OPINION: Operation Python dance and Ndigbo

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Python are among the biggest snakes in the world, and to hunt them is dangerous and risky business. In Africa, ancient rulers used pythons for various purposes ranging from food, celebrations to even worship. Igbos eat snakes, including the huge python, in all their numerous species. Snakes are generally delicious, with varied spiritual and medicinal values, all over the world from Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Some of us ate snakes of various descriptions for survival during the Biafra Civil War.

Operation Python dance and Ndigbo

Some kings wore the python skin as a sign of power, while some native African cultures celebrate the rhythmic, aristocratic and authoritarian movement of the Python.

For example, Venda people of Southern Africa, use the traditional python dance for folkloric, cultural, and aesthetic purposes. There are similarities between the python line formation in the dance and the probate entrance marches that are common to historically Black (African American) Greek lettered sororities, signifying the attainment of the age of woman hood, or manhood for an age grade.

However some traditional African Societies, including the Igbo people revere a specie of the python, known as the The ball python (Python regius), also called the royal python. Royal, because rulers wore the skin as a sign of power. Like all other pythons, it is a non-venomous constrictor. This is the smallest of the African pythons and is popular in the pet trade, largely due to its small size and typically docile temperament.


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This species is particularly revered in the traditional religion of the Igbo people. It is considered symbolic of the earth, being an animal that travels so close to the ground. Even among many Christian Igbos, these pythons are treated with great care whenever they happen to wander into a village or onto someone’s property; they are allowed to roam freely or are very gently picked up and placed out in a forest or field away from any homes. If one is accidentally killed, many communities in Igboland will still build a coffin for the snake’s remains and give it a short funeral.

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During the days of Biafra War, I saw Igbos, refugees, and soldiers eat the same python, thereby demystify the reptile before me and many of my age. Yet last year, a Pastor’s house was burnt down by some villagers in Anambra State, for killing a Python that entered his house.

The Python like other snakes is a serpent, and serpents represent the devil in the Bible for Isiaih 27:1 ( Amp) declares that “ In that day,the Lord, with his sharp and unrelenting, great and strong sword will visit and punish Leviathan the swiftly fleeing serpent, Leviathan, the twisting and winding serpent, and he will slay the monster that is in the sea”…….Isaiah 27:1 Amp Version. Our Lord Jesus, has a especial dislike, revulsion and even hatred for snakes or serpents, and likened his tempters and sinners alike to a generation of vipers,- another species of snakes.

Python worship therefore is part of the unfinished job of Christian Priests, and Body of Christ in Igbo land, and it shall soon die!

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Pythons do not dance in Nigeria, and there is no record of such a dance in history. This dance by the Nigerian Army, must be a sinister dance, a strange code name for an unknown operation, which calls for extreme caution by Ndigbo especially our youth.

The Army operation code names in the south in recent times instill fear, intimidation, and oppression in the minds of their target communities. First was the Operation Crocodile Smile in the South South Region. Some species of Crocodiles indeed shed tears after a sumptuous meal according to the National Geographic.

It is presumed to be a tear of joy, which means that the Crocodile smile portends the joy in expectation of great killings, hence the public out-cry against that operation. What then could anyone make of a dancing python in Igbo land, and why at this time of peace in that region?


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A huge carnivorous snake, its dance must mean, a dance of joy in expectation of a big kill!

The python kills by crushing the ribs and bones of its victim, asphyxiating it to death before consuming it. This code name therefore could mean an operation to asphyxiate Igbo land. It could be targeting our spirituality, distracting Igbo people to look away from their God, depend on peripheral, and ephemeral mundane pursuits, while the enemy sowed tares in their gardens, their youths.

It could also include the crushing of the spirit of commerce and trade in Igbo land, through over whelming presence of soldiers , inflicting traffic snarls, and provoking Igbo youths to reaction, that will make the carnivorous python dance in blood.

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The timing of this operation from reports; November to December 2016 is instructive. This is the period Igbos all over the world are likely to be returning home to celebrate the Christmas, being the most homogeneously Christian region in Nigeria.

The operation has come at a time, when the Nigerian Army has issues with Amnesty International, where the former has engaged in fruitless denials of killings of unarmed Igbo Youth peaceful and praying protesters from Igbo land, of which live video clips abound in the social media.

The operation is obviously targeting IPOB, BIM, and Igbo youths in general, and increasingly, the Army is being used to punish, intimidate, harass and oppress the people they are trained and established to defend. The Army is daily usurping the areas of core competence of our Police, National Civil Defence, and other security agencies. Igbos lost their Governors!

Governments must initiate creative means, using Non Governmental Organisations, interfacing with community leadership to develop ways to combat and reduce kidnapping and other social challenges to help the society, and stop this macabre python dance, which is a needless wasteful show of raw power, when mixed with the recent ban on vehicles importation to complicate Igbo life.

Pythons swallow other animals to live and grow, no python will swallow any Igbo man.

Article by Clement Udegbe, a lawyer wrote from ceeaai@yahoo.com, Lagos.

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