THE MEANING OF CULT AND CULTISM
A cult is a small group of people who have extreme beliefs and ideas which only members have access to. Cultism can therefore be defined as a ritual practice by a group of people whose membership, initiation, policies, and activities are done secretly. Everything about its operation is kept away from the knowledge of non members. The activities of secret cults are carried out at odd hours of the day and are at variance with the accepted norms of society. A member of a secret cult is called a cultist.
Cultism is a major social problem in the Nigerian society. It is practiced in schools and campuses, and even outside school environments. There are different cults in villages, towns and even streets. The activities of various cults have caused a lot of damage to lives and properties in Nigeria.
Cultism cut across all spectra of society. However, the youths are the most vulnerable. When it comes to initiation of new members, they are easily lured by old members.
Their activities have negative effects on both members and non members. Secret cults recruit their members through application, invitation or force.
The activities of these cults take various destructive forms which include:
- Taking of alcoholic drinks and smoking of hard drugs like cocaine and Indian hemp that tend to give false courage
- Stealing, violent behaviours, killing and gun wars.
- Sexual harassment and indiscriminate raping of female students.
- Pulling dangerous weapons such as daggers, knives and guns at non members or members of other secret cults who are targets.
- Torture, flogging, stripping to the pants and making destructive cult marks on the bodies of new members with red-hot swords during initiation.
THE ORIGIN OF CULTISM
The origin of secret cult societies can be traced to the ancient Egyptians. The Egyptians had many magicians who practiced occultism and used occultic means to acquire more powers. These magicians belonged to groups that kept their activities secret. The beginning of cultism in Nigeria dates back to the pre-colonial era, when a group of individuals with the main objective of seeking protection from their ancestors, conducted rituals. Initiations were normally for those who wanted to belong to the secret cult. Once initiated, the secrets were religiously and sacredly observed by the members. The Ogboni society could be found among the Yoruba of South-Western Nigeria. The Ekpe secret cult existed among the Efik of the South-South. The Aros in the South-East equally had the Ekpe secret society. These cult groups gave their members social, economic and political security. This was what they believed.
America experienced many changes after the abolition of slavery and after the American Civil War. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was founded on 24th December, 1765 in Pulaski, Tennessee as a terrorist organization by six well educated veterans (soldiers who fought in the war) of the confederate army. As a secret cult the clan targeted freed men (Ex-slaves) and those who gave them freedom. It sought to restore white supremacy by threats and violence including murder against blacks and those who supported them. Many secret cults in Nigerian universities were inspired by the activities of the Ku Klux Klan in the United States of America.
In the 1950s, nationalism was intensified in Nigeria with the aim of fighting colonialism and gaining independence for Nigeria. Nigerian students were not left out in this fight for independence.
Therefore, in 1952 the first secret cult, The Seadogs Confraternity (a.k.a Pirates Confraternity) was formed at the University of Ibadan by a group of seven students namely: Wole Soyinka, Pius Olegbe, Olumuyiwa Awe, Aig Imoukhuede, Ralph Opara, Olu Agunloye, and Tunji Tubi.
The formation of this secret cult was in good faith and with good intentions. Their activities and operations were aimed at fighting colonialism and oppression. They equally rendered social services such as blood donation to hospitals and presentation of gifts to orphanage homes etc. The Pirates Confraternity dominated the university scene for twenty years before other cults came into existence. Their actions and mannerisms were all symbolic and imitative of the pirates of the Treasure Island literature book.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Pirates Confraternity was not known for violence. They socialized freely. They were brilliant students who went about their academic business without trampling on the fundamental rights of other students. They never practiced primitive savagery or wickedness that is common among present-day cultists.
In the 70s and 80s trouble broke out in the cult as a result of unresolved leadership problems. Some members of the cult broke out and formed the Buccaneers Association of Nigeria (BAN), A.K.A Sealords. Some of them formed the Vikings fraternity. This led to the explosion of secret cults in Nigerian universities. The Buccaneers Association of Nigeria was founded in 1992 at the University of Benin. Others like the Mafia confraternity, the National Association of Airlords (Eiye Fraternity) which used to be a cultural secret society, the Vikings fraternity, the Neo Black Movement of Africa or Black Axe Confraternity, the War Lords (Brotherhood of Don) were all formed in the various universities.
By the early 1990s, there was cult explosion such as; Maphites, KKK, the Mgba brothers, the Red Devils, Red Berets, Green Berets, the Trojan Horse, etc. Among the female cults were The Daughters of Medusa, White Angels, Dirty Virgins, the Amazons, the Sharons, Daughters of Eve, Black Queens, etc. these female confraternities acted as spies for the male confraternities and operated as prostitution syndicates. Unfortunately, these cults have filtered into our secondary schools and are seriously destroying the lives of our vibrant youths.
CULTS AND THEIR SIGNS/ SYMBOLS
- The Buccaneers Association of Nigeria – yellow shirts and yellow socks.
- The Seadogs Confraternity (a.k.a Pirates) – human skull on two crossed bones.
- The Mafia Confraternity/Maphites – handkerchief, green ribbon on beret.
- Black Stars – beret with inscription.
- The Neo Black Movement or Black Axe Confraternity – crossed bones, black ribbon on beret.
- The Vikings fraternity – small black pick axe
- The National Association of Airlords (EIYE) – axe on black skull, black on black dress, red ribbon on beret.
- The Warlords (Brotherhood of Don) beret with inscription of stars.
REASONS FOR ESTABLISHING CULTS
Many reasons have been given as to why cults are established in Nigerian schools.
Some of these reasons are:
- DESIRE FOR BROTHERHOOD: Cults were formed in order to make people believe that they have brotherly relationship. Their intention is to protect, love and defend one another even if they have to kill. They also claim to love each other, showing affection and loyalty to themselves as people who have something in common.
- FOR PROTECTION: Cults were formed to shield their member from suffering in the hands of other boys and cult groups in schools. New initiates are lured with a promise of protection by the cult group.
- GOOD ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE: It might interest you to know that some cults were formed to ensure high success of its members in academics. They achieve this by threatening and harassing lecturers with guns and machetes requesting for unmerited grades. Some lecturers that had refused to comply ended up losing their lives.
- FIGHT AGAINST INJUSTICE: Some secret cults are established to fight injustice on campus and in the society. The cult members claim they confront lecturers that harass students especially the female students and fight for the benefits of all the students.
- TO ASSERT SUPREMACY: Secret cult can be established because some groups of male students begin to see themselves as superior and powerful and possibly wealthier than the other students. Thus, they seize that means to form these cults just to prove they are superior to others.