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A season too for bokas, babalawos

Some weeks ago, my senior colleague and ace columnist, Malam Mahmud Jega observed in his weekly Monday column, “View from the gallery”, published  by an…

Some weeks ago, my senior colleague and ace columnist, Malam Mahmud Jega observed in his weekly Monday column, “View from the gallery”, published  by an online newspaper, the 21st century chronicle, that the commencement of sittings by election petition tribunals unveiled another season for lawyers to make money from politicians who lost in the general elections conducted early this year. This prompted me to also say that lawyers may not be alone in reaping from the aftermath of the 2023 general elections. It’s also a ‘fruitful’ season for professional hoaxers (otherwise called bokas in Hausa or babalawos in Yoruba) to make swift ‘businesses’ out of people who are obviously desperate for political appointments.

With barely 48 hours to the swearing-in of the country’s president-elect, governors-elect, senators-elect, reps-elect, and state assembly members-elect; so many people are anxious to become ministers, ambassadors, commissioners, special advisers, SSGs, chiefs of staff, SSAs, spokes persons, speech writers, or consultants. Others whose appointments do not require the submission of any curriculum vitae are also lobbying to become personal drivers, chief cooks,  chief details, head-thugs, special errand-boys, gate-keepers, and so on.

There’s actually nothing wrong in having ambitions in life. That which is wrong is the way some of us pursue such ambitions. Needless desperation over any worldly pursuit including political appointments potentially leads impatient people into the burrows of bokas and babalawos; making them fall prey to the pranks of those who are no more than mere sophists. Most of those who visit the fraudsters in their sanctuaries tend to forget that the boka is just a fraudster who cannot help himself out of any problems let alone assist others. Although some of them camouflage with the name ‘Malam’, many of the services these bokas render to their clients and the extent to which the latter also heed to the formers’ ‘guidance’ are inconceivable.

This reminds me of one of Malam Mahmud Jega’s articles, which appeared in his erstwhile column “Fate trumps effort” where he told the story of how the main character in the chronicle, a topnotch technocrat who retired from the public service in Abuja and joined politics to become a governorship aspirant, was led by one of his close aides into a dreadful boka’s den. This soothsayer who was widely rated high by those who believed in his sophistries lived in an isolated, thick, thorny, and terrifying forest simply to make access to his hut very difficult. The boka chose this kind of location to probably create an exaggerated impression about his spiritual worth. When this governorship aspirant who was more of a money-bag were on their way to see the boka, they had to, at a point, abandon the jeep in which they were traveling and then ride on a motorcycle. At another spot, they had to dump the motorcycle and go on foot through a tough rocky path. This is how desperation pushes people who cannot suppress or manage their wishes into doing what should not have even ordinarily come to them as thoughts. “Fate trumps effort” was a fictional weekly column subtitled ‘The Diary of a 2015 Aspirant’  published by the Weekly Trust newspaper between 2013 and 2015.

Owing to desperations that usually sprout from insufficient or lack of piety, many people are nowadays ready to do anything not only to get into a position or achieve whatever target they have set for themselves. Some people can kill to attain or sustain power. Others wouldn’t mind sacrificing a whole nation for the sake of their selfish political ambition(s). People now go after things their eyes covet including wealth, children, power, authority, shelter, self-defense, and other worldly pursuits as if these material things were end in themselves, and not a means.

Because some bokas or babalawos see themselves as ‘Malams’, there’s need to clarify this. While a boka is that impious person who probably cannot even recite parts of the holy Qur’an correctly and thus uses ignorance to mislead his clients, a Malam refers to a learned scholar in Arabic and Islamic sciences who uses the knowledge thereof to guide others to righteousness. A Malam never tells anyone that he possesses the power to do anything; neither for himself nor for others. His only resource is no more than supplications derived from the text of the holy Qur’an, Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW), and the consensus of Muslim scholars.

A boka’s chamber would always the next destination for anyone who allows himself to run out of patience and prayers in his attempt to overcome certain problems in life or achieve certain goals. Limited knowledge about Allah most often leads many people, especially when responding to critical moments of life, to resort to sources other than Allah. If a boka who claims to have the answers to anyone’s problems actually possesses any, he shouldn’t have monetized his services in the first place. It is because he is unable to help himself that he uses his clients as a means to an economic end. Surprisingly, most clients believe everything they are told by the oracle. Allah admonishes in Qur’an 10:35 “Say: ‘It is Allah who gives guidance towards Truth. Is He who gives guidance to Truth more worthy to be followed, or he who finds no guidance (himself) unless he is guided?”

Anyone who visits a boka would only succeed in exposing his own foolishness to the advantage of the latter who manipulates clients’ ignorance through clever questions. As you visit a boka to follow up on your ambition to become this or that rather than rely on Allah who when He says “Be”, “It is”; you are only helping the sophist to create enemies for you from among your relations, friends and colleagues. Most often, bokas find it easy to ascribe the difficulties or failures a person might be experiencing to those who are close to him. Of course, envy exists in the human society. Yet, nothing happens except what Allah has destined. That which is important is for us as Muslims to uphold our conviction in destiny, good or bad; by believing that the fate of all things reside with Allah alone, and not in the artificial prowess of bokas. May Allah (SWT) protect our hearts from deviating into unbelief after guidance, amin.



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