Did you know cults can be political, racial, destructive, polygamist or terrorist? They are characterised by uncommon spiritual, philosophical, or religious beliefs and rituals. Cultism is not a new term in Nigeria. It is commonly portrayed in Naija films and shows. A detailed analysis of the history of cultism in Nigeria shows it has existed for years and is still rampant today.
An interesting discovery in the history of cultism in Nigeria is it was first established for good reasons. However, it is now associated with demonic powers and satanism.
History of cultism in Nigeria
Learning about the origin of cultism in Nigeria is important as it helps people to distinguish facts from misconceptions. Currently, cultism is a problem in many institutions of higher learning in the country. Read on to understand where it started and its effects on modern-day society.
What is a cult?
A cult refers to a group of people who practice certain rituals that do not conform to a particular community's acceptable religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs. Usually, the group's initiation process, membership, policies, and activities are conducted in secrecy.
In contemporary Nigeria, cultism is a big challenge, especially in institutions of higher learning. It is mostly associated with negative things, including witchcraft and human sacrifice.
Historical development of cultism in Nigeria
A look into the origin of cultism in Nigeria reveals it is not something new. It dates back to the precolonial era. At the time, a group of people came together to request and ask for protection from their ancestors.
The aim of these people was genuine and had no ill motive, and they conducted rituals to appease their ancestors. Over time, it became normal to initiate people into the sect. After all, people wanted to join the secret group because it was associated with positive things.
People who joined the group had to swear to keep the group's secrets and observe all religious rules and rituals sacredly. At the time, the secret groups included the following.
- Ogboni sect in the Yoruba community
- Ekpe sect among the Efiks and some parts in the South East
- Ekine and Owegbe groups among Delta and Edo State
People joined these sects to offer financial, social, political, and economic security to members.
Over time, cultism changed from the traditional path and intention of groups like the Ogboni, Ekine, and Owegbe. The Ku Klux Klan, commonly called KKK, was responsible for the change. At the time, the British people had taken over Nigeria as one of their colonies.
KKK was formed by White supremacists who were against the rights and freedoms of other people. The group was particularly against African-Americans, Latinos, Jews, Asian-Americans, Catholics, and Native Americans.
It was also anti-leftists, anti-immigrants, anti-homosexuals, anti-Muslims, and anti-atheists. The supremacist sect started in Pulaski, Tennessee, United States of America.
People in this sect threatened, murdered, and brutalised these communities. Their hurtful activities angered nationalists in Nigeria.
Nigerian nationalists responded by exerting more pressure on the colonialists to vacate their land. They desired and fought for the country's independence. They came together to form the Sea Dog Confraternity or the Pirates, the first recognised cult group in the country.
- Wole Soyinka
- Pius Olegbe
- Olumuyiwa Awe
- Ralph Opara
- Olu Agunloye
- Tunji Tubi.
The primary goal of these seven students was to use their intellectual ability against the oppression of the British people. They decided not to use physical violence.
Instead, they would review the policies, understand the prevailing situation, and come up with long-lasting solutions to the challenges faced by the Nigerian people. The members met and strategised without interfering with the rights and freedoms of other students.
Members of this sect took an oath of allegiance to the group and were committed to defending their beliefs to their last breath. The confraternity's motto was “Against all Conventions". The logo was the skull and crossbones.
In the initial stages of the cult, there was no violence. On the contrary, the seven members did good deeds, including visiting orphanages and offering social services.
The seven maintained their bond and abided by their oath long after leaving the University of Ibadan. Their cult was active and dominated the scene for two decades after completing their studies.
The dynamics of the sect started changing due to the social, educational, and political changes in the country. The shift caused leadership wrangles, pushing some members to exit.
Modern-day cultism can be traced to the post-colonial era. Cults started as fraternities in institutions of higher learning. Initially, they aimed to maintain law and order in the institutions.
In the 1990s, fraternities started spreading to the streets and creeks. Unfortunately, modern-age cults are a nuisance and pose a danger to the rights and lives of members, other students, and the entire society.
In contemporary Nigeria, there are numerous cults, many of them in institutions of higher learning. Members are dangerous and always ready to kill their rivals without regret or remorse.
Unlike before, modern-age sects are known for kidnapping, beating, and offending other community members. Examples are Vikings, Black Axe, and Eiye. They operate like militant groups.
In universities and colleges, members have harassed lecturers and other people who start relationships with their boyfriends and girlfriends. They often engage in armed robberies and cybercrime. Rogue politicians also use members to deal with their political rivals.
Modern-day cultists are known for evil practices and social vices. These groups are normally authoritarian, meaning their leaders have almost full control of their members or followers. As a result, becoming a member disrupt one's authentic identity and replaces it with something they are not.
What is the meaning of cultism?
Cultism refers to the devotions and practices of social groups with unusual spiritual, religious, or philosophical beliefs and rituals. Modern-day cults are associated with societal ills and evils.
What is the history of cultism in Nigeria?
Cults in Nigeria started in the precolonial era when their intention was to seek good things from their ancestors. In the colonial era, the activities of the Ku Klux Klan changed the path and aim of the sects. In the modern era, cults have become chaotic and serve no public good.
Is there a modern-day cult in Nigeria?
There are many modern-day cults in Nigeria, especially in universities and colleges. Usually, they pose as fraternities and engage in evil deeds that harm the community.
What are the consequences of cultism?
Some consequences are violence, breakdown of law and order, social instability, disruption of learning, disorientation of societal values, drug addiction, sexual assault, and premature deaths.
What are the solutions to cultism?
Some of the solutions are creating awareness of the effects of cultism, enforcing strict rules and penalties on these sects, and censorship of internet usage.
The history of cultism in Nigeria dates back to the precolonial period. Initially, cults were started for a good reason. However, the situation has since changed, and these groups are detrimental to society.
The vice is common in secondary schools and institutions of higher learning. Akwa Ibom State government, for example, discovered 51 cults and societies in secondary schools in March 2020.