ECHOES WITHIN: A Long Way from Home
Echoes Within features a series of non-fictional accounts of IDPs at Stefanos foundation camp Bukuru, Jos, Plateau State. Most of the displaced persons in the camp are from Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State. They share similar experiences of how they were displaced from Gwoza. All accounts have been given by victims.
“I have heard of their terrors and how they were attacking neighbouring communities but never did I know that I will lose one of my own sons. That day, they shot at, and killed everybody their eyes met, including children. None of us escaped with anything except those that left before that day. I managed to escape from Gwoza to Yola before I came here to Jos. We are fed properly here and we are grateful for that. We are calling on God to heal our land. I want to go back home. I was working as a civil servant before the attack. I have 12 kids, except the one that was murdered.”
“I too have drunk the cup of suffering in the hands of the terrorists as I was once abducted and forcefully converted to Islam. My husband and his brother were killed in one of the attacks as well. I am from Gwoza, I have one of my children here at the camp with me and the other at Kwang.”
“I am from Gwoshe in Gwoza. I have 14 children. Before this unfortunate event, I just retired as a hospital worker and started my own business. When Boko Haram attacked our village, we ran to the hills. They kept sending threats that they will come to the rocks and kill whoever they find but we thought it was all a bluff till they came and spent up to 4days atop the hills, hunting for people to kill. We took refuge in the caves and for those 4days, we went without food and water. My dad was critically ill and we couldn’t run with him to our hiding place so they killed him. When we noticed that they had evacuated the hills, we ran to the Cameroonian border and they accepted us and fed us. We went to the camp at Mazago which had Cameroonian soldiers and I spent four months there without knowing the whereabouts of my wife or kids. Word later came to me that they were in a camp in Jos and that is how I came here on the 16.07.15. Some of my children escaped through Maiduguri and they are in Abuja. I haven’t set eyes on them since that time but we talk on phone. We eat well here and they treat us fine but it is not home”
“The day they attacked, some of them were dressed in military camouflage, others in black jalabiya. They killed everyone they saw. I hid in the ceiling for 3 days. I spent 4 months in Cameroon without seeing my family. I then proceeded to spending another four months at Mubi where there was another attack. I never thought that I will be alive to see today. I am grateful to God for delivering me from the hands of the terrorists.”
“We stayed for months hiding in rocks till the rains were over. We had to go through Cameroon before vehicles were sent to transport us to Yola. And from there, I came here. They killed my father like a ram, and my siblings too. Before the attack, I used to farm and rear animals. I don’t know why all of this had to happen. Maybe, God is just testing our faith. I will be glad to return home if peace is restored but that won’t be anytime soon I know.”
“My husband used to be here with me but he has gone to trade in Lagos. I used to farm groundnuts and other food crops before Boko haram came and chased us away. They came on bikes and on feet. They wore black clothes. They killed our people, burned our churches and our houses. We left our crops for them as they took over our fields. I want to begin life all over again. I can sew and make caps”
“I used to farm in Gwoza with my husband. Boko Haram have really cheated us, we used to have families and live together until they rendered us helpless and homeless but we are grateful to God for food. My firstborn turned 9 today”
“Boko Haram took me and other women to Sambisa forest on the night they attacked. After a while, we managed to escape but they caught us and took us back to Gwoza. They killed about 40 people in my presence. 24 of us managed to escape again, we spent 5 days running. They really traumatized us”
“They came dressed in white garbs, some even covered their faces. They chased us away from our town to the rocks and still followed us up to kill us. One of my children died while we were escaping from Zamga to Yola, he wasn’t killed, it was hunger and suffering that took him from me. I used to be a farmer and I want to go back to my work”
“I spent over 10 months in their hands. They camped us somewhere in Gwoza; women and kids. They fed us when it willed them. They also poisoned the well which was the only source of water and many died as a result of drinking from it. When I finally escaped, I reunited with my kids in Yola. My husband and siblings were killed in the attacks”
Joseph Peter, 10
Bitrus Dauda, 12.
Yohanna Sima, 7.
Cecilia Amos, 14.
“We could only come out late at night when we were hiding in the rocks. They killed men and captured most of the women. My best subject is Maths. I want to be a pilot.”
Echoes Within is an initiative of Custodians of African Literature COAL, having Patience Andrew and Farida Adamu as its project managers. This project was supported by a few concerned individuals mostly from the online community. For individuals willing to assist any of these affected persons, please reach us via mail @ email@example.com or call Patience on 08087049704 or Farida on 07068211304.