A Nigerian woman, Maryam Adamu’s new abode is in Jajimaji, Karasuwa Local Government Area of Yobe State where she and her four children are eking out living in the midst of huge difficulties.
Apart from living in a makeshift house and sometimes sleeping in open places during the dry season, the mother of four in the rainy season occupies a one-room rented zinc hut. The annual rent is N10,000 and paying it is difficult.
The 47-year-old widow spoke with CmaTrends during the distribution of food and agricultural inputs to displaced people at Jajimaji in Karasuwa for the 2021 farming season. She said she has come to terms with being both a father and a mother to her children.
Life before her husband died
She said: “My husband was a politician. He was like a delegate in the local government. During campaigns, politicians like the chairman or councillors bring food and palliatives for my husband to share with the people here. They bring the items to our house. I sometimes share the food items and sometimes wrappers with women; it could be sugar, rice or millet and any other supportive package. My husband will collect them and write down the names of the people that will benefit. We used to do this together. He was a man with a very good heart. He has the interest of the people at heart. He was loving and caring not just to his family but everyone else in the community.”
How things turned bad
Maryam said the darkest day in her life was when her husband was forcefully removed under her wrapper by Boko Haram and slaughtered in her presence.
She said the insurgents invaded the community and gathered everyone in the same area, picking out men and young males.
“They will either fish out the men or the young males, kill them or ask them to stay aside and were later taken away,” she narrated.
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She continued: “My husband was killed alongside other ten men, in an attack which was carried out by the Boko Haram people. They killed both young and old, from ages 13 and above. They were all shot dead. They selected and took others away.
“My husband was killed right in front of me, I covered him with my wrapper and hijab. They were looking for him when they gathered the people. You know that Boko Haram did not like politicians and my husband was a politician. A very popular one at that time. As they were killing people, one of the Boko Haram came to me and asked where my husband was. I told him, I don’t know. He asked me to stand up, before I could stand, he opened my wrapper and hijab, removed my husband and slaughtered him in my presence. It is such an experience I find very difficult to recall. I still recall that a stray bullet hit a pregnant woman who was sitting just beside me on that fateful day. She was bleeding seriously. I doubt if she survived because there was no medical care.”
The long journey to Karasuwa
Trying to get at least a safe and secured place to begin a new life, according to Maryam, was the most frustrating. With her children and other displaced people, they migrated across the desert from the fringes of Lake Chad and eventually away from the shores of Nigeria to the Niger Republic, sometimes on very long foot journeys.
Settling down in the Republic of Niger was a nightmare as their first settlement turned out to be in a community infested with a large number of Boko Haram insurgents.
Anxiety, coupled with devastating weather conditions, compelled them to migrate back to Nigeria and, finally, Karasuwa became their final destination. For the last eight years, it has become like a home.
Life without her husband
“Throughout my years of marriage with my husband, I knew as human beings and as Muslims that we shall die one day but the way my husband left me has left a deep scar in my heart,” Maryam said.
She added: “Everything is on me, feeding, health care, education and all other basic needs. Sometimes I sell beans cake and fried yam, while sometimes I cook rice for my children to sell just for us to survive.”
Maryam said they spent eight years in serious hardship.
“When it is the farming season we hire land from the people to farm. We pay the sum of ten thousand Naira or twenty thousand Naira for a piece of land. Our only problem is the Fulani herdsmen who usually destroy our farms, especially last year when they ate everything that I cultivated with my children. We are hoping to go again this year as we pray for a blessed rainy season. Farming helped us, it is what gives us hope but our biggest problem is the Fulani herdsmen, they destroy our farms completely and left us with nothing.
“I manage to send my children to school even with the current difficulties, some to government schools while others to Islamic,” Maryam said.
“We are hoping to go back to our houses; we left everything and ran away. I am hoping for peace to be restored so we can move back to our houses. We are now living in a house built with grass. Life now is very difficult and praying for help from God almighty,” she said.
Maryam added that the Red Cross helped them the most. She called on philanthropists to come to their aid as IDPs.