We left Jos with few of our belongings during the civil war. When the war ended, my mother refused to come back with me and my father. She stayed back with my sisters at Achina. My name is Ozoemena and I’m fourteen years old. I was in primary four at Community Primary School Bukuru when the war began. The school was close to our home also in Bukuru which had Igbo students as the majority.
Our school did not suffer any infrastructural damage which was surprising to me. Most of my Igbo friends were absent. I do not know whether they are dead or chose not to come back like my mother. My classmates are now predominantly Hausa. We just had our second lesson when Ahmed and Sanni started harassing Chidimma because she refused to lend Ahmed her biro. I walked up to the front row where the drama was unfolding because they were getting abusive towards her. I have never been a fighter but I would do my best.
“Give her back her biro!”, I said to both of them.
“You’ve no say in this matter”, replied Ahmed.
“Go back to your Biafra, losers”, added Sanni.
Soon, all the Hausas started singing one of those taunting songs composed by the Nigerian Army to humiliate Biafrans. I ended up being beaten; this was also the fate of the few Igbos that came to my rescue. I went home with a swollen eye. On my way home, I met our neighbor, Musa, a retired local boxer. He beckoned me over to his side of the road when I tried to avoid him.
“What happened to you? “, he asked, tilting my chin upwards to get a better look at my face. When I did not reply, he asked. “Where you involved in a fight?”
“I was beaten by the Hausas in our class. They called us names and told us to go back to Biafra”
He took my hand and we walked home in silence. I knew he was not happy because he was a peace loving man. When we entered our compound, he took me to his house and showed me the room where he used to train.
“I do not support bullying but I cherish the art of self-defence. Whatever I teach you will be used in self-defense. Is that clear? “
“Yes sir” I replied with smiles all over my face.
My training took effect at 3.00pm the next day which was our agreed time. My father was not aware of the events in my life due to his busy schedule. A few days to our third term examination, I had to put my boxing skills in use. Ahmed, Sanni and their “twelve disciples” confronted me on my way home with my three close friends; Obinna, Ugo and Chike. They cut us off from the nearest route home. It was a fight for our dignity and the Igbos’. It was four against fourteen but it was four that was left standing. Ahmed got the better of my skills. We congratulated ourselves and went home.
The next day, we were all called into the headmaster’s office. Ahmed and his father were there. After hearing both sides, the headmaster assured Ahmed’s father that we would be severely punished. When they left, the headmaster was silent for a moment, then his face broke into a smile and he got up and shook our hands. He told us in a deep baritone voice, “You’ve done Biafra proud”.
Our headmaster was Igbo. No punishment was meted out, studies continued and the harassment of Igbo students stopped.