The prophet looked just that- a charlatan. He was dressed in white robes with the lush greenery that pervade Akwa Ibom behind him.
In heavily accented and dubious English, he pronounces very confidently that Akwa Ibom has 3.2million Witches and wizards.
Now, this is a prevalent narrative in my home state. Everything and anything is most ascribed to ‘ ifot ‘ and to mitigate it we now have a prevalent Christian church culture festooned on a whammy of prayer houses all styled to protect us from the evil that is witchcraft.
As a young boy growing up in Shomolu, I was brought up with these stories. Every unfriendly relation was a Witch or wizard. You cannot go home so you don’t get killed by a curse or a hex.
Uncle Effiong Etim was killed by a hex and your uncle Okon went the same way. In interactions with other such people, it was the same thing
They threw ‘ mbiam ‘ on u and gave u ‘Akpaubeng’ which is stroke. All these didn’t have a medical or scientific explanation but where all things are done by wicked family members and wicked village people and as such as you have escaped to Lagos, stay there.
These narratives up until very recently locked our state down in a fermented state of underdevelopment.
Worse was the state of Cultural inferiority complex we suffered when we interacted with other ethnic groupings because we didn’t throw our best into the National stage.
With an above-average literacy rate Akwa Ibom still lurked behind in National developmental indices as a result of the inferiority complex that was weaned out of this stupid narrative.
The narrative was further cemented by the national stereotype which put the Akwa Ibom person not more than a domestic with a funny way of speaking English
Jab Adu’s Bassey Okon and a litany of comical characters including the very popular Ime Bishop all contributed to putting us down as a people making the rest of the country see us as mere clowns and side attractions.
Thankfully today, our people are looking differently. We now have some very powerful and influential citizens spread across strategic sectors of the economy.
The illiterate narrative of ‘ifot’ receding very fast and gave way to a more scientific approach to things and issues.
Akwa Ibom of today is totally different from the Akwa Ibom of my youth. I see more confident people, I see people who feel that they have a right to the table of National discussions and who also are holding positions of power and influence in the system.
As I move around the elites, the ones I want to call the Banana Island clique, I see a responsive and well to do a pool of our people contributing meaningfully to the system
I do not see people being led by nativistic tendencies and the illusion of ephemeral forces leading and deciding our fate.
Prophets like these Fool only have but a little time to continue to wield their influences as even our youths have woken up to the reality of their Folly.
In discussions with Comrade Moses Jackson a noted student leader, you see the hunger to contribute meaningfully, drive wealth creation and build an independent framework for goals attainment outside of the pockets of Government as the central focus of his vision and that of the student community.
Rather than see 3.2m witches, I see an army of proud citizens gearing up to the true meaning of their calling.
Akwa Ibom is the future of Nigeria. This has been foretold.
Duke of Shomolu