s lyrics stirred her spirit.

And so she ran away from home to the off-campus house of an old girl. This notorious girl was now an undergraduate of Unilag. Zainab joined her in part-time prostitution. On one of their many “Abuja runs”, she was introduced to Sayid Qasir, a foreigner connected to an Arab royal family. He fell in love with her. Yes, he hated her dirty job. Yet he understood her motivation. He knew he had the power to turn her life in a new direction.

“Oruka ti d’owo na. Di ololufe re mu. K’o s’eni to le ya yin titi lai… Titi lai lai lai…” Sunny Neji performed at their traditional wedding in her village a few months later. Zainab couldn’t stop the tears of joy flowing down her cheeks.

Soon after, she relocated to Saudi Arabia with her bridegroom. They had an adorable boy and visited Nigeria every year. Eighteen long years later, Zainab held a doctorate from King Saud University while excelling in her business ventures. Her parents had long died, her beloved husband too, but her childhood passion for more power resurrected. Returning home, Zainab joined the ruling party. Supporting it with her enormous wealth and circulating amongst the state’s crème de la crème. She was indeed a natural politician. In fact, her male counterparts were intimidated by Zainab’s rising profile in Zamfara, all within seven years. Everyone now called her “Mama Mecca”. And none was surprised when she declared interest in the gubernatorial race.

Before she could run for the primaries or main elections however, the party’s cabal insisted she must take “the oath of kpakpankolo”. With a cock’s feather between his lips, the witch doctor poured a semen-like substance into a calabash, sprinkled corn flour into it, dripped blood from Zainab’s pierced thumb, then stirred it all with a single broom stick. As she sat under his umbrella that day, swallowing the concoction, she thought she felt some strength leave her body.

“Mama Mecca go win oooh! Make una vote our Mamaaa! Na she be number oneee…” Alhaja Zainab Illah-Qasir’s campaign jingles ruled the airwaves.

On the day of her swearing-in months later, Mama Mecca was soaring on cloud nine until she sighted someone amongst the cheering crowd. The little girl stood there wailing; it seemed her tray of groundnuts had been knocked off her head. Zainab suddenly rushed down the stage, squatted and drew the crying child into her arms. The cabal was stunned. The crowd watched on, speechless. Right there and then, the new governor silently swore that her people’s tears, their sweat, their dreams would be her new concoction.



28 thoughts on “The Neo-juju” by King kObOkO (@koboko)

  1. Nigerian’s Evita. Nice stuff. That last scene, simply beautiful.

  2. Thanks Jay, but wetin Evita mean abeg? *scratching head*

    1. Koboko! So, you don’t know my Evita Peron? She was an illigetimate daughter to a hustler and then the wife of the Argentinian president..But she died of cancer in her early thirties….

      I hope Zainab wont die in your story? Abeg, We really need female messiahs for our country…Wonderful story!

  3. Hiii people, I’d appreciate comments here o! Pleeease… Thanks! *winks*

  4. First thing I thought of as I read this story was Pretty Woman. Then Evita Peron. Like the story. A bit unhappy cos there’s juju in it like my story too but show’s we’re thinking alike sha.

    Like the music concept too. Each song marking a new phase of her life. But still not sure I really get the overall direction of the story though. That ending felt a teensy bit artificial….though emotional.

  5. Pretty Woman? Nawa o! And I guess juju is almost inseparable from Nigerian politics. *winks* But why is nobody seeing the symbolism in “the oath of kpakpankolo”?

  6. @KING I LIKED THIS STORY FROM START TO FINISH…YOU DID WELL…HOW I WISH SHE DID NOT TAKE THE JUJU OR ON THE OTHER HAND, IF SOME KING OF REPERCUSSION HAD BEFALLEN HER BECAUSE….
    As she sat under his umbrella that day, swallowing the concoction, she thought she felt some strength leave her body….

    WHAT DID THE LOSS OF STRENGTH BRING ABOUT?

    WELL DONE SIRE

  7. Mazi Nwonwu (@Fredrick-chiagozie-Nwonwu)

    Nice story Koboko. Noticed the effect of word count restriction and the need to wrap it up in not-so-many words. Anyway, I have issues with your timelines. at the beginning you had the girl frying groundnuts and dreaming of a life away from the city. then you took her to that city, back to the village, abroad and back home again to contest the governorship…Whew! that for me is an astonishing feat under 600 words, but that is where the problem lies.
    perhaps it is a tense thing, but I can’t help feeling you should have started with her in the present (perhaps at the rally looking at the young groundnut seller and seeing herself in her — which you did at the end — and flashing back to the past, “in short” this would’ve been better told entirely in flashback, me thinks)
    Loved the plot, intense.

  8. This is a beautiful story but I quite agree with Fred. It felt hurried to me and I think the layout of your plot was resposible for that. Portraying the village setting as a flashback would have given more flavour to the story.
    My thoughts. Nice work really. Love the plot.

  9. Just as the others had said, I must confess you have the hand of Sheakspear. Your story is wonderfully told, just that **winks**, you know what I mean. It would have been more better if it had been told in Flashback. Love the plot sha…….
    Thanks bro for your comment at my story.

  10. @King kObOkO, I’d be honest with u. It’s either ur style was restricted because of the word limit set, or u failed this wonderful theme because u didn’t properly handle the style. Ur theme pleads on ur behalf because what u did with Kelly Clarkson and Sunny Neji led to a disjointed sequence. This is my opinion, I’d understand if u disagree. I feel it worked with Jeremiah Gyang, maybe it would have worked in a lengthy piece that allows u the liberty to use more words for cohesiveness. Ever heard of verisimilitude? It comes from Latin ‘verum’ meaning truth and ‘similis’ meaning similar. It means the appearance of being true or real. Through verisimilitude, a reader is able to glean truth even in fiction because it would reflect realistic aspects of human life. When a story is contracted behold reason, that touch of reality becomes lost. That’s why @Fred Nwonwu said ‘…but that is where the problem lies.’ However, the idea that credibility, and in turn verisimilitude, rested on the reader’s sense of the world encountered opposition because of the dilemma it created: every reader and every person does not have the same knowledge of the world. So? Do u want to stick with the excuse or work at getting better? Nice piece though, but it could be better.

  11. Thanks for your sincere critique Fred. Yeah, maybe it would’ve been better in flashback. But I guess I wanted to create a circular effect. (Beginning to new beginning.) Besides, flashback may have killed my musicals. *winks*

  12. Wow! 4ran6, I appreciate your honest critique. Verisimilitude!! Chai! I still dey learn o! I can’t wait for Emmanuella’s review. *winks*

    1. Happy that u appreciate it… Ur musicals? Lolz. Na musical u wan do abi u wan win competition?

  13. @4RAN6, I DITTO YOU ALL THE WAY AND @KING, WELL YOU DID WELL WITH THE THEME BUT KINDA FELL OFF SOMEWHERE… A LITTLE STUFF WAS MISSING AND IT KINDA SOURED THE SOUP OF OUR GREAT WRITER…

    1. I don become critic for the sake of this competition… At conclusion, I go become ur apprentice.

  14. I like the story but the way you told it felt a bit rushed. One second she was nine and before we could catch our breath, she was Mama Mecca. The rush also prevented you from developing some parts such as how she fell in love, instead making it seem forced, quick and unrealistic. I really like the idea though, the end was fantastic- the full circle moment when she saw herself in that child. Well done. This was a good effort.

  15. I really like the end of this story. I think it was beautifully written, but the word count was a constraint, as is evident from the preceding comments. I think it would also have worked better if it was written as a flashback, but poor Koboko doesn’t want to lose his musicals…..lol.

    All in all, I think its a very good piece. Perhaps you should have tried writing another using flashback(i.e. if it had occured to you then),and then this and choose the best from the two.

    Well done!!!

  16. Thank you dear Lawal! E don te wey I dey wait for your review o! *winks* Will you believe me if I told you that this work is my first fiction ever? (That is, apart from my poems o!) I guess $150 & the not too lengthy 600words limit forced me to challenge myself. Now I’m sure I won’t win it. (Especially after reading FOR THE BOY &a few other awesome entries in this contest.) *sighs* Anyway shaa, I just can’t wait to be a better writer, wow the whole world & win future laurels. He he he… Thanks once again bro.

    1. If this is your first work of fiction, then you have a headstart!

      Just keep working at it, you’ll get there.

  17. Good. Good. Rather fast paced. Loved the last scene. Like something from a really emotional movie.

  18. You packed a punch into this, the word count didnt allow for much though, it was fast paced and i still liked it, a bit surreal too…

  19. First, verisimilitude. Now, surreal! *sobbing* Elly, your truth is bitter o! *winks* Thanks!

  20. Well, they’ve said it all…Nice, but should’ve been better…

  21. Ok, I made it to top18. Thanks everyone! *winks* Chai! Wetin the judges go talk o? *holding breath*

  22. King Koboko, you won’t believe how many times i have tried to review this story and post a comment without success. I am suspecting the juju content of this your story o. Well, your story gives us a good image of the kind of leader we need now. Anyone who does not feel for the little people like Zainab did should not dream of leadership at any level. Nice story, though rushed, with events that span many years forced into 600 words limit. well done

  23. Nnenna, thanks o! *winks* It’s so good to know that you understand my story.

  24. My debut has made it to Top Ten. Thank God o! *dancing with Dagrin &Omawunmi* He he he… Thanks to the judges for their rating & reviews too. *winks*

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