An ancient traditional practice of sacrificing live dogs on the altar of Ogun, the god of Iron, by commercial drivers in search of protection is still being practiced today, mainly by truck and commercial bus drivers. CHIJIOKE IREMEKA reports
A very experienced driver, who has been a commercial transport driver for over 30 years, Mr. Akinrede Ephraim, who is in his early 60s, said that the practice of deliberately killing dogs with a vehicle for protection against accidents does not work for him. Rather, he believes strongly in drivers praying to God for journey mercies and maintaining regulated speed limits at different locations on the expressway.
These to him, are the best ways of sacrifice to prevent avoidable accidents. He said: “Yes, this traditional belief started many years ago and it’s still in force today. Mainly, some commercial bus drivers who strongly belief in it still do this. I think they perform this sacrifice once every year.
Those believers go to the markets where live dogs are sold to buy many dogs. The dogs are sacrificed to the god of iron, Ogun, for protection and funny enough, some of the believers still die by natural causes. It gives them no protection when they are involved in ghastly motor accidents and other forms of deaths. “This class of drivers die in such accidents as they have so much confidence in their charms and Ogun sacrifice.
These drivers, who engage in this sacrifice, believe that dogs are sacred just like human beings. Some people also said that anyone who kills a dog can easily kill a human being. The truth of the matter is that, killing a dog as sacrifice to prevent accidents does not work for me, so I don’t give it any prominence.
“I had my first driver’s license in 1970, 47 years now, and since then, I have never been involved in any accident either minor or major. One thing is that God has been with me but I also try to maintain the mandatory speed limit. I do not exceed 100 kilometres per hour at all times, irrespective of where I’m going. It’s better for me to get to my destination late and alive than to be the late.
“If I will be driving as far as to Kaduna, the distance remains the same, so there is no sense over speeding to cut the actual distance and the hours that must be covered to get to the destination. So, why should I over speed and kill myself? Even the white men who manufactured the vehicles say speed kills. “One can easily control the vehicle when not over speeding. Speed kills, nothing anybody can do about that. So, those commercial bus drivers who kill dogs for protection against accidents have lost it. Since they have been doing that, have they not been meeting their deaths when they over speed? If they like let them cut off the head of the dogs and use the blood to give the drivers a bath. “Accident do not ring bell before it comes.
Your vehicle’s tyres can go off at any time and if you are on high speed, the vehicle will summersault. Like I said, it’s their belief, I do not believe in such sacrifice. Just being careful is what we need to stay alive as drivers.” Confirming the sacrifice of killing dogs for protection, Mr. Banke Aderemi, said, “Yes, I’m aware of the practice of killing dogs for protection and averting evil while driving. This is still being practiced today but Christianity has made it a little irrelevant. Some truck and commercial bus’ drivers are the main perpetrators of such sacrifices.
“They claim since dogs are spiritual animals that sees what normal human eyes cannot see, such sacrifice would help them to see far when they make their sacrifices with dogs. So, in order to adopt the sharp eyes of a dog, the drivers resort to sacrificing dogs to the god of iron. They claim that it makes them see very clearly just like dogs, so it would be difficult to be involved in an accident.
Another belief is that, because vehicles are made of iron, it makes it sacrificial object of the Ogun deity and the best way to appease the god of iron that moves on wheels is to use it to kill dogs, as a means of sacrifice. “There are many other animals that people use as sacrifice against motor accidents which might not be known to many people.
Some use monkeys, especially drivers of long vehicles. For those who are observant, if you look closely, you will find monkeys tied safely on long vehicles especially the spot where conductors normally seat. “It is believed that when the monkey senses on-coming evil or accident, it will start making a loud noise to alert the drivers to do something that would avert any form of misfortune.
Some other drivers place doll babies in front of their vehicles, especially the luxury bus drivers. All I can say is that there are several other sacrificial charms drivers use for protection while driving.” Though, Kelvin Orukewe, a truck driver from the eastern part of Nigeria, sees the sacrifice of dogs as prevention against motor accidents, he said: “This is the first time in my 32 year experience as a commercial bus driver that I am hearing something like this.
The only thing I know is that as drivers we try as much as possible to avoid shedding of blood on the road, so we avoid hitting either animals or human beings. Most times, when a commercial bus driver killed human being with a vehicle, such vehicles are sold off because this is seen as bad luck for shedding human blood.
He further explained: “Yes, I know that drivers, who are not strong Christians, promptly go for juju to protect themselves from accidents and also prevent other drivers from inflicting them with evil out of jealousy. Drivers in commercial transport companies who envy themselves always try one another with the superiority of their charms to bring about fortunes or misfortune and as a result, seek protection in one juju or the other.
“For commercial mini interstate bus transport, some of the drivers who engage in sacrificing dogs in preventing accidents discourages female passengers from occupying the front seat during long travels in their buses. The refusal to allow a female passenger occupy the front seat beside the driver, is for fear of having their sacrifices neutralised by a possible female having her menstrual cycle, this has the ability of rendering their sacrifice impotent.”
In another development, Chukwudubem Orjiakor, a Lagos-based businessman said though he is not a driver, he is an eyewitness to what drivers do to protect themselves behind the wheels to keep their lives going devoid of deadly accidents and other means of preventing their fellow drivers of grabbing their jobs as drivers in a more lucrative transport company.
He said: “I’m not driver but there was a case of a particular driver that I followed as a teenager. His name is Johnson Maduforo. He was a luxury bus driver, who had worked for E. Ekeson, G.U.O, Young Shall Grow Motors, and had also been petrol tanker driver. Johnson had spent his youthful years as a commercial driver. He was the first to furnish his home in the village in Anambra State with executive chairs.
He was living fine. In the whole village, in those days, he was the second person to own a video machine where a lot of children, including myself go to watch James Bond’s 007 film and Rambo, Jackie Chan among others.
“In those days, when he came back from a trip, he would call us and cook yam pottage for us with chicken sauce and we ate the delicious food without him celebrating anything. His coming back was what every child always looked forward to. “One day, he asked my elder brother to help him clean his room. When my brother entered the inner room, he discovered a corner where the driver sacrificed all the live chickens he used in cooking the delicious soup for us.
My brother also saw some coins and a picture of a naked woman with a curling python on her waist. My brother told my father all what he saw and we were stopped from going there.
“The next time this driver came back to the village and sent for us to come for the usual delicacies, we gave the excuse that we were busy. Unknown to us, Johnson had been sacrificing fowls to a god for protection. He was a man full of strength and strong mind, loved by everybody until what started in his room came to the open and he was deserted. “When he was advancing, he was turning himself into a native doctor. He started wearing native chalks on his face wearing white and yellow cloths. He achieved a lot in the business of driving.
In one of his escapades, he told us a story of how he was manipulated by some evil spirits, who wanted to drown him in a river.
“He added in one of his tales to us, that one night, around 2 a.m, he was going to Lagos and as he got to a particular narrow bridge that would ordinarily take only one bus, but while on the bridge, another bus was coming in the opposite direction with full speed and head lamp on. He said if he had tried to avoid the bus, he would have plunge into the river, but he managed to pull his vehicle to a stop.
When the approaching vehicle advanced towards him, he held his steering firmly and closed his eyes expecting to hear a loud bang from the impact of the two vehicles involved in a head on collision, but nothing happened. And when I looked back, I surprisingly saw the on-coming vehicle behind me. How did it happen? He couldn’t give any explanation for what happened but according to him, these are some of the things they see on the road on regular basis that made them seek protection in charms.”
“In another development, a driver accidentally crushed a middle aged woman in the middle of the night while traveling on the highway. Due to their sacrifices and juju for protection, he was told to reactivate his charms by sleeping with a virgin, and this happened to be his niece.
He defiled his elder sister’s daughter as a way of servicing his charms. He denied the act but the victim confirmed that he was the culprit. “As nothing was done to cleanse the abomination, it was the agony from this act that killed the girl’s elder brother, who died mysteriously. It was then that the driver owned up and decided to go for cleansing.
This was the last straw that broke the camel’s back as he never went back to his real self until he died. His mother and wife stopped eating with him. He eventually became sick and he had to quit driving as a commercial bus driver, as he prepare for his mysterious death at 52. So, people do more than killing dogs for protection.”
Hakeeb Adekanla, a Lagos commercial bus driver said he believes that the god of Iron hears and protects him from accident, adding that, since he has been driving commercial vehicle in Lagos he has never been involved in any accident that led to the loss of lives.
“Sometimes, we join the sacrifice of dogs. We kill dogs to appease the god of iron, Ogun to give us protection against accident. But, it is not that after the sacrifice we start driving recklessly not minding our speed limits. Sacrificing dogs is a mere ceremony, that we know, you must afterwards protect yourself first before Ogun will help you.
I don’t know for others, but I know that the sacrifice works very well,” he said. According to him, everybody in life believes in one thing or the other which works for him. He said he is not a Christian but he follows his father traditional religion. He said his father combines Islamic religion with African Traditional Religion.
“I believe it works efficaciously if not I would have stopped wasting my money on sacrifices.
The transport union often times compels us to do the sacrifice, as it protects us. Even some drivers disappear on the steering when an accident occurs. Some people will die or get injured but the driver would stay alive.”
“I used to chew bitter kola and eat alligator pepper while driving,” said Damilola Olonisakin, a Coaster bus driver who plies First Gate- Ikorodu route. “I don’t use anything but my father told me that he did some sacrifices on my behalf. My father is late now.
He was the one that taught me how to drive and also introduced me into transport business. According to him, it worked for them. That was when people were still performing animal sacrifices. But everybody will die one day.
My father didn’t die of accident, but of course he answered the call of God at the appointed time,” he added.
Sequel to this, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), in Ogun State recently warned commercial transport drivers and motorists plying roads in the state to stop relying on charms and other pseudo supernatural powers as measures for escaping auto crashes. The Sector Commander, Adegoke Adetunji, gave the warning at a public enlightenment programme jointly organised by the Command and the National Association of Seadogs, known as Pyrates’ Confraternity.