Haram In Jerusalem

Haram In Jerusalem

I flew into Nigeria from New Zealand a few days ago. It had been a while since I had been in the country. I had been brooding over the decision to visit Maiduguri, the town of my birth. My name is Nnamdi. The name is obviously an Igbo name. As a kid, the only home I knew was in Wulari, Jerusalem. It was a Christian dominated part of Maiduguri.

While in Abuja, I partied with friends I had met in Wellington. We went to bars and we visited night clubs. While my friends enjoyed themselves dancing and conquering whores, I passed through the hell of fear while drinking. It was the terror of realising how Boko-Haram conquered Jerusalem. It was the terror of realising how my parents and siblings died.

I made up my mind, and exactly a week after my arrival in Nigeria, I decided to go to Maiduguri. The plane was the worst I have boarded in my entire life. Bad take off, and rough landing making my heart to toy with death. I can’t imagine why the whites would agree to be hired to pilot such a flying casket.

I met Yemi waiting at the airport in Maiduguri. She was now a woman. I cannot place her resemblance to the house girl that once took care of my younger ones while I was still in Nigeria. Her deep scary eyes had become insightful and beautiful. She wasn’t skinny any more. She looked elegant and was voluptuously hippy. She no more looked like the poor daughter of Mama Gboyega. She sounded too educated for me to link her to the past.

The year a man called my Wellington number to announce the tragic news of my family, she was with him… I spoke with her briefly but got nothing on how my father, my mother, my younger brother and kid sister died. It was just money my father left for me. His house in Jerusalem was no more. My mum’s shop collapsed too, burnt by wickedness. My father’s gratuity was the second reason the man with little Yemi had called. I had given the whole money to Yemi out of anger, that year.

Yemi was still very appreciative. I could see it in her eyes. She drove me in her small Honda all the way to Wulari. I was back in Jerusalem. She packed at a security point filled with soldiers.

‘We would walk the rest… This area is still very dangerous,’ she said to me before telling the soldiers who I was. One of the soldiers had to accompany us.

Along the streets I grew knowing, I saw the burnt houses, burnt Churches and burnt beer parlours. Yemi pointed at a Church that had its pastor killed brutally.

‘They asked him to renounce Jesus Christ, and he said no. They chopped off his hands and also his legs before stuffing bullets into his eyes.’ Yemi said.

My tears were dry but the bitterness in my heart was firm. I was indeed walking on the streets of Wulari, Jerusalem. The current state of the street lived in pretence, I would say. The soldier pointed at spots that were littered with bodies of Christians in the year my parents died. The spots seemed barren now, bowling dried grasses and garbage.

Finally I came to the house I once lived. It wasn’t completely burnt down as I thought. But the blackness of the walls that still stood was evidence that no soul in the house survived when Boko-Haram struck. I squatted right in front of the burnt door leading into the house, leaving the soldier and Yemi metres behind. I couldn’t go in. Finally my tears came quietly. Yemi came behind me. She caressed my back asking me to be a man.

‘I want to know how they died, now…’ I demanded.

It wasn’t still easy for her telling me. She wept like a baby stammering at each mention of the word, Boko-Haram. She told me how my mother had instructed her to go and throw away some left over dinner outside the house. It was an hour before midnight. Oh mama… My mother expected house-helps to walk 24 hours a day… Yemi lasted more than any other house-helps we had… When Boko-Haram struck, it was sudden. Yemi watched from her hidden cover, near the refuse dump, how the house was lit on fire. She said she didn’t hear screams from the inside, concluding my family members had all died quietly.

‘It was the next morning when the calamity was subsiding, and their remains were brought out that I had a hint of how they died,’ Yemi said.

She said their bodies were all together as if they held themselves. They all had been on their knees. Her words tore my heart. She said, ‘They were all clustered together looking like the roasted goats that butchers display in Monday Market. It was obvious your father had assembled your mother and your siblings for prayers. Their eyeballs were all bulging out… Pains showed in their protruding eyeballs.’

The soldiers on his part described the Boko-Haram members. He said most of them had long beards and were dressed in kaftans. He said their trousers were half way down the lower parts of their legs.

‘Dem de move like breeze… We go shoot shoot dem, but their number bin de still increase… We kill kill Dem but dey no dey finish… Dose Boko-Haram people chop charm enter their bone oh… Bullets no de gree enter some of their skin at all…’ the soldier went on.

Shortly before I decided to leave, I asked after how Mama Oloye died. I knew her as a Moslem woman who fries ‘akara’ beside my mother’s shop. Yemi said the extremists had bathed Mama Oloye with the hot oil she fried ‘akara’ in. The woman had danced with all her strength in pains. They set her ablaze afterwards, ending the misery.

‘Didn’t they know she was a Moslem?’ I asked.

‘She was Yoruba… Those Boko-Haram people see Yoruba Moslems as part of the Christians Oh,’ Yemi replied.

I couldn’t understand the motives of Boko-Haram when the soldiers said they burnt a Mosque that had its name written in English. I then remembered that I had once goggled in search of the meaning of Boko-Haram. These extremists were all out against English Language and education. They wanted Arabic to rule the state. Yes, everything written in Arabic. They wanted Islam to become a way of life…

I rejected Yemi’s offer to drop me back at the airport. I stopped a taxi. Not long after I waved Yemi and the soldier off, I realised my driver was a Hausa Moslem, one of them. I now saw all of them as one. I longed for a gun. He started up a conversation in Hausa. Though I understood him, my reply did not, ‘Bar Hausa.’

30 thoughts on “Haram In Jerusalem” by Idoko (@julemyles)

  1. Nice one Idoko. I hope find Govt. finds a solution to this menace called boko haram.

    1. Can the government ever solve this issue? If you hear the rumour airing around Maiduguri, you would wanna believe the Bornu state government is part of Boko Haram.

  2. I love d title, wld come back to read later

    1. Sure expect u, 4ran6…

  3. sambright (@sambrightomo)

    ehmn what a craft of protest undertone.perhaps one with vegeance overtures.i wept in my heart at the way the woman who sells akara was killed despite her religious status.surprisingly,the holy land which they are enjoined to visit at least once in their life time is not such an extremist state.it tells of the devil initiated scheme called boko haram and its motive to rid the nation of any foreign culture,yet islam is a foreign religion.i stand to be corrected.
    Í like your choice of the name for the writeup,a metaphor for the city of Jerusalem a peaceful place that suddenly experiences great trouble.may God continually show this nation mercy and give us the wisdom to apprehend our foes.amen.

  4. @sambright, I am glad you read and shared in the grief… God will surely deliver Nigeria from this wickedness…

  5. You described the death of ‘your’ family well. Killed while kneeling to pray. I had wanted to write an article when the violence started but shelved it because I had so many things that were bothering me then but your story has revived the need to. We will protest in our own way and perhaps, just perhaps, someone would read and take note. Kudos

    1. Idoko (@julemyles)

      enoquin, I am indeed so glad that this story has revived the need for you to write the article…

  6. In my opinion, all the things happening in the North are happening with the help of elements within the Middle East. The faster we open our eyes, the better for us.
    I detected the vengeful undertones bro; I even felt it. U transported me, and that’s not an easy thing to do.
    Well done bro.

    1. Idoko (@julemyles)

      Oga Raymond, thanks o… God go help us…

    2. @Raymond I concur totally with that point. It is a pity that we have allowed the situation with extremism to deteriorate to this level…like I said to someone somewhere : “Life is not fair, neither are we to ourselves.. Shit happens”. As Nigerians na we dey carry that shit enter our own sitting room (figuratively speaking).

  7. I like the telling,but hate the story. Too sad,I should have read it during the day. I used to love the north and its people,now I wonder what I would do if I have a gun when no one is looking.

    1. Idoko (@julemyles)

      Hey Kaycee, easy o… We all see the north these days as a different Nigeria… I wonder what the future holds?

  8. Avery well told story Idoko. It didn’t even read like fiction. Well done!

    1. *tears of joy* on my cheek…. Thanks, Mercy for such kind compliments….

  9. nice one.dis aboki or boko haram whatever is really getting out of hand.all the same kudos@idoko

    1. Idoko (@julemyles)

      thanks Uche for reading… The issue is so complicated… I do know some really good abokis…

  10. Idoko!!!! well done sire!!!
    I’ve lived in Jos, Zaria, Kaduna, Sokoto, Zamfara, Abuja, and had brief spells in other Northern towns and i know that there is fire on the mountain. you have done well.

    Honestly, i want you to compare this your sweet piece with some of those you write in the present tense…

    this is way very good bro (can be better sha.)

  11. I liked this very much, despite the few typos here and there (e.g. when you say “She looked elegant and was voluptuously hippy”, note that there’s not really an adjective like ‘hippy’ – in fact, ‘hippy’ means something completely different. Better to say ‘…elegant, and had voluptuous hips’). But the way you transported me to the moment by telling the tale of the tragedy through the simple, yet powerful narratives of the various witnesses, and the way you showed in the last paragraph how affected the MC was by the stories was brilliant. Well done, Idoko!

    1. @Tola let me add this:

      “The soldiers on his part described the Boko-Haram members. He said most of them had long beards and were dressed in kaftans. He said their trousers were half way down the lower parts of their legs.”

      Check up all those typos brother, story still tight sha! It makes me reminisce on how I enjoyed staying in Zaria and Kano for a while…loved those places. But, not sure I would ever go back there!!!

  12. Idoko (@julemyles)

    Thanks Tola…. I actually knew ‘hippy’ was out of the way… But my thoughts insisted on the game of a freestyle invention… Reading this again, I did notice the typos… I am glad you liked it…

  13. i think that was grand.xikay are u from the north or u just love traveling.great work sir. i think something must be done and fast about the violence in the north or very soon a war would break out and then it would be too late.

    1. And even more fascinating if ‘he’ would love touring around the middle East too…

      War isn’t going to be that possible, I know…. Because the kind of sourtherners/westerners we have in Nigeria are those that can only listen to what is happening and either cry or run to America or Europe… The northern extremists are the only ones strong enough to shed blood…

      I once met a corps member who after serving in the north (Yobe) said the highest she will ever travel to the north from Lagos would be Abuja/Benue… These are parts thatare even referred to as the middle belt regions.

      I just feel the country may divide… That would not still end the religious crises sha. There are Nigerian Christians who are from the north…. Believe it or not…

    2. @empress, i no be notherenere o! i also lived in Port Harcourt, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ondo, Anambra, Edo and Ogun so i just happen to have gone around…na my fate

  14. Thank you for shedding light on a sensitive issue. You took it on bravely and I guess because your bias is aligned with my sentiments I do not mind the lack of objectivity. I got so completely absorbed in the tale I stopped noticing the typos. Great work.

    1. I must give you my novel, doubleespresso… so you could filter off errors…. You sound like a good killer of typos…

      1. Bring it on bros…that’s what we are for…to support one another to be the best we can be. Everyone has different strengths. Well done for having a positive attitude!

  15. Really enjoyed this one Idoko
    Those faceless people have become a thorn in our flesh and have decided not to let peace reign
    They shall all find their end they same way they do to others
    Welldone bro

  16. You told the story well, nice piece.

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