Written by
Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Since the dawn of time, generations of scholars and philosophers have posited that the world exists in two realms, the physical and the spiritual. All religions though in dispute still agree on one thing; the existence of a supreme being, a higher power, a being that controls the destiny of man. In pre-colonial Nigeria, our ancestors worshipped various gods and then the white supremacists came and brought us Christianity; Islam soon followed. But despite the new acceptance of God and Allah, most Nigerians still held on to the gods of their ancestors. In Edo State for instance, you will find that in some areas most households go to church diligently but still have mud shrines at the back of their houses, they somehow found a way to balance both doctrines.The need for love and the belief in the potency of black magic informed the invention and use of love potions, the fact that we are now in the 21st century where technology has taken over every aspect of life has done nothing to reduce the amount of tales we hear about people resorting to fetish means to acquire a lover, keep a lover or gain more wealth.

Enough of the history lesson.

The first time I heard the term “guy, no go chop fresh fish pepper soup for that babe house o” was in 2007. The conversation that brought on this rather random admonishment was between two engineering students that lived in the same hostel as I did. My curiosity was piqued and I decided to investigate. I cornered Daniel (my hostel mate) the next day on his way to class and after making small talk for a few minutes I asked my question.

“The statement you made yesterday about the fresh fish pepper soup when Matthew was going out, what were you guys talking about”.

He stared at me for a few seconds and then threw his head back and laughed heartily.

“So you still remember,” he said shaking his head.

“So tell me, what does it mean,” I pressed on impatiently.

“It’s a guy thing mehn, you know how you girls are, you lot are always conniving to trap us guys. The ‘in-thing’ now is ‘jazz’, I heard they put it in food for their boyfriends to eat and most of them usually put the potion in fresh fish pepper soup hence the term” he said.
“Osagie’s girlfriend did it to him, now he’s madly in love and follows her about like a mugu” he added with a derisive snicker.

I was astounded and amused; I couldn’t wait to share my newfound knowledge. I brought up the topic with my roommates that evening and I heard even more appalling stories; apparently the term “no chop fresh fish pepper soup for that girl house o” was a popular saying around campus. In fact, the saying had even metamorphosed into a statement used to remind men to be wary of desperate women.

There were numerous tales of friends who have quarrels and then decide to “open each other’s yansh”, they would scream about how they all went to see a babalawo for love potions. These stories were real and they amazed me, I could not and still cannot fathom why a woman would go to the length of using fetish means to trap a man. What dismays me the most is that I still hear stories about this phenomenon today, some soft sell magazines even have adverts for priestesses and herbalists who offer potions for all needs.

Now even some churches offer prayers, special anointing oil and candles to women who need help getting a husband or keeping one, this surprises me to no great end. The line between orthodox Christianity and African traditional religion is getting blurrier by the day, where do we draw the line?

I wonder, is there any hope for finding real love if some of us women are up against the breed of women who use ‘jazz’ to get a man? Some justify this by saying that it is allowed as long as no one is getting harmed, I beg to differ; freewill is essential in love, relationships and marriage, even the love of God is not forced, you are allowed to choose. This brings me to these questions:

If you are in a good relationship and you find out your partner slipped something into your food or used ‘juju’ to make you fall in love with them would you remain in that relationship?

If you were desperately in love with someone who doesn’t love you back, is it justifiable to use ‘other means’ to get the person to be with you?

While you ponder on my questions, I will leave you with this admonition: “no go chop pepper soup for girl house o”.

Better safe than sorry.

Image : Artwork of  Toyin Odutola

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