Days of Their Lives

Stories From A Summer in North-East Nigeria

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Love in a Time of War

On a sunny day last July, 70-year old Bamodu Abubakar and 45-year old Falmata were joined in matrimony according to Islamic laws and tradition in the camp for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in the town of Bama.

The marriage was neither the first for the septuagenarian and his wife, both brought together as a result of the insurgency wreaked upon the North East region of Nigeria by Boko Haram.

In one of the many attacks launched by the group in Borno state in 2014, Abubakar was forced to flee Gwoza, his hometown with his two wives and  eleven children. All they had were the clothes on their bodies and nothing else. After hours of trekking in the bush, they got to Maiduguri where officials of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) eventually placed them in Dalori camp.

“We were there in the camp but there was nothing for me to do and the food was not enough for us”, he says. So he sneaked out of the camp one day and moved to a village just outside of Konduga for a year; when there was food shortage, he again moved but this time to Bama where over 25,000 people like him were camped.

And it was here that he met Falmata. Missing his family, desirous of companionship and tired of eating alone or being looped with other households to share their meals, he proposed. The 45-year old widow and mother of two from Dikwa accepted.

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A former tailor, he began to sew again when NEMA officials came with four sewing machines. “I needed to make a little money to support myself and to pass time in the camp.”

His client base is quite the assortment – soldiers patching their camouflage kits, children seeking to thread their shirts, fathers needing realignment for their overused kaftans and mothers amending clothing for their entire households.

“I make two or three hundred naira every day”, Abubakar laments. “Many of the people here do not have money to pay me so I do a lot of free work but it keeps me very busy.”

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