One way or the other, you have believed an urban legend. Different cultures have theirs. They are hand-me-down stories told by most but experienced by none. They are like tough stains; would not be removed or moved an inch. They neither fade nor vapourize. They stay in the mind and roam effortlessly; an ever present phenomenon. They grow insidiously. Like an epidemic, urban legends travel fast, are highly infectious and cannot be explained away. You only try at your peril.

Let me break it down, Madam Koi-Koi is a Nigerian urban legend. Nobody has seen her but for some reason she exists. If you were a boarder in a Nigerian secondary school, then she is a very active member of your commune. Another urban legend is the story of when Nigeria played India and the Indians had no boots. They beat Nigeria 99–1 via the instrumentality of black magic. I don’t why there is no YouTube video of this match.

*In the abroad, it is generally believed that if you leave a tooth in a bottle of Coca Cola, it will dissolve. It has been disproved severally but that particular urban legend has refused to go away; just like its other siblings.

In the age of WhatsApp, we are creating our own urban legends; on a daily.They range from the ludicrous to the insane, from the banal to the esoteric. What concerns me now most times is the guts, cojones and ballon that people peddle information on things they have no clue about.

Let me postulate the most potent urban legend in Nigeria as we speak. It is wrecking relationships and families, putting many in financial difficulties, distorting beliefs and leading many stray. It goes thus “when you get *to the abroad* everything will just be fine. You will get a job easily. You will be happy. You will be fine. Your life will be as fine as the streets. Your future is secured.

From the myth, it seems you don’t need any qualification or preparation. You just need to show up. You don’t need to research nada. It seems the only thing that stands between you and a great fantastic life is this country called Nigeria. And so we do all we can to get to the abroad, with or without a visa…with or without your faith….via Libya or Dubai or any location man can set foot on…..anything that stands by the way is an enemy of progress. With the unfakeable natural brute energy that God has given the Nigerian, he brings down the house to get *to the abroad.

This Nigerian urban legend is believed by mechanics, footballers, Engineers, road side food sellers, Doctors, tech fellas, vulcanizers etc. I mean a good majority of the 180 million fellas that populate the upper Niger and the lower Benue. I have sat in a Mechanic’s place and heard about serious plots of how to get *to the abroad. It sounded like a joke but the sad part was that these guys were investing their lives into this pursuit. The outcome was a terrible mess that continues till date. Painful to watch.

I will leave that urban legend there and proceed.

I think the most impressive part of these urban legends is how we have come to believe them. Ok, you don’t believe them. I get you but you know about it. Yes ! that is what I was driving at. You don’t believe it but you are aware its existence. Pronto !

As a refresher, here are their characteristics:

· They are ubiquitous. You cannot escape them. Like air, they pervade everything that comes in contact with them.

· They have cultural relevance. Using the vehicle of undocumented culture and traditions, they move faster than the speed of light.

· They are believed in varying degrees. They transcend and move into areas of personal space that cane be very uncomfortable.

· They are enforced by repetition.

Personally, this is the lesson I have learned from urban legends; repetition is powerful. It strengthens memory and conviction. When you have imprinted a thought pattern on your mind, the effect can be eternal. The easiest way that these repetitions are made is through active conversations; some trying to debunk and some confirming that their uncles young brothers mother saw it happen — life and direct. Notice that the person who witnesses the urban legend is either dead or can never be reached to confirm the veracity of the story.

Also, the urban legends are circulated in some circles. I mean they are strongly believed in some circles than in others. Choose the circle you want to be part of depending on whether you want to believe the story about the urban legend. Association is key. See my article on it.

In these day and age of the internet and fake news, you need to check your source of information and belief. Don’t bother with the “WhatsApp Doctors”. It is risky to gamble with your life. Go to a real doctor if you have to. Change your urban myths and legends; change your association. Set out your beliefs. Be deliberate.

You can make the urban legend phenomenon to work for you. Basically, you are creating for yourself your own truths. First chose what you want to believe. Ensure that your belief has a moral / spiritual anchor. Hang around where your beliefs are ubiquitous. Remember repetition strengthens memory and conviction.

Still interested in urban legends ?

Regards,

Gabriel.