Saturday 30 January 2021



I was thinking this morning..... as I strolled towards the back of my compound that evening, I suddenly noticed an owl which we called 'okpukpuru' in Warri, perched facing my direction, on the roof of the building behind mine. My first instinct was to gather everyone in the neighbourhood to boo the bird. 'Why would I do that?' Please, don't judge me. That's what we did growing up in the Ogboru neighbourhood of Warri. When we see an okpukpuru in our neighbourhood, it is believed a witch has come to spy on us. So children and adults will gather as close as possible and start shouting 'whoooo!!! We see you. Winch! Winch!' We keep shouting until the bird flies off.

On the flip side, when we see cattle egrets, which we called lekeleke, flying past in V-formation, kids will gather shouting 'lekeleke bamboo, give me water finger.' I was thinking, why would the kids curse one bird and praise another? I have absolutely no idea why or when it started, we just did what others did. What has the owl done wrong? Is it because of its looks? Or is it because a group of owls is called a Parliament, therefore we treat them like Nigerian parliamentarians that we believe nothing good can come out of?

It got me thinking about how some persons by their physical appearance and innate behaviour are judged. You see someone that is very fair to look upon. He or she is loved by everyone and has many friends. But there are those that are fearfully and wonderfully made. Some call them 'atutupoyoyo.' These ones are like the owls, who have to go all out to make friends. They crave the love of everyone but hardly gets it.

Two lessons I learnt from my childhood experience in Warri were that it is wrong to judge or hate someone just by the way God made them and that a member of a family or tribe was once used by the devil does not mean everyone of them is a devil. It is called demonisation. Also, allowing yourself to be recruited by someone to hate another person who hasn't wronged you is pure witchcraft and we must do everything to avoid it.

Life as it is, is tough for many, so let's not inherit enemies or continue with traditions and old fables that broke the spirit but let us behave like the Berean Christians who were more noble minded (Acts 17:11). Don't gang up with others to hate someone nor be used as a weapon in other people's battles. Do you treat people like okpukpuru or lekeleke?

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey

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