Associating evil to things other people consider natural may have become an identifying feature of Nigerians all over the world. Especially the older ones.
In most cases, some of these beliefs that evil could come from certain things are held so tight that no amount of international travel, exposure and even education, can get rid of it.
There was a popular video on Facebook some time ago about two men who had just caught an owl and set it on fire on the belief that the animal was a witch sent to harm them.
In the comments section, one person claiming to be a medical doctor wrote that he believes owls are truly evil.
The man wrote: “See I’m a doctor but there is something evil about owls.”
Interestingly, most of the animals tagged evil or described as witches in Nigeria seem to share similar qualities. They are usually shy, nocturnal and show discomfort around humans.
This makes perfect sense to people of other climes because animals have different biologies but not over here in Nigeria.
Another factor that could set an innocent creature up for kill by Nigerians is rarity. Nigerian communities quickly label animals they have not seen or come in contact with before as “witches”. In most cases, the animal will be caught and killed.
Here are 5 main animals Nigerians think are evil witches:
Vultures have long been associated with death and ill omen in most Nigerian cultures. This association of vultures with evil may have stemmed from vultures being obligate scavengers, meaning they only eat dead animals.
The association of snakes to foreign or unfamiliar spirits in Nigeria didn’t start today. In some cultures, snakes are generally linked with marine spirits capable of possessing people (mostly women) and turning them evil and licentious. People also believe witches are capable of turning into venomous snakes to attack and kill their enemies.
From their cry to the way their eyes flash in the dark, cats are the ultimate witch animal of most Nigerians. To most, the blacker the cat, the eviller! This strange belief is made worse by the depiction of cats in movies and literature as evil.
Owls are on another level when it comes to associating animals with evil. Owls are so feared that even educated people still do not want to come close to them.
The association of owls to witchcraft in Nigeria is widespread in movies, literature and even folk tales from different culrures in Nigeria.
In a 2015 novel by Nigerian writer, Daniel Nkado, titled “Ola”, evil witches turn into owls at night to terrorize a fictional kingdom, till a young maiden undertakes a dangerious journey to find the cure.
1. Bush Baby
To this moment, some Nigerians still believe bush babies do not exist naturally in the wild and are only used as vessels by witches and wizards to perpertrate evil.
Bush babies are small nocturnal primates native to continental and sub-Sahara Africa. Bush babies belong to the animal family Galagidae and are sometimes called galagos or nagapies.
They are called bush babies becuase of the baby-like sounds they make.
To read more about bush babies, visit our previous post about galagos.