No one knows how they started – A mother weaving elaborate stories to entertain her children or an uncle ‘adding pepper’ to tales of his travels, perhaps? Wherever and however they originated, these little mysteries laced with humour and horror have grown into full-on urban legends.
Nigeria’s cultural heritage is replete with such stories and, negligible evidence aside, they are quite entertaining. Here are some of the more popular urban legends and myths in Nigeria:
Shina Rambo: Nothing comes close to the stunts people believe this man pulled off while escaping after a robbery. He was believed to have the ability to walk through walls and disappear at will, and no bullet could penetrate his skin. He also had a mysterious woman who accompanied him to all his robberies as the driver of the getaway car – think, an African James Bond.
Indian Football Team: Legend has it that the Indian football team was banned from the Olympics because they used diabolical means to win matches. According to the legend, a ball kicked by the Indian players mysteriously turned into a fire-breathing dragon during a match against Nigeria.
Disclaimer: there is no record of this anywhere in the history of football. But, maybe it was covered up.
Lady Koi Koi: ‘Koi Koi’ is the sound high heels make as they clack against concrete floors, and thus we introduce our first female legend, Lady Koi Koi. Legend has it that a beautiful young principal – in red high heels – died in a car accident. Believing her female students were responsible for her demise, her spirit is believed to troll boarding house corridors in search of vengeance.
Some claim to have actually seen the red high-heeled shoes that walk the corridors of hostels at midnight, coming to snatch girls into the underworld. (We think women wearing red heels can be scary, too.)
Bush Baby: According to Wikipedia, Bush babies are arboreal primates native to Sub-Saharan Africa. They are harmless bush animals that have huge cute eyes and are small like babies – but those aren’t the kind we’re talking about here.
Nigerian legends tout a tale of a baby abandoned in the bushes to die. And now, every night when the moon comes out, the soul of the infant cries out for its mother.
This baby is believed to carry a sleeping mat around, a mat that brings untold riches to anyone who is able to capture it for seven days – in exchange for a bottle of milk, maybe.
It is safe to say that the authenticity of these tales is questionable, but they will continue to live on in the minds of the Nigerian people for generations to come.