Pythons are normally considered as dangerous species of animals which must be killed whenever they are seen. They are more regarded as dreadful creatures. This is the case in many parts of the world but not in Nigeria, particularly among the Nembe people of Bayelsa State.
Pythons are regarded as sacred animals that must be feted and protected and even cherished. In the Nembe kingdom, pythons are believed to be harmless and are seen as part of the larger society. In fact, they are accorded royal treatments.
The python in Nembe is considered a totem. The Nembe people believe that the spirit being, (a deity) does appear through the python. In Nembe land, they use traditional methods to remove a python seen in their houses or that block their way.
The people of Nembe Kingdom have long protected and worshiped pythons as a deity. This relationship between the python and the Nembe people is believed to be deeply rooted in their customary and traditional belief that the python has played a key role in the unification of the Nembe kingdom.
Reports say any attempt to kill the python would incur the wrath of not just the gods (Ogidida), but also the people in the community. A Nembe man is not expected to witness the killing of a python. He takes to his heels to avoid witnessing it.
When a python is seen in a home or on the road, it is not killed but simply removed through a traditional means. A dead python is mourned and buried respectfully like a human being if found dead in Nembe.