The 25-minute journey on a motorcycle from Akoda junction to Odeomu to Gaga to Odansidi to Omodeere to Olodan to Abese to Ayetoro and finally to Tonkere village, all in Ayedaade Local Government Area of Osun State was uneventful. Members of the sleepy and rustic communities, from their homestead, waved at Saturday Tribune’s TAIWO OLANREWAJU and OLUWOLE IGE while some who met them on the way greeted them expectantly and some currency exchanged hands. They were on the trail of a woman found to have been sired by a ghost and married to a ghost.
Before now, chilling stories had been told of individuals who continued to experience life even after their clear deaths. The Yoruba call them Akudaaya. To the Hausa, they are Satalwa. Time after time, there were stories of how the dead, who were supposed to be six feet under the ground, would still stick around on the surface of the earth and lead lives as normal, regular human beings albeit in faraway places where their chances of bumping into either families or acquaintances who had previously bade them goodbye from this world are virtually zero.
Many have dismissed such stories as fictions, hallucinations or fabrications, but the recent experience of a 20-year-old Taiyelolu Abdulrahman, whose father, who died almost 20 years ago, nurtured till she was married to another dead or “ghost” husband, is lending credence to such weird developments.
It was a Herculean task getting Taiyelolu to grant Saturday Tribune an interview because, according to her, she had already spoken at length with a popular Yoruba magazine which she claimed only used her story for economic reasons. “Where is the assistance they promised would come my way as a result of the interview I granted them?”
Her father-in-law, Mr Raufu Gbadamosi, also was not favourably disposed to Taiyelolu granting another press interview. He showed disapproval when he shook his head, disappeared into his room and then reappeared with a cap and just exited the house.
When she finally opened up, it turned out that nothing could be more bizarre than Taiyelolu’s story. She and her twin brother, Kehinde, grew up with their father in a flat at the Ajah area of Lagos. They led a relatively comfortable life in the house where they only depended on generator as the only source of electricity. Although their father was not engaged in any kind of work, he provided for them.
“My father was not working. He never left the house except on a few occasions at night. But if I asked for N50, 000, he gave it to me. We had no visitors and we visited nobody,” she said.
All they had to do were sleep, eat and watch home videos.
Asked about her mother, she said she and her twin brother grew up to know only their father. They did not see any woman with him. To go out of the house, their father gave the twins a small gourd each which they simply clasped to their palms and then they burst out on the road and board vehicles to the market to purchase food items like wheat, semovita, macaroni, spaghetti and rice. They never consumed amala (yam flour meal).
On a particular day, however, Taiyelolu forgot to take her gourd and as she stepped out of the house, what confronted her was a cemetery with a lot of vaults and a bushy environment.
She screamed and dashed back inside. Then, her father told her to pick the gourd, atona (guide) as it was called. As she clasped the object to her palm and then ventured out, this time, she found herself on a busy tarred road.
Another incident which frightened her happened in the night. “My father went out whenever he wanted but it was always around 10.00 or 11.00 p.m. He would not take anyone along with him. But there was a day I begged him to take me out to where he usually went and he obliged. When we got there, something strange and fearful happened. It was like a canteen and there, I saw a small cooking stand with a big pot on it without firewood or fire and the food was boiling. I asked my father how it was possible for food to cook without firewood and fire and the woman selling the food became angry and slapped me. She asked my father who I was; that I was not part of them but only wanted to expose their secrets. My father begged her and we left the place,” she remarked.
After the incident, her father refused to take her out again so that she would not be privy to the secrets and circumstances surrounding their true identities. Since then, she refused to take food from her father, but only cooked her own food.
By the time Taiyelolu came of age, her father did not allow her the choice of a husband, but asked her to marry someone identified as Abdulazeez. The man moved in with them and behaved like her father.
Soon, she got pregnant. And when she eventually went into labour, she said her father went out, brought back a particular kind of leaf which he applied on her navel and she was delivered of a baby boy without any complication. Her father, who acted as the midwife, took care of the placenta. She bore her two other boys in the same manner. Her children were named Abdul Qayum (now eight years old), ‘Rokeeb (four) and Jamiu (two and a half).
But what revealed the true identities of her father and husband? She disclosed that all the jealously guarded secrets began to come to the open when Kehinde declined to marry a lady recommended by their father.
They continued their routine life until their father considered Kehinde mature enough to get married and brought a lady home for him. But Kehinde was said to have refused outright to marry “one of them.” Taiyelolu said she asked him what he meant by “one of them” but he told her not to bother as she was only a woman who was oblivious of what was happening.
“One day, Kehinde was eating and he suddenly coughed, slumped and died. My father did not feel any sorrow as a result of this. He buried my brother in an unknown place. When I asked him about where he buried him, he said some Muslim clerics had come to pray over his body and he had buried it. Not convinced by his response, I said to him: “When I had my babies, no clerics came for the naming, but they came for the burial of my brother?
“Disturbed by the shocking death of her brother, Taiyelolu confronted her father that she wanted to know his family. That decision marked the beginning of her journey into a new world.
“Eventually, my father agreed to take me and the children to his hometown, Offa, Kwara State. He said he was from the imam’s family. When we almost got to his family house, he said he wanted to check on someone close by and pointed the house to us. He asked us to ask for Alhaji Hussein Salmoni, his uncle. When we met his uncle and explained ourselves to him, he was taken aback. He eventually showed us his grave. He said my father died over 20 years ago,” she said.
Amid bewilderment, Taiyelolu left for the only place she knew as home, Ajah, Lagos, but could not locate their house again. What worsened her situation was the mysterious disappearance of the gourd which her father had given her and could have guided her back to the house.
She went to Ilorin in an effort to locate her mother’s family house which her father told her was Isale Koto. She managed to strike up conversations with some people who introduced her to a radio presenter who narrated her story on air.
She also met a lady who she followed to Ede, Osun State, and stayed with for about a month. It was while in that city that she traced her husband’s parents.She claimed that she was walking by the road one day when a car parked by her side and the driver told her that it was her birthday and in order to felicitate with her, gave her a handset with a SIM card. Taiyelolu is uncertain of her age, but assumed that she could be more than 20.
“It was when I got to ‘this world’ that I realised that I am too young to have given birth to three children with the fourth on the way. Also, I did not know that there is a place where people struggled to earn a living until I got here. It saddens me that I now wake up every day with no money.
“She said she never attended a school, but that her father had the knowledge of the Qur’an and had western education. According to her, her father was the one who taught her and her brother Arabic and a bit of western education,” she said. It is obvious that Taiyelolu is truly versed in the recitation of the Qur’an. Her children now attend a primary school in the village.
On how she got to Tonkere, she said she went to observe the evening prayer at a mosque in Ede when, after prayers, she was chatting with the imam and an old man appeared and told her in clear terms that she was suffering.The man then asked her why she was obstinate about returning the children with her to Tonkere, her husband’s place of birth. The man said if she refused to do so within three days, something unpleasant would become of the children and the man disappeared.Then she asked the imam if he saw the old man who just interrupted their conversation, but the imam said no. She then collected N200 from the cleric, fetched her children and the four of them, at about after 8.00 p.m., boarded a motorcycle to Akoda junction for N50.
At the junction, she asked another cyclist to take her to Tonkere but the man, because of the fact that it was late in the day, charged her N1000, whereas she only had N150. But it was necessary that the children got to Tonkere that night because their father, who was deceased, demanded that she took them to his people.
As she pleaded with the cyclist, a car parked by them and mediated in the matter. The driver asked the cyclist to convey the woman and her children to their destination for N500, which was the usual fare. The man gave the cyclist the N500, wrote down the motorcycle’s number and warned the cyclist to take the passengers to no place but the mosque at Tonkere.
As they alighted from the motocycle at Tonkere, Taiyelolu said her husband appeared to her.
She said he pointed to the shop opposite the mosque as his mother’s and the third building to the shop as his father’s house, saying “I should ask for his father, Pa Gbadamosi. As they conversed, her husband said a lady who was passing by, Tosin, was his sister and he called her.” Between the time Taiyelolu looked in the direction of the lady and looked back in her husband’s direction, he had disappeared.
The lady is with her husband’s people now, but they did not receive her with open arms because the aged parents of Abdulazeez were confused about how their first son, who died at a tender age, could have fathered three children. They are suspicious of their supposed daughter-in-law and are acting cautiously around her. But she dismissed any suspicious of band motives asking why she would want to lie herself into a poor home.
Also, Taiyelolu’s mother-in-law, the Iyalode of Tonkere, had been down with stroke and the father-in-law is a farmer. Financially, they are not capable of supporting Taiyelolu and her children.
The lady, who said the clothes she uses now were given to her, added that they were rags, compared to the ones she wore in her father’s house. What pointed to the fact that she could truly be from another world was the way she was lamenting openly about the treatment meted out to her by her in-laws. She said if she had made up her story, rather than bringing her children to the old mud house, she would have taken them to the governor’s house. The mud house, she said, did not compare with her father’s house in “the other world.” She said she only left her father’s house with a black bag and a Qur’an, which are still in her possession.
She also claimed to have dreamt of her father once, who was all tears, lamenting with his finger in his mouth that he warned his daughter not to embark on this journey. She said her husband pleaded with her in her dreams each time his people offended her. She said her husband said the reason he insisted she took his children to his parents was for his parents to have the joy of raising his children as they did not have such opportunity with him even as a first child.
The parents said they could not remember where they buried Abdulazeez.
The survival of heavily pregnant Taiyelolu and the future of her three children pose a challenge to her. She said the aged parents of her “ghost” husband could no longer work, hence, the fate of her children hung in the balance.
When she called our reporter last Monday, she said she was having signs that she would soon put to bed. She, therefore, appealed to the Osun State governor, Mr Rauf Aregbesola; his wife, Alhaja Sherifat, other well-meaning Nigerians, including corporate organisations and non-governmental organisations to come to her aid by empowering her so that her future and that of her three children abandoned could be secure.
What about her husband? She says he these days appears only in her dreams.
Source: Nigeria Tribune
The Blogger Twits at @Femiolas