Also of divinities such as thunder and lightning, without forgetting sorcerers, priestesses and healers, buffoons and masks.
Thus, we arrived one day at the gates of the palace of Emir Babakari III, where we witnessed one of the most ancient rites of the gwari tribe. I had the impression of returning to the Middle Ages, living with a people that prostrates themselves before their monarchs, their “benefactors” who, as in the past, continue to control the lives of millions and millions of vassals. To them, they throw the crumbs, making them dance to the rhythm of their whims, extravagances. There is no middle class here, either you are in power or in extreme poverty. The people live suffocated and can only pay homage to their masters. However, its ancestral wisdom is still alive and latent, which shamans and priestesses feed with their potions, songs and the amazing sound of drums and trumpets that connect with the afterlife.
The spirits manifest themselves and take possession of bodies, sometimes semi-naked, that dance and writhe as if it were the most profound exorcism. The vision shocks us while ecstasy invades our hearts. The symbiosis is total and encompasses each and every one of the animate and inanimate beings that dwell there. Life is shown with an overwhelming force reaching a genuine trance where the total surrender to the inexorable is manifested.
Experiences like this one were constantly repeated. In the Etsu palace, the emir of Bidda, to entertain us, asked his people to parade, and that was how acrobats, musicians, dancers, snake charmers, horsemen riding their adorned horses, priestesses and shamans arrived, each showing their art, gifts and talents, before the emir and his visitors, before us indeed, who remained silent, ecstatic before such an unexpected experience.
Those who did not participate did not want to miss the feast either. For a few hours, the people celebrated and applauded the fascinating parade and, as always on these occasions, at the end, the great emir distributed coins to all participants.
Nigeria is one of the most overpopulated countries on the planet, considered today as emerging, due to the exploitation of its oil wells and large reserves of tin, gold and coal, without forgetting that it is home to the largest mangrove forest in Africa, but paradoxically, we know that it is also one of the countries with the greatest social inequality. Despite this, the look of the Nigerian people is sweet, affable, the brightness in the gaze of the smallest, those who are no longer so and even in the iris of the oldest -those who do not know their age because the passage of time erased the memory of their birth – shines so brightly, it could even blind. However, the air we breathe is dense, heavy like a weightless mass above our heads. The song of the muezzin is diluted on the crosses of the Baptist and Catholic churches, its echo reverberates in the rumble of the drums that keep the animist rites alive and, above this multicultural amalgam, oppression looms over a people that does not die as a consequence of covid, here it is hunger, malaria or typhus, which act as the most fearsome exterminating angel. Starvation and extreme poverty affect almost half of the population.
At one point in our journey through Nigeria and, without a doubt, under the prism of our Western paradigm, someone said: here people are born, grow up and die. Those words shook me and every time I think of them their echo hammers harder and harder on my temples asking me, how long will we continue to plunder Africa? That wonderful continent where, it is true, people are born, grow up and die, but with the dignity and pride of a people that knows that it is unique, genuine, where the force of the sacred is manifested in all its fullness. [Official Website]