Mapping the Road Not Taken: Yoruba Priestesses, Chibok Schoolgirls, and the Human Spirit

My book, The Road Not Taken, poses many “magical questions”—and I’m going to begin digging even deeper into the historic and mythical underpinnings in its pages, here and on social media @SusanRubin1 on Twitter and @SusanRubinWriter on Instagram, in a new series: Mapping the Road Not Taken. Together, we’ll travel through the pages of my book—and at every stop, I’m going to ask you to answer a magical question. Leave your response in the comments here or on social media.


Note to self: Good job! You wrote a book about hard things and made them palatable, entertaining even. The book is filled with hope even as our world gets drenched in poison. 

There is a story in The Road Not Taken about a Yoruba ceremony that took place in the Sambisa Forest in Kenya after Boko Haram terrorists had kidnapped 300 teenaged girls and held them captive—making some their wives and killing some, too.

Nobody in Kenya (or anywhere else) did anything to free the girls. They could have entered the forest and freed these child brides, but they did nothing. The prime minister, unfortunately named Good Luck Jonathan, was afraid of the Sambisa Forest, as was most of his army.

One night, I was told by a Yoruba Priestess, a group of Yoruba priests went to that forest armed with drums and nothing else. They waited until night fall, when the terrorists were eating dinner served by their captive slaves. Then, they began to drum and chant. They invoked the spirit of the war gods of their pantheon. They invoked terrible powers by chanting and drumming.

They kept on all night. In the morning, Boko Haram was gone. Wives and small children were left behind as the Big Brave Terrorist Men ran for their lives. 

The human spirit is the strongest force on Earth. When it is raised in a harmonious way, when it is used to right an injustice, there is no armament that can fell it. The human spirit is stronger than a nuclear bomb, inured to various deadly poisons, afraid of nothing. It is the core of what makes human beings worth anything.

Human spirit drove out the Boko Haram terrorists. Human spirit fills the Washington, D.C. mall in moments of mass upheaval. Human spirit will toss onto the bonfire of history the legitimized terrorists that sit in blue suits with red ties and squander human lives as if they were beef jerky in the halls of power across the country and around the world.

The only way through the smoke and mirrors of the human cruelty brought out by the current men in power in the U.S. and elsewhere, the only response that will defeat them, is the human spirit. I bet my life on this every day.

Which brings us to today’s magical question:

What are you willing to face your fears to fight for?

Have you stood in the forest waiting to scream at your enemies? Have you found yourself summoning strength you didn’t realize you had in the heat of a political moment? Is the radicalization happening around us all the time fueling your own ascendance to power?

Tell me what is firing you up and empowering you to stand up, in the comments here or on social media. Together, we may be strong enough to crush the forces that have held us in fear for too long.

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