The Shigidi Projection (for real this time!)

A funny story is behind the naming of this post.

First, wanted to call it ‘The Boogieman’, but felt, hey, what’s the Nigerian myth equivalent of things that go bump in the night? The ideas that popped into my head:

  • Madam Koin-Koin
  • Shigidi
  • Bush Babies

(anyone else figured out I went to a boarding secondary school yet?)

Well, the Bush Babies-myth isn’t so common outside Naija, I think… (in fact, google it and see what pops upnot the myth, I assure you), and as I’d already explained, the Madam Koin-Koin option was struck out. So here we are today, with Shigidi (surprise surprise, the internet has something on it – imagine!)

shigidi bush baby

(the closest image representation of Shigidi I could find online, though, I must admit, it resembles a lot what I thought a bush baby would look like)

When you are confronted with the chance to do something new or unfamiliar, what is the usual immediate thought that pops into your mind? ‘Yay – this could be the start of something great!’, or ‘How is this gonna screw or blow up in my face eventually?’?. Be honest, take your time and consider it, I’m not going anywhere…

See, as kids, we were scared of the dark.

Wait…what’s that? Just me? Huh…okay then, as a kid, I was scared of the dark…you know, I could never tell what was out there. Now make things worse with all the horror movies I naively watched, and all the myths I heard, and my overactive imagination, and you have a very fear-prone boy on your hands. (Thank God I’m a grown man now, and I no longer need mummy to leave the light on…yes! No need for that, because sleeping by mummy’s side is all the protection I need, amen)

I was just thinking the other day, and it occurred to me that some people in life are like that – terrified of the dark, the unknown, the uncharted territory of their environments and/or lives. It doesn’t help that today, majority of the media, and majority of the ignorant populace, and even ‘caring’ relatives, feed our fears with superstitions and baseless suggestions, sometimes sticking on them the label ‘facts’, please don’t let me begin on how STUPIDLY ERRONEOUS some of them are…PLEASE! With so much fear and misinformation, can you blame us if, when presented with a new opportunity, instead of hoping for the best, we are secretly already anticipating how life is gonna use it to screw us over in the end?

It’s so bad, that some people can not be happy for too long – when good stuff happens to them, they begin to anticipate, be it verbally or otherwise, “Something bad’s coming my way pretty soon”, and when it does, because you get what you think about in life: *throwing hands in surrender* “I talk am! I knew it!” The Shigidi myth becomes real for them, forever trapping them from leaving their comfort zone, for fear that something ‘out there’ will capitalize on their vulnerability and hurt them in an irrecoverable way.

Now, am I saying we shouldn’t be cautious? Of course not – that would be an expensive risk to take. Caution saves lives, just take seat-belts for example. What I’m referring to here is the paralyzing fear that stops you from even nearing a car for fear of bashing or getting bashed.

Are you in this boat? Are you so scared that stepping out ‘into the darkness’ spells certain doom for you, that Shigidi is waiting patiently to chomp on your bones and use your prime skin for suyaBBQ? Well, I love helping people, so I’ll offer some pointers that I hope will help you out of this:

  • You have only one life to live. Whatever you hope to do, you might as well attempt it soon, because the grave doesn’t give life refunds.
  • There’s nothing new under the sun. Shigidis thrive on ignorant fears and unwise biases. People before you have already done what you plan on undertaking, though it might not be in that exact form. Wise elders and mentors are powerful tools! The internet also comes in handy. So research, and ask questions. Find out pitfalls to avoid, and steps to improve on, weakening the vile thing. This point is important oh, don’t just say ‘I have one life to live’ and go all anarchy – research! Saves you pain and heartache, for yourself and others!
  • You’re supposed to be scared. Stepping out of your comfort zone is initially scary stuff, especially the first time you do so, and it goes against everything you know, even biologically, so expect a fight against your very own body and mind. Just win this internal one first before attempting any external battles.
  • Shigidi is NOT Failure. A lot of us wrongly think failure is a bad thing, probably due to school upbringing and the academic world. Making things worse is the fact that most people tend to deride others who make mistakes, so a lot of people don’t want to feel that shame of being ridiculed. But as any successful endeavour will affirm: failure is part of the gig. I say again: failure is part of the gig. That you got it wrong the first time doesn’t mean you are Shigidi stew – don’t be deceived. Get up, try again. Learn from the mistakes and failures of others. Then learn from yours, if you make any. Just don’t stop! YOU determine when it’s over!
  • God is on your side. I believe there is a God, and that He is far more willing to help us achieve true greatness than we are willing to ask for it – many of us just don’t. Personally, I’ve seen too many examples of help beyond what I was thinking or expecting, as if the Universe was aligning for my sake. Seriously. After having obeyed the above 4 points, saying a prayer asking for help won’t hurt – in fact, it augments everything! Seriously. (For this reason, I’ll add ‘Reading your Bible’ to point #2).

A few tips setting you on the course to defeating your Shigidi. So go out there and get ’em, and share your story, if you would, with your comments – someone could use your encouragement! Thanks!

And in case you were wondering: I do not share beds with mum for her to protect me. C’mon! What were you thinking? I’ve grown up – of course I sleep on the floor, beside her bed.


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