BY ISHOLA BALOGUN
The weather was windy and cloudy; humidity and visibility became bad.  It could be a sign of heavy rainfall. Those who saw the signs embarked on a last minute rush to get to their destinations.

Traffic became unruly as motorists meandeared to get out of the gridlock as a result of the impending downpour. But suddenly, it began to clear, and the hitherto ominous dark clouds became cloudless.  It was amazing that even without a light shower, the weather became clear once again. Could that be the manipulation of the rainmakers?

Last year, a team of famous rainmakers from Edo State led by one Osarobo Enogie was invited to England to attend the Royal wedding of  Prince William to Kate Middleton despite the snubbing of Nigerian former president, his vice and other first ladies. The rainmakers were honoured and accomodated  in Windsor Castle just to ensure it did not rain within the duration of the Royal Wedding.

Critics may scoff and skeptics may laugh, but rainmakers are becoming more popular by the day.  It is an amazing thing that an individual can invoke the god of rain and request him to send down the rain and he obeys or invoke that the impending rain should cease.  This is common in areas where celebrations and social functions are being threathened by rain. Although there is widespread skepticism among scientists toward such weather modification efforts, the practice remains common with the traditional priests, sorcerers and clerics.

There are special people who have the inspiration or power to perform the art of rain making just as the methods of doing it differ from place to place and according to the needs.  Saturday Vanguard spoke with Nigerians on the practice of rain-holding.  Many of them believe that weather modification, as it seeks to change local weather either through the native means, prayer or spiritual means and scientific methods are possible.

How it works

Different rainmakers use different methods in either holding down the rain or causing it to rain.  A native doctor who does not want to be identified as a rain-holder Kamuope Alabi said weather alteration is mostly done in the native ways by using leaves, shrubs and herbs.  “we can use leaves, roots with some incantations to drive away the rain.  If it is cloudy, once we match some leaves together and put it in a basin facing the direction where we want it to go, in few minutes, you will see the result and it will not rain.”

Alabi who refused to mention the leaves and shrubs used in clearing the weather said he could rig a thunderstorm out of a desert but he does not do it for a fee as it against the interest of his gods insisting that he only does it to benefit his people. “If a close relation is having a social function in an open place and it is being threathened by the rain, I can do it or if some people beseech me to do it in their favour, I will do it. But I don’t do it to exploit people at social functions. I don’t charge a fee either.  It is against the gods.”  He stressed that some of those who have the power to make rain no longer use the power for the right purpose; adding that some of them use the power to intimidate people by sending down the rain when they have occasion to celebrate unless the celebrant gives them money as a form of bribe.

Another raindoctor who does not want his name in prints said;  “the rainmaker would enter the bush and pluck leaves, stems and even roots of plants, shrubs and grasses. The combination of these are burnt in fire and as soon as the smoke goes to the sky, the rain starts pouring.”    The rainmaker who is a graduate of Geography from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said the modern method uses a kind of stone called ‘crystal stone.

“Modern method uses a type of stone often referred to as the crystal stone.” According to him,  “the stone is washed and as soon as the stone starts glazing, the sky starts changing and soon rain starts.” He added that the method is dangerous because it often attracts heavy thunderstorm.

Religiously speaking, Clerics however employ the prayer method in the holding and causing the rain to fall. A muslim cleric who does not want his name in print said: “prayers can do all things and it is on this basis that I believe it can be done.”  He stated that the act should not be encouraged because rainfal is one of the mercies of God and should not be inhibited, adding that those who do it for economic gain might incur the wrath of God someday.

Pastor Peter Diji of the Fountain Bible Church hinged the possibility of man causing rainfall on the will of God.  “It is possible if it is the will of God. But, if it is not, there is nothing like holding rain or causing it to fall.”

Pastor Moses Ojedokun of Gospel of Peace, Lagos shared the same view. He stated that nobody can do that at will, if God refuses it but agreed that it is only possible through prayer.  “When a Christian prays to God maybe due to some genuine circumstances, God can answer such prayers. But, nobody at will can stop rain.”

Pastor Bisi of Mountain of Transformation Ministry explained that there was an example of that in the bible where Elijah stopped and caused rain to fall while also submitting that it is according to the dictates of God.

Scientifically, an environmentalist and Chief consultant of Adibe firms and Co. Tunde Olatunji said it is possible. He hinted that he was taught while in school and that the experiment can be performed by anybody. “You can inject silver iodide or similar substance into the atmosphere. The chemicals like ice nuclei, or the particles serve as surfaces for condensation to occur (where gas turns into a liquid). If the condensation creates large enough water droplets, rain will fall.” he stated.

He said that ionization could be set with several emitters that can send millions of cloud-forming ions into the atmosphere.  In theory, ions, or charged particles, attach to the condensation nuclei in clouds, enable them to survive longer in the atmosphere. The longer they survive, the more time water droplets have to grow on their surfaces.

He added that one can monitor the cloud-forming effects by radar, satellite, adding that these are what the the meterologists used in making their predictions about weather conditions.

Anthony Ehis, a meterologist corroborated the view of Olatunji but stated that the native and the local priests method of using leaves, shrubs and herbs is unacceptabe saying that their claims have not been exposed to scientific evaluation and therefore cannot be accepted as anything new.   “It is very sad that rain enhancement by using herbs and other native methods have no scientific basis and have not been exposed to a scientific evaluation.”

Cloud seeding

Olatunji opined that scientifically, cloud seeding is one of the methods used to cause rainfall. According to him, Cloud seeding is the process of spreading either dry ice, or more commonly, silver iodide aerosols, into the upper part of clouds to try to stimulate the precipitation process and form rain.  “Cloud seeding has been used to change the structure of clouds by dispersing substances into the air, potentially increasing or altering rainfall.”

He maintained that  “there is much controversy surrounding the efficacy of cloud seeding, and evidence that cloud seeding leads to increased precipitation on the ground is highly equivocal. One difficulty is knowing how much precipitation might have fallen had any particular cloud not been seeded.”

“I think up until now the limiting factor has been our inability to engender substantive proof that the technology works, at least in the eyes of some in the meteorological community who remain skeptical,” says Olatunji, who believes that some of the construction companies engage in the act in order to increase the pace of work amidst inclement weather condition.

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