Touching down in Maiduguri

22/8/16

As our plane touched down, the first sight i was attracted to was a trail of rice farmers working on their plantations, it was such a beautiful scenery, almost tranquil. There it was “Maiduguri airport”, there was mixed emotions, never thought i would be able to make the journey after months of failed planning, i felt fortunate. It was a windy and sunny, the weather felt perfect on my face. Soldiers both Nigerian and American paraded the ground to welcome a two American agents i suppose because they weren’t in uniform. Outside the gates was an open space with benches that served as the passenger waiting area, an airport which was once developed by Deribe but got torn down by Ex President Goodluck Jonathan for renovation sake but abandoned. There were barricades created by soldiers as they sat comfortably behind their AK’s and sacks of sand. Shortly before we departed the airport, there stood a child of no more than 2 years, abandoned by his guardians, he had wet his pants, soldiers fast approached the wailing child and picked him up to calm him down, 20 mins later, we drove off and the kid still remained in the embrace of one soldier.

This city Maiduguri seemed quite different from what the media had made it out to be, well at least the area we passed to the Old GRA, it was just noon but the city was full of life, traders running after cars to bargain the price of their hand made set of a doll living and bed room, it was delightful to watch as Baba showed us around town. There was a government girls secondary school right around the corner, he mentioned how it was turned into a temporary IDP camp while school remained close but IDPs were in the process of being moved to a more developed IDP Camp. Soon as we got to the place of our residence, we were presented with a feast and the Boko Haram Days stories started rolling in.

Baba told us about the days where the weather got intensely hot coupled with lack of electricity that everyone had to sleep outside with their nets over their beds, but as the attacks by the insurgents drew closer, that wasn’t an option anymore, anything could happen while they were out sleeping, vulnerable to these vicious attacks. There was a trail of sadness and happiness in his voice, joyful because they believe the horror of Boko Haram is behind them, sorrow because of what they have had to witness, he said while looking up to the ceiling, a moment of reminiscence.

A few hours later, a friend/journalist had navigated himself to the place i was residing, and we soon head off to witness the city at night. He told me stories about his experiences which i will link up on here once his stories are published. We then stopped at a heavily protected guest inn for dinner, as we waited for our food and his 2 other friends. It seemed like all of the international community in Borno resided in it, so there was no surprised about the amount of armoured cars present and security agents. I had the pleasure of meeting the brain behind Bits of Borno, a twitter account which tells the individual stories of this wretched conflict while also grabbing in that moment, intense emotion on camera. at 8:47 pm, i got a phone call to remind me of the curfew imposed on all civilians by 10pm, i then had to find my way back.

Back at the house, the stories began to roll out once again but from a female resident doctor who had seen much of the the price civilians have to pay during insurgencies during work at her hospital. She told us of an 11 year old left to care for siblings as young as a new born after their mother died a week after birth, whom died 3 months later leaving the sisters, one had fallen sick so she had take her to a hospital from Bama, she left the two younger one “ To God “ thats what she told the resident doctor. She told us about Nurses that looted clompy nutritional nuts sent from Germany meant to counter Camps’ severe malnourishment of children, they often sold it in markets. img_9193

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