The first aeoplanes

Here is another story written down by Mr. Mafulul Lek from Daffo in 1992. It shows how modern life and the coming of unknown things was often a cause for fear. In this story, it is the aeroplane which in the beginning would send people running.

Jirgi ma fasa

Ɗaam mama naf ndee si masai a hai ta ɗaam ma Masara ɓiil, sin ka’ a malang la, si mun ɗam ma sisal mai kek kwa – si mun ɗam ma shum mai. Ma bya’, yit mai, jirgi ma fasa. Ndee si tokai fo, ka ndok a furis hai ti kek kwa, gip ndee si nii wa’, naf ma mamot mi, mi zut sukwyati.

A Ɗafo, ndee si niyai wa’, shilim ti saf mmis ma we ɗiin ma sum Faya Mashigal, yit ti, mu gofai naf yo jirgihi. Nai si fwaa a matutok a ndik, ahun taa lan, mma si shitis jirgihi, ahun si halai a ndur mayes. A ɓiil kikyali, naf si wop a har shita’ matik la a wur, ahun si wak ti a lan. Shir si tik ti, si har ɗama mmis.

Shir ma ɗanggati, ahun naf ma hai ti wuwish nai si ndok ti, si sherai naf a kil hani kek, si nii, jirgi yit na mayes! Ahun wa’ a furai naf hai a ram al si al-a, a hyaak – naf si ro a ndik ka swe ma nggongi.

Naf mama si nii wa’, jirgihi shilim ti naf ma mamot ti, mu wuruk sisi, si furai lul ɗam ma masayi a hai ta mburai, ahun wa’ naf ma hai. Nai mburai si damai fo lulya, si tek mburuk, si langai wunat nzis hai. Si rambot naf, si cu, si kirai a la. Si tong yis naf far shir, si shu a mwan, ka wa’ jirgi a siis hai kwa. Naf si masai ɗamani, si masai wet, jirgi yit yis ɓat a saahan hai!

Si yu, si masai ɗaam ɓiil andai ɗes, ka ndok wa’ jirgihi a saahisai kikyal ma lwa’ a hai kwa. Wa’ mma a saai kikyal ma lwa’ a hai, naf si mun cala kwa. Nai si masai andai shak a gbwya’; jirgi ɓat a yaasan, ta saahai kikyal ma lwa’i a hai.

Jirgiash ma safiyo mama si haat a ndik a ndik kyani, sin mi, ndee si walai a shai sis nya gbum. Nai mma sin mawan a nya, ahun a lan, si was shir ma likin ahun ma kanan a yish tawe.

Si mun ti, mburai mama si tyaak fe taa fasa si nii wa’, jirgi mama miis a saahan hai, ma tyaakan fe ka naf, ta yu ti a fasa! Mma si mba ham, si shitai jirgi mai, a yu ti mar, ahun naaf mama ma mbai weti a fasa, nai si gyok jirgi ɗiin, ta yes tawe. Mma a yes, ta mun a masaa ti kong, mburu nai ta ya’ fo’ a kaɓur, ta butai shir hai. Taa tei, ta kiris naaf ma ka calahi kaɓuri a hai, ta tot fat si twaat a nggwaang ma myar, sin a tek naaf taa fasahi.  Ta lal sum ma naaf ma ka calahi fo, ta ndurum fa jirgi, ta nii, a walan a tek naafi ta ti a jirgi.

Mma kwai a mbyaakan ho’ ma rangang ti a ciring, ahun yit rangang a hai a yet, ahun swe ma hai, ahun kambil ɗiin, nai ta gof, ta nii, naaf mama a tek a fasahi na. Nai ta dam rangang ahun swe ma hayi ti shiri, ta kiris naaf ma mbai wet ti a hai. Ta faris ɗiin ɗes, ta sho, si faris folal ahun caan nzis, ta wis.

Mma na jirgi ɗiin a yes kang kwa, naafani ta mot, si nii, naf mama si sukwyat yo jirgihi, sin mi, si hek sis. Ɗes, mama na naafan a pwet, nai si nii, awei ti, jirgi mai, ndee a yu sis ti a fasa, nai mburu a bum sis. Ngga’ mama mburai ndee si rambot naf, sin ka’ a kurkwil hai a hai ta jirgi ma fasa yit ka’ a malang la nai.

A ɓiil ramami na a shinggil tuni, naf ndee si masai ɗaam ma sisal ahun ma shum mama si wu kyani.

The Aeroplane

The first reaction of our people to some white man’s inventions was not only shameful, but quite a pity. The aeroplane is one of these things. Some would run away from it, fearing that it would fall down on them. Others would think it was the ghost of dead people.

In Daffo, people believed that the aeroplane was the ghost of their first district head named Faya Ashigal. Therefore at any time they saw the aeroplane or heard its roaring, they would run into hiding. Those working at farms would abandon their hoes and flee. Thieves would then collect the hoes and go away with them. At times, thieves or other wicked people would create a stampede by spreading alarms that an aeroplane was coming. Sometimes they would shock people by telling them that in such and such place an aeroplane had fallen on some people, killing all of them.

Those who claimed that the plane was the ghost of dead people began to consult the native doctors. So the native doctors went into their business, exploiting the people mercilessly. First, they gave the people a medicine to prevent the aeroplane from passing over them. But it didn’t help, the aircrafts went on passing over them.

Next thing they did was sell the people something to prevent the aircraft from passing over the place of their second selves. (Usually small woods close to a river would be the place where people’s second selves reside.) They fooled people into believing that they would get diseases if the aircrafts passed those places. But again, they failed. The planes would still pass over the places.

The small low-flying geological survey aircrafts were the most offending ones. Whenever people went to sleep or to their farms, they would rub an anti-witchcraft medicine on their bodies.

Later, the native doctors accused the aeroplanes of taking away the spirits of people, as a result of which they would suffer from diseases. When those whose spirits were captured by the planes fell sick, they would perform a certain ritual under a tree in order to bring back their spirits. They would wait until any aircraft was passing again. They would then put a tray filled with acca and ‘medicine’ on the sick person and call back the spirit of the sick from the heavens. While doing that, they would imitate the sound of the aircraft.

If anything, preferably a spider, fell down from the tree into the tray, the native doctors would claim it to be the trapped spirit. Some might just pick a hair from their own head or a leaf of the tree and put it on the sick person’s head, claiming that his spirit has now returned. They would then be paid their reward.

If no plane came in time and the sick man died, the aircraft would be blamed for carrying away his spirit and killing him. Likewise, if the man survived, people would hail the native doctors for saving him. This is how the native doctors exploited people, when they were still ignorant of what the aeroplane really was. In other parts of Nigeria, people’s reactions to modern things were even more pityful.

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