By Ndagi Abdullahi
Zhenti is the worst practice in Nupe culture. It
is used to transform a normal person into a
zombie. The person is given a potion to drink,
then the person is taken round a tree seven
times. I didn�t know about Zhenti until it was
performed on someone so dear to me.
By the way, I was born in the bustling town of
Tsudifu on the Lavun river, thirty kilometres
from Bida. My father was the Ndazhitsu of
Tsudifui. He said we are the direct descendants
of Tsudi the Founder of Nupe. But the Goyi
Fulanis have overtaken KinNupe and transformed
Bida into the capital of their Nupe Emirate.
I wasn�t saddened by all that history. This is
because Ndakoba, my twin brother, is an
interesting person. We are un-identical twins
though. I am tall, Ndakoba is short. I am
easygoing, timid and very quiet. Ndakoba is a
very querulous, difficult, fearless and violent
Afterwards I became the Ndazhitsu of Tsudifui.
But Ndakoba arrogated my ruling powers. He
became the de facto ruler. I couldn�t stop him
because he is my twin brother.
Then Ndakoba began to espouse Nupe supremacist
theories. He became possessed with hatred for
the Goyis at Bida, Agaie, and Lapai. Though I
warned him, Ndakoba vowed to organise a
revolution against the Goyis. He said he is
going to re-establish the Tsudi Nupe Empire.
He began a KinNupe-wide secret recruitment of
revolutionaries and mercenaries.
In the farming season of 1868 a gargantuan
battalion of Kwenti revolutionaries and
mercenaries headed by Ndakoba marched on Bida.
But the Kwenti rebels were routed by the
powerful military machine of Bida. The rebels
were apprehended. Tsudifui was sacked and I was
But, at the subsequent hearings at Bida, I
proved that I tried to stop Ndakoba. Witnesses
vindicated me and the court acquitted me. Etsu
Masaba became very happy with me. He turbaned me
the Sokyaran Raban Nupe.
But the erstwhile Sokyara saw me as a threat. To
spite me he pushed for the death sentence for
Ndakoba, my twin brother. I begged Etsu Masaba
to spare my twin brother�s life. Sokyara in due
course insisted on the Zhenti for Ndakoba.
Sokyara also pushed for the irreversible form of
Zhenti. But I was able to secretly obtain a
reversible Zhenti for Ndakoba. I hoped that one
day a zombie Ndakoba may come back to his
In the end the Zhenti was performed and Ndakoba
became a zombie. Ndakoba was sent across the
Atlantic as a slave to America. I was deeply
But mischievous Sokyara made life a hell for me
in Bida. He eventually discovered that I got a
reversible Zhenti for Ndakoba. Etsu Masaba
became angry with me. Sokyara and others called
for my banishment from KinNupe.
It was around that time that Sir William Baikie,
the White man, came to visit Etsu Masaba. Baikie
was the British Empire consul at Lokoja. Etsu
Masaba appointed me the ambassador of KinNupe to
Europe and the Americas. It was Etsu Masaba�s
dexterous way of banishing me from KinNupe
honourably. Sokyara celebrated. But I was
happier; it is an opportunity for me to search
for Ndakoba in the Americas. I took the Zhenti
antidote potion with me to use in reversing
Ndakoba�s senses whenever I meet him in America.
I left for Lokoja with Sir Baikie. He cultured
me into a well-educated and well-informed
English diplomat. I left for England on the 31st
of July, 1869. I was in London for close to a
year. Queen Victoria gave me a red carpet
reception as the ambassador of the famous Nupe
kingdom of the River Niger. I later left for the
I was well-received by the US Congress at
Washington, D.C., as the ambassador of the Nupe
kingdom. In the USA I became a prominent member
of the Abolitionist movement. Abolitionism was
my undercover way of looking for Ndakoba who was
a slave. But though I searched hard, there was
no news about the whereabouts of Ndakoba in the
I became extremely famous as a pacifist
Abolitionist. Particularly the White politicians
and the Black slave underclass of the USA liked
In 1874 a major slave rebellion broke out in
North Carolina. The leader of the rebellion,
known as Louverture d�Palmeres, declared he was
re-enacting, on a greater scale, the notorious
slave revolt that ravaged the Currituck and
Camden counties of North Carolina exactly a
decade before. In a week Louverture d�Palmeres
have killed over 100 white men. The politicians
in the White House were scared to death.
I was appointed to head a team of negotiators to
Louverture d�Palmeres�s hideout somewhere in the
vicinities of Charlotte. The White House
reasoned that Louverture d�Palmeres might listen
to me a Black diplomat. We left Richmond for the
Albermale Sound of North Carolina. But we were
ambushed by by Louverture d�Palmeres�s men on
the Roanoke river.
And you can imagine my shock when I discovered
that Louverture d�Palmeres was none other than
Sokyara � the same mischievous Sokyara I left
behind in Bida some six years ago!
Sokyara my archenemy.
The story of Sokyara is interesting. He fell out
of favour with Etsu Masaba when he sided with
Gogo Habiba from Baddegi to Bida to overthrow
Etsu Masaba. Upon the suicide of Gogo Habiba,
Sokyara was arrested, sold into slavery and
shipped to the Americas. He arrive Brazil as a
slave but ran away and became the leader of
rebel slaves who lived as outlaws in the woods.
These were remnants of Ganga Zumba�s Black
Republic of Palmares.
Sokyara learnt of and fell in love with the
personality of Francois Dominique Toussaint
Louverture who led the Haitian slave revolts of
the 1790s. That was when Sokyara changed his
name to Louverture d�Palmeres.
From Brazil Louverture d�Palmeres moved into the
USA with the intention of organising a
successful slave revolt as that of Toussaint
Louverture. His Separatist plan was to transform
a part of the USA into an independent, sovereign
Black Republic into which all the Black people
of the USA can move. That was how came about
this gigantic slave rebellion in North Carolina.
Sokyara wasn�t surprised to see me. He have
heard all about me as the leading Black diplomat
in the USA. He was happy he will have me
executed. But he said before killing me he had a
surprise for me.
And you can imagine my shock again when Sokyara
brought out Ndakoba, my twin brother, as his
surprise for me!
But Ndakoba is still a zombie, and a prisoner to
Sokyara. We were taken for hard labour in the
fields. Out in the fields I was able to
surreptitiously give Ndakoba the Zhenti antidote
potion to drink. Then I took him round a tree
seven times and Ndakoba came back to his senses.
The violent, fearless and militant Ndakoba
immediately overpowered Sokyara�s guards, killed
them and organise the prisoners into a militia
That very night Ndakoba overthrew and killed
Ndakoba and I became American heroes overnight.
I was decorated by the White House for effecting
the death of Louverture d�Palmares and for
bringing an end to the largest slave rebellion
But Ndakoba was still restless. He espoused
Black supremacist theories. He had secret
meetings with American Black nationalist
leaders. He eventually told me he is going to
transform a part of the USA into an independent,
sovereign Black Republic into which all the
Black people of the USA can move. Same as
Ndakoba almost killed me when I opposed him. I
ran away for my dear life.
A great slave rebellion, organised by Ndakoba,
broke out immediately. It spread in the
slaveholding, Southern part of the USA from
state to state. America was scared to death.
Washington, D.C., appointed me, once more, to
head a team of diplomats to dialogue with the
But I went to Ndakoba alone. I met him in his
heavily guarded estate. In his garden I told him
I came to support his rebellion. I secretly
poured the Zhenti potion into a cup which he
unsuspectedly drank. Then I took him round a
tree seven times in the garden and Ndakoba
became a zombie once more!
With me in control of a zombie Ndakoba, I told
Ndakoba to tell his officers to lay down their
arms. I used him to disband and dispersed his
army of Black rebels. Then I took Ndakoba to
Washington, D.C., as a repentant, former rebel
For the upteenth time the whole of America
applauded me as the greatest diplomat in
history. I was showered with all manners of
accolades and national honours. But I asked
permission to come back home to KinNupe. The
Americans were surprised, why go home at the
height of your fame?
They didn't know that I couldn't risk going
about with a deadly Ndakoba around in the USA.
What if, by any chance, Ndakoba regained his
I came back to KinNupe with a zombie Ndakoba. I
settled down in Tsudifu which is now a village
after the Kwenti sack by the now late Etsu
Masaba. I resumed my duty as the Ndazhitsu of
Tsudifu. Now Ndakoba, a zombie, didn�t disturb
I am always depressed whenever I see Ndakoba in
that zombie state. But I dare not perform Zhenti
antidote on him because a Ndakoba in his senses
is a Pandora box of endless troubles as my story
so far have shown.