From the Ruins of Mafa, A Liberated Town devastated by Boko Haram Insurgency

As almost every part of Borno state is continuously being liberated by the Nigerian Army, so also some of the internally displaced persons staying in the various IDPs camps in Maidugur arei returning home, if not home proper, at least to the local government headquarters.

A street in the inner part of Mafa Town

Mafa, is one of the liberated local government areas in the state and a very appreciable number of people have returned. Some are residing in their partially destroyed houses – but renovated thanks to the Borno state government through the ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement RRR and some of those displaced from the villages are currently staying in the camps within Mafa town.

On 26th February 2017,  My colleagues Dogo Shettima, Hadiza Aliyu , Audu Isa and Myself happen to be in Mafa, for a special assignment of clothing and footwear’s distribution donated by Muslim Public Affairs Centre Lagos (MPAC/NAZAS) in collaboration with Hadeekubrah For the Less Privilege Maiduguri (HAKUB-LPF), and the distributions took place at Government Girls Arabic Secondary School Mafa ( Camp A) and Government Secondary School Mafa (Camp B). 

The IDP Barber and myself at Mafa town

I was really amazed with the way the people picked up the broken pieces of their lives to move on. Every part of the Town’s lively. Right from the centre of the Town to the inner part of Town was bubbling with activities. Shops Owners were busy doing their businesses, craftsmen were at their work while the children happily playing all over the place, as though they’d never experienced any traumatic period that was caused by the Boko Haram armed conflict.

Interestingly, while there was a food distribution exercise, lead by the District Head of Mafa Prince Abba Kau Shehu Abubakar Ibn Garbai El Amin El Kamemi and supported by the District Head of Ajiri Zanna Yakub Lawan  at the Town square, life goes on in the other parts. You see people rushing to the square only when they’re certain their turn’s around the corner.

Some of the beneficiaries of the food distribution at Mafa Town

Surprisingly, the military Men who not only doing their battle work, took the responsibility of tutoring the young children who were happily learning what they’re taught by the Combatants turned teachers in the makeshift classrooms.

Some IDPs children playing preparing to go into classroom with their Soldiers turned Teachers at Mafa Town

My attention was caught by a young Man, a local Barber giving a cut to a young boy with a manual clippers. I couldn’t but went to his side and talk to him.

The following conversion ensuid;

‘Hello’ I greeted, ‘ My Name is Habu Kale Tijjani, mind if I ask you some questions? I asked.

‘You’re welcome, why not ‘ he answered.

‘ I can see you’ve a wonderful job, how did you learn it? ‘ I asked.

A close shot of the Barber’s work, at Mafa IDPs camp

‘ I inherited it from my father ‘ he said. ‘ while grinning.

‘You come all the way from Maiduguri to do this work?’ I asked, although my presumption was he’s not from Maiduguri.

‘ No!’ He answered. ‘ I’m from NEW AJIGIN ‘ he said.

‘ So you’re and IDP, And doing your work diligently and perfectl ? .’ I asked showing my surprise and amazements.

A young IDP Boy receiving a cut from the Barber at Mafa IDPs camp

‘Yes’, he eagerly answered. ‘ As you can see, since we’re displaced from my home Ajigin, I never felt like an IDP, because of my handwork. I always work and use the money to buy what I want and what my family needs. ‘ he answered.

‘ How old are you?’ I asked

‘I’m twenty five’ he answered

‘ Are you married ?’ 

‘ Yes, with five children ‘ he said with a heroic smile.

Will you go back to New Ajigin, when every thin becomes clear and the military say its safe to go back ? I asked..

The Barber posed for my camera at Mafa

‘ Why not? ‘ was his answer. ‘Although the authorities keep us well, I prefer to go back to my home where I could cultivate my farm Land. I never want to be someone who sits back and Wait from someone, I prefer doing things for myself. Cultivating the farm, hunting and giving people a good cut. He concluded.

After some discussions, I thanked him for his time and moved on. 

To be continued….