Excerpts from Nigerian Classic Novel:My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

Amos Tutuola

First Published in 1954 By Faber and Faber Limited
New and revised edition 1978

Forward by Professor Geoffrey Parrinder, D.D.,Ph.D.
Formerly of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Later we have a Television-handed Ghostess, described by a man who had never seen television.
p.12 (part of forward by Prefessor Geoffrey Parrinder)

As every one of them pointed his finger to me to come to him I preferred most to go direct to the copperish ghost from whose room the smell of African’s food was rushing out to me, but when the golden ghost saw my movement which showed that I wanted to go to the copperish-ghost, so at the same time he lighted the golden flood of light all over my body to persuade me not to go to the copperish-ghost, as every one of them wanted me to be his servant. So as he lighted the flood of golden light on my body and when I looked at myself I thought that I became gold as it was shining on my body, so at this time I preferred most to go to him because of his golden light. But as I moved forward a little bit to go to him then the copperish-ghost lighted the flood of his own copperish light on my body too, which persuaded me again to go to the golden-ghost as my body was changing to every colour that copper had, and my body was then so bright so that I was unable to touch it. And again as I preferred this copperish light more than the golden light then I started to go to him, but as this stage I was prevented again to go to him by the silverfish-light which shone on to my body at that moment unexpectedly. This silverfish-light was as bright as snow so that it transparented every part of my body and it was this day I knew the number of the bones of my body. But immediately I started to count them these three ghosts shone the three kinds of their lights on my body at the same time in such a way that I could not move to and fro because of these lights. But as these three old ghosts shone their lights on me at the same time so I began to move round as a wheel at this junction, as I appreciated these lights as the same.
p. 24-25

All kinds of snakes, centipedes and flies were living on every part of his body. Bees, wasps and uncountable mosquitoes were also flying round him and it was hard to see him plainly because of these flies and insects. But immediately this dreadful ghost came inside this house from heaven-knows-where his smell and also the smell of his body first drove us to a long distance before we came back after a few minutes, but still the smell did not let every one of the settlers stand still as all his body was full of excreta, urine, and also wet with the rotten blood of all the animals that he was killing for his food. His mouth which was always opening, his nose and eyes were very hard to look at as they were very dirty and smelling. His name is “Smelling-ghost”. But what made me surprised and fear most was that this “smelling-ghost” wore many scorpions on his finger as rings and all were alive, many poisonous snakes were also on his neck as beads and he belted hiis leathern trousers with a very big and long boa constrictor which was still alive.
p. 29

Having reached their town, they put me in a very dark room which was under the ground, as such rooms are very common in the “Bush of Ghosts”. After a while they changed me to a blind man and then rubbed my body with their palms which were sharp as sand paper and were slightly scraping me as dulled sand paper. Having left that they were cutting the flesh of my body with their sharp finger-nails which were long at about four inches, so I was crying bitterly for much pain. Again after a little while they left that and then my eyes opened as before, but I saw nobody there with me in this doorless room who was ill-treating me like that. Immediately my eyes opened there I saw about a thousand snakes which almost covered me, although they did not attempt to bite me at all. It was in this doorless room which is in undergrounds I first saw my life that the biggest and longest among these snakes which was acting as a director for the rest vomited a kind of coloured lights from his mouth on to the floor of this room. These lights shone to every part of the room and also to my eyes, and after all of the snakes saw me clearly through the lights then they disappeared at once with the lights and then the room became dark as before.

It was these eyes which were bringing out splashes of fire all the time and were used to bring out fire on the firewood whenever she wanted to cook food and the flash of fire of these eyes was so strong that it would catch the firewood at the same moment like petrol or other inflammable spirit or gunpowder, and also use it at night as a flood of light in lighting the whole town as electricity lights, so by that, they were not using other lights except the flash fire of her eyes. Whenever one or more of the short ghosts who were serving her as their mother offended her both eyes would be flashing out fire on to the body who offends her, and the fire would be burning the body at the same moment as fluffy things or rags. She was using it as a whip to flog any other of her offenders as it could be flashed to a long distance. For this reason she was very fearful to other creatures coming to her town without special reason, even H.M. the King of the Bush of Ghosts could not say—”Who is she?” She was using all kinds of animal skins as clothes which made her more fearful, ugly and dreadful to see or look at. As she was not standing upor moving about so all the short ghosts of this town who were under her flag were killing the bush animals and bringing them to herm although all of them were feeding on these animals as well.


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