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Abhored but Necessary: A Relational Interrogation of <i>Zaman Lafia</i> (Peaceful Living) and the Evil of the Death Penalty in the Traditional Hausa Belief System

Zubairu Lawal Bambale


In Hausa worldview, Peaceful living (Zaman Lafiya) is conceived as the chief goal of life. Zaman Lafiya is that which determines goodness or badness of actions and practices. Everything, including morality, life, death and the afterlife is construed as being good or bad with reference to Zaman Lafiya. So, for instance, no matter the gravity of one’s wrongful conducts, it is not justified to punish him, except when punishing him does contribute to the consolidation/realization/attainment of Zaman Lafiya. This paper investigates the Hausa culture and belief system, especially the aspect of punishment alongside the actions that are thought of as being grave to warrant evil punishment such as the death penalty. With the aid of some Hausa proverbs and the African notion of relationality, it would demonstrate how a conversation of metaphysical nature is sparked among such realities/constructs as morality, life, evil, death and the afterlife. It will also show how living an ethical life entails acting in a manner that consolidates communal or relational existence as framework for Zaman Lafiya.