One of my favorite plays as a boy in those days was the “Jackal’s Howl”. This is a fearful noise that was shrouded in mystery. It is a sound or holler produced by swinging sharpened bamboo shafts over someone’s head. As the shaft moves, it gives out a holler that is generally mistaken to a lion’s roar to herald the presence of the night masquerade.
The “Jackal’s Howl” is a ceremonial play for boys proclaiming their puberty. In traditional African society, there are ceremonies for people of a particular age group that allow them the freedom of association within their age grade. The “Jackal’s Howl” is one of such ceremonial plays that is associated with only the men-folk especially boys during puberty proclamation. Like other African festivals, women are not allowed outside the homes during such proclamations; hence the boys are the only ones that are qualified to be outside.
However, under aged boys and those who are not passing through the fires of initiation are not allowed into the playground. Anything short of the required age group is forbidden. Women who mistakenly step out at such periods are punished accordingly. The “Jackal’s Howl” is a kind of cult that is used to correct certain societal ills, even though the major part of the society’s problems are find their root in it. It’s like setting a thief to catch a thief.
The activities of a good number of the commercial banks in Nigeria can be likened to the activities of boys proclaiming their puberty and doing the “Jackal’s Howl” dance. At a time in history, Nigerian banks assumed such an alarming proportion that almost every family can boast of having a bank of their own. The number confused nationals on the choice of a bank hence there is always a strange behaviour associated with them. People saw the banks not as places of safety but as institutions of wonder. Wonder in the sense that they do not multiply their client’s money by allowing them huge interest rates, but that these banks are upwardly mobile in deceiving them.
The deception rose to a point where every well-to-do Nigerian family had to soil their hands in the sand of clay that characterized the macabre dance of the time. In fact, it looked very odd for people to believe you are truly a Nigerian if your family is not having a bank to their credit. The situation was that bad, and the unholy competition of the moment left so many people chilled. It was the period when almost every bank in the neighbourhood was just disappearing with their managers fleeing overseas with their customer’s money without trace.
The macabre dance continued without check, currency governors after another. It was rein bird which says that if the hunter learns to shoot without missing, it would also learn to fly without perching. As the problem took so many other dimensions, people got tired of the banks. The learned again to bury their money in the ground as was the case in the past. To them it would be better for termites to eat them up than having them handed over to officially licensed robbers (commercial banks). This was the misfortune that hit almost all banks in Nigeria then even to the time of reformation and capitalization.
The old proverb had it that if Muhammad did not go the mountain, the mountain goes to Muhammad. Bank officials were always in the streets of Nigeria leaving behind their air-conditioned halls and offices, looking for customers. The bank officials known generally as “Marketers” have so many weapons in their arsenal in winning customers to their banks. There are the beautiful ladies and handsome young men who hit the streets on daily basis as in fashion parades scavenging and luring people to their banks no matter what it may take them, others are knocking at the doors of people’s offices and business centres doing the same thing as above. They dare not give up on a customer but would do anything possible until they have caught them by their scrotal points.
There were promises upon promises. Promises to make millionaires of customers who dared open accounts with them. People’s names were published in the dailies and electronic media yet poverty kept ravaging the land. The offer of loans to customers turned the banking halls waiting rooms for intended borrowers. So many people were eager to borrow from the banks since that is the only bait that appears real to them. There were many other juicy carrots that were dangled before the people until they were deceived dead! Accounts were opened and serviced for some time and then closed. There were series of complaints against these banks, as people’s assets were being seized and auctioned on daily basis without much ado. That is to say that the more people borrow from the banks, the poorer they become. Trust these banks; no matter the cordial relationship that may have existed, they will not look back in taking their pound of flesh. The customers however were not left out in the game of hide and sick as many of them disappeared into the thin air without trace after securing a bank loan, a situation tantamount to a “do me, I do you” kind of life.
Who then would like to be a millionaire with a bank loan? The Jackal’s Howl ceremony was empowered to checkmate societal evil, yet so many evil practices were traced to it. The fact is that all of us share in the problems that stare us in the face today, and as such, we are all rotten to the core. In the Bible, Apostle Paul saw the wickedness in man and exclaimed, “there is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God” (Romans 3:10-11). None of us are capable of living up God’s perfect standard of holiness. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for the punishment we deserve, and then rise again. God wanted to reconcile us back to Himself. People like us, who are “rotten to the core”, need Jesus, who in His goodness has fixed our problem completely.
When we recognize the fact that we have sinned and understand that Christ is what we need, we will truly discover that to become a millionaire is very simple. The Bible admonishes that we seek first the kingdom of God before other things could follow. Sin breeds poverty, and poverty destroys and dehumanizes. Righteousness is what exalts a people while sin reproaches them. When we develop a new heart or attitude toward life, invite God into our life plans, He helps us in fulfilling them. Are you a banker or a customer, what are your plans of getting to the next million mark – to defraud or to do it right? God sees. He is annoyed with our attitudes of getting-rich-quick syndrome and would judge every man according to his work. To become a millionaire is to have the Spirit of God at work in your life. Think.