By Shola Ilesanmi
Could a cloth truly have fallen from the sky? This and many more were the questions asked by social media users who saw footage of what appears to be a long piece of white cloth descending from the sky in Ondo town, a prominent community in Ondo State.
The footage shows several residents of the community shouting as the cloth gently approached the ground. Thereafter, they struggled to grab a piece of the white cloth, which they also claimed had a ‘Hosanna’ inscription.
The incident sparked several claims on social media, including one that the descending white cloth was one of the wonders of the generation. However, findings from our visit to the scene of the incident revealed otherwise.
Shortly after the incident occurred on October 27, a crowd gathered outside Alhaji Yesufu’s residence at Sabo area of Ondo town where the item had found a final resting place after minutes of puzzling descent from the sky.
After the incident, the footage went viral on social media, and among those who propagated it was the popular Instablog page on Instagram where nearly 100,000 people have seen the video clip on the social network. Comments in the post suggest people believed the cloth actually dropped from the sky.
The same footage was also shared on Facebook by popular Nollywood actress, Fatiha Balogun, who has more than 567,000 followers. The video clip has now racked up more than 64,000 views since it was published on October 29.
Another Facebook page called LAMBO GINI PROMOTION with more than 79,000 followers, also published the same clip alongside the claim.
A visit to Sabo area in Ondo town for on-the-spot verification of the claim led us to Fatima Yesufu who was at the scene of the incident.
“I heard some strange voices, came out and saw a lot of people struggling with a big cloth,” the octogenarian said, explaining that the clothing item landed on her child’s house.
“Many of them even jumped into the compound through the fence. Efforts to chase them away were unsuccessful. The stampede was so much that I had to stay away so they would not stamp on me,” she said.
Mrs Yesufu’s experience was similar to that of Babangida Usman who stayed opposite the house and took part in the cloth cutting stampede.
“So many people who sighted the cloth in the sky from neighbouring places found their way to Sabo here, where it finally landed just in front of my house and we all struggled to have a cut.”
According to Mr Usman, the scoopers had barely finished mutilating the cloth when a woman in the neighbourhood stormed the place and told them that she is a decorator and that the cloth was one of those she sundried the previous day.
Mr Usman explained that while the woman wanted back the full cloth, the leader of the Hausa community in the area appealed to her to take the incident in good faith since there was no miracle that could pull back the mutilated pieces of the ‘mysterious cloth’.
Who owns the ‘mysterious’ cloth?
Using the information provided by Mr Usman, Dubawa’s next port of call was to the residence of the supposed owner of the cloth, which was the next street to where the incident had happened.
We met Agnes Fadoju, who is a decorator, events planner and acclaimed owner of the strange cloth. The 120-yard cloth she bought for about N50,000 in Lagos for her decoration business is gone, but she is happy that the incident brought her to limelight.
After showing us other similar clothes she also sundried, she recalled the event that led to the ‘strange’ incident.
“I washed the said cloth alongside others on Tuesday evening with my children. On Wednesday morning I checked all the clothes where we hung them and did not notice any unusual thing.
“It was much later in the afternoon that I started getting lots of phone calls asking whether I hung my decoration clothes outside to which I answered in the affirmative. This got me worried, prompting me to put a call across to my husband who then broke the news to me. A wind had blown off one of the clothes to the next street in a way that looked mysterious and everything had now been mutilated.”
She explained that she immediately rushed to the scene and even while on the road, saw all sorts of people tying a white piece of cloth around their body and recounting their experience with a ‘miraculous’ cloth at Sabo area.
“All efforts to enlighten them that it was my event’s business cloth and that the ‘Hossana’ inscription on it was my company’s name proved abortive. We later met with Seriki of the Sabo who told me that if I had seen the ‘mysterious’ manner the cloth descended, I would have believed their claim.”
Fadoju displaying her decoration clothes after being sundried
Can a heavy cloth ascend to the sky and return without a specifically designed mechanism?
“It is very possible to have the cloth blown from where it was hung to the sky by the wind,” said Ahmed Balogun, an applied meteorology professor in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, Federal University of Technology, Akure,
“Wind is like a fluid of two types. The liquid and the gas but with different density. We don’t normally see the gas but it is always there and it is part of it that forms the clouds that we see,” Mr Balogun told Dubawa.
The expert in integrated atmospheric and environmental science added that the movement of the cloth to the sky could be likened to the flying of a kite whose ascension and height is a function of the prevalent wind.
“The cloth must have ridden on a parcel of air that is moving and it was when that parcel broke down that the cloth fell back to the earth,” he said.
The cloth’s takeoff time and distance from the earth depend on the starting energy, the height of the lifting by the wind, and the stream of fluid that carried the cloth, according to Mr Balogun.
Also responsible is the gust, which is a fast blowing wind. If the cloth gets caught in the gust activity, it can be floating for as long as that wind is energised until all the energy is dissipated or exhausted that the cloth will drop anywhere,” he added.
On the eventual location of the cloth, while returning to the earth, the don explained that it is “a function of the energy of the cloud, the starting energy or moving speed.”
In conclusion, though a cloth fell from the sky in Ondo town, it is not mysterious as claimed and belonged to a decorator who had sundried the item before it found its way to the sky and later returned to a location not far from where it was earlier hung outside.