Isaiah Oke

Isaiah Oke

Isaiah Oke (born c. 1940) was a Nigerian shaman called a “babalowa” who eventually rejected sorcery and became the subject of a 1989 autobiographical book titled "Blood Secrets", as told to Joe Wright.

Early years

Isaiah Oke was born in the village of Ils-Ilen, Nigeria into a family of well known witchdoctors, or “shamans”. His Grandfather was a high ranking shaman, known as a “babalorisha”, and Isaiah was raised to take his place some day and preserve his legacy. In the book "Blood Secrets", Oke details his ordeals as part of his training, beginning at age 10, in which he had to allow a (defanged) poisonous snake crawl on him while nude, among other ordeals. His grandfather sent Oke to school to learn to read and write, in order that he might write down the rituals and spells of Ju Ju so that they wouldn’t be lost. Upon entering adulthood, Oke was initiated as a babalawo, and was required to wear a thong like undergarment 24 hours a day without ever being allowed to take it off during his lifetime. Oke was very feared and revered among the people of his village. Oke claimed even his own father was afraid to look him directly in the eye, fearing his supposed magic powers.

The Ju Ju Religion

The Ju Ju religion is the religion of the Yoruba speaking people of Africa, and is the parent religion of Santeria, Palo Mayombe, and Abaqa (found mostly in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Miami), Macumba, and Quimbanda (found mostly in Brazil). The gods and goddesses of Ju Ju are called “orishas”, just as they are in Santeria and similar religions. Voodoo originated with the Dahomey speaking people of Africa, and has different but similar gods and goddesses from Ju Ju, and has many similar practices and beliefs as well. A god both Ju Ju and Voodoo have in common is Legba the gate keeper. [Legba is described as the gatekeeper in "Voodoo Handbook of Cult Secrets" by Anna Riva, a.k.a., Dorothy Spencer]

Human Sacrifice

Oke trained under another Ju Ju man known as “Dr. Drago”. Drago was a financially successful Ju Ju shaman because of his commercial produced and sold “magical” products, such as gambling soap, oils, powders, and the like. In America, there are similar items sold through occult supply houses. One day during the training, Oke was horrified when made to participate in a human sacrifice while Dr. Drago, an African Army Colonel, and two soldiers were present. The victim was an unidentified white man who spoke with a British accent. The rituals was known as “the 200 cuts”, and was usually performed on a goat. According to Oke, Ju Ju animal sacrifices are usually quick to keep the animal from suffering unnecessarily, but the 200 cuts ritual is different, in which the animal is slowly skinned alive, with 200 strips of skin being pulled from it’s body. Drago performed the actual skinning and the final cut that killed the victim by slashing his throat was performed by Oke, who thinks the victim was probably dead already. The sacrifice was performed at the behest of the Colonel, who hoped the soul of the man would become his Iko Iso, or “spirit slave”.

Having studied under Drago greatly enhanced Oke's reputation as a shaman, and he made a comfortable living. [Blood Secrets by Isaiah Oke as told to Sam Wright]

Oke's Beliefs Challenged at College

Oke was sent to Normal College in Lagos, Nigeria to study accounting. Oke’s grandfather had chosen the career for him believing it was “how white people made their money”, as his grandfather put it. While at college, the students treated Oke with utmost respect, fearing his “Ju Ju power”. A black teenage American girl who is called simply “Janet” in the book "Blood Secrets", offended him one day, and Oke decided to hex her. The hex was supposed to give her stomach ailments, but failed to work. He then tried another hex, this time involving tying a monkey’s paw to the doorknob of her house. The next day, the girl angrily confronted Oke, and flung the severed paw at him. She dressed him down in front of several students and the Dean, which further caused him loss of face, as well as paying clients. Determined to hex her, he tried a 4 day ritual to summon the ultimate power, involving fasting, narcotic herbs, and staying all day nude inside a hollow tree. This two failed. After this, Oke became disillusioned with Ju Ju. He threw away his Ju Ju items including his “magic underwear” thong. Oke described the garment as having an unimaginable stench by then after years of being constantly worn.

Disillusionment

Now crestfallen, Oke asked Janet what the secret of “American Ju Ju” was that made her so powerful. Janet simply told him she was an American and a Christian, and such people considered Ju Ju “silly superstition”. Oke became curious about the Christian religion, and began attending regular church services. This combined with his western college education lead him to realize that Janet was right, that Ju Ju was a superstition, and that the spirits he and other Ju Ju practitioners sometimes saw were the result of narcotic herbs and hysteria. When Oke returned to his village, his grandfather was furious he had rejected Ju Ju for Christianity. He ordered him to be killed the next morning. Oke fled for his life and settled in a city miles away. The Ju Ju men form his village caused problems for him in the city, and he had to move a few times to try to escape them. Eventually his grandfather died from AIDS along with a cousin that wanted him dead. Oke was able to return to his village without fear of being killed after that.

AIDS Controversy

Oke has irked many people with his belief that AIDS is spread in Africa mostly because of Ju Ju. Doctors critical of the claim say the part of Africa Oke comes from had a higher number of blood transfusions than other parts of Africa. Oke claims Ju Ju involves the handling and ingesting of raw animal blood, and sometimes even human blood, and that transfusions and unsafe sex alone can’t explain the spread of AIDS in the Dark Continent. Oke personally knew of one village that had about 1000 people, but within 10 years the population was down to just 50 because of deaths from AIDS. While even non-Christian Yoruba people think people should be chaste until they are married, Ju Ju rituals make it possible for people to have unprotected sex with multiple partners, claiming later that they were unable to control themselves because they were “possessed by a spirit”. Oke thinks the claims of possession are just excuses to have unprotected, premarital sex.

In the late 1980s Oke was asked to speak in America on several radio and television talk shows. An anthropologist once rebuked Oke during a radio interview, claiming Ju Ju did not involve animal or human sacrifice. Oke explains the rituals that tourists and anthropologists pay to see aren’t the same ones they perform privately. Oke isn’t the first person to make such a claim about African religious rituals. Similar things have also been said by practitioners of American Voodoo about Voodoo rituals they perform for tourists. Western occultists dislike Oke because he abandoned Ju Ju for Christianity and calls Ju Ju a backward superstition that’s holding Africa back. In Blood Secrets, Oke equates Ju Ju with American Satanism, based on what he saw on the Geraldo TV special that aired in the 80's, although it should be noted the Geraldo special was greatly criticized because it accepted practically any outrageous claim and is credited with starting the “Satanic Panic”. Critics say Oke is thus “demonizing” his former religion, literally. But one orisha called Esu, also spelled Exu, (pronounced er-SHOO) is identified with Satan by both followers of Ju Ju and Qumbanda. [Drum and Candle by David St. Clair]

In 2001, Ju Ju became the subject of public attention in the UK when the body of a decapitated child was found floating down the River Thames, horrifying onlookers. Forensics determined the child (named “Adam” by UK police, after Adam Walsh) was of Nigerian origin, and that the child had been killed as part of a Ju Ju ritual. In 2005 the investigation lead to the arrest of several Nigerian nationals and uncovered a child slavery ring based out of Benin. Police discovered some children were specially imported just to be human sacrifices, bearing out many things Oke had claimed two decades prior. [ [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/07/30/ntors30.xml News - Telegraph ] ]

References


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