Kaka Mawogi: The Mami Water Spirit Who will not Leave Me Alone | Nupe Short Story – by Ndagi Abdullahi

Balogun Tapa Oshodi who is the most powerful man in Lagos is my uncle.

This is the year 1853 and Lagos is controlled and dominated by us Nupe people.

I am Chief Tapa Oshodi’s favourite nephew because I am the bravest among his warriors.

I played heroic roles in the Akitoye-Kosoko wars and I was the one who had earlier on ambushed and killed Eletu Odibo for King Kosoko. King Akitoye feared me so much he fled to Abeokuta.

I became the most famous young prince in Lagos and young ladies fall all over me.

There was this particular lady called Bukola. She was madly in love with me but I didn’t love her though I remained her friend.

Bukola was a princess who lived with her father at their palatial estate at Badagry. Her father was a Nupe man from Labozhi; he became a powerful deputy to the famous Nupe War General Kakamfo Afonja whose rebellion against the Alafin brought about the fall of the Oyo kingdom in 1835.

Bukola took me to their very beautiful palace at Badagry. Her father is a very wealthy man with over a thousand slaves and servants. Curiously enough the palace was located inside a bush away from the rest of the people of Badagry.

One day Bukola invited me to a party among the locals at Badagry. But I waited endlessly at the party without seeing Bukola. Instead I met and fall in love with another lady called Yinka at that very party.

Yinka was from a poor family in Badagry. So, I developed the habit of going to see Yinka at the Badagry village before proceeding to see Bukola at her father’s palatial estate inside the bush away from the Badagry fishing village.

And though I never met them together, it wasn’t long before Bukola found out that I was dating Yinka.

It was also around that time that my father introduced me to a girl called Kemi whom he wanted me to marry.

Kemi was from one of the very wealthy and famous Nupe Brazilian-returnee Portuguese Aguda families of Lagos; her father was the well known politician Chief Antonio Fernandez who was a favourite of the British in Lagos.

My father wanted me to marry Kemi in order to boost our family’s political and economic status but I was already deeply in love with Yinka.

And that was how I found myself in an unenviable love triangle with a bitterly jealous Bukola who I don’t love, a poor but irresistible Yinka whom I was madly in love with, and a rich spoilt-child Kemi whom I don’t like but my father was forcing on me.

In those days all the richest people in Lagos were Nupe, including Madam Tinubu, Balogun Ali, Shitta Bey, James Babington Macaulay, Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther and, of course, my father. The British didn’t trust my father because he is a wealthy cousin to Tapa Oshodi their arch enemy.

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My father was afraid the British will cripple his fishing business and that is why he wanted me to marry Kemi, Chief Antonio Fernandez’s only daughter, as only Chief Antonio Fernandez can convince the British not to destroy my father’s thriving fishing business.

My father’s fears came true in the first week of August 1853 when King Akitoye by ceding Lagos to the British succeeded in pitching the British against King Kosoko and his Abagon War General my uncle Tapa Oshodi.

In the resulting battle, in which I again played heroic roles, uncle Tapa Oshodi dealt the British a number of heavy casualties despite their superior firearms.

The humiliated British started bombarding Lagos deliberately setting the entire city on fire. They specifically targeted trading centres including several of my father’s fishing depots in Lagos.

So, one day I took a battalion of uncle Tapa Oshodi’s warriors out to guard my father’s fishing depot at Badagry.

At Badagry I sent for my love Yinka. But just as Yinka arrived from the village the British army closed in on my father’s fishing depot.

A serious battle ensued in which the British used their superior firepower to kill all of my warriors.

Yinka, the love of my life, was also killed!

I was fatally wounded and was in so much pain I knew I will die.

Yinka’s body and other dead bodies were then thrown into the nearby sea by the British officers.

Before throwing me into the sea the British further riddled my body with bullets to ensure that I die.

But the moment I was thrown into the sea and began to lose consciousness I saw Yinka resurrected back to life as a half woman-half fish mammy water.

Yinka was a mammy water!

Yinka the mammy water came and gave me the kiss of life which brought me back to life and full health.

After bringing me back to life Yinka the mammy water disappeared.

As I walked out of the sea the British officers and soldiers fled in different directions horrified that I have a Nupe charm that brought me back to life.

But I was in so much shock over both the killing of Yinka and the realization that she is a mammy water that, out of sheer shock, I walked around aimlessly in the bush.

Suddenly I came across Bukola’s palatial estate in the bush. But I received the shock of my life when I saw that her father’s palatial mansion was now a tumble down ruin that must have been deserted years ago.

Neither Bukola nor her father or any of his over a thousand slaves and servants were to be seen anymore in the tumble down ruins overtaken by overgrown bush.

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I asked the locals around the area and they told me that the palace in the bush was built in the 1830s by the very powerful Nupe War General Dagberu who fled the fall of the Oyo kingdom and came to settle here in Badagry.

General Dagberu had a daughter called Kaka Mawogi. General Dagberu loved his only daughter Kaka Mawogi so much he will not let any man befriend her let alone marry her. With his large collection of slaves and servants he lived with just his daughter in this house for years.

Kaka Mawogi became so lovesick for want of a lover that she became withdrawn and lived in isolation inside a room for months on end.

One day Kaka Mawogi was found dead in her room. She died of acute lovesickness.

Her father General Dagberu became so distraught that he died of anguished depression some three months later.

General Dagberu’s numerous slaves and servants eventually fled the palatial building because they said the spirit of Kaka Mawogi began to frequently come out of the nearby Atlantic Ocean to haunt them. They said she became a mammy water spirit desperately looking for a man who will fall in love with her.

I was shocked beyond belief when they told me that the Badagry villagers refer to the Kaka Mawogi mammy water spirit with the Yoruba name Bukola!

Yes, Bukola!…

… The same Bukola who was madly in love with me and who was so jealous of Yinka the mammy water was herself a mammy water!

So, both Bukola and Yinka who loved me were mammy waters?

I almost had a nervous breakdown as I walked in the bush all the way back to Lagos.

And, to compound my problems, the day I arrive Lagos our Nupe people lost the ongoing war to the British. That very night many of the Nupe people of Lagos led by my uncle Tapa Oshodi fled Lagos together with King Kosoko to Epe. That was on the 13th of August 1853.

At Epe I almost became a mad man until uncle Tapa Oshodi used the most potent of his Nupe spiritual talisman to bring me back to my normal senses. Uncle Tapa Oshodi could not afford to lose me.

Back to my senses I successfully led a series of guerrilla attacks against British economic interests in Lagos.

When the British saw that I was the one leading the attacks they decided to sue for peace as they are so afraid of me after they saw my resurrection back to life in the waters of Badagry.

That was when the British invited King Kosoko and my uncle Tapa Oshodi for the Langbasa reconciliation at Agbekin Palaveer Island on the 26th of January 1854 which resulted in the eventual return, in 1862, of Chief Kosoko and Tapa Oshodi back to Lagos where Tapa Oshodi established his new sprawling quarters at Epetedo.

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When we came back to Lagos in 1862 my father immediately organized a talk of the town wedding ceremony for my marriage to Kemi the daughter of Chief Antonio Fernandez who in turn immediately ingratiated my father with the British.

That was how I finally settled down into a blissful marriage life.

That is until my new wife Kemi became possessed with an evil spirit. For weeks she was practically a mad woman. I was disturbed because she was pregnant.

At last my uncle Tapa Oshodi, who is a renowned exorcist, decided to cast out the spirit possessing Kemi my wife.

Before casting the spirit out Tapa Oshodi, as a routine, asked the spirit to identify itself.

The spirit told us that it is the ghoul of Kaka Mawogi, also known as Bukola, who died of lovesickness some twenty years ago in 1835.

The Kaka Mawogi spirit said she once came across me and fall madly in love with me when I visited my father’s fish depot at Badagry. So, she assumed the physical form of Bukola and tried unsuccessfully to woo me.

The story of the Kaka Mawogi spirit, however, assumed a bizarre dimension when it narrated that when I refused to fall in love with her she was the same who assumed the physical form of Yinka with whom I madly fall in love.

In the form of Yinka she was able to gain my love.

So, Bukola and Yinka were one and the same Kaka Mawogi spirit assuming different forms to love me.

And, unknown to me, she will appear to me as Yinka at the Badagry village before she again appear to me as Bukol when I proceed to her father’s palatial estate in the bush…

… the building that was actually a tumble down ruin but which she momentarily transforms into a sparkling new palace bustling with slaves and servants headed by her father whenever I came to visit her.

She said the day she gave me the kiss of life she lost her power of incarnation because she had to infuse me with the essence of physical life in order to revive my bullet-riddled body back to life.

She said such was her genuine love for me that she sacrificed her power of physical incarnation for me to regain my physical life.

So, she couldn’t bear it when I got married to another woman. She was left with no option than to possess the body of my wife in order to be able to retain the love relationship between me and her.

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