by Fisayomi Eko-Davies
The northern part of the country had become quite unsafe and there was so much distrust among neighbours. I had been staying with my aunt in Abuja for a while, she warned against patronizing the small market that was beside her house because it was dominated with people from a particular tribe. She confided in me that she suspected some of them might be Boko Haram members, I was marveled at how paranoid she had become (I had a hard time trying to convince her that the most affected are also the people she suspected). It was a sober period, other members of the family travelled to Abuja to join us for the memorial service of my aunt’s husband.
It was an emotional reunion, it wasn’t the kind of emotions that made one weep, it was more of a sober reflection of a life well spent. Her husband was an icon we, the younger generation, looked up to and would sorely miss. We were all gathered in the living room after we returned from the remembrance service when the news of the plane crash at Iju Ishaga came on the TV, it was reported that hundreds were dead and there was quite a number of casualties.
I couldn’t put a face to any of the names that were displayed on the screen that day but the human in me could relate. I broke down and wept. I wept for the loss of the somebody’s somebody that was among the numbers. I wept for unbirthed dreams, childless parents and fatherless kids. The death stories were becoming too many, I was scared and angry but there was so little I could do. Like million others, I desired for the madness to stop but the weeks that followed and the ones preceding the crash revealed a lot. The crash just like the bombings revealed that ours is a a decayed system of government and there seemed to be a resignation to an unchangeable fate by the populace.
The first I heard of the bombings read like a badly scripted movie. The sophisticated weapon wielding militants that were using the social media to make threats can’t really mean their propaganda that western education is evil. That has to be the greatest irony of all time. The killings became more deliberate and bold, thousands died and thousands more were displaced. One thing was obvious, the terrorists weren’t joking and their messages were written in blood, sweat and tears.
Lots of allegations flew around, nobody took responsibility, and even the ones that were to protect us were scared for their own lives. Nobody seem to know how to stop them, the decayed system we created kept haunting us. Lives were lost, dreams were kept on hold, many people walked around with the consciousness of unguaranteed tomorrows while many more dared to live despite the realities. They dreamed in the midst of the hopelessness. They sought knowledge and hoped for the end of the unrest. They found an escape from the unrest in their quest for knowledge.
People were learning to avoid crowded places, worship centers and every other precaution they could take to reduce the casualties in the bombings. For a shock effect, the militants changed their MO. They entered into houses and razed villages. They entered into schools and committed more atrocious acts. They killed 59 boys who were studying in the Federal Government College, Buni Yadi.
Were we shocked?
We were still trying to understand and get over the new rave when they struck again, this time over two hundred female students were kidnapped from their exam halls. These kids might be unrelated by blood but they committed a common sin – the grave sin of seeking knowledge. The light in the Chibok community, where they were from, went dim and many hearts left broken. Cries of distraught parents could be heard from every radio. Every one around the world was interested, perhaps the girls would be released after a few weeks but how wrong were we? Weeks quickly rolled onto months and it is a year now.
It has been a year since that day. Yorubas say it is better for one to know one’s child is dead than to deal with the mental torture of a missing child. My friend’s sister has been missing for years now and he told me how he hopelessly stares in the faces of random strangers hoping a familiar smile greets his stares. He sleeps everyday with loads of unanswered questions. Can you now imagine the mental torture the immediate families of these girls go through everyday.
As we mark the anniversary of the hashtag that has brought people from all walks of life together and we dare to hope in the midst of all uncertainties that one day, our girls will return home. We stand as a nation to keep their memories fresh because every life matters. We keep hope alive for that mother that stares at her daughter’s picture every night before going to bed. We pray that these families will be united once again in love and happiness.
Your religion is not better than my religion, my life is not more important than yours. We are all part of the human family. Let’s work together and stop the violence, every life matters. #BringBackOurGirls.