West & Central Africa

My escape from Boko Haram

Trafaya looks distraught with swollen cheekbone and eyes – his left eye has bloodspots the tell-tale indication of trauma. He is 23-years-old and from Madagali in Adamawa State in North-eastern Nigeria, an area which has been besieged and devastated by Boko Haram, the Jihadi sect.
Trafaya
“On this particular day,” Trafaya said, “we heard gun shots and we asked the soldiers at the outpost near our village if they knew what was happening because the soldiers were posted there as a result of the insurgency. But before they could ascertain what was happening, men came into our village, shooting. We all ran, my two brothers and I, and left our parents. We ran to a nearby village called Konu and stayed there for days.

“My mother, who by some miracle was not killed by the terrorists at that attack, would cook and bring food to the village where we were, about an hour’s walk. She would also collect our clothes and go and wash them and bring them back. Boko Haram had taken over the village but somehow she was still there, she would say, ‘where else can we run to at this age.”

Trafaya said his father and elder brother were both forced to leave the village after continuous attacks by Boko Haram – nothing has been heard from either of them. Their mother however was left in the village.

He says: “Two weeks later we also heard from a Muslim relative that our mother died. Her body was found two days later.

deserted-village-in-gimti
A Deserted Village after Boko Haram Attack

“News came that Boko Haram had attacked another village near us. By this time I was in my room sick with malaria. I have an aunty in Yola, who also heard the news and paid another relative to come and get me and my younger brother out. But my younger brother had left with another group for Yola. The person came and found me ill in bed with malaria and he just left. My aunty later told me that she was told I was dead and they mourned my death.

“While I was lying down with malaria, too sick to get up, I heard a lot of gunshots outside followed by lots of screaming and shouting. Then two of them [jihadis] came into the room. One of them, he couldn’t have been much older than me came in and saw me laying down. He had an AK 47 in his hand. He looked at me and said, ‘Why aren’t you running?’.
“I said I was sick, then he put the back of his palm on my neck and felt my high temperature. Then he went out and came back with a bunch of ground nuts pulled from a crop outside the hut. He threw it on me and walked away. I had thought he would finish me off or set the house on fire like we know they do. But he walked away. A short while the noise subsided and there was quiet.

“I was in the house for 2 more days with no further food. I managed to get up and feed on the groundnuts outside and water. When I got a little better I joined another group of people fleeing Boko Haram. We had to walk for 5 days, there were no vehicles whatsoever plying the area. We trekked for 5 days with no food we could only get water from a few ponds until we got to Mubi. It was in Mubi that someone helped and took us in his vehicle to Yola. Then I met with my aunty who had tried to get us out of the village earlier. She had somehow been able to find my younger brother.
“She was able to get me out of Yola then we were sent to Jos where Mama Gloria Kwashi, the wife of the Anglican Archbishop has taken us in as her children, my younger brother and I,” he says.