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Some Nigerian Urban Legends - 2nd Stanza

Updated on June 16, 2011

Mammy Water

This is perhaps the mother of all urban legends in the country. The legend of the mammy water is enshrined in just about every Nigerian myth; this gives it full cult followership. The Mammy Water is also called The Queen of the Coast – she is the river goddess of the mermaids and marine spirits. In the Northern parts of Nigeria, she is recognized as Maimuna Kura.

The cult followers of Mammy Water are known as the ogbanje in the Igbo tribe. This is a secret cult with membership reserved exclusively for beautiful young women. These women possess the power of seduction above any other, and are known to be ruthless, and have an unquenchable thirst for blood, especially men’s blood. It is said that sexual intercourse with an ogbanje will forever keep one in bondage. You could be alive and kicking in the physical realm, whereas in the marine realm, your soul is in chains.

The legend of the Mammy Water goes way, way back even to the time of the forefathers, when she was revered, worshipped and feared as a deity. In some parts of Nigeria, there’re still occult traditions dedicated to her worship. Of course, through the advent of Christianity in Nigeria, such traditions are almost non-existent. The church frowns upon it, tagging it demonic, and even goes as far as conducting deliverance (i.e. exorcism) sessions on members of the ogbanje cult. I have seen such sessions myself (everybody usually bails out, but I stick around), and I can tell you right away that it could get pretty weird, and that is putting it lightly. Very, very lightly.

Some of these ogbanje members are said to have marine spirit husbands, and have had children by them beneath the waters. And if such women are married, they can never conceive with their earthly husbands, being that their spirit-husbands have tied up their wombs.

The operations of the ogbanje are so secret and taboo, that many ‘wise-men’ of my land would curse me for talking about it. It’s a scary tale, no kidding.

But here’s the thing, most Nigerians – even the very educated ones still believe in the operations of the daughters of Mammy Water. In fact, if you don’t believe in it – you’re almost considered a fool. It is said that these daughters of seduction have the following qualities;

1. Long hair (though, it isn’t a strict criteria)

2. A weird ring on her belly-button or toe.

3. Unnatural cat-like eyes, that glows in the dark.

4. Usually full-bodied

5. Ability to speak many languages.

6. Very high intelligence.

7. Ability to tell you stuff you thought no one else knew, but yourself.

8. Always talking about what some ‘she’ told her to do. (she, being Mammy Water)

9. Always talking about some ‘friends’ of hers, and stuff ‘they’ tell her (friends, being her fellow ogbanje members).

10. Very, very beautiful, of course.

Note: the above is not a strict rule, as it is believed that the ogbanje, who are mistresses of deceit, can choose to look simple and innocent in order to achieve their devious aim.


I remember, in this college I attended, I had this girl taking the same classes with me; very beautiful and everything. I can’t remember if she had a ring on her toe or anything. Hey, we didn’t get that far! Get your mind out the gutter! Lol. But she had long hair, and cat-like eyes, and she did speak Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, and English very fluently. And she was always saying stuff like, she told me to do this or that. Or my friends did this or that. And whenever you asked her who the ‘she’ or ‘they’ was, she would just shut down. Anyway, this girl always sits right next to me, and soon enough we start becoming really good class buddies and all. I think she’s scorching hot, I mean she really was – but I always had this sense that there was something weird about her. Like check this, one time I spot her making a call in a phone booth, and so I keep walking on, but before I do 30 paces, there she is right in front of me! No kidding! That kind of stuff kept repeating itself, till I just sortta started avoiding her. I would spot her miles away, and just take another path, and guess what...BOOM! There she is, right in front of me, with this evil grin, more like a smirk on her gorgeous face, and she would make a really witty comment (she was very witty) like, “Why’re you running from me? I’m I a witch?” and she would just start laughing, like she just made the world’s greatest joke; and I would stand there moping at her like a retard, and then just not to look too stupid, I would start laughing like a madman, too. And just when I’m getting into the whole laughing spirit, she stops laughing. Abruptly, like that. Boy, was she weird!

I don’t even know why I’m talking about all this, if you wanna know the truth. I never really thought much about it, ‘cause you see that was like six years ago, and I have since transferred to another college in another state (No, I wasn’t running; I changed majors from Physics to Computer Science) where I’ve graduated from; so we pretty much lost contact for all those years. But I caught her sometime mid last year, and guess what? She wasn’t all that mysterious looking anymore. But I still stayed the hell away though, for some reason – I mean, she hugged me like mad and everything, but I wasn’t feeling too hot about it, if you catch my drift!

Willi Willi

I feel it’s very appropriate that I end with this one. It’s quite intriguing too. The legend of Willi Willi actually came from a national TV series in the eighties called “Hot Cash”. I know you’re probably wondering why I would talk about an urban legend from TV. But the thing here is, Hot Cash was such a hit back in the eighties and early nighties that people actually thought it was real; and they had reason to, too. Let me explain:

Hot Cash is a series about a man (Willi Willi) who is killed by his own blood-brothers for money ritual purposes. That means, they killed him, and used his blood diabolically as a sacrifice to a deity, in order to enrich themselves. They succeed and become wealthy, by village standards, and just when they really start living off their new-found riches, Willi Willi’s ghost rises from his grave and begins his bloody vendetta upon all his brothers. It was a very powerful tale, spun so genuinely, and in a manner that everyone could relate to. ‘cause, truth of the matter is, people have been known to kill their relatives for such purposes, and the so-called spirits of such victims have been known to haunt the murderers. So, here in Hot Cash this is genuinely depicted, in a raw, African manner, and great directing, too. (Boy, I’m I so gonna re-make Hot Cash!). It scared the living daylights out of everybody – kids and adults alike, no kidding. There was just something about it. It didn’t seem too much like a series, more like something real just captured on camera! And there was this crazy stuff that Willi Willi used to do whenever he wanted to disappear; he would cross his arms like an ‘X’ and disappear – that stuff killed us. And there was this mad song that the children in the programme used to sing when they were playing and stuff; they sang it in Pidgin English, and it went like this –

Willi Willi don die

Willi Willi don die

Na Goro kill am

Na Kene kill am

And so on...what it meant was –

Willi Willi has died

Willi Willi has died

It is Goro that killed him

It is Kene that killed him

I can’t remember the exact names mentioned there, but the song went on to mention the names of all Willi Willi’s brothers. The children would be singing that weird song when they’re playing and everything, until Willi Willi would appear right in their midst, and they would go scurrying off like rats.

Rumours spread that the spirit of Willi Willi was truly roving about seeking to kill anyone with even a slight greed for money. It was a scary time. In those days, if your Momma wanted to keep you in check, all she had do was just drop the name Willi Willi and you would behave yourself. Fast!

Flashback 2

I remember one time we had watched episodes of Hot Cash on TV; like an omnibus or something. I can’t exactly remember. I was real little. And it was really past my bedtime and all, and when I was about to sleep, I was so scared that I couldn’t close my eyes to sleep a wink. And to make it worse, they turned off all the lights in the house. It was pitch black. I didn’t know what my big brother had in store for me. He had gotten this big ol’ white gown and had dressed himself up real good (he was a real joker, that one), till he looked exactly like Willi Willi. And while I was lying in my bed struggling with myself to sleep and all, the doorknob turns slowly, and in walks in (but to my child-imagination, he floated in, more like) this white figure...

I open my mouth real wide and scream my head off for Mummy!

THE END....maybe (sinister laughter echoes)


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    • profile image

      mythjunkie 3 years ago

      Nice one, gave me the creeps. Sorry this is 5 years later but I am doing research for a book I am writing. Nigerian too, lady koi koi was at my school, never saw her, the people that did said she had a red heel, just one shoe, the other is missing, that's where the koi koi sound comes from

    • profile image

      dee 5 years ago

      Thanks a lot for the stories. We share similar memories on the Willi Willi part.

      I remember watching stuff in black and white back in the 80's .

      Pretty scary stuff

    • profile image

      Darktony 7 years ago

      The stories are very intresting. A Nigerian myself, I virtually know all those stories but I barley remember Willi Willi. What about the legend of "Is it Like this?" about a cab driver with razor like teeth. You forgot to mention that. And I'm interested in your film project.KIT

    • fierycj profile image

      fierycj 8 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

      hi Cindy...I'm good. what's up?

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 8 years ago from Cape Town

      Jambo, howya doing?

    • fierycj profile image

      fierycj 8 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

      Thanks mythbuster...appreciate the comments very much! Thanks for dropping in, again.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 8 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      fierycj, this is a great hub. I love the deity you describe, along with your flashbacks and your critique of the Willi Willi show.

    • fierycj profile image

      fierycj 8 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

      Yes, I quite agree Ash, very interesting, yet has been a subject of intrigue and fear in Nigeria for many, many years. Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      ash 8 years ago

      just had a conversation with my nigerian neighbour who told me that his deceased mother was involved in manny water. he is convinced that she died very young(42) because it waswritten on the palm of her hands. very very strange conversation... even stranger was that his father used to throw lots of money into the waters each time his mother was sick, this was supposed to make her better????? very intersting subject but quite eerie.

    • fierycj profile image

      fierycj 8 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

      Hey, Mr V...I guess you're the one who's gonna decide if they're worth it. as for me, I decided they are not...he he he...but they sure are hot, take my word for it!

      Hot Cash...wait and see...(rubs palms together in relish)

    • Mrvoodoo profile image

      Mrvoodoo 8 years ago from ?

      Sounds like you had a lucky escape from your witch lady-friend Fierycj, how hot are these witches? Would it be worth it? ;)

      Can't wait to watch your re-make of 'Hot Cash' sounds eerie.

    • fierycj profile image

      fierycj 8 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

      Da-newton, thanks for the comments. Made me laugh. I'm the last guy to run to for relationship-advice. No kidding.

    • profile image

      da-Newton 8 years ago

      About mammy water legend, its quite popular around here in nigeria. But u had to rekindle it cj, like waking up the dead, so vivid!

      Now look cj, i've got this very very beautiful girlfriend, with all that qualities...not weird though. Do u think she could be mammy water? I aint leaving her though...

    • fierycj profile image

      fierycj 8 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

      @ Rosa. I like the way you keep talking about my film career. I can tell you're genuinely interested in my moving forward with it. Well, you know what? I am, too. And its gonna happen...just you watch!

    • rosariomontenegro profile image

      rosariomontenegro 8 years ago from NEW YORK

      I tell you Fiery, you have to start that first film of yours. You know in Channel 13 New York every Saturday they play a short that the public chooses among 3 that you can watch previously in your computer. I want so much that one day we will have your first film there ... and that just for starters. Afterwards you are going to do this really long great film that is going to be at least a Cannes Festival winner or something of the sort.

      I like very much your memories and stories and again, they should in the future be embedded in your films. Go for it!

    • fierycj profile image

      fierycj 8 years ago from The Fiery Heart of Africa

      I'm still working on sets whenever I get a chance. But as for my film, still saving dough for that project. Problem though is, I dont really have a ball park figure. And I wanna do such a great job. Wouldn't want my first entrance into my videography to be a flop, would I? Thanks for asking, Bren.

      Thanks Wychic, I would appreciate you sharing your urban legends. I'm into that kind of stuff. Makes for great movie screenplays.

    • wychic profile image

      Rebecca Mikulin 8 years ago from Sheridan, Wyoming

      Great legend hubs! I just replied to your post about legends, and would gladly share some of the ones from Wyoming in-depth if you're interested in scary ones...there are a few :). At any rate, I enjoyed the legends you have up so far and look forward to reading more if you choose to write more.

    • profile image 8 years ago

      kinda scary all thast, but nice to know about....... Sounds like you do attract the weird ones eh????? Your culture is so different from anyghing else I have read about...... How is the film coming along