I See Dead Bodies

Dad, I see Dead People.

I grew up in a town called Sagamu in south-west Nigeria. The original  indigenous people of Sagamu are called Yorubas.

The Yoruba people celebrate many festivals one of which is the Oro festival. Oro festival is an event celebrated by towns and settlements of Yoruba Origin. It is an annual traditional festival that is of patriarchal nature, as it is only celebrated by Male descendants who are paternal natives to the specific locations where the particular event is taking place.

Although this festival is covered in secrecy, it is known to be ritualistic. Similarly, it is common knowledge that any woman that ventures to watch this festival/ ritual is likely to meet her ultimate demise. For this reason, the festival/ ritual often holds at midnight which means that towns where the Oro ritual is being held would be under curfew from midnight till early morning.


Well, on the 19th of July 1999, one Oro ritual changed my life forever.

A woman was attacked and bitten brutally during the Oro ritual. She died three days later.

A few important details about this woman. She was a muslim Hausa woman.

Hausas are originally from the northern region of Nigeria but they tend to migrate down south in pursuit of better living conditions. They are mostly muslims and majority of the Hausa people in Sagamu are either involved in trading of some sort and the men also serve as live-in gate-men for the Yorubas.

Word about the unjust death of this woman got around among other Hausas during their morning 4.55 am  prayers in the mosque and hell was let loose. The Hausas went on a killing spree. Since a significant number of them were live-in gate-men, they had easy access to their unsuspecting Yoruba employers. They also had the element of surprise on their side.


By the time my family and other member of the Yoruba population got up in the morning, families had been terminated. We were lucky we lived a couple of miles away from the city center, otherwise, who knows what could have happened. By mid morning, Sagamu was a war zone. Tables had tuned and the Yorubas were aware of the killings hence they began to retaliate in broad day light.

I was just 14 years old in 1999. My parents  did not want me to know about this. It was not until people began to flee the city center towards our end of town that I was aware of the chaos going in town. After a couple of hours of deliberation, my dad decided we had to flee the town as well. Unfortunately, the only way out of town was through the chaos.

The sight of the mayhem haunts me till date. I remember looking out through our car window scared and in to much shock to speak or breath properly.  I still have nightmare about that day, and every time I wake from the horrific nightmare, I mutter out the only sentence I was able to speak that day.

“Dad I see dead bodies”