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THE 'AKUDAYA' MYTH: WHAT I KNOW




By
Sanusi Lafiagi

In my native Nupe language, an Akudaya is called ‘Tsulozhin’.  It’s a compound word consisting of three different words: 

Tsu (originally tsitsu) lo (lilo) and zhin (zhin-zhin). ‘Tsitsu’ means dying; lilo means going; and zhin-zhin means returning. Thus, a tsulozhin is someone who is believed to have returned to life after death. The belief that the dead can return back to life is deeply-rooted in African traditional belief, and is connected to the belief in voodoo and superstition.

As a young boy growing up in my village of Lafiagi, I’ve heard a lot of these stories flying around and we’re being told by elders who we believe know better and have seen it all. Some of the tales were too ridiculous to believe though but we had no reason to doubt their veracity given that we were too young to be independent-minded.

There was the popular story of Hajiya Fatima from Ketso who was allegedly killed by a witch known as Nnaputa. She was buried like every other deceased persons. Later, she was seen at Gbodoti by some Fulanis and  brought back to town to the shock of many who witnessed her burial.

As we grew up, we also heard about people who had died for years but were later seen in other places, some have become rich and have wives and kids. This is not Nollywood. They were stories that we heard with our two ears. The storytellers claimed that they witnessed it with their two eyes too. However, anytime an attempt is made to locate them in their new settlements, they disappeared into thin air, sometimes leaving their wives and children behind.

In the mid 2000, a certain Shemi from Raba rose to prominence as the chief witches and wizards hunter in Nupeland. He waged a serious war against the evil of witchcraft and was moving from one town to the other on invitation, liberating people from the claws and clutches of the evil men and women. No doubt he was using powerful Jinns and magic to overpower and disarm his victims. Most times, he subjects them to dehumanizing treatments; shaving their hair (heads and pubic) and stripping them completely naked.

We enjoyed watching the videos, seeing the dreaded men and women of the underworld confessing their crimes against humanity. Some of the revelations from those videos reinforced our beliefs that indeed, it is possible for the deceased to reappear or return back to life.

This created a whole lot of confusion in our heads when we first came in contact with Tawhīd and ‘aqīdah and were told that once a person dies, he can never return to life until the Day of Resurrection. We doubted our teachers. They have neither seen nor heard the things that we’ve seen and heard, we thought.

Years later, when we read more ‘aqīdah books as well as books on أخبار الجن والشياطين/ عالم الجن والشياطين, we were able to juxtapose and critically study the two seemingly contradictory issues and arrived at the following conclusions:

* Allāh is the Creator and Terminator of all lives (Q.67:2). Thus, no life can be taken except by His permission (Q.3:145)

* Death is the end of man’s sojourn on earth. i.e. once a person dies, he’s gone forever, never to be seen again in this real world. (.23:99-100)

* Any claim of seeing a deceased person can only be in dream. This is consistent with the Sharī’ah.

* Some Shayātīn among human beings possess the supernatural powers of bewitching people to see things that never were. (See Q.7:116) Thus, they create an imaginary image of their victim, causing him to be still and dead, while the real person is held and screened away from the people’s eyes.

* The imaginary being is thus covered in shroud and buried, while the real being is taken away to another place. Sometimes, they are left wandering inside bushes and thick forests where some are attacked and eaten by dangerous animals, some are taken to far away cities were they get married and beget children, and some live a wretched and abnormal life. It’s some of these people that are later brought back to their hometowns

* The Shayātīn among the Jinn can also appear to people in the image of their lost ones in order to cause confusion and crisis. In this situation, the person is truly dead and buried. However, the Shaytān will appear in his image so the people will think that he was brought back to life. Sometimes, people like that are brought back home, and sometimes they disappear into thin air, leaving behind their wives and children. The Prophet made reference to this when he said:

من رآني في المنام فقد رآني، فإن الشيطان لا يتمثل في صورتي

“Whoever sees me in his dream has indeed seen me, for the Shaytān cannot appear in my image.”

This implies that the Shaytān has such abilities. And he did appeared to Abū Hurayrah in the image of an old, frail man.

Therefore, Akudaya is nothing but a satanic fraud to destroy the aqīdah of the people and turn them into apostates and idolaters. It is important to always say our adhkār and ruqyah prayers to seek protection from the evil machinations of the Shaytān.

We must purge ourselves of such false beliefs as reincarnation and reappearance of the deceased.

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