Akande tells numerous tales of his and others’ supernatural experiences in Nigeria.
In an encyclopedic format, the author recounts many stories of witchcraft, magic charms, ghosts and out-of-body experiences, in a blend Nigerian mythos and evangelicalism. Starting with the familiar claim that its bizarre events were corroborated by real witnesses, the book consists of a long series of vignettes that average two or three pages each; inevitably, over more than 330 pages, some of these stories are similar. Even so, many striking images appear throughout, as in its descriptions of how to assemble magic charms—their ingredients vary wildly from leopard skin to kola nuts to human body parts. One particularly captivating story tells of a woman’s nighttime encounter with a lemurlike humanoid creature that lived in a mahogany tree. This anthropological work seems to be aimed at a mainstream Western audience, although it risks exoticizing Nigeria by presenting only fantastic claims about the region. Also, Akande does little to anticipate readers’ reactions to some practices; at various points, for example, children and women are branded as witches and accused of causing nightmares or inflicting marital discord, and at one point, a son violently kills his mother because he believes she’s a witch. The author correctly assumes that some Westerners will dismiss some, if not all, of these stories as contrary to science, but he does little to draw parallels to clear Western touchstones such as the Salem witch trials and McCarthyism. That said, Akande does provide an intriguing glimpse into the Nigerian psyche.
An intriguing, if occasionally problematic, compendium that presents a distinctly Nigerian view of the supernatural.