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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Rainmakers are threatening to disrupt my mother’s funeral

By Anayo M. Nwosu

Rainmakers were one of the early set of callers to my family house at Nnewi to commiserate with my siblings over the death of Mama Obiora, my mum. While other sympathizers meant well for us, the rainmakers’ visit was a tacit reminder of the dangers they pose to the successful funeral ceremonies of our mom. If after their visit and we fail to engage them, it would rain cat and dog all through the funeral days. 

No Nnewi family tests the will of the rainmakers because they have been able to demonstrate their capabilities in the past and present. 

But Obiora, my elder brother, who is also the chief mourner would not hear of engaging any rainmaker; it is against his faith. 

“Which faith?” I wondered. 

Why would my brother practice his Christianity without recognizing the reality of our traditional pests, who like mosquitoes, have right of existence. Shouldn’t he give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s?

It’s like my brother relies solely on prayers to stop rains during our mother’s funeral ceremonies which is very risky. Does he want our guests to be drenched in rains?

Even as a man of God, the catechist of our local church and the president of the Catechists Association of our diocese, Obiora, my brother, is not known to have performed any miracle since he was installed as a catechist. His principals, namely: the priests, deacons and bishops claim whatever miracles that happen during service. My brother only prays the prayers he is allowed to say. Even at that, there is no prayer against rainfall in our church. 

As a christian, I have performed more outstanding miracles than my brother even as a layman. Was it not me that looked at a very beautiful and sophisticated girl, laid hands on her and commanded her to accept to be my wife and she agreed the way St. Peter agreed to follow his master? I have also decreed that someone else other than the present occupant, shall occupy the central seat of government in 2019 and it will come to pass. 

But my faith is well below that of Late Oga Pius Ubajaka, one of the most ardent Christians in my village at that time when the Pentecostals had not arrived Nnewi.

Oga Pius defied the rainmakers when his cousin died and paid dearly for it. They ensured that it rained all through the funeral of Oga Pius’ cousin, who was a legionary and a fellow true christian. The villagers had to scoop out water from the grave before the casket of the deceased was lowered. It was not easy covering the grave with waterlogged red sand.

Perhaps, God allowed the rains as invoked by the rainmakers to protect their God-given trade and to ensure that they earned their daily bread. This is because, God cares for all his creatures. 

Who prays against the trade of mosquitoes that feed on human blood for their own daily bread? Does it matter that humans feel some inconveniences while mosquitoes take the risk to eat?

What is the fault of the casket maker who prays for increase in sales? Does it matter if the buyers of the casket are distressed or are grieving over their loss? 

Rainmakers’ business should be viewed from the existential context. After all, they didn’t kill Mama Obiora. They only seek to be hired as we would the dancers, pall bearers, caterers and other service providers. 

Unable to get my brother to change his mind on engaging them, the rain makers started calling me on phone. They don’t want me to blame them for the impending flood they intend to unleash on the funeral days if they are not settled. Enraged at my brother’s stance, I had to call him to disassociate myself from the consequences of his decision. 

I can only protest against the decision of my elder brother but cannot override or countermand him otherwise he would curse me and I would become confused in life. 

But the rain makers’ bill would not cost an arm and leg. It’s affordable. They don’t want to lose their revenue. And they have a point. 

As a growing child in the village, I had watched the satisfactory performances of great rain makers like Nwokonkwo of Umuicheke, Enebeke of Ndiogbe, Mmilikwe of Abubuo and Jido of Ichi as they withheld rains during funerals, traditional weddings and other important occasions in my village. 

Every rainmaker has an about 3 by 4 inch-sized stone carved from sedimentary rocks called “okwute mmiri”. It is on this stone that the rainmakers make a fire with firewood from breadfruit tree. The fire is fed with secret grasses and leaves which include anụnụebe, ogirisi,eghu iri ọkụkọ atụ etc. 

The rainmaker on duty must never eat oily food or drink water. He would be seen speaking in tongues as a Mountain of Fire member in a binding and casting session. 

The sky would be bright as long as the fire is well fed with the leaves and grasses and would become gloomy when the fire is not stoked or fed. The fire is stoked with mouth. The rain makers can also dispatch thunder to any rain maker trying to neutralize their rain withholding act. The thunder targets the rain stone or “okwute mmiri”. Once the stone is destroyed by thunder, the rain maker must get a new one. And it doesn’t come so easily. 

Each of the rain makers has a catchment area of operation as demons have their own principalities. Anyone hired to work outside his catchment area must cede a share of his payments to the rain makers within the vicinity of the event in an appeasement and to beg them not to make his job hard. If a rain maker is able to contain other rain makers within the area he is hired to withhold rains, it would be easier for him to contend with the nature induced rain pressure. 

After withholding the rains for an agreed period, a rain maker must cause a rainfall or “release the rain” to fall for the exact number of days he withheld the rains otherwise he would pay dearly for not balancing the natural equilibrium. 

Obiora, my brother, understood my anxiety over his refusal to balance his religious calling with reality. He took my call and laughed when I broached the topic. He reminded me that no rain maker that wants to stay alive dares invoke rain by the end of November or at the onset of the dry season. 

“Mama’s funeral is on the 23 November, by which time any rain maker who tries to invoke rain would have thunder and lighting to contend with. They know it. At that time, any rain that falls does so naturally. Don’t waste your money on those guys!” my brother concluded. 

But, as a practicing christian who is expected not to fund what we have been told are devilish, I will rather ask one of my friends to settle the rain makers with money equivalent to their engagement fees to deter them from committing suicide while trying to invoke rain at the onset of dry season. What can’t people do for money? Has my humanity disappeared in that I can’t help stop people from committing suicide? It hasn’t. I wouldn’t allow any rainmaker to be killed by thunder during my mother’s funeral. 

I have learnt so much from our Oga at the Top who is not apparently corrupt, who is described as a man of integrity but, who continuously benefits from known corrupt people and enjoys the spoils of the corrupt acts of his friends and relations. 

By getting my friends to settle or silence the rain makers, nobody would accuse me of giving money in support of pagan practices.

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