In Nigerian parlance where you are from most often refers to the place where your ethnic group resides and before the advent of urbanization where your greatgrandfather and co lived.It is also helps if a large percentage of your extended family live there or at least there is a cluster bomb of distant relatives you may or may not know about. For most people there is an additional requirement that where you are from is defined by where your father is from. It is for the most part a patrilineal society we live in. It is rare for where you are from to refer to your place of birth or where you grew up/have spent most of your life. That would be perhaps a more western way to look at it. By the Nigerian definition, I am from Adamawa State. To be more specific, I am from a village near the town of Mubi. That is where my most of my extended family on my father’s side reside. It is where the HRH in my twitter name comes from. Village prince swag, sue me. For the more geographically challenged amongst us, my hometown is in the northeast of Nigeria, the bedrock as it would seem of Boko Haram (they don’t call themselves that but who gives a shit) activities.
I confess that I was born in Lagos, spent my early life there and have lived in Abuja for a greater portion of my life. I unfortunately do not speak my father’s native tongue but speak the sub-colonial lingua franca of Northern Nigeria, Hausa (I believe the predominance of hausa speaks to the subjugation/colonization of much of northern Nigeria by the hausa/Fulani culture but that’s a topic for the gods). However from the age of 12 till date, I have gone almost annually around December to visit my village and hometown. So I do know quite a lot of people there and have made friends and gotten close to family and so on. Sadly, I doubt that would happen this year.
About a week ago in continuation of what can only described as a mission to conquer the northeast by Boko Haram, they attacked my hometown and threw everyone into confusion. People became refugees overnight. Soldiers at the barracks in town abandoned their posts and left the people to their fates. People ran to the mountains, bushes, some fled to cameroun others made their way to the state capital and those with the wherewithal made it to Abuja and beyond. People were maimed and many lost their lives. I lost a distant cousin as well. His body was found the day after they attacked my village. He happened to be deaf and we don’t know if he didn’t know what was happening. The attack was also supported by some people in town who were undercover members of the sect.
What I feel is a mixture of anger and sadness. The people of the Northeast are living in fear while this group ransacks town after town with ruthless efficiency. The people are not allowed to carry arms yet the government is not doing a great job of defending them. The politicians in the centre are still politicking and the rest of the Nigerian populace are adopting their usual “if it does not affect me or someone I know then I don’t give a shit” approach. Where is the indignation? I don’t blame my fellow countrymen. We don tire. All men dey face their hustle. Of course there are the nitwits I meet here down south who for some idiotic reason feel the conflict is being stage managed to discredit this administration. Apart from fighting the urge to slap the shit out of such people, I wonder if all the people that have died, lost their livelihoods, family and hope are all part of their conspiracy theory. Dead bodies whisper no conspiracies. Of course the politicians try to milk the conflict and the GEJites are seeking re-election for the President.
I would love to sit and play the blame game but I am tired of it. We are living in a climate of fear. And this applies to all Nigerians. Nobody knows when the next attack or where the next bomb blast will occur. A decade ago I would not have imagined that I will lose the right to visit my hometown in december. I hope one day I dont wake up and become a man without a home.
To my fellow Nigerians, fellow people of Arewa and the Northeast, hang in there. Keep the hope alive.