A man’s shocking attempt to revive a rotten corpse in Ethiopia has led to the arrest of the would-be necromancer and nearly led to some good old fashioned mob justice before police arrived to calm angered onlookers. The bizarre story took place in the small town of Galilee in the Oromia region of western Ethiopia. According to the BBC, healthcare worker and “aspiring prophet” Getayawkal Ayele approached the recently bereaved family of Belay Biftu with the story of Lazarus and claimed to be able to revive the dead Biftu. Somehow, the family agreed to let Ayele give it a go. Naturally, things didn’t go well.
A video of the incident is making waves on African social media. Ayele’s not-so-powerful necromancy took the form of him lying on top of the exhumed corpse while chanting “Belay, wake up!” over and over directly into the dead man’s decomposing face. In the video, a nervous-looking crowd stands by with shovels in hand, watching the uncomfortable scene unfold as Ayele screams at the corpse still lying in its muddy grave. According to reports, many onlookers fainted during the “ritual,” while others grew increasingly angry at the spectacle. A few relatives soon began attacking Ayele, at which point police arrived and promptly arrested him for abusing a dead body. The BBC reports that Ayele is now in police custody.
While this story is a macabre and somewhat humorous example of the lengths some aspiring prophets or religious leaders will go to in order to attract followers, it also highlights humanity’s ongoing quest to defeat death once and for all. Throughout history, human cultures have been fascinated with the idea of reviving the dead, living forever, or being reincarnated through either spiritual/magical or technological means. While scientists say we might soon be able to digitize the human consciousness in order to live forever inside virtual realities of our own design, can that really be called living? True immortality – the ability to cheat death while remaining inside of our stinking meat sacks – remains ever elusive.
Will we ever spit in the eye of Mother Nature and complete the ongoing quest to cheat death? If we do, I know one thing: it won’t happen by simply yelling at dead people.