by Eromo Egbejule
You hear a lot of stories about North-East Nigeria, a slice of the country that has been at war since 2009, at the hands of Boko Haram. But we have largely only heard a single story. Sending a reporter across 7 cities, we tell a more complete story – personal tales of survival and recovery – that speak to hope, to strength and to faith. Stories that speak to life. Across 20 narratives over the next 3 weeks, you will hear the most inspired and touching stories about Nigerians – at their best, even when they have only just recovered from their worst.
Umaru Ibrahim, 34 was one of the first people to settle in Malkohi II, a small community of about 1,500 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) behind the Gibson Jalo Cantonment, Jimeta, Yola.
Three years ago, he and his family fled from Gwoza in the neighbouring Borno state after an attack by Boko Haram and trudged past villages for days before eventually settling in this little community in Adamawa state where he is the ward head.
“We kept moving and moving after we left Gwoza, then one day I saw someone I knew from my hometown here and then we decided to settle here.”
The community is a predominantly farming community, growing maize, beans, millet, rice and beans to sustain their families and also sell in the main Jimeta town. Over time, some buyers have begun to drive the long distance to the settlement to pay directly.
At its entrance, just beside a mosque is a meat seller, Abubakar who says he sells at least one full goat every day – either as raw meat or as balango (spiced meat sold in brown papers juiced up with seasoning). “Business is good”, beams the native of Bama, also in Borno state.
There is also Ibrahim Wala, the 42-year old farmer and blacksmith who moved from Wala in Borno two years ago with his four wives and sixteen children. He fashions most of the hoes and farming implements being used in the community and sometimes barters them for food. “On the days I work here, I make 500 naira. On other days, I go to the farm.”
Over time, the Japanese and Australian governments together with Oxfam International have made significant donations to the community. The Australians in particular are running a programme teaching women in the community to make eco-friendly cooking stoves from clay; Oxfam and the European Union have donated most of the tents around.
The Japanese in conjunction with the United States Agency for International Aid (USAID) established from scratch, a safe space for women and girls to discuss issues of sexuality, marriage, motherhood and the trauma of losing their loved ones in the insurgency crisis. Three times a week (on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays), specialists come from town to advise them.
But there has been no single visit or help from any government official, says Ibrahim. “We need solar panels or anything to pump water to help us in farming and for use in our houses. There is no electricity too.”
*The next installment will be published at 10am WAT tomorrow.