Baba Awe: A wizard who becomes a Muslim in Ibadan

A magician from Mecca heard that Muhammad (صَلَّى ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) was called a majnun (possessed by a spirit). When Muhammad (صَلَّى ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) proved to him, that he relies on Allah only and that he is Allah’s messenger, the magician converted to Islam. This is the story of Baba Awe, a wizard who converted to Islam in Ibadan, the capital of Nigeria’s Oyo State. Waliyulah Olayiwola provided the narration. Read!

Baba Awe. Photo: Waliyulah Olayiwola

Baba Awe is a Nigerian and an octogenarian who recently embraced Islam in Ibadan. He has practised as a traditionalist who worshipped a deity locally called Osanyin, all his life.

His acceptance of Islam should not have been a big deal that necessitates a story. After all, he’s not the first man to embrace Islam in 2022. Islam is not just one of the fastest growing religion in the world. Rather, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world according to all available indices and statistics.

According to a report released in 2021 by TRT World, “Islam is not only the world’s fastest growing religion today, but it is projected to be the largest one by 2075.”

Waliyulah Olayiwola (L) with Baba Awe (R) at Olokokete village, September 18, 2022. Photo: Waliyulah Olayiwola

If this is the case, why is the story of Baba Awẹ́ important?
His story is important because his own Osanyin, which is most likely a Jinn, pointed him towards Islam.

In fact, it has been pointing him towards Islam all his life. How do we know? Well, according to Baba Awe, this Osanyin since a long time ago hasn’t been responding on Fridays.

“Baba (The Osanyin here as referred to by Baba Awe) would go for Jummat prayer on Fridays.”

Really? I asked.

“Yes, he fondly addresses me as “keferi” Who doesn’t offer prayers to God.”

“Interesting!” I said as I adjusted my seat.

“So recently, when I was called a keferi again, I felt it was time I started praying too. It was time I embraced Islam too. The person I’m representing worships the Creator of all. Why shouldn’t I too instead of being called names.”

The story about Baba Awe made the first wave online on September 17 when this author, Waliyulah Olayiwola, a popular writer wrote about his story and shared on his Facebook timeline. People started sharing on all medium.

But some people find it an unbelievable story. Perhaps, it’s just a folklore – a story of Ijapa and Yanibo.

Hence, Waliyulah Olayiwola on Sunday, September 18, 2022 went in the company of his cousin, AbdulHafeez Olayiwola to visit baba in his village to confirm the story.

It was learnt that baba Awe first left his village in 1960. That was 62 years ago. At the time, he was a fully matured young man.

Olokokete village. Photo: Waliyulah Olayiwola

A fully matured young man by the standard of that era placed him at 20 to 25 of age when he left his Olokokete village. Adding that age to 62 years ago. We can conveniently guess Baba to be an octogenarian – an 80+ old man.

Waliyulah Olayiwola (R) with Baba Awe and his family at Olokokete village. Photo: Waliyulah Olayiwola

When baba introduced himself, he said I am Alfa Sabitu Awe Bi Abẹrẹ.

Nothing made him introduced himself as such especially with the “Alfa(cleric) part except perhaps his new found love for Islam and out of respect to his guests.

Baba Awe’s residence at Olokokete village. Photo: Waliyulah Olayiwola

Baba is far from being a cleric. Seeing his house from afar on our conveyance, an onlooker can see that baba is no Alfa. He’s a traditional practitioner. And he’s revered in his neighborhood.

He’s no ordinary traditional, he’s a chieftain. He has bagged couple chieftaincy titles which looked like it meant so much to him. Yes, they were important to him.
Why else would the titles be handwritten on the front wall of his house while the wall was still being freshly plastered? Well, they’re now engraved on the front wall that the plaster has dried off.

His titles:

– The Agbakin of Oyo State
– Akogun of Iwarefa Olusokan of Oyo State
– Awẹ́ Bi Abẹrẹ – loosely translated as “Tiny as a needle”

The last title above is where Baba Sabitu got his pseudonym Baba Awe Bi Abẹrẹ from.

This is the summary of my trip to Baba Awe.

Did you know that this baba died a day before the last Eidul Kabir but was brought back to life?
Well, that was what the whole of his household claimed to have happened. And frankly, nothing gave us reasons not to believe them.

To be continued…

Waliyulah Olayiwola writes from Ibadan, Nigeria.


Baba Awe: A wizard who becomes a Muslim in Ibadan [Interview]

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