It was a Saturday when the sickness came over Tabitha Haruna again. She threw a tantrum that was predictably violent, heaping insults on her mother and sister and wrecking things in the house they shared before declaring that she was going out to buy tomatoes. She got her Bible and walked off, heading down the dusty roads of the Yalwan Tsakani neighborhood in the northeastern Nigerian city of Bauchi. Her family expected her to come back in a few days, as she always did. But Haruna never returned.
The next morning, at the entrance to the Muda Lawal market, Haruna was mistaken for a suicide bomber and set upon by a mob. They beat her with sticks until she fell to the ground, then piled car tires and dumped gasoline on her, setting her ablaze in the street as hundreds of people watched.
Those who witnessed her death say it was all a misunderstanding. No bomb was found on her body. Her erratic behavior at Muda Lawal, the people there would learn only later, was due to a mental illness that had already cost her a job and a marriage. Now it had cost Haruna her life.