The African is generally known to be a superstitious being. Superstitious beliefs are an integral part of our everyday lives. Activities such as the pouring of libation and holding of elaborate funerals for the dead all prove that for us, the link between the physical and spiritual is perpetually alive.
In Ghana, our superstitious beliefs manifest in our believe in deities among other practices. In spite of our believe in God, a large percentage of the population dabble in ancestral worship and the worship of lesser gods. Some profess Christianity publicly but privately and under their beds, they have all manner of objects they fall on for protection, wealth and health. This may have no bearing on their level of education as both the educated and the illiterate have been caught in this web.
A distant relation of mine scaled the wall of a compound house late in the night on his way to the airport in order to escape ” evil eyes “. He did not go through the gate but resorted to climbing over the wall because he believed that something evil would happen to him on his return to the foreign country where he was based and had come down on a visit for a few weeks, once people knew he was leaving. Try as relations did, he neither disclosed when he was to arrive at the airport nor would he disclose his departure.
One worrying phenomenon is the resort to deities by aggrieved parties to seek redress. They would rather do whatever is prescribed by a deity in order to get punishment for an offending party.
This is generally known as “placing a curse” on an offender or invoking curses. A curse is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall a person or an entity. Though educated people may invoke a curse, it is mostly associated with the rural uneducated folk.
What is worrying is the fact that curses are gaining popularity in our lives these days. It is not uncommon to find party activists invoking a curse on a party official etc. Recently, there was a video on social media showing SHS students invoking curses on any invigilator who would dare stand between them and success. There is even this belief that the Black Stars are not winning any more cups because they have been cursed by the old players and surprisingly, some journalists by their utterances show that they believe this !
It is difficult to understand why in spite of the numerous institutions and laws available for those who want to seek redress, people still resort to such methods. Could it be due to the low cost involved? Or the believe that curses give almost instant results? For instance, in the law courts, a case can drag on for years while it is believed that a curse could kill an offender in a matter of days. Or is it a lack of faith in the courts? Or rather, a matter of the process of going to hire a lawyer? Some have the perception that the courts are for “book long” people, only the educated. Another reason could be an issue of accessibility: It is much easier to reach the deity in the community than the court which may sometimes require aggrieved persons to travel.
On the issue of cost, recent happenings show that curses are not that cheap after all. Sometimes, schnapps, eggs, a ram and many more are required. Then also is the thank you package after the deal has been done. Failure to do this and the repercussions may not be good for the “cursee”.
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Sadly, the appetite for curses has become so rife that people with genuine cases for which they would have had justice and even some compensation have been denied of such because instead of going to the courts, they opted for the deities and curses.
Unfortunately, sometimes, the gods are either asleep or not interested in the matter because after all the rituals have been performed, nothing happens to whoever is the subject of the curse.
I know that people’s beliefs are sometimes so deeply ingrained that they and can hardly be changed, but in the light of the above, must we still resort to curses as a means of seeking justice when wronged , or seek redress in the law courts?