I walked through the bustling streets, my clothes sticking to my body as a result of the sweltering summers heat. Lifeless bodies littered the mile-long street, I felt the tears burst forth like water from a dam, spilling down my face. I could not believe the horrors before my eyes, the worst part of it all was that nobody cared — this was just another war in Africa, nothing important.

***

I was ambling through 4th Avenue, gazing at the ongoing New York traffic; the perturbing fact that I was about to be late for my meeting did not stop me. The view of my city was beautiful. Small pellets of water began to fall against my cheek, signalling that it was time to go.

I arrived at my meeting on time. I was assigned the Boko Haram terrorism group in Western Africa. I was told to pack my bags because my flight would be leaving tomorrow. The group had been terrorising the citizens of Nigeria for years. Unfortunately, the only attention the media paid to them was when the 270 girls went missing; from then on — radio silence. I felt obligated as a journalist to report what was happening there. It seemed that celebrities’ instagram pictures gained more attention than this ongoing war.

I arrived at Murtala Mohammed airport in Lagos 12 hours later, and then I took another plane to Chibok. The Chibok village was far from what I expected. The thick heat was stifling, the dense smell of pollution tainted the air. Cars drove on un-tarred roads, but the majority of the citizens walked the streets.  Women carried babies on their backs, some men carried buckets full of items on their heads. People greeted me as they walked past, yet no smiles were seen. Despite the fact that citizens had to continue with their daily lives, the trace of war was evident.  No one smiled, most walked in a hushed silence; I imagine that before the village used to be full of lively citizens. 

After waiting for 15 minutes, I was picked up by the hotel driver and driven to the best hotel in Chibok — the 5-star Mont Febe. Compared to the rest of what I had seen, this hotel differed to the other hotels and buildings. I was told that it was the “hotel for foreigners”. The Mont Febe hotel was a fairly new glass building that somehow managed to elbow its way between a school and a supermarket. From the moment that I stepped into the hotel, I had an uneasy feeling. When I walked through the doors heads turned but they didn’t turn back, they just stared and murmured amongst themselves.

***

It was almost 1am when I heard the screams that tore through me like a shard of glass. I got dressed and ran down the stairs, only to be greeted by men in masks, dressed in army uniform, guns at the ready. I felt myself being shoved to the floor, and then I was instructed to sit still.

“You people thought that you could hide in this hotel? Did you think that we would not find you?” One of the men in masks asked, the anger in his voice was evident — his voice sent chills through my spine. 

There was a long silence, then the man appeared to be retreating back to their vehicle. At the last minute, he turned around and shot the three people right beside me; splashing blood on to my face. I could feel my heart begin to beat rapidly and my breathing became erratic. I was too mesmerized to speak or even move; all I could do was pray for my life.

“No sir, we did not try to hide”, a frail voice replied, causing the man to smile. I had thought the owner of the frail voice would be rewarded by being set free, instead, he was rewarded with a bullet in his head.

“You can never run from us, you can never hide from us. Do you think we are afraid to kill foreigners? We will do what we want,” He said, “Ku zo cewa girl nan, a yanzu! [Bring that girl here, now!]” he said to another man with a mask on. Unfortunately, I did not know what that meant, but the fact that he was pointing his finger in my direction, meant that it had to do with me. 

Suddenly I felt myself being dragged to my feet and pushed towards the man in the mask. 

“Why are you here?” He commanded of me. 

“I… I am a journalist” I responded.

“Go outside. I want you to report what you see and tell your people that this is our village and we do what we want!” he shouted whilst leading me towards the door.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

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Published by Tiffany Sonola