Long Juju Slave Route

The Long Juju Shrine in Arochukwu, served as a final judgment for criminals. The community was told the guilty were killed, but behind the scene they were actually sold into slavery to Europeans.

The city of Arochukwu, is one of the biggest cities in the Abia State, Nigeria. The Long Juju Shrine is located in Arochukwu. This shrine is full of beauty and is known for its important history. The Long Juju Shrine was used to judge criminals for the crimes they commited. During the Atlantic slave trade era, the Long JuJu Shrine was at the height of its power. “At the height of its powers was the most powerful deity in Igboland”. The Shrine was controlled by a chief and members of the cult. This is the main oracular shrine of Ibn Ukpabi and by which stands as if on guard the cult statute of Kamalu "the warrior god". The way the Shrine would work was very complex. The person at trial walked into the temple complex and prepared to face judgment from the god called Chukwu. The throne of judgment was located inside the Shrine complex, also known as the dark presence. If one was found guilty they would have to walk into the dark tunnels. If one was found innocent they were brought back to their relatives. The Long Juju Shrine acted as a final judgment and a supreme court. There were no appeals to the decisions made in the Shrine. As one would be found guilty, they were told to strip of their clothes as they made their way into the tunnels. The clothes of the guilty created the “hill of rags”.
The Long Juju Shrine is also connected to the slave trade. As those found guilty disappeared into the dark tunnels a red color was shown in a stream of water nearby. This would show relatives that their guilty relative was killed as punishment. What would really happen was totally different. The tunnels that the guilty would walk through were a kilometer long. Instead of being killed, the guilty were led down to the end of the tunnels. At the end of the tunnels were boats waiting to take the guilty to Calabar. This is when the guilty became slaves. The Long Juju Shrine conducted its role in the slave trade during the 17th century up until the 19th century. During the British assault along and around the River Niger, the Long Juju Shrine became very important for the surrounding kingdoms. As many tribes and kingdoms fell to the British, the Shrine brought communities together. The shrine became an apex court for peoples east of the Niger river. The influence that the Shrine had on people grew very large during this time. As the Long Juju Shrine was at its peak, some members of the Shrine moved to other kingdoms and communities to the south, which grew the influence of the Long Juju. The amount of slaves being trafficked through the Long Juju Shrine was at its peak during this time. Due to the vast influence the Shrine had reached, guilty peoples from dozens of communities were brought from far lands up to the Long Juju for judgement. With huge amounts of profits coming in, the cult used this to set up satellite shrines in far communities. This brought in even more revenue due to the higher number of people that were sold as slaves. “With the Long Juju network already established, trading posts and slave quarters with satellite shrines were set up in different villages all over the region.”

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