Secret Cult Accident [script 2]

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One other wicked punishment was often given, it was this; A small hole about three inches deep and two inches wide was made in the ground; many black soldier ants with scissors-like mouths were then collected from the foot of a palm tree into a can. These ants are noted for their painful and poisonous bites. Into the hole which had been dug therefore, these ants were thrown. The offender was then ordered to put his forefinger into the hole.  If he refused to do so, he would be caned and expelled. So he had no choice. The finger therefore went in and must remain in the hole as long as the ‘chief’ desired. When the finger came out, it was often swollen. The pain was excessive. At other times the culprit was ordered to lie on his chest and kiss the ant-filled hole with his lips. When he rose up, the lips became many times its normal size.

Other parts of the body were often equally treated. No one liked this form of punishment and therefore everyone avoided being reported. In spite of these wicked forms of punishment, no boy would like to withdraw from the cult. The shame of being cast out was too much. Mothers would even jeer at their sons if they resigned, though I am sure, if they knew what their sons went through, they would pull the whole place down.

Apart from the qualification of age, there was often an entrance examination. This was often in the form of quizzes to which specific answers must be given. Unfortunately these quizzes and answers were often kept secrets and you might have to part many times with portions of your meals and run many errands before you were taught the answer to one.

When anyone sought admission into the secret society, he would be asked to report on the appointed day at the entrance to the ‘house’. If he did not get all the answers he was thoroughly thrashed and sent away in disgrace. Before he went away the thumb on his left hand was twisted until he shouted for mercy. Usually, a boy would submit to all this because he still hoped to be admitted on a future date.

I have said above that the ‘Secret house’ was neither a house nor secret. Some three hundred yards from the edge of the village, we had cut a rough path into the bush. We made it a winding path in order that no one on the road might see the big open and circular space which we had cut in the bush. The palm trees and other trees with spreading branches provided the necessary shelter and shade. This open space was the ‘house’.

In the ‘house’ we had a fireplace where we usually did much cooking away from home. We cooked yams, plantains, beans, coco-yams. These were often fetched from home or received as presents whenever we went on our outings. We also cooked rats and birds caught in our traps and fishes caught in the streams. The junior members of the cult brought salts, oil and water from home.  The cooking was often crude but we ate much relief. Our mothers would be shocked to see what we ate.

We often equipped the’ house’ with wooden benches and mats made of palm leaves. We tied a large quantity of yellow palm leaves across the path where it forked from the road. This we did to keep away woman. We also lined the edge of the circular house with these yellow palm leaves to make it look sacred. No female must enter the house and this rule applied to hen also. Any hen that came into the house was condemned. We caught it, killed it, and cooked it for eating. Call it stealing if you like, to us it was not stealing, it was justice.

next script Secret Cult Accident [script 3]

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