After our yesterday escapade, we were exhilarated and curious in our state of being, every occupant in my lodge tuned to their favorite radio station-rhythm fm, Ray power, PRTV fm, et al. I, on my own side was totally oblivious and lackadaisical as to the political happenings in the state, let to talk of a low-key election as such.
I picked up my blue rubber bucket to go fetch water at a nearby well- you don’t need a drawer to fetch water from the well, all you have to do is to stoop and scoop the water with your bucket without any hurdle. I fetched my water and trudge to Bola’s lodge to get my note books, passed through a motor park that is always cramped with travelers but the park was deserted and I was a little bit perturbed but I shrugged it off until a woman in her 50s with a flaccid bosom and wrinkled face walk to me and started asking some question in her native language, Anaguta ,I smiled and told her in Hausa that I don’t understand what she’s saying , that was when she code-switch to Hausa language, “don’t go anywhere my son, I heard that the city is in turmoil,’’ this what she told me in her words, trepidation crept in and I rushed back to my street as a matter of fact, I was about to pick my bucket when a man with stab wound on his back came rushing towards where I was standing narrating how he miraculously escaped mob action in Zololo, a densely populated muslim street-just about 200metres to Terminus market, I was shaking, half-listening as he narrated his ordeal, and before I could recollect my far gone memory in not less than twenty minutes the whole place went dead, and dark smokes can be seen enveloping the cloud from afar, I notified my good buddy, Chucks about the bizarre happenings and rushed back to my lodge to convey the news to my house mates and also to save my documents by carrying them along. Fehintola and Jennifer were already dressed and set for the day’s lecture when I shook them with the news, that carries fire and macabre, I scurried into my room to rummage some of my papers, before I could say the next word that was hanging on my neck the two girls were gone, but to where? I asked around and no one saw them. I asked for my friend, Chucks but he’s vanished, I tried desperately to reach his phone line but it was dead, before I know it waves had conveyed the news to my parents without my own consent, Mum called me on phone and I declined her call, then dad’s but this time I picked it an told him that my street was calm, again mum called for the second time and I did same by lying- white lie though.
This was how it started. The area boys mobilized themselves with whatever weapon they could lay their hands on and started setting shops that were owned by Muslims alight (they scampered and left their shops and some trucks in the park). In time of crisis even the most virgin heart that can’t kill a rat turns into the most venomous snake, I pulled off my faded jean trouser with my phone in it and hurled it over a house I don’t know it occupant, picked up a long stick that has the shape of a hockey stick-curved end, the elders in kunga1 of Naraguta village gingered us to move to the warfront and protect the village and churches that it house, we matched forward hurling grenades, arrows and shooting age-long guns, the other opponents from Zololo are doing the same. Causalities were recorded, death toll increased, business centers turned into debris, houses were on fire; all from both sides. It was during this crisis that I got to know that Jos women posses granite heart than their men- so turgid, some of the women were supplying stones and water for the thirsty while some are in the warfront chanting war songs, I also get to know that size is not might, inside cultists they ‘re cultism, most able bodied and giant students in kunga1 were nothing but chaff, they had no value as they ‘re scared to their pants they left us, the miniature creatures to protect them whilst they were hiding, clutch to their feeble minded girlfriends, only few of the over 20 cultist in the area came out with their short guns to repel the attackers. My friend, I.P lost his uncle to the fight that lasted for over 6 hours, his uncle has already told him about his mission-to protect a church and also pleaded with them to help pay his debtors the money he’s being owing them. I.P’s uncle left his kunga2 residence to kunga1 where the church’s located, he and some other men garrisoned the place but when the situation got intense they scamper and left him with the church of which the attackers burnt together with him. I.P swore to us when we went to commiserate with him that he would seek retribution of which of which he did because they were secret killings in the area in ensuing days. Jimmy and Emmanuel sustained different degree of injuries from a swollen knee (he’s struck by a stone) to a bullet wound on his shoulder. I was lucky to have escaped some stray bullets flying over my head because I was crawling so low. It took almost forever before intervention came from the Nigeria military force, and this was when dialogue that had a nix effort began, a b-b curfew was also put in place.
Gideon offered me a round -the -street tour where he showed me all the mess, the burning and the lootings, we later digressed to a more entertaining discourse, hence to divert my attention from the objects of reality. We passed a bend where shops were looted and burnt down, egg shell scattered everywhere, tins of peak milk that has already been used, ‘’Guy, look down, ’’Gideon said to me without any sign of panic, I looked down as he commanded and I immediately staggered behind him. It was a burnt man, we call him ’Aboki’ because that’s what Hausa people are fondly called in Jos and other
Non-Hausa speaking states. Narrating how Aboki got burned to death, Gideon told me that when his other fellow Hausa men were running for their lives he stayed behind in his warehouse garrisoning his raw yam and egg which he do fry to sell to us, student favorite, when the locals noticed him, he took to his heel, when he noticed they were coming for him.
Aboki ran to my friends lodge, khalito momento, khalito hid him in his toilet but when the locals came knocking at khalito’s door post, to khalito’s surprise his local friend threatened to kill him if he don’t produce Aboki, khalito in his mid- twenties cried like a baby and handed Aboki to them, they poured fuel on him and set him alight, he was dying slowly until khalito’s friend finally took his arrow, he was finally sedated. I was really an eye sore, seeing a man burnt beyond recognition with an arrow pricked to his chest.
When the dust settled, after two days of the comatose, I made up my mind to go home, because I was nostalgic. During the last two days we were forced to live indoor with no water and food except for the eggs in bags my friends loot from a full-to-beam trailer, so we all settled for the eggs, Sometimes we fry them but when our vegetable oil got finished we started boiling it, funny as it may sound we couldn’t differentiate the stench oozing from our room and the farts from our butts, I think all the eggs we ate broke down into bad air in our stomach because everyone of us developed a bulge stomach, we couldn’t visit the lavatory. Only farts.
News later got to us about chucks, while he was standing and waiting for me he saw an almost empty bus travelling to Gombe, he took that chance and boarded the bus, and it was almost a fry pan to fire experience for him because Gombe state was wearing a hostile face that morning.
For Fehintola and Jennifer it was a different story altogether, funny as it may sound, it was an escape embedded on exchange theory. They were running on their toes when they saw a muslim Fulani woman with her two year old daughter (her husband had fled that morning) also trying to evade the scene. Fehintola took the baby from her as they trudge towards zololo, a haven for the Fulani woman, but what about fehintola and Jennifer, how about their safety? The Fulani woman depicted her benevolence by taking off her hijab and gave it to Fehintola , pulled that of her daughter and gave it to Jennifer, Immediately they took a change of name. Fehintola became Halimat and Jennifer transfigured to Aisha, this was how they move freely in zololo in the guise of being a muslim, until they got to Abuja hostel of the university of Jos.
When everything seemed like it has cooled off, I rummaged for my belongings, and some were intact while others has been stolen. I arranged them in a big Ghana-must-go bag and left for the park by 4pm (Just not to catch up with the curfew) for tomorrow early morning bus. There was nowhere for me to lodge, so I had to sprayed cartons on the floor and use my bag as a pillow, lying there with other folks in the middle of the night with hubbub of dogs barking, mosquitoes producing agonizing noise in my ears and sulking blood.
This is my story, this was how it turned sour and this was how something that was political turned into a religious ceisis within a wink of an eye.