in Featured

Sunday, 10 April 2022

On being attacked by Fulani Herdsmen surviving and fleeing Nigeria


Fulani Heardsmen


Some months ago, on my way back from school we were attacked by Fulani Herdsmen. I was in the car with my friend. 


I have written about this experience in so many ways. First I tried writing it as an Op-ed, I wanted a notable newspaper or journal to publish it, so the world can see that Nigeria is an incredibly unsafe place to be. But the feedback I got said I highlighted problems without solutions. I tried again, to write it as a personal essay and there was this pressure to sound like a writer and articulate it properly. I have now decided to write it on my blog because it is the only way I can say exactly what happened without being performative or bearing the pressure of being chronological. Also, forgive the typos in advance, I will type this on a spree and I will not go back to edit, writing it is hard enough. 


Nigeria is starting to look like a sequel for 1000 ways to die because as we are trying to survive, the system is having a swell time making sure we don't. 


While in school with my friend, our parents advised us not to use public transport because they didn't want to hear any horror stories about our trip back from school and they wanted us to be comfortable. To avoid the stress and uncertainty of the public transport system, they sent us a private car from Ebonyi. We attend school in Awka. 


We had reached the expressway in Enugu when we saw that a big vehicle had stopped in the middle of the road. As we got closer, we saw that a Cow was in fact chilling in the trunk of the vehicle. This obviously caused a lot of traffic and every sane car including ours was swerving to avoid hitting this Car and the Cow. A few Fulani men were trying to stop the Cow from fleeing, fastening its legs with tight ropes and yelling. They were beating it and trying to keep it in place. It was a very chaotic sight. Whether their car broke down or not, I don't know. All I know is that a Cow was center stage in an expressway in this big 21st century and they thought it was okay.


As we inched closer, a Fulani man, tall and young, charged at us and used his fist to punch down the glass at the driver's side. The shattered glass splashed into our car and while we were still trying to make sense of what was happening, another Fulani man totally unaware of the situation came and slapped our driver three times. I was seated in that back seat, wide-eyed and scared to my bones, there and then I learnt that these people needed no explanation for violence, violence to them is wildfire, they just need someone kind enough to light a match. I have lost count of the number of slaps our driver collected that day because it was sporadic. He was treated like a slave. 


Fulani Heardsmen

Soon, more Fulani men surrounded us with sticks and the man who broke our glass with his fist went to get a cutlass while shouting, "You dey mad, so you people want to kill me and my cow?" He honestly believed that two Nigerian students and a driver drove from Awka to come and play fetch with potential beef in the hotness of the afternoon? 


Anyway, my friend who was in the front seat noticed she was bleeding, the glasses had dug into her skin, the driver was bleeding on all his fingers and I was looking at my legs amid shattered glass wondering how this was going to be my last day on planet earth. I had never begged for my life before, until that day. We were just inside our car begging our fellow Nigerian not to kill us. 


Attack by the Fulani Heardsmen
This was the only photo we could get. Had I really taken photos of our bodies and the interior of the car, I would have had to put up a content warning before posting.

The Fulani man with the cutlass rose it up and before it could come down at us, an elderly Fulani man came out and stopped him. He said "No worry, leave them, leave them, just leave them!" luckily for us the bloodthirsty Fulani man listened and dropped the cutlass. He was still furious, huffing, puffing and looking at us in fuming anger.


I wish this thing happened in a secluded place because then it might justify why we had no help, but no. It happened in broad daylight and cars continued to pass and mind their business. Nobody stopped to help us or shout or call the police or ask if we were okay. They quickly drove past us, some looking at us with pity, others acting like they were not witnessing an attack firsthand. We were just two young girls and a driver - three innocent people who were about to make the headlines because a Fulani man in the middle of the road got emotional over a cow.


The driver got out of the car and went to meet with them. He knelt and was begging. That was when I found out he could speak their language. Maybe he was Hausa or Fulani, I really don't know. He was clearly not from the same place as me. My friend opened the door and asked that we leave everything and run. I remember she looked at me with fear in her eyes and said, "Roseline, there is nothing in this car that is not replaceable, let's get out of here!" 


Now that I think about it, who was to say they would not have stoned or butchered us before we took our first step. We were just irrational because we needed escape. If I was not in the car I would have assumed the driver did something to them, or ask stupid questions like are you sure you people did not hit them? but I was awake and our car did nothing but stop close to a car with a cow in the trunk, in a bid to beat traffic.


When I read the news that Fulani herdsmen go to villages to butcher people or kill people on the road, all I have is sympathy and wonder. Now, I have experienced firsthand what it means to see your life hanging by a thread and it is the worst thing ever.


As we made to come out and run, the driver came back and said, the Fulani men said we could go. We drove past the Fulani herdsmen and made a stop at the corner of a road to remove the glass from our car and bodies before continuing our journey. It didn't even occur to us to take photographs of the damage until we were done cleaning up. 


Fulani heardsmen attack

It made sense that the driver was able to reason with them in the end, he spoke their language. This did not make me feel safe at all. My guard went up immediately.  I became afraid of him too. Anytime he stopped or took a different route, we panicked. 


Language is not supposed to make you feel unsafe, but after what my friend and I experienced, we were beyond afraid. What if they have asked him to drive us into the bush and butcher us? It didn't help that he made a series of phone calls as we kept going and those calls were not in English. I am sure he was probably just informing his people of what happened, but we felt fear and uncertainty. 


It is sad to admit but anytime I go to a place and all I hear is people speaking Hausa or Fulani, I become afraid. Fulani Herdsmen are becoming the single story for all Fulani people and it is heartbreaking, people are starting to see their culture and existence as a statement of war. I am not one to buy into stereotypes but the herdsmen make it hard for people like me. 


This happened in the east, in our car, in broad daylight, now imagine what is happening to people in the North or less favorable conditions. Awka to Ebonyi is just three hours and in minutes I had the scariest experience of my life. In Nigeria a lot can go wrong in split seconds. The life of the average Nigerian is of less value compared to a cow. 


I became emotional when I got home and told my mum everything and she fell on her face and started wailing to God. She could have lost me because of a cow. This post is already longer than I expected. So I am going to end by saying that my patriotism for this country is now in need of CPR. I do not blame anyone who wants to Japa because every day Nigeria gives us a reason to take flight. The system is failing, every day on the news something awful is happening to an innocent Nigerian somewhere because of failed or non-existent structures and systems. This country needs a leadership overhaul and fast. 


I am well and safe. Just always paranoid from road trips and trying to overcome the PTSD from the attack. I am also grateful because again God has shown me that it is not my time to die. My friend is well too, she tells me she has anxiety about road trips and she is now extremely careful around people she is not familiar with. 


I hope one day, Nigeria can be better. I have no suggestions or solutions for our leaders and their immense love for cattle.  I am just thankful to be alive. And praying that things change, because the brain drain this country is about experience would be second to none. 


Thank you for reading. Please share and tell people to be very careful and alert. Nigeria is not built to keep us Alive. 





Monday, 22 February 2021

FFELIX TRANSLATED MY POEM " IN MY COUNTRY GIRLS DISAPPEAR" TO SHENG!


Felix Omondi


FelixSheng is a slang language that originated in the '50's in Nairobi' s Eastland suburbs/ghettos as a way for the young people to communicate amongst themselves without the older generation getting in on their discussions. The language which borrows words from English kiswahili and other ethinic languages in the country grew in prominence in the 90's through the local hip hop scene of the likes of Kalamashaka- a hip hop group - and is now mostly used by many youths in their daily communication instead of English and Kiswahili.



In My Country Girls Disappear 


The Sheng version 



Chibok

Kabila ya madenge yenye 

Ililoba wakati gova 

Ilikua inachea monopoly na magaidi        wenye 

Waliwasanya 

Wengine wao walirudi bure            wengine 

Wakagenya na uzito

Wangine bado wako kwa iyo ngori        na 

Wengine hawakuwai rudi 


Uwa

Mi uomba mercy kila time naandika poetry juu 

Hapa 

Sir-godi anaweza geuzwa vumbi 

Niaje mdenge anaweza omba ku 

Bakwa, kukat(i)wa, kupeanwa mbele ya 

Msalaba? 


Tina 

Stage yoyote  karibu na mtaa

Ni shooting range 

Hakuna mwenye alivuka baro in time 

Kumchapia eti kusimama ni catfish 

Wakati sanse ni synonym ya point alafu 

Angusha 


Jennifer

 Wakidaisha mdenge ameiva 

Kenye wanamaanisha ni -        je

Ako old enough kudishiwa?

Hapa, ni carnival kwa mtoi kunajisiwa 

Na mafadhelaa kadhaa


Girls 

Kwa zile kesi zaidi ya thao zinatendeka daily 

Wakiuliza victims timestamp, zabe gani

Na vile alikua amedunga 

Ni kaa izi vitendo vya kinyama 

Ni design flani ya sherehe



~ Translated to sheng by Felix Omondi




    Art: © Opeyemi Matthew Olukotun (@opeyemiolukotun).
    Art: © Opeyemi Matthew Olukotun (@opeyemiolukotun).


    The English Version




    Chibok

    A tribe of girls went

    Missing while the government

    Played monopoly with the terrorists that stole them

    Some of them returned empty         some of them died burdened

    Some are still in harm’s way           & others never returned


    Uwa

    I ask for mercy when I write poetry because here

    God can turn to dust

    How does a girl ask to be

    Raped & mutilated, offered in front of a cross?


    Tina

    Any bus stop near home

    Is shooting range

    No one took the road in time

    To tell her that standing is catfish

    When the police is synonym for point and kill


    Jennifer

    When they say a girl is ripe

    What they mean is  -                              is she old enough for us to devour?

    Here, it is carnival for a child to be abused by multiple men


    Girls

    & for thousands of daily unfolding cases 

    They ask victims for timestamps, locations & outfit styles

    As though this inhumane invasion is some sort of feast



    My thoughts:

    Each language in my opinion gives a different kind of depth, it possesses its meaning & it has a distinct texture on the tongue. So it means so much to me that this poem I wrote about a very sad but significant event in my country Nigeria has taken meaning in another tongue, in another language - Sheng!

    This means a lot to me and I hope more of my pieces get translated across the board!

    Thank you, Felix!


    Roseline Mgbodichinma


    Monday, 11 January 2021

    ON CREATIVITY, BODY SHAMING, FASHION & PERSONAL STYLE - AN INTERVIEW WITH ALEXANDRA OBOCHI

     

    Plus size fashion



    Hi, please introduce yourself 


    My name is Alexandra Obochi My friends call me Alex or Xandra or pretty much any of the variations they like. I recently graduated from the University of Benin with a bachelor's degree in international studies and diplomacy and I'm currently awaiting NYSC call up. I am a professional makeup artist, a content creator and aspiring creative director. I'm also a curve model, basically what you would call a plus-size model. I am the convener of fashion and curve, a plus size fashion show that had its debut in the city of Benin in 2019. Hopefully, we'll see a 2nd edition soon. I love everything fashion and my style is alte, retro and vintage. 


    plus size model cover girl


    Have you ever struggled with low self-esteem and at what point did you become very confident in your skin


    I've never exactly struggled with low self-esteem for a long period. There have been times in my life however that I've let myself be down on confidence because of what people or family said to me concerning my weight. But ultimately I'm a very confident person so I eventually get back up or come up with ways to do so.



    Have you ever been body shamed, how do you handle body shamers both online and offline? 


    Lol, the answer to this is a big and resounding YES! All my life I've been body-shamed, from family members to relatives who feel the need to give their opinion even when not asked, down to classmates, friends and even partners in relationships.  Been fat automatically means you're a bit different from others and people will never learn how to accept different.


    When handling body Shamers I always put them in their place, I've worked hard on my self-confidence and I don't need anyone to come tearing it down. I've recently been trying to put out more body-positive contents on social media and there's a little backlash especially on Twitter. A lot of times I ignore or block or respond very harshly to these body shamers, they listen to no other thing. Offline however I respond always. It is my life and body so I see no reason why anyone should have an opinion about it. 



    bikini for big girls

    say no to body shaming


    ...fuck society's expectations of what we should be or look like. Self-love is hard but it's the most rewarding thing ever. Never be ashamed of how you look...


    You are a very experimental makeup artist, you play with colours and create amazing looks. Where did this inspiration to be bold and fearless with your art come from?


    Thank you for the compliment. I love colours and love to create looks. The truth is I love being an artist and I have an incredible passion for it. The art of transforming myself or a client is incredibly rewarding to me and I've always loved to see how far I could take it while still looking amazing. I get inspired a lot of times by just thinking of creating or putting ideas together in my head. Other times I'm inspired but amazing artists in my niche and field. 


    cover girl make up

    make up artist


    Been fat automatically means you're a bit different from others and people will never learn how to accept different.

    Have you ever had people tell you that you are doing too much, that you should probably tone it down a bit, if yes, how did you handle such opinion?


    I've never had such an opinion and if I ever do, you'll see me doing more instead of less. Can't ever let people bring me down and that's on period.


    plus sized women

    fashion Icon


    I love being an artist and I have an incredible passion for it. The art of transforming myself or a client is incredibly rewarding to me

    You are a fashion Icon in my opinion, so how long does it take you to style yourself and what do you have to say to people who think plus-sized women should only wear certain types of clothing or outfits 


    I'm not a fashion Icon yet, but I like to think I'm on my way. Styling is pretty easy for me once I've paired up the outfits in my head, I always do the pairing before testing. 


    To people who think plus-sized women should only wear certain outfits. I think that's rubbish and to my beautiful plus sized gals please wear what you wanna wear, if it's cropped top wear it hunnay! If it is a body con dress wear it and own your curves, own your FUPA, own those rolls baby and love yourself.


    own your FUPA

    blazer jackets for women


    On your Instagram page, you combine patterns and prints and it's very artistic, what does being an African woman mean to you?


    Being an African woman is so exhilarating to me. Wearing Patterns and prints brings out the best in me and reminds me that my skin is gold and my ancestry is full of African kings and Queens. I'm so proud to be African and Nigerian at that. And being proud of my culture leads to me imbibe every aspect of my life with culture. 


    African prints

    african woman



    Ankara jacket
    Ankara blazer for plus sized women


    You have a reasonable following on social media. Do you ever feel pressured to perform or fit into a certain Aesthetic, do you think this idea of perfection in the creative space is harmful?


    While I do feel pressured to always put out content, the pressure comes from within myself as I love to push myself to be consistent in anything I do. I feel I have created my aesthetic through my style and creativity and I'm super proud of that. And no, I never feel pressured to fit into a certain aesthetic because I have tried all my possible best to create my aesthetic and make it a lifestyle. So it's not that hard to do especially when you get  used it 


    I think perfection is overrated. Nobody is perfect. Even on Instagram. And the idea of it is harmful. To an extent even I have experienced the bad side of thinking you can be perfect on Instagram. Through pressuring myself to try and be like other people or wear what they wear or do what they do. It didn't help me in any way and I had to learn to curb that need to be perfect or create perfect content like some influencer we see.  


    curvy model

    When handling body Shamers I always put them in their place, I've worked hard on my self-confidence and I don't need anyone to come tearing it down.

    Have influencers, celebrities or Instagram models ever caused you to think about your body image and was it negatively or positively?


    Like I said it's very easy to be affected and think negatively about yourself especially when everyone around you seems to be close to perfect. However, I learnt to not compare myself to people I see on the gram. And to love me a little more every time I feel pressured to be like someone else. 


    I find your younger brother very cool and handsome. Do you style him too and how important is it to educate children on body image and self-confidence.


    Thank you so much. Yes, I style most of his outfits, he manages to pull them off with his insane charisma and model poses. 

    I wish someone has taken the time to educate me on body confidence when I was little. Knowing that there's nothing wrong with our bodies and with how we looked at that age would have been freeing. I think it's very important to educate children so that they'd know early on how important it is to love their bodies and selves. 


    fashion for kids

    face art for kids

    cool kid on the telephone

    kid celebrities

    coolest kid on the block

    locations for childrens photoshoot


    I think perfection is overrated. Nobody is perfect. Even on Instagram. And the idea of it is harmful.

    Overall how has your creative journey been and is it slightly more difficult for plus-sized women in the creative industry?


    Overall, my creative journey has been insane. At least that's the one thing I can fully say I achieved last year. It's been amazing and even looking through my Instagram page you can clearly see growth. 

    I believe it is a bit difficult for plus-sized women. Sometimes getting people's attention is hard, and even more painful is when a normal-sized person does the same thing or less of what you did, people flock the content. That is really discouraging.


    plus sized women in the creative industry

    street style

    rainbow background photography

    holiday vibes

    chilling in an eatery

    I feel I have created my aesthetic through my style and creativity and I'm super proud of that. I never feel pressured to fit into a certain aesthetic

    Any advice for women, especially young girls who are ashamed of the way they look and find it hard to accept themselves because of society? 


    Girlllll. The one thing I have learnt this year is to fuck society's expectations of what we should be or look like. Make sure your own opinion comes first. Make sure you are your top priority and not what people think of you. Self-love is hard but it's the most rewarding thing ever. Never be ashamed of how you look especially if its something as normal as saggy boobs or stretch marks or even back rolls. Those are incredibly normal and you should never feel bad about having them on your body. 


    live, love and breathe

    plus sized women


    What do you do for fun, give us three random facts about you?


    I love to read Manga, Romance, fiction, play music, dance and have fun family time. 

    Random facts about me; I hate honey, I'm insanely curious and I cry for every movie. Doesn't matter the genre I will cry. Even if the ending is happy or sad or scary!



    Thank you for doing this! 



    FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM

    Roseline mgbodichinma's blog. Theme by BD.