Muhamma Kolo Managi Nupe Short Story

By Ndagi Abdullahi

From ‘The Landzun Master Story-Teller’ Series

On the 29th of November, 1943, I embarked on the long trek to Dzwajiwo, a village between Patigi and Lade.

Muhamma Kolo Managi, my childhood friend, is from Dzwajiwo. In the 1900s we attended the Qur’anic school of the famous Man Kotoko of Patigi. Muhamma Kolo Managi took after the religious excellences of Man Kotoko. I joined the army and became a soldier of the Royal West African Frontier Forces, RWAFF. I enlisted into the army together with Madu Gana. A Nupe from Bokani, Madu Gana became my closest friend in the army. Madu Gana was an ace pilot and I was his gunner. Ours was the only fighter plane in the 82nd (West African) Division. We became famous in repelling German bombardment of London in the August to September 1940 Battle of Britain. Now I am back in KinNupe. I am going to Muhamma Kolo Managi for charms to protect me in the battlefields of the ongoing Second World War.

After Patigi I came across a vast plain in the bush.

It became cloudy and the rain started. I ran towards a sole hut at the centre of the plain. Inside the hut I was surprised to see Muhamma Kolo Managi praying on a goat hide. He was engaged in Halwa Islamic seclusion.

I noticed a strange aura round Muhamma Kolo Managi. But he was busy in his Islamic devotions.

It was night time. I was so tired I went to sleep immediately.

I woke up in the morning to an incredible sight. The vast plain is occupied by a multitude of white-clad Qur’anic reciters seated in thousands of concentric rows round the hut. It reminded me of the thousands of white-clad faithfuls who surround the Ka’aba in circles in Mecca during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

I identified one of the Qur’anic reciters as strikingly resembling an unknown soldier who fought on our side during our re-conquest of British Somaliland and our capture of Italian Somaliland and Ogadan from the Italians in the spring of 1941.

The unknown soldier was a brilliant fighter, gunning down many along the enemy line. Although exposed to a concert of enemy fire he seemed impervious to bullets. That is until he was gunned down by a barrage of enemy fire that sent him falling into my hands dead and bloodied. I wiped blood from his face and noticed he was a Nupe man with Kutigi scarification marks. Though buried as an unknown soldier I never forgot the Kutigi soldier.

I saw Muhamma Kolo Managi standing by the hut discussing with a group of expensively dressed world leaders. I thought I saw Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin.

Later on Muhamma Kolo Managi explained to me that the Qur’anic reciters are Fara ghosts. He said he is now a Wali of such spiritual standing that he can teach the ghosts the Qur’an. He said the world leaders come to him for the Fara ghosts they will use as universal soldiers in the ongoing Second World War.

Universal soldiers don’t die because they are already dead. He said the Big Three world leaders, that is Winston Churchill, President Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin, are physically having a meeting in Tehran today, the 29th of November 1943, but that they are actually here in KinNupe meeting with him spiritually and that is why I saw them with him. It is here in KinNupe that Muhamma Kolo Managi determines the course of the Second World War by deciding the number of ghost soldiers he assigns to each world leader.

All these were too much for me. I was spiritually ruffled. I decided to go and wait for Muhamma Kolo Managi in his village. He said he will come back to the village in three days’ time. I got to Dzwajiwo the next day. And I received the shock of my life when the villagers told me that Muhamma Kolo Managi died three years ago!

They said Muhamma Kolo Managi became a great sheikh who violently preached against witchcraft. The witches ganged up against him and killed him.

I presented a cap which Muhamma Kolo Managi gave me to give his wife. He said the cap should be given to his last child. I learnt that the child was born after his death. The cap was actually buried together with Muhamma Kolo three years ago.

The village was thrown into a wild conundrum.

They organised a reconnaissance team that followed me back to the vast plain. The hut was still there, but it was now three years old. And the Wazifa white clothe of Muhamma Kolo Managi was spread at the centre of the hut. The villagers now know that Muhamma Kolo Managi didn’t die. He is a Fara ghost.

I was so spiritually frightened that I left KinNupe immediately. I went back to my army base in Algiers, North Africa.

I narrated my experiences to Madu Gana, my closest friend in the army.

Surprisingly Madu Gana seemed to be well-versed in such matters. He told me a lot about witchcraft and the Fara ghosts. He confirmed that the ongoing Second World War is a forum for the world leaders, who are themselves witches and wizards, to use Fara ghosts against one another in the battlefields. He said Nupe Ega and Eshe witchcraft will decide the fate of the Second World War.

Subsequently we became engaged, under General Montgomery, in defeating the German-Italian forces under German General Rommel, the Desert Fox, from Egypt, Cyrenaica and Libya. I and Madu Gana became famous as we played a distinguished airborne role in these series of campaigns that drove the Germans across North Africa to their surrender in Tunisia in May 1943. In all these I forgot Muhamma Kolo Managi and witchcraft. Not until we were directed to fly supplies from North Africa to South Africa with Minna as our port of call. Minna has an airport, built in the 1930s, and a railway terminus and, though a Gbagyi cluster of villages, is located in the Nupe Province. All those eerie memories of the Kutigi unknown soldier, Muhamma Kolo Managi and the Fara ghost universal soldiers came torturing my mind again. But that was brief.

Soon we were very busy again in another part of the world; this time around in Southampton, England. We were part of the massive D-Day Allied amphibious Invasion of Nazi-controlled Northern Europe that began on the 6th of June 1944.

And while Allied infantry divisions landed on the French coast of Normandy we were part of the 6th Airborne Division of the Royal Air Force, RAF, which combed the air above the Germans. Madu Gana was at it again in the air as an ace pilot with me as his gunman.

But the Germans were hardy. Our fighter plane was hit by a German missile at the Omaha Beach landing site of our American Allied Forces. We crashed into a forest a dozen kilometres away.

Madu Gana died on the spot. I was overwhelmed by grieve and shock. For a day I wandered aimlessly, lost in the forest. Suddenly Madu Gana reappeared again. He walked with crutches and told me he didn’t die, that he only fainted. I was so happy. Madu Gana surprisingly knew the forest very well even though he has never been to Upper Normandy. As he led me out to safety, he launched into his theories of witchcraft and the Second World War being a war fought by witches and wizard world leaders using Fara ghosts as canon fodders again. But I wasn’t interested.

After safely guiding me to our British Gold Beach landing site, Madu Gana gave me the shock of my life by blatantly telling me that he has been a Fara ghost universal soldier all along, ever since the day we joined the army together. And to prove his point, he dropped dead once again. I almost became a mad man and had to be hospitalised in a military asylum of the Fourteenth Army and XV Corps in India. At last I came back to my senses and went back to the battlefields. I saw myself involved in the Southeast Asian Theatre of the Second World War in Burma, Indochina. It was the days of the Race for Rangoon and Operation Dracula in the spring of 1945 to the onset of the monsoon rains on the 2nd of May 1945.

The Retreating Japanese Twenty-Eight Army, under Lieutenant General Shozo Sakurai, was deadly. My unit was ambushed and we were cornered in a hideout. One of our soldiers appeared to be a fearless fighter. He alone covered our rear while the rest of us ran to safety. Then we try to cover him as he followed us. We failed, however. But although he was exposed to a concert of enemy fire he seemed impervious to bullets. That is until he was gunned down by a barrage of enemy fire that sent him falling into my hands dead and bloodied. I wiped blood from his face and noticed he was a Nupe man with Kutigi scarification marks.

Out of extreme shock I collapsed into oblivion.

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