KING – BOKO HARAM

Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Regis (24th of November, 2019)

My sister was laughing so hard because she only tapped me for a ‘Snap’ and I started singing. I am that ‘high’ on Christ the King Sunday.

One of my most favorite Solemnities is CHRIST THE KING.

Christ the King reminds me of Christ in my heart. It reminds me of the Christ who rescued that very angry Teenager and made her one of the happiest people you will ever meet. It reminds me of the Christ who transformed that Arrogant teenager to this humble woman you will meet today. It reminds me of the Christ who has constantly uplifted me and created ways for me where there seemed to be none.

I have celebrated Christ the King in many locations across Nigeria even at the 177 Guards Battalion, Shittu Alao Barracks, Keffi, Nasarawa state.

Case Scenario

The Romeo, His Juliet, Her King and Boko Haram

Sometime ago, in 2015; I was missing My Love so badly. We had had a huge misunderstanding and he promised he was not going to speak with me anymore! It was over between us!

Initially, I was like; “well, what’s the big deal? na today, abegi, waka! There are so many other men out there. After all, I never even wanted to be with you.”

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You know I got that attitude from my Mum; never to be so attached to anything, so much, that it causes you a mental breakdown.

Mum always says; “eyan o gbodo para e nitori enikan, iwo o gbodo para e, abi fun ra e l’apatenshan nitori okunrin, nitori t’oba p’ara e tan, eni t’o titori e para e, maa maa se aye lo ni, t’oba je okunrin ni, o tun maa fe’yawo mi meaning “One must not kill oneself because of anyone, you must not kill yourself or develop hypertension because of a man, because after you commit suicide (kill yourself), the person for which you died, will continue to live and enjoy life, if it is a man, he will marry another woman.

You see, after some days, he had still not called, I had not heard from him. He was not picking my calls too. I knew I was ‘dead’. He was quite the peace-maker, so this behaviour was quite strange!

My nonchalance soon turned into a feeling of trepidation. What if something had happened to him? After all, he was in the dreaded Boko Haram Territory; Maiduguri, Borno State, North-eastern Nigeria.

You see, unlike every other relationship I have had, this man loved me very much and dearly too, he respected me and my feelings too, he was generous, he was kind, and I was not the only one who said these things about him even his subordinates did.

I did not want to lose him! He had taught me ‘never to throw people away‘ sharply negating what I had become accustomed to and had learnt from my Mum. In fact, he always teased me about my willingness to ‘discard people’. He never broke ties with anyone with whom he had formed an acquaintance and it was in fact the cause of our misunderstanding. It was an ‘old flame’ he had refused to quench.

So, I made up my mind to go find him in Maiduguri. I could not tell anyone because at the time, even the mention of ‘Maiduguri’ sent chills down the spine of even the bravest of men!

Rumour had it, that some Military officers who were sent to Maiduguri to combat the dreaded sect paid their way out of it (a.k.a. runs) but people like My Love; who were very honest and loved Nigeria to a fault were willing to lay their life for the betterment of the country and went wherever they were sent!

I learnt to be brave by watching his life. It was what God wanted, right? Was it not why he said; “You need not fear any dangers at night or sudden attacks during the day or the plagues that strike in the dark or the evils that kill in the daylight“? So, I am an “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for thou hath with me, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou Preparest a table for me, even in the presence of my wicked enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over” Person. Abi, no be so?

Na so now

The gory images of razed down villages, severed bodies of women, men and children, and all the other images of the attacks that were being perpetuated by the dreaded Boko Haram sect had sent many into a frenzy, thrown the whole nation into turmoil, seemingly outwitted the Military and made Maiduguri a sort of ‘a word is enough for the wise’ haven for the Boko Haram sect.

Even though, Maiduguri was ‘war-torn’, severely ravaged by the Boko Haram attacks, I wanted to see My Love!

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Aftermath of a Boko Haram Attack. Pic Credit: Google Images

I guess it was because I did not understand the severity of the situation or because I was very confident that my King will protect me.

I tried to book a flight from Lagos to Maiduguri, there was none. I was told Yola Airport was the closest airport to the Maiduguri Airport and I could get a flight to Maiduguri from Yola. After all, the American University of Nigeria is located in Yola, the capital of Adamawa state). So, this should be easy right? or so I thought. So, I booked a flight.

I was at the departure lounge waiting to board, when I fell into deep thought. As usual, I keep to myself a lot! Even though I am a very nice person, I am not friendly, I wait for you to make the first move and then decide if I will accept it or not. No, it’s not Pride. I just feel like I have ‘so much to give in love’ but Love has never really been good to me. So, constantly I am protecting my heart and trying not to get hurt again. My bad!

This was my predominant way of thinking until I met My Love who explained to me that; I was ‘doing Love’ wrongly as ‘it was the Man’s duty to love and the woman’s to be submissive’. In his words, ‘these roles were not to be interchanged or exchanged.’ That was new to me and It was difficult to adjust.

He did not only say this, he showed me how. He would give up whatever it was for my comfort. I remember, one day, I visited him at Bonny Camp, Victoria Island, Lagos. We were chatting, it was getting quite late, so, he suggested I stayed the night (don’t try this at home o, avoid every occasion of sin). I accepted, like I said to him; “I know my man and his level of continence.”

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I am serious

He asked; “do you want anything? I replied; “tissue paper”. Of course, he had taken care of food, that was always the very first thing he took care of. He had no tissue paper, so he said; “okay, let me go get it for you.” I sprang to my feet and said; “oh no! I am coming with you!” He laughed, perceiving I was weary of being alone, added; “what will carry you from here before I return?” So, we started the long drive, all the stores on the cantonment were closed, so he proceeded to do; ‘house-to-house’ visitation because it was a common sight to see converted shops in the block of flats at the Soldiers’ quarters. Do you know he was driving round Bonny Camp around 11p.m. looking for tissue paper? After a while, I told him; “see, leave it, I will cope” and he was like; “No, when I asked, ‘what do you want?’, the only thing you requested was tissue paper, so, I must get that tissue paper.” His perseverance paid off because we got that tissue paper and were finally able to return few minutes before 12a.m.

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Snapping out of my reverie, I realized that our flight had been severely delayed. As that was the only Airline flying the Lagos to Yola route; we were at the mercy of the Airline Carrier, so all the Passengers complained in silence. This delay greatly affected our arrival time rescheduling us from an afternoon arrival to an evening one. As the aircraft taxied, I had mixed feelings but I anticipated I will still get a connecting flight to Maiduguri even though it was already quite late. I did not know what to do and worse of all, My Love was not expecting me, he had no idea I was even coming. I had no idea of his location too. It was almost like I was on a wild goose chase but like I do before embarking on any of my journeys, I pray. If I get a ‘fiat‘, I embark on the journey, if not, I let it go. It was important to get the fiat as I travelled a lot and often times without informing anyone. Why?

My Parents are quite traditional and conservative; my dad especially. My Father (https://ewaade.com/2019/11/22/my-father-the-traditionalist/) will not permit us to travel anywhere. I guess it was a move to ‘keep us in check’; don’t visit people (even family members), so they don’t give you favours and begin to count it, don’t visit people that they may not corrupt your good manners, etc. My mother, on the other hand is very conservative; you are free to travel as long as she knows in what direction you will be going and the area is safe and she believes the person you are going to visit is a ‘Human being’. So, from 2012, I began to ‘leave’ without obtaining permission. I was in my early twenties (20s). Not a good thing though, because of the anxiety you cause the Parents. God bless my Parents.

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People say African Parents give you ‘eye’ like this when you are offered something in a party but my own Parents will feed you to the point that you have no space left in your stomach before attending a party. Such that; you will be
offered everything but will not be able to eat it. In fact, you may fall asleep before the party is over

So, I went to ‘baggage claim’ and picked up my luggage and walked towards the ticketing office at the Yola Airport and asked to book a ticket to Maiduguri. I got the shock of my life when I was informed that the the Maiduguri Airport had been closed for a while. It was almost 5 p.m. and I knew no one in Yola! Even though Yola was not as volatile as Maiduguri, it was not safe either because of the close proximity of the two states; Adamawa and Borno. In fact, attacks suspected to be masterminded by the radical Boko Haram sect had been reported at the boundaries and outskirts of Yola!

There was one other challenge; language and culture barrier. While Yola is located in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria; where a larger part of the populace is Muslim and Hausa-speaking, I am from the South-western part; where a larger part of the populace is Christian and Yoruba-speaking. We speak two distinct languages and have cultures as diverse and dynamic as the North pole is from the South pole. Our ways of life? as uniquely distant as the actual distance that separates us! A larger populace here spoke, interacted, transacted business, ate, drank and breathed in Hausa language!!! I was done for!

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Nigerian Map showing the 36 states and Geopolitical zones

As I looked around surreptitiously , two other passengers, who were aboard the Lagos – Yola flight approached me. I guess they had noticed me on the flight and suspected I was in some kind of trouble judging by the way I glanced surreptitiously. They asked what the issue was and I explained to them that I was enroute Maiduguri, they laughed and told me it was impossible as that airport had been closed for renovation. I believe strongly that it was closed because of the disruptive and destructive activities of the Boko Haram sect.

So, I asked if they could recommend a good hotel where I could pass the night and leave for Maiduguri the next morning. One of the men immediately responded; “if you don’t mind, you can spend the night at my place and I will take you to the park tomorrow morning, it’s not safe for you to be out here alone. You are not from here, anyone who sees your face will know.’ He made that statement because I had a head covering, I always use a head covering anytime I travel to the North.

I wanted to refuse his offer, but the man impressed on me and when I thought about all the other shortcomings I had particularly the Language barrier, I obliged.

This man not only gave me shelter but treated me like the absolute Queen.

A stranger to a stranger in a strange land.

The hospitality was top-notch.

I don’t know what you are thinking but that was God coming through for me.

This stranger not only dropped me at the park the next morning but also paid my fare as I boarded the bus enroute Maiduguri. I was finally able to reach My Love; I could taste his anger and concern over the phone as he wasn’t even in Maiduguri.

All of us who live outside the state know only the State Capital; Maiduguri but majority of the unrest occurred in the villages and the outskirts of town; miles upon miles away from the Capital. Eventually, I returned to Lagos without seeing him.

It was when I saw him in 2016 (yeah! it took that long! This is what these men go through protecting their nation), I discovered that he was one of the Commanding officers of the Nigerian Army fighting the insurgents in the dreaded Sambisa forest.

You did not know before then? No, I did not. He usually does not tell me what his operation is about because he knew I was quite the ‘scared cat‘, he only used to tell me after his return. He would call to say; “I have been posted”. I felt very bad as he narrated his ordeal especially what he was passing through at the moment we were fighting. Was it even the best time to be fighting with my man? Under such circumstances? not knowing the kind of stress he was passing through? I was selfish, foolish, gullible, and easily manipulated too and I had hurt my beloved.

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You know what ended the fight? After a long stretch of heated argument, he stared at me and I said; ‘what’?! He replied; ‘Do you know what I feel like doing to you right now?’ I replied; ‘You feel like killing me.’ He hugged me tightly and said; “No, if I kill you, I will deprive the world of knowing you.” That melted the Ice. He was cool, calm and ever ready to forgive.

For me, he was an image of the living God, a King, my King.

Christ, the King for us both.

For a man to be your King, Christ has to be his King, only then can he be the reflection and the image of the living God to his partner. Was he perfect? No. Did he make mistakes? Yes. Did he hurt me? Yes. Will I do life with him again? over and over. Why are you using ‘was’ for him? Did you break up? He died on the 28th of February, 2018 on his Second Operation to the same Sambisa forest but he lives as a part of me forever.

‘Lieutenant Colonel Extraordinaire’, ‘Commanding Officer par excellence’, you live forever in our hearts. Boko Haram took away only your body not your essence, your remains (only of your body) are in Maimalari. You remain wholly present in our hearts and forever too. Photo Credit: His Brother

Boko Haram took away my earthly King, but they only reunited him with Our King. He shared in the same form of death as Christ, he will live in eternity together, forever with Christ, praying for me and watching over me till the end of time when we will all reunite.

So, the Christ the King Procession for me, is a carnival ; a festival to celebrate Christ and show the world just how much of a King He is to me.

My disposition during the procession is my PDA (public display of affection), it’s my testament to the world that you should try God. I dance, jump, shout, sing on the streets and I will do it over and over again.

HE is the one who restored my sanity when I lost two of my most favorite people in the world within a year of each other; my Grandmother and My Love. (funny thing, I have no ‘selfie’ with any of them. Times spent with them was Heaven! We got lost sharing each other and drinking each other in, so much, that pictures were the last thing on our minds. I know I could get some copies of pictures of My Love and I,from events we attended, however, I am more satisfied with the undeveloped films in my heart that no one but me has access to. Same goes for my grandma who cherished me so much and poured all of herself into me, ensuring there were no secrets between us and standing by me, even when the whole world turned their back. The two of them were so close and it was only from my grandmother I knew he could speak Yoruba).

HE is the one who has stood by me each time I have cried myself to sleep wondering what the future holds for me, wondering if I would ever see My Love again. Even after visiting his grave, seeing his obituary, I still feel like, he will come back some day and laugh like he always does after returning from war, from the battlefield; and say; “you think you can throw me away so easily like your other friends?”, “oh, you think I have left you, kwo?”

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Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Regis
The Soldiers adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament at Sambisa forest

I talked about being a Minister here (https://ewaade.com/2019/11/08/m-m-m/ ). I served at the Mass this Priest (the same Priest in the video above) celebrated at my Parish on the 17th of March, 2019. I had not seen the Youtube video or known Father was a soldier before the Mass. When our Parish Priest introduced him and he related some of the experiences of the soldiers in the ‘bush‘, I cried and cried and cried.

The Ministers are wearing Violet (purple) because we were in the Season of Lent. We took a picture with Father after the Mass, of course I asked him if he had known my Man before his death and Father went on to explain that Sambisa forest was so large and that there were many operations there that it was almost impossible for them to know each other.

I am thankful to THE KING for healing the wound in my heart and I believe a day at a time, it will only get better.

After reading this post, please pray (in whatever way you know how) that God protect these men and women of the Nigerian Army, in fact, the Military in general not just in Nigeria but of the whole world, that He may continually protect them. Pray that the Supreme King; Christ comes to reign in the heart of the Boko Haram warriors (insurgents) and their sponsors, that peace may reign in this land. Pray that God console all the bereaved who have lost their loved ones in this dreaded fight against the Boko Haram sect.

Appreciate them more by sharing at least a smile with each soldier you come across, you don’t know what they go through. I hear you saying; ‘they chose it’, remember; ‘no price is worth somebody’s life’. You and I can sleep peacefully day in, day out because there are people guarding our borders.

I hear you saying; ‘Thank God for you’. Yes o! Thank God for me that Christ is King and He reigns supreme for me, over and above all, for in him, I live, move, breathe and have my being…

Thank you for reading.

Onise Iyanu -Nathaniel Bassey

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