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Shamans in Nigeria

In Nigeria, it is a general belief of the people that before the advent of foreign religions (Christianity and Islam), there was a traditional way which the people follows strictly. This traditional belief is considered as the only true religion of the citizens, and it comprises of visiting a shaman or a priest who makes divinations, consult oracles, cast spells, and incantations.

The traditional beliefs are readily observable in the ancestral names people bear across all tribes. The shaman is a highly revered intermediary between man and the gods (the spirit realm), custodian of the shrine, and the traditional belief of the people.

Although many people in the country claim to be either Christian or Muslim, many individuals still hold a persistent belief in the efficacy and power of contacting a shaman (medicine man, priest or diviner)- the one who makes spiritual consultations on their behalf and visiting a shrine despite their Christian or Muslim faith.

People hold varying purposes for visiting a shaman such as for spiritual fortification, for deliverance from the power of darkness, to attract the right spouse/job, good luck/fortune charm, protection against thieves and armed men, academic success, business advancement, healing, to conceive their child, and lots more.

Each ethnic group of the country has a peculiar way in which their native shaman operates. For instance, the Yoruba people that reside in the south-western part of the country are renowned for their shamans that use the mythology and metaphysics of Ifa along with the spiritual spells and incantations that comes with it.

Ifa practitioners (popularly called Ifa priests) do not regard their act as black magic. They consider what they do as a focused spiritual practice that strikes a balance between light and dark energies, which they harness to achieve whatever purpose they want, and they are known to be very successful in achieving their purpose.

Ifa temple serves as a general meeting point for the practitioners. People from all walks of life, including politicians, business people, students, farmers, travellers, professionals, and so on, visit the temple or an individual shaman for the aid and spiritual assistance they need.

The Igbo people of the south-eastern part of the country are widely known for their traditional beliefs as manifested in various cultural displays of the ethnic group. The traditional shaman of the south-eastern people is known as ‘dibia’ in the local dialect. They are respected and feared for their power and prowess in achieving the purpose which those who seek them want.

As for the predominantly Muslim Hausas that reside in the northern part of the country, although their shamans are not as famous as those from the other regions, they exist, and they are potent.

There is an on-going campaign by the traditional practitioners calling the people of Nigeria to embrace the practices of the shaman, rather than seeing them as a fetish or local, the citizens should return to their ancestral roots as the only way to connect with the supernatural for all the needs they seek.

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