Wednesday 22 April 2015

City in the Sky

I'm very interested in the paranormal phenomena of Africa and I've written about it many times before, for example see: A map of the data on paranormal reports around the world reveals a big blank space over Africa. Called "the dark continent" Africa constitutes twenty percent of the Earth's land surface area and a billion people live there, fifteen percent of the world's human population. Why do mysterious phenomena avoid Africa? Well actually they don't. In fact some of the most interesting case studies I've ever come across are African. The reason far fewer reports come from Africa is because much of the continent lacks the communications grid that the rest of the world enjoys. This situation is improving rapidly, however today still only 13% of Africa's population have regular access to the internet; in some countries that figure is below 1% and most people don't even have a telephone. This means when a ghost, UFO or cryptid etc is spotted in Africa the witness is usually not able to report it far beyond their local community. On the rare occasions a report does go intercontinental, investigation is difficult because a lot of time has often passed and the researcher will have to travel to talk to the witness face-to-face; this costs money. Occasionally though, through good fortune, there are exceptions. One of those took place in March 2011 in Nigeria, and it is truly remarkable. What's more it is not easily classified; it has features of UFO encounters, but it doesn't quite fit under that category in my opinion.

The location is specified as "Dulali", although I can find no place of that name in Nigeria. It is said to be a border village of the Lanzai ward in the state of Bauchi in the northeast of the country. The area is remote and inaccessible, and the people live in a tribal agrarian society. They are also on the frontline of the civil war raging against the Islamic militant group Boko Haram; more recently the insurgents would famously kidnap all the children from a girls' school (or so we've been told). Therefore it was over a year before this story reached the media. Greg Odogwu and Mukhtar Lawal Suleiman of the Nigerian national newspaper People's Daily, a pair of investigative journalists who specialize in the paranormal, managed to take a trip to Lanzai. The first witness to the incident was Saidu Meshai a man who runs a tea house. He had just returned from his morning prayers at the local mosque to begin work when he saw a very bright light in the sky followed by "the heavens falling". He then described what happened next: "There appeared a wide, large mass of something that looked like a cloud; coming from nowhere, and it was flying slowly over the village just at the height of an average tree. The cloud was transparent and I saw beautiful tall buildings inside it, with tarmac roads and cars. It was like a flying city. And from it I could hear the sound of machines making noise just as you would hear at a cement factory." The journalists say they would probably not have believed him if he had been the only witness. However many other people they spoke to in the area saw the object too and they describe it in the same way. Among those are figures of authority like the chief imam at the mosque and a respected local farmer Dauda Mohammed who saw the same object as Saidu Meshai. He described the colour of the buildings that appeared in the city. A ten year old boy called Ibrahim revealed that the object "moved into the trees and came out of the other side, but the trees were not pushed down at all." Apparently the object then departed but returned two weeks later. The villagers did not call the apparition a "UFO". Such a concept doesn't exist in their culture; although of course UFO's occur the people tend to interpret them differently. They are all very devout Muslims and so believe that on that day they were witnessing an act of God. Far from being afraid, they were actually very happy that this strange vision had dropped into their locale. They told Odogwu and Suleiman: "We believe it is a sign that something great will come out of this small village. Something like a great invention, that will improve the life of mankind... We believe that maybe Allah used those sightings to open our eyes to see how djinn live in their own world. Allah is great, and there is nothing He cannot do on earth... We are happy because it shows we are special village; other towns around here were not given that privilege." The two journalists did bring up the similarities in the incident to UFO phenomena in their newspaper feature which admittedly do exist. They give their readers an overview of the UFO subject and its connections to crop circles and animal mutilations, see:
It's interesting that the matter of the djinn came up. The djinn are mythological figures that are a part of common culture right across the Middle East and understood all over the world by people of the Muslim faith. Indeed I've had discussions about the djinn with some of my fellow hospital porters. The djinn are beings which inhabit an unseen mystical universe and have the power to enter and influence our own, although we cannot enter theirs. The djinn can be tamed and summoned by magic and can use physical objects as vehicles like bottles or oil lamps (like in Aladdin; the word "genie" comes from "djinn"). Many researchers into the ET contact phenomenon have identified connections with aliens and the djinn, like Rosemary Ellen Guiley, see: Was the strange phenomenon seen the Dulali villagers a "djinn city"? This case reminds me of something different, the strange occurrences in which people see unusual vistas through what appear to be holes that open up in the sky. In fact one such incident was reported to the paranormal investigator Steve Mera. In 1943 a sailor on board a Royal Navy ship fighting in World War II saw something which is remarkably similar to what was reported in Nigeria in 2011. He and his shipmates were sailing near Malta when they saw a huge landscape appear in bank of clouds which they watched for over three hours. He describes it as very beautiful, full of elegant buildings, roads, parkland and people moving about. The ship was a long way out at sea and no land was in sight; Steve believes that this was a fata morgana, a mirage seen at sea, but was it? The witness did not recognize the place he was seeing and even describes it as old-fashioned, with a mixture of the familiar and the bizarre, see: Another more recent example happened in China; a video was posted online (now removed), but the case hasn't been confirmed. Some say it was a hoax. Are these phenomena actually glimpses into physical domains beyond our own? Not extraterrestrial, but truly otherworldly? This topic forms a common theme in fiction, like Philip Pullman's enthralling His Dark Materials trilogy, see: Could there be some reality behind it? Even mainstream scientists are taking the idea of parallel universes seriously; perhaps these universes not only exist, but sometimes merge briefly with our own.

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