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Leopards and Secret Societies in Nigeria: Background information when reading Dazzling

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Dazzling

by Chikodili Emelumadu

Dazzling by Chikodili Emelumadu X
Dazzling by Chikodili Emelumadu
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  • Published:
    Dec 2023, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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About this Book

Leopards and Secret Societies in Nigeria

This article relates to Dazzling

A leopard walking through underbrushIn Chikodili Emelumadu's Dazzling, Ozoemena inherits the ability to transform into a leopard from her uncle, a power that comes with certain obligations and responsibilities. Her father's side of the family belongs to a secret society that maintains this tradition, a plot detail inspired in part by real-life phenomena. In an interview with Brittle Paper, Emelumadu notes that leopards have played a significant part in Igbo culture as sacred figures (as well as in other cultures of West African regions), and that historical "leopard societies" believed that they could take on the powers of the leopard for the purpose of keeping order in their communities.

"Not quite extrajudicial but skirting on the cusp, it was their job to punish crimes through methods which in themselves were considered taboo," she explains. "Crimes against man but also against nature, such as rape, incest, adultery etc. It is worthy of note that both men and women were equally punished, which is one of the things...

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