In ancient times, as our people say, when the sick perceive their sickness, they sought the Babalawo, the father of knowledge. He might be female and knowledgeable in the area of sickness. These words were gender-neutral. The sick sought those who knew things about the area of their thing.
There was no shame or scandal. Death gives no date. Neither does sickness append a date of appointment. Death comes when it will. And sickness comes when sickness wants. The person affected simply lies down and takes it. It is his or her thing. She or he affects it and goes about seeking those knowledgeable in the area of their thing. No more. No less.
In the case of sudden death, the only thing the family can do is to look for who to blame. The subject is no longer around to supply names for the possibility of his or her death. Who were his enemies? Who did he greet who answered with a snort? Who greeted her and she answered with a reluctant mere nod of the head. Because in such small gestures are hidden the grievances of those who would hurt. You can’t remember any such thing? He was always well-disposed to all, those who wish him well as well as those whose thoughts worked against him. He greeted all the same. But that is not good enough.
In fact, hidden in such gestures are the seedlings of jealousy and prejudice. How can she greet me as she greets every Tom, Dick, and Harry? Where were the three when his child needed shoes to attend the birthday of Aminu whose parents did not want anyone coming to their houses without wearing shoes? And you should see the state in which he brought back the shoes! At least he could have given it a small lick of polish. But how could they give a little of what they did not have? Let’s forget that side of the story.
Now, did he lend someone money who could not pay and wished him dead instead of paying back the debt he owed him? Let’s leave the dead alone with multiple suspicions while we seek a cure for the sick.
That is the responsibility of the sick as well as his relatives or relatives. Having found the road to the house of the Babalawo, they take the road and seek advice for the sick. The process of refusal begins when the sick refuse to be present. In the narratives of similar sicknesses and illnesses who will identify the one nearest to his own and selected the medication closest to his? The relatives can only guess and surmise and therein lies mistakes in diagnoses and recommendations.
Whatever happens, some sort of recommendation is proposed and the Babalawo is satisfied because the Babalawo is always the first to be satisfied with the recommendation she had proffered. She gets her payment and everybody goes home. It now remains for implementation. The sick lies on the mat getting sicker and sicker. The recommended medication lies around becoming inadequate every day the sickness worsens.
Nigeria is sick. The IMF and the World Bank were the ones who recommended medications to Nigeria. Their medication did not work. Instead of allowing Nigeria to seek other medications, they prevented Nigeria from seeking other Babalawo. But they did worse than prevent the sick from seeking other doctors who might have other cures for the sickness of Nigeria. They blamed the sick for the insurability of the sickness of the sick. They refused to own the sickness with the sick. The alarm of the sick and the fear of the relatives increased. The population increases. The previous cure cannot work now. Yet the IMF and the World Bank keep applying the same medication and keeps getting the same result: failure. Added to the sickness of Nigeria is the stealing of the medication before it gets to the sick. Those nurses and caregivers have become nurses and caretakers. Care stealers. Care thieves.
And so the trouble trebles. It does not double. It trebles. The IMF and the World Bank recommend medication that is outdated. The nurses and care givers of IMF and the World Bank deliver what they have delivered and what worked in other places but do not work in Nigeria. The Nigerian nurses and caregivers become the care takers, care stealers of the third order.
Everywhere fingers point to other places whose success the IMF and the World Bank claim as their own. South Korea. Japan after the Second World War. Then fingers point to other places that succeeded using other Babalawo. China. Singapore.
But let’s just take one example: the Ajaokuta Steel Plant which can, as from now on must be known as the Ajaokuta Steel Plant. The same steel company that initially built the Ajaokuta steel plant built various plants in the then Eastern Europe that was part of the Soviet Union in those days. Under two military governments, the Ajaokuta Steel Plant was built and re-built. The re-building usually costs more than the previous re-building.
The situation got worse under the civilian government’s: re-building and re-re-re-building world without end. Then multiple what happens at Ajaokuta Steal Plant a thousand, maybe two, three thousand other plants. We are building and re-building until those who service this re-building understand our game and go along with it.
NNPC, Four Nigerian Refineries, cotton factories built and re-built, and so on and so forth. Not to speak of abandoned physical structures, forty thousand or so of them. Endless shiploads of equipment abandoned by the federal government, state government and local government entries as well as universities.
Talking of universities, the existence of forest encrusted half-completed buildings is a characteristic of third-generation federal and state government universities. The university administrators soon learn what federal and state governments have learned. Rebuild and you will get your gift.
When the sick obey the Babalawo, carry out the required sacrifices, things turn out as they should, that is successfully, then the healed sick will praise his awos, the wise ones, and his awos will praise Ifa. They will sing and dance in praise of their success. We are never told what those who fail do.