Between Science and magic: Rainmakers of Dubai and Nigeria

Between Science and magic: Rainmakers of Dubai and Nigeria

Friday, July 23, 2021 3:14 pm

Top left: The Dubai rainmaker (a machine); the rain it brought and an African traditional rainmaker interviewed by BBC

Those who had one thing or the other (marriage, chieftaincy, house inauguration and others) to celebrate in their villages in Africa would have encountered the rainmakers. They would be bold enough to approach the event organisers, “give us money or rain will scatter your party.” Not a few must have greased their palms to stop the rains or in order to let peace reign.

Do you know of African rainmakers and the powerful roles they play? Nii Ntreh, a writer who is interested in academic philosophy with specific attention to moral, social and political topics, once asked. According to face2faceafrica,com, having taught philosophy at the University of Cape Coast for a while, Nii finds in new media, a more potent way to reach many with his passion of breaking down complexities. One of these is the phenomenon of rain making.

Rainmakers are a part of the Yoruba mystical narrative. Photo Credit. Wikipedia 

Rainmakers, according to Nii, “are a part of the Yoruba mystical narrative. The idea and function of rainmakers have been parodied into everyday English usage thanks to pop culture. But from where the idea of rainmakers originate, in Africa and some Pacific cultures, rainmakers are expected to cause literal rainfalls. Sometimes, they are expected to postpone rains or, if possible, relocate where the showers may come down.” The phenomenn is so pressing that BBC once did an interview with a  Nigerian rainmaker, Godwin Onasedu aka Umunnanwaezuaku 1 of Ifitedunu in Anambra State. Rain actually fell that day, but, according to BBC video journalist Nduka  it was in the wet season and so, he promised to stay by his scientific weather forecast which predicted drizzles for that day.

Where reason stops, faith in juju or African mesmerism takes over. In Dubai, however, rainmaking is pure reason or science, as recently published by Daily Mail:

“The United Arab Emirates is creating its own rain using drones that fly into clouds and unleash electrical charges to beat the sweltering 50 degrees Celsius heat.

The rain is formed using drone technology that gives clouds an electric shock to ‘cajole them’ into clumping together and producing precipitation.

The UAE is one of the most arid countries on Earth, and it hopes the technique could help to increase its meagre annual rainfall. The technique is called cloud seeding.

Microscopic particles of silver iodide are shot into existing clouds using land based generators or aircraft.

Silver iodide is an ice-forming agent, which causes supercooled water droplets to freeze in the clouds.

The ‘ice embryos’ interact with the surrounding water droplets, and eventually grow to snowflakes.

These fall to the ground as snow or raindrops, depending on the surface temperatures.

Cloud seeding can also, in some cases, cause the cloud to grow larger and last longer than it would have without the modification.”


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