Look at the birds.

After a weekend (pre lock down)of hosting family, I finally got some time to myself to just be – a very necessary for an introvert. I sat on the floor next to the radiator, enjoying the warmth but struggling to calm my racing mind. In that moment I sensed a familiar invitation from the Father to still my heart and lean against him. Immediately I heard through the open window the sound of chirping birds. The sweet melody of their rest was soothing and I found myself slowly sinking into his arms until most of the tension was eased.

The next day, I was back in the office. After a morning of what is now the usual hum of discussions about the Coronavirus, transitioning to a cacophony of impassioned debates about the government’s approach and finally building up to a crescendo of the things we’re afraid of – the lack of loo roll (I was down to 1 and a half rolls), the loss of a holiday to Italy, a vulnerable family member and of course, death itself. Finally a pregnant atmosphere delicatedly laced with fear settled in our office – the calm before the storm perhaps.

I decided to go out for a walk for my lunch and enjoy some quiet time with Him. Stepping into the crisp but gloriously sunny Spring afternoon, I lifted my eyes towards Him and began to breathe again. As I did so, all the tension started to lift and I noticed that sweet melody. The birdsong was even sweeter than it had been yesterday. The song soloed and dueted. It chimed and chirped. And without needing permission, it dove gracefully and rose powerfully, culminating into a beautiful twirl of praise. I was awestruck and looked around to see if anyone had heard it – it seemed impossible to miss in my eyes.

My mind wandered to a well known scripture “look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

These are the words Jesus spoke to his followers as he encouraged them to not be anxious about their lives and to trust in their heavenly Father who knows that they need all the things they worry about.

As I walked through the streets which perpetually seem to carry a prevailing fear, I  marvelled at the birds’ irreverence. I loved their ability to transform this eerily quiet atmosphere into peaceful rest and dare I say, brilliant praise to an unfailing and loving Father “What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD”.

I reached the ASDA store and went down the toilet paper aisle for the billionth time and yup you guessed, still nothing. Later that week, a colleague kindly started a collection for me and got us 3 rolls. My boss managed to order a pack of 4 for us with her milk round. My mother in law sent us 3 rolls and my sister sent us one of her surprise packages with 18 rolls (and a bag of coconut covered marshmallows). So one week later, we are now accidental hoarders of 28 toilet rolls! So it turns my Heavenly Father really does know we need these things.

Now, I know that in the grand scheme of things, loo roll is the very least of our concerns. On a more serious note, I believe that the God who orchestrated my loo roll bounty is the same God brought me out of hospital last year. Following major surgery, I had complications which in short left me fighting for my life. During that time, I did not know if I’d make it but I remember the moments of peace in God’s presence. That peace with says “You’re alright kid, I’ve still got you”.

So in this time, I believe we come to God and ask for our desired outcomes. And after we’re done, we get up from the floor, wash our faces, put on a fresh change of clothes, then we worship God – just like the birds do. In that place, we find Him who is our rest, the quietener of hearts and our salvation – even through this particular storm.

Glory

This morning I woke up and looked out of the window and saw the glory of God.

The bible puts it this way… The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of your hand.

When I looked at the skies, I saw it myself. The heavens where undeniably the main act – the blues, purples and oranges of sunrise announcing to the world that the King is still seated on His throne.

The mighty mountains and the glistening sea stand back resembling an orchestra boasting in agreement with the heavens. Revealing His splendour in the creation of the sea and waves, God asks a man called Job “Who shut up the sea behind door when it burst forth from the womb… when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’? This is God.

We take another step back and behold the audience marvelling at the acts on the stage – lots of little white houses and with tiny little sparks of light called electricity – man’s created way of bringing light when the darkness of night arrives as it surely does each and every day. What I loved is that even man’s many creations, although comparatively very simple also point to God.

The bible says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”. I believe we come from God. We are made in His imagine and as such, we possess God’s DNA. Even in our ignorance of Him, we can not help but do what He does – create.

Looking at the complete picture, it’s breathtaking. It’s as though God takes even our stickman drawing, puts a magnet on it and places it on the fridge door, in His big impressive mansion built on a beautiful private island, surrounded by cool azure blue waters. And if we’ll let him, he’ll put His hand on our head, smile and say “this is very good”.

Unto us a child is born

Last night I had the rare 30 minute window of opportunity where I was without any health monitoring equipment attached to me. I asked my nurse – Nurse Sunny if I could go for a walk and to my surprise she said yes – on the condition that I stay in the ward.

I’ve had Nurse Sunny nights in a row. She’s a Chinese woman in her late 40s, wears a high bouncy ponytail and is partial to a Barbie pink lipstick. Despite this, she’s very militant – she works to what seems like a pretty fixed list and doesn’t do too well when let’s say patients become more ill than she’s planned.

Armed with my permission, I borrowed the old lady in my bay’s zimmerframe and set off to find the hospital chapel, 3 floors down and definitely not in my ward.

As I wondered through the hospital, I felt the lovely winter chill on my face. The usually busy massive hallways were near empty but you still hear the occasional “Merry Christmas” as colleagues departed homeward. I imagined them going home to chop vegetables, eat cheese or perhaps play some boardgames. In that moment, i thought to myself, it’s still a beautiful world.

I finally made it to the little chapel and enjoyed a few quiet minutes with the One who loves me. As I sat in His presence, the day’s doubts and physical assaults melted away as I simply breathed in his love.

“For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

The Heart of the Christmas story. All these things I know to be true of him. He never promised to my personal genie (sometimes I forget this)yet I’ve not found one like him who despite EVERYTHING I still want to give him the highest praise my heart can offer – there is sweet mystery in this.

As I walked back to the ward, I shared my disappointment with him about the fact that I was in hospital over Christmas and felt his peace in that too.

When I arrived back to the ward, I was sure I was returning to bedlam with search parties being dispatched in search of patient 2928053. To my surprise, it seemed no one had noticed my absence. I headed toward my head and behind me came a nonchalant shout from Nurse Sunny “oh we’ve moved your bed so you’re now next to the window”. I said thank you and smiled to myself.

All of this to say family, Merry Christmas. Despite it all, we have our lives and each other. I wish I could be there with you all but our time will come. I love you all very very much! Let’s enjoy the day and love each other all the more x

That creamy crack…

Some of my earlier posts on this blog were stories I shared about my experiences going natural aka cutting off my relaxed hair,  aka coming off the creamy crack .

I haven’t shared much on my hair in recent posts but after many ups and downs, my hair has reached that awkward length where it’s too short to tie up and too long to look cute. I’ve found myself getting frustrated and considering relaxing my hair so, I decided to read the post below which I wrote (and never published) after a disastrous creamy crack relapse. Hopefully this will encourage me and those of you in a similar place to keep going. I’m not promising anything though…

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For now anyway…

– OCTOBER 2014 –

I messed up.

I was 7 months into my natural hair journey, when I noticed that my hair had developed a bad attitude problem. We were getting along just fine when one day I woke up, the honeymoon period was well and truly over and my hair had turned into a jerk! It was coarse, dry, brittle and rude. The only way that I could manipulate it (temporarily), was by massaging it with water and olive oil.

It no longer looked cute and short but rather like a mean looking tangled hedge. Lately, I’d noticed people no longer looked at me when they spoke to me but rather, at the attention seeking little hedge growing out of my head.
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So, after a particularly bad hair week,  I decided enough was enough and found myself at the hairdresser who used to look after my relaxed hair (schoolboy error no. 1).

“Oh wow, you cut your hair!” Dawn exclaimed a little too forced. I smiled politely. She ran her hand over my hair (over not through) and for a spilt second, I saw a flicker of panic on her face. But, she quickly composed herself. I chose to ignore this observation (error no. 2).

“So, what will you be having done today?”, Dawn asked.
Feeling a bit defeated, I explained that I was having a tough time managing my hair and that I wanted to condition it and make it more manageable. Immediately, she recommended a perm. She explained how a perm was a gentler treatment which would make my hair more manageable whilst also allowing it remain somewhat natural. Now, normally before I try a new product on my hair, I would research it to death. But on this rainy autumn morning, I didn’t feel like asking too many questions. I shrugged for her to go ahead (error no. 3). As soon as she started lacquering the cold paste onto my hair, I regretted it.

I felt the Ammonium Hydroxide, Ammonium Thioglycolate, Amodimethicone, Colorants, Fragrance, Polyquaternium-11, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer and Water (apparently) eating away at my hair like an acid. The smell burnt through my nostrils. It smelt like a strong concentration of hair remover.

Had I done my research, I would have found out that Perm aka “PERManent” contains 2 of the key ingredients found in hair removal creams. The thing is, I wasn’t actually trying to remove my hair!

Over the next 2 hours, my hair tossed and turned as it was stripped and tortured. My scalp tingled and my head started to spin until I felt dizzy and unwell – sympathy pains perhaps. It felt like my whole body had joined the protest. Eventually the riot subsided and my hair emerged broken down to a more docile version of its former self.

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Example Natural hair before and after relaxer

I touched my softer “more manageable” hair  which looked more ridiculous than before and the 1st wave of regret hit me. I realised my hair had been a metaphorical child – perhaps a toddler going through his terrible twos and I’d given up on it (OK, a little dramatic – but I was upset lol!).

The 2nd wave hit as it occurred to me that although it seemed the whole “perm thing” had “happened” to me, subconsciously I’d orchestrated it on account of the upcoming conference which 300 of my colleagues would be attending. I guess on some level, I wanted to conform and look “normal”.

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It’s funny because for me, cutting my hair was never about going “natural”  in the technical term or proving a point to anyone. It was more about me experimenting with my God given afro hair and hopefully feeling comfortable in it. It was not something I had intended to do forever but on that Saturday morning, I knew I hadn’t done it long enough to reach whatever earth shattering objective I was trying to achieve.

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The next morning, I made a call to get my hair braided. At the 2014 October Conference, I had long wavy braids. I got a couple of lovely compliments in contrast to the curious stares. Sadly it felt good.

4 months later, I cut off all the permed hair. Back to square one.

Cry my beloved country

I am proudly Zimbabwean born and proud to be a British citizen.

Over the last few weeks, I have found myself oscillating between fear, anger and sadness over the social justice and political situations in the two countries I love and belong to.

  

I’ve tried my best not to engage in the politics of it on social media but I’d be lying if I said I’ve not had a discussion or two (occasionally heated) with friends and family.

So, my question today is what does it look like to engage in the political and social justice issues around me in a way that lines up with the word of God. Here’s a summary of my thoughts:

 

  1. Passivity is not an option

The bible says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne…” In the book of Luke, Jesus tells a parable about a man who had been beaten by robbers and left for dead. Two men walked past him, both times choosing to look the other way. Finally a Good Samaritan walks by and stops to help the injured man.

The morale of the story from the mouth of Jesus was “Go and do likewise.” Desmond Tutu once said “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Now is the time to pick up your cross and go.

Riot police beat a cuffed man

  1. Watch your life.

There are many things we engage in which can feed an unhealthy thought life. For me, I’ve found that social media can be very unhelpful. Take the comments sections for example, a place so rife with conflict that people jokingly admit “I just came here to read the comments”. Although sometimes it seems like light-hearted entertainment, the comments section now seems to be a place where prejudices are born.

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1 Timothy 4:16 says “Watch your life and doctrine closely.” We need to make sure we’re not getting my daily devotion from the church of Facebook.

 

  1. Love never fails.

One of the great things about being a Christian is that God gives me his heart. Slowly but surely, He changes my heart and makes me see the world the way He does.

However, this transformation can be a very fragile as we wrestle with our own human hearts. What God intended to be a heart for justice can quickly turn to hate directed towards anyone who disagrees with us and we find ourselves behaving exactly the way the oppressor first did. 

We become self appointed Judges dealing verdicts and sentences, a job that belongs to God (and the courts) alone – no matter how heinous the crime is.

In these moments, we must remember what first moved our hearts.

Was it seeing your fellow countrymen struggling to make a living because the police take all their day’s earnings at yet another roadblock?

Was it seeing the Police taking another man’s life too easily, seemingly because of the colour of his skin? 

I believe these are all very admirable and worthy causes as long love remains the cornerstone of how we resolve them. Violence and hate is never the answer.

 

 

  1. Calling all Intercessors (that’s ALL Christians)

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world…”

Therefore no matter how it seems, we do not waste time fighting people. We fight our battles on our knees in prayer.

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Isaiah 62 6-7 says “I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.

Intercessors your time has come – take your marks!

 

  1. The KING still reigns.

Despite all the turmoil, do not lose heart. God sees all and He cares. Amos 2 6-7 says

This is what the Lord says:

‘For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed.”

AND, He PROMISES to restore…

Isaiah 51: 3-4

The Lord will surely comfort Zion and look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: Instruction will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations.

Look to the word for comfort and be still – He will make everything beautiful in its time.

 

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Chibok Chronicles – The Complete Series

Part One – The Letter
My stomach flipped with excitement as I read the letter for the 3rd, maybe 8th time that week.

Dearest Hauwa,

How are you? How are the preparations for your final exams going? I am doing well. I’m now in the 2nd year of my course at the American University of Nigeria. I’m finding Medicine very demanding but God willing, I qualify in 3 years. I’m working really hard in the hope of getting a job in Maiduguri. Maybe even a job in Abuja, who knows. In an ideal world I’d want to settle back home but with all trouble in Borno, perhaps the city would give a better life. I know all these things are a long way away but all the trouble in Borno brings them to the forefront of my mind. It consumes me and robs me of sleep at night. I pray for you everyday.

I’ll be coming home for Easter in a few weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing you and the old gang from the village. It seems like yesterday when we were all in detention after the “incident” with Mrs. Joseph’s English breakfast tea! I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve missed you, and the rest of the gang of course.

Balarabe told me he saw you at the village when he visited a few weeks ago. He mentioned that your auntie Saraya was visiting from Lagos and he had had “the honour of rescuing the beautiful Hauwa Yahona from the manly duty of killing a chicken”. He is still a clown, even in med school! I would not recommend you spend too much time with him. I still suspect he was responsible for that actually quite cruel incident with Mrs. Joseph’s English breakfast tea. Only Balarabe would have used double the dose of those laxatives. That boy is bad juju I tell you!

I was thinking that on your last day, I could come for you at the boarding school. Perhaps I can help you to carry your suitcase home. It will give us a chance to talk alone. I hope that’s ok with you.

I’m counting the days.

Yours,
David (Welu)

I smiled to myself remembering how Joy had cackled with glee, her eyes twinkling with excitement as she had read the “scandal” that was David’s letter. “Eeeeeeee! Is this our David? Big ears David? David who was still wetting his bed up to Grade 4! Eeeeeeee, the Lord is mer-ci-ful!” she exclaimed erupting in laughter, this time with the girls in tow.

Happy girls

“Oh my yellow bone! Girls, the boy has been studying to be a Dr for 2 YEARS and now he has already married our Hauwa and they are living in Abuja”. She wiped the laughter tears from the corners of her eyes and linked her arm through mine. She pulled me in gently.
“Hauwa, David wants to carry your suitcase for you. You must be very careful he doesn’t break his arm with all those romance novels you carry around!” Joy looked up at me with a playful grin, her eyes twinkling warmly.
“Hey girls”, Naomi called out. “Maybe she can take some of the books out and read to him during their talk alone. That will lighten the load!” There was another burst of laughter. This time the rest of the dorm who were pretending to mind their own business joined in.

I kissed my teeth doing my best to look offended although secretly enjoying girls’ playful ribbing. I was pleased that Joy had also translated David’s somewhat cryptic and unexpected letter to be one of love interest.

Joy is my best friend. She is loud, caring, funny and has a good heart. She can always be relied upon to blurt out that inappropriate thought everyone is thinking but is too shy to say. If there was something salacious to be said, Joy would almost certainly spout it out (often unintentionally) and have everyone trapped in a complex mix of shock and the pure unadulterated laughter. Joy is also the smartest of my friends and has gotten straight A’s for the last 3 years.
She also knows the word like no other and can often be heard flicking the pages of her well-worn Bible during the early hours of the morning while the rest of the dorm gently snores.

Part Two – Mud Flavoured Funkaso

Despite being 2 years older than me, David has always been there. When we played house as children, I was always his wife and assumed this role by making him and our only child, Jojo the dog mud Funkaso cakes, with a sprinkle of sand for sugar. Jojo had been our son until Sagi, my baby brother was old enough to replace him. David had always enjoyed my muddy Funkaso. He would often show his appreciation by rubbing his belly the same way father did when mother made him Suya spicy kebabs with rice.

Vana

As we grew older, David assumed the role of a big brother. He walked me to and from school everyday, protecting me from other older boys, mainly Balarabe. I remember one time, Balarabe went through a phase of flipping girls’ dresses and actually managed to pursue his mischievous aims for quite some time. This was until the fateful day he had tried to flip my dress. David beat him up so thoroughly that he never tried it again!

However since I turned 16 last year, my relationship with David has changed into something I can’t quite understand. He avoids eye contact, hardly speaks to me and yet, he is still always there. For example, our families often attend each other’s celebrations and funerals. As my mother’s only daughter such gatherings are always a very stressful time for me. There is flour to be kneaded, vegetables to be chopped and Daddawa to be stewed. But, by far the most difficult task is the killing of the chicken. I am terrified at the thought of taking life, even that of a fairly insignificant and rather tasty chicken. My mother always insists, “Hauwa, you need to stop this silliness. You must learn to kill a chicken or else you’ll end up marrying a poor man and eat vegetables for the rest of your life! Your father and I are not paying 50,000 naira per term for you to marry a pauper”.

I’m tempted to take my chances. My stomach starts churning at the sound of Sagi my baby brother chasing his dinner, the chicken. The pursuit is often a dramatic one, which lifts the dust around the compound and has Sagi shrieking somewhat maniacally at the terrified chicken. Eventually, the bird succumbs to fatigue and Sagi pounces. With a huge triumphant grin on his face, Sagi presents the bird to me.

I feel its little heart beating fast in my hands. My own heart is often thumping pretty quickly too. I’ve come to believe that all living creatures have a 6th sense for death or impending doom. I can taste the bile rising up my throat as I pick up the blunt knife. It’s important that I place my foot firmly over its flapping panicked wings. If my foot shifts slightly, the wing often snaps during its struggle and rips through the chicken’s white fIesh, causing it to squawk in pain. Even worse, sometimes the chicken comes free and starts running around the compound headless, its broken wing hanging off awkwardly. At this point, I am heaving into the dish of hot water I had prepared for softening the bird’s quills, ready for plucking.

Huku

It is always in that moment before I have to make the cut that David turns up, as if from nowhere. He takes the bird and knife from my hands and swiftly kills the chicken. Despite the fact that David hardly speaks to me (in fact, he speaks to my friend Maryama much more than he does me), he’s always on time to rescue and protect me.

Two more days to go until David comes for me. I wonder what he’ll say. Perhaps he’ll ask me to be his girlfriend. It’s good that absence makes the heart grow fonder, lol!
Can you imagine it? David and Hauwa both studying at the American University of Nigeria. One doctor and one judge – what a match! I’m bubbling over with excitement. Just 2 more sleeps to go…

Part Three – 6th sense

Dear Diary,

Tomorrow is my final exam. I am one step closer to becoming The Honourable Miss Justice Yahona (maybe in 5 years or so I could be The Honourable MRS Justice Welu)! I feel a mixture of excitement and fear. I’ve been revising for my Physics exam all day and unfortunately my subconscious betrayed me because I found myself writing “David’s Law” instead of “Dalton’s Law” on my revision cards. As luck would have it, Joy spotted this and swiped the cards from my desk.

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“Girls! Come and see this!” she yelled waving the revision cards in the air whilst I tried in vain to retrieve them from her hand.

“Tomorrow we are going to be tested on Dr 2 YEARS David’s law!” she exclaimed displaying the cards. This had the girls roaring with laughter, providing some much needed comic relief, albeit at my expense. Only Maryama stood around looking a little tense. She’s been acting strange since the letter arrived.

It’s 8pm. I’ve already packed my suitcase and ironed my new blue dress, an early congratulations present from Mother. Naomi who is the fashionista in our group insisted I shave off my eyebrows and she’ll draw on more perfect ones for me in the morning. I hope David likes it.

dorm

The girls and I have said our prayers together, a ritual we recently introduced into our exam preparation routine. Today the mood during prayers was heavy. Perhaps everyone is anxious about the final exam – it is Physics after all. Maybe it’s the thought that our risk appears to have paid off. We may actually finish our High School education despite all the terrors we were warned of.

There is a lot of commotion in the neighbouring villages tonight. We can hear gunshots in the distance and they are closer than usual. The mood is still very heavy in the dorm. I feel increasingly fearful and I don’t know why.

Naomi is saying the army has entered the boarding school grounds and has come to rescue us. I’m concerned because we haven’t seen the teachers. The matron would normally be her….

Part Four – The cry of a mother’s broken heart
It’s been 516 days since I heard Sagi my little boy laugh from the depth of his gut. 516 days since Boko Haram took my precious daughter, Hauwa. 516 days since life lost it’s meaning.

The world has stopped going round in Chibok. The only thing that seems to be changing is my niece’s son Ishmael. Ishmael was born on the night the girls were taken from the boarding school. This simple fact has brought such bitterness to my heart.

Ishmael is a strong, happy & sociable baby. His chubby little arms reach out to me too often. His milky white eyes shine brightly. His dribbly mouth smiles broadly. All of this, as though to mock my pain. I know his little heart craves my affection and warmth but it’s too hard for me. Every time he adds a new gurgled word to his vocabulary or another tooth pushes its way out of his gummy mouth he reminds me of how much the world has moved on, despite the fact that my precious little girl is not yet home. If only he had been born one day earlier.
A day before Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group decided that my daughter was a sinner for wanting to be educated. “Western education is a sin”. That’s what Boko Haram means.

Boko-Haram

Today we attended another funeral. That makes 17 parents that we have buried since the girls were kidnapped. They say the cause of death varies. Some have died from blood pressure. Some have died of ulcers because they don’t eat. To me, they have all died of broken hearts. I myself am close to death. Despair calls me to my grave. Hope keeps me alive.

David used to come and visit and sit with me in silence. Sometimes he would kick the ball with Sagi like Hauwa used to do. He has stopped coming now and spends a lot of time with Maryama whenever he visits the village. Maryama is one of the lucky girls who escaped that night.

Joy Simon also escaped and returned home some months ago. When her mother saw her walking towards the compound, she let out a heart rendering shrill that brought the entire village out of their homes. She ran to her daughter and threw her arms around her. Sobbing uncontrollably, she repeatedly kissed her face “Oh my Lord. Oh my God. Thank you. Thank you Jesus”. I remember how Joy stood there, her face blank, her arms limp at her sides, tears rolling gently down her face.

I visited the Simon’s home 3, maybe 8 times the week Joy came home. I wanted to respect their time as a family but I am a desperate mother. I was desperate to find out where my Hauwa was. Was she safe? What kind of conditions were they living under? Had my precious daughter been harmed?

I was not the only mother who visited the Simon family frequently during that time. We were like hungry wolves in sheep’s clothes. We were desperate for information and dressed our sometimes ulterior motives in “supportive” food parcels and the occasional bottle of Coca-cola.

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Joy remained silent for a month although the piercing screams of her night terrors could be heard in still of the night. She hardly ate. When her mother made her light pepper soup and gently coaxed her to eat, she would stare into her bowl with tears streaming down her face. After much probing, one day she revealed that she had been raped 15 times by 15 men every one of the 96 days she had been in captivity.

sad women

From that day, I stopped visiting the Simon family. It was more information than my soul could bear. The village went into anguished mourning. More parents’ deaths came in the weeks that followed that revelation than we had seen since the abduction. At night, a choir of screams can now be heard throughout the village. Joy’s cries are the most distinct. Guttural, like an animal being led to slaughter.

 anguish

I have not been with my husband since that day. He is never in the house for more than 30 minutes in the day because if he sees me cry, he also breaks down in tears. When he comes home late at night, his breath smells of beer. Sometimes he tries to lie with me but when he pulls me to him, visions of these heartless savages hurting my little girl assault me. The eye of my mind holds me prisoner and forces me to re-enact the horrors Joy suffered, but with my Hauwa in her stead. I imagine her married with children she doesn’t love. I imagine her being given a knife and forced to slit the throats of Christians who are not willing to denounce their faith. ‘Oh God, my sweet baby couldn’t even kill a chicken’. My heart starts palpitating and I taste the bile rising up my throat. Eventually my throat opens up to release the little food I’ve eaten. I wail dry tears through the night and my husband sobs into his pillow. “I didn’t protect my little girl. I only had the one girl and I couldn’t even protect her”, he repeats this until his voice is hoarse. The effect of the beer eventually dulls his senses and he sleeps.

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I lie awake listening to my husband whimpering in his sleep. I try and regain control of the war that wages in my mind. I’m weak. I’m tired. I’m completely broken.

Why did I let her go for that final exam? We knew there was trouble.
If only I had nurtured her homely skills instead of her education, she would still be here.
David would have come back for her after his studies. He’s a good boy. He would have made such a fine husband for my precious flower. She could have been like my niece running after her chubby Ishmael.
Hauwa will try and be strong but I know her gentle spirit is in turmoil. Hauwa was such a loving and supportive girl. Why am I speaking of her in the past tense? She needs me to keep hoping. I am a failed mother.
I want to die. I wish Hauwa was dead. Oh what a terrible thing it is to want my own child to die! But if she was dead, then her anguish would be over.


amai

 “Oh God help me! This pain is too much. I can’t bear it anymore. Lord please make it stop. God please make the world care. Father this is my baby. My precious, precious 18-year-old baby. God please make Michelle Obama care again. Make her see our girls in the eyes of her own precious children. If they could find Osama Bin Laden, a single man or Saddam Hussein who was hiding in a hole underground, surely they can find our 219 girls. Oh God, move the hearts of our government. Move the hearts of the people of the world. 

Move the heart of the person reading this… This, the sound of my heart broke cry. Oh God, please make them care and bring back my little girl”.

lone mum 

“We need to know where these girls are. We need to. We really need to. For me the greatest pain is that I don’t feel my government did the best that it could do for these girls. The regret that I have in my spirit concerning this failure is so profound. Just the thought that this is because they are poor makes me even angrier because, education is what enables you to conqueror poverty
Oby Ezekwesili
AFTERWORD
Thanks for taking time to read this blog – I know it was a long one 🙂
My aspiration for this story was to bring the abduction of the Chibok girls to your hearts. I wanted share the typical life of one of the girls who was abducted – her boy crushes, her fears, annoying little brother and her friendship group. We all have that one friend like Joy! I wanted to let you into her hopes, her dreams and what she could have been.
Lastly I wanted to show you the aftermath – the brokenness, the violence, the violation of human rights, the mother’s heart, the religious persecution, the fear and the pain. Yes, 17 parents have died. Yes, one girl who escaped was raped 15 times by 15 men EVERYDAY. These are actual facts and the fact is, this wound can not heal until these girls are brought back home.
You and I have the power an obligation to do something about this – “Apathy and silence are the biggest accomplices to social injustice”. We need to shout about this until our politicians get so sick of hearing our voices that they are forced to act, if only to shut us up. 
Each of us have different gifts we can use to bring these girls back. What’s in your hand? Exodus 4:2

The cry of a mother’s broken heart – Part 4

It’s been 516 days since I heard Sagi my little boy laugh from the depth of his gut. 516 days since Boko Haram took my precious daughter, Hauwa. 516 days since life lost it’s meaning.

The world has stopped going round in Chibok. The only thing that seems to be changing is my niece’s son Ishmael. Ishmael was born on the night the girls were taken from the boarding school. This simple fact has brought such bitterness to my heart.

Ishmael is a strong, happy & sociable baby. His chubby little arms reach out to me too often. His milky white eyes shine brightly. His dribbly mouth smiles broadly. All of this, as though to mock my pain. I know his little heart craves my affection and warmth but it’s too hard for me. Every time he adds a new gurgled word to his vocabulary or another tooth pushes its way out of his gummy mouth he reminds me of how much the world has moved on, despite the fact that my precious little girl is not yet home. If only he had been born one day earlier.
A day before Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group decided that my daughter was a sinner for wanting to be educated. “Western education is a sin”. That’s what Boko Haram means.

Boko-Haram

Today we attended another funeral. That makes 17 parents that we have buried since the girls were kidnapped. They say the cause of death varies. Some have died from blood pressure. Some have died of ulcers because they don’t eat. To me, they have all died of broken hearts. I myself am close to death. Despair calls me to my grave. Hope keeps me alive.

David used to come and visit and sit with me in silence. Sometimes he would kick the ball with Sagi like Hauwa used to do. He has stopped coming now and spends a lot of time with Maryama whenever he visits the village. Maryama is one of the lucky girls who escaped that night.

Joy Simon also escaped and returned home some months ago. When her mother saw her walking towards the compound, she let out a heart rendering shrill that brought the entire village out of their homes. She ran to her daughter and threw her arms around her. Sobbing uncontrollably, she repeatedly kissed her face “Oh my Lord. Oh my God. Thank you. Thank you Jesus”. I remember how Joy stood there, her face blank, her arms limp at her sides, tears rolling gently down her face.

I visited the Simon’s home 3, maybe 8 times the week Joy came home. I wanted to respect their time as a family but I am a desperate mother. I was desperate to find out where my Hauwa was. Was she safe? What kind of conditions were they living under? Had my precious daughter been harmed?

I was not the only mother who visited the Simon family frequently during that time. We were like hungry wolves in sheep’s clothes. We were desperate for information and dressed our sometimes ulterior motives in “supportive” food parcels and the occasional bottle of Coca-cola.

all cryin

Joy remained silent for a month although the piercing screams of her night terrors could be heard in still of the night. She hardly ate. When her mother made her light pepper soup and gently coaxed her to eat, she would stare into her bowl with tears streaming down her face. After much probing, one day she revealed that she had been raped 15 times by 15 men every one of the 96 days she had been in captivity.

sad women

From that day, I stopped visiting the Simon family. It was more information than my soul could bear. The village went into anguished mourning. More parents’ deaths came in the weeks that followed that revelation than we had seen since the abduction. At night, a choir of screams can now be heard throughout the village. Joy’s cries are the most distinct. Guttural, like an animal being led to slaughter.

 anguish

I have not been with my husband since that day. He is never in the house for more than 30 minutes in the day because if he sees me cry, he also breaks down in tears. When he comes home late at night, his breath smells of beer. Sometimes he tries to lie with me but when he pulls me to him, visions of these heartless savages hurting my little girl assault me. The eye of my mind holds me prisoner and forces me to re-enact the horrors Joy suffered, but with my Hauwa in her stead. I imagine her married with children she doesn’t love. I imagine her being given a knife and forced to slit the throats of Christians who are not willing to denounce their faith. ‘Oh God, my sweet baby couldn’t even kill a chicken’. My heart starts palpitating and I taste the bile rising up my throat. Eventually my throat opens up to release the little food I’ve eaten. I wail dry tears through the night and my husband sobs into his pillow. “I didn’t protect my little girl. I only had the one girl and I couldn’t even protect her”, he repeats this until his voice is hoarse. The effect of the beer eventually dulls his senses and he sleeps.

cd

I lie awake listening to my husband whimpering in his sleep. I try and regain control of the war that wages in my mind. I’m weak. I’m tired. I’m completely broken.

Why did I let her go for that final exam? We knew there was trouble.
If only I had nurtured her homely skills instead of her education, she would still be here.
David would have come back for her after his studies. He’s a good boy. He would have made such a fine husband for my precious flower. She could have been like my niece running after her chubby Ishmael.
Hauwa will try and be strong but I know her gentle spirit is in turmoil. Hauwa was such a loving and supportive girl. Why am I speaking of her in the past tense? She needs me to keep hoping. I am a failed mother.
I want to die. I wish Hauwa was dead. Oh what a terrible thing it is to want my own child to die! But if she was dead, then her anguish would be over.


amai

 “Oh God help me! This pain is too much. I can’t bear it anymore. Lord please make it stop. God please make the world care. Father this is my baby. My precious, precious 18-year-old baby. God please make Michelle Obama care again. Make her see our girls in the eyes of her own precious children. If they could find Osama Bin Laden, a single man or Saddam Hussein who was hiding in a hole underground, surely they can find our 219 girls. Oh God, move the hearts of our government. Move the hearts of the people of the world. 

Move the heart of the person reading this… This, the sound of my heart broke cry. Oh God, please make them care and bring back my little girl”.

lone mum 

“We need to know where these girls are. We need to. We really need to. For me the greatest pain is that I don’t feel my government did the best that it could do for these girls. The regret that I have in my spirit concerning this failure is so profound. Just the thought that this is because they are poor makes me even angrier because, education is what enables you to conqueror poverty
Oby Ezekwesili
AFTERWORD
Thanks for taking time to read this blog – I know it was a long one 🙂
My aspiration for this story was to bring the abduction of the Chibok girls to your hearts. I wanted share the typical life of one of the girls who was abducted – her boy crushes, her fears, annoying little brother and her friendship group. We all have that one friend like Joy! I wanted to let you into her hopes, her dreams and what she could have been.
Lastly I wanted to show you the aftermath – the brokenness, the violence, the violation of human rights, the mother’s heart, the religious persecution, the fear and the pain. Yes, 17 parents have died. Yes, one girl who escaped was raped 15 times by 15 men EVERYDAY. These are actual facts and the fact is, this wound can not heal until these girls are brought back home.
You and I have the power an obligation to do something about this – “Apathy and silence are the biggest accomplices to social injustice”. We need to shout about this until our politicians get so sick of hearing our voices that they are forced to act, if only to shut us up. 
Each of us have different gifts we can use to bring these girls back. What’s in your hand? Exodus 4:2