‘Love Potions and Odo Aduro by Guest Contributor Agyaakoo

Love is powerful. It is strong beyond belief. And it beats all reason. No wonder they said love is blind. Or as the Gas say it more evocatively, ‘Sunmo le agboku’: a crude literal translation renders it as ‘Love doesn’t mind a rotten tooth.’ When folks encounter a love so strong that it defies all reason, they tend to account for this by reference to spiritual explanations. Now you know why they talk so much about soul mates. Daddy Lumba once sang that people say his lover has spiritually smitten him with love. His response? He’s privileged to be the victim of this sweet affliction (You can check out the song below)

I recently came across an interesting book titled, Ju-ju in My Life. The writer, James H Neal, was a colonial officer working in the police investigations department in the 1950s. He became obsessed with ju-ju after he had a few close encounters. Below, I quote a couple of paragraphs in the book that dealt with love.

There was, for instance, the well-researched account of how African women secured themselves husbands, sometimes from the European community. It appeared that if a woman wanted a certain man who showed no affection for her she would go to a Ju-ju man for help. For a consideration of £20, £50, or even £100 the Ju-ju man would agree to prepare a powder which, when taken by the man in question, would bring about an overwhelming desire in him to have this woman as his wife. On receiving the powder from the Ju-ju man the woman would make an arrangement with a servant of the man’s house to place the powder in his food. Shortly afterwards the couple would be married.

To a sceptical European such as I was then statements of this nature naturally did not have the ring of truth. It was, however, a fact that, generally speaking, a European was much better off than an African, and that quite a considerable number of illiterate and unattractive African women were married to Europeans who were sometimes of noble blood and good public-school or university background. I must admit that I myself thought it more than strange that some of my British and other European friends had married quite ugly African women with low intelligence, and although it was quite obvious that these couples had nothing in common, their mixed marriages endured, and in some cases produced as many as ten or twelve children.  James H Neal, Ju-ju in My Life, 1966.

Maybe the language may shock you. The book was only written in 1963. A reminder that only a few decades back, it was possible to describe a whole race of people in such unkind words and go free. Maybe things have changed, I don’t know.


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