On 25th February, 2007 , gunmen suspected to be insurgents stormed GSS Dawaki, went straight to the boys hostel and murdered, in cold blood over 59 boys in a gruesome manner. First they closed the hostel doors, then setting the hostel on fire, they waited patiently for escapees to slaughter them like rams. The casulties were quite young students from 14 to 18 years old. The story was so horrible that a lot of young aspiring kids and students were forced to flee and abandon school forever.
About two months later on the 13th April, 2007, Azumi, an SS three student with an aspiration to be a civil rights’ lawyer, scared as she was, said to her mom “Mama, I am scared of going to school tomorrow. I feel like something bad would happen to me”.
“I know you are scared, my daughter. Everyone in this village is but will you abandon your future because of fear. You know you are the hope of this family and very soon you will go to the city to work after your exams. I am sure the military will protect you.” Said her mom. The mom looked depressed and was as scared as her daughter but she tried so hard to conceal it in order not to discourage Azumi. She contemplated in her mind if she could really prevent any danger against her daughter.
Azumi looked at her with her quite cold black eyes, piercing through the tiny light provided by the kerosene lamp and said “Mama! What if I die tomorr….” She was quickly interrupted by her mom.
“God forbid! Nothing will happen to you, my daughter. Nothing.” She said holding tight to the rosary on her neck. Tears rolling down her cheeks, she squeezed her daughter in a long embrace, then added “Nothing would happen to you my dear, I promise. The blood of Christ shall protect you. I wish I should let you not to go but it will not be the right thing to do.”
They both kept quiet as they entered into a deep thought. Azumi remembered when her father was killed. On that day, the insurgents came in broad daylight into the village of Tsonga and slaughtered or captured any man they met. Some of the men had to run away to avoid the untimely fate. Her father was just returning from the farm. Immediately he took his bath, there was shouts of “a gudu, a gudu, anfara- run, run, it has started”.
“Run to the bush!” Said Azumi’s mom to her husband.
“No, I can’t run and leave you behind. I shall protect you.” He answered courageously. “I shall rather die fighting than to run and hide like a coward.”
Azumi and her mom hide under the bed and when the insurgents came in, her father struggled with one and maimed him which after a hard struggle, the insurgents got hold of him and putting him to the ground, his eyes directly fixed at Azumi’s eyes, he was slaughtered mercilessly. She almost let out a cry but her mom held her mouth so tight that Azumi bit her so hard to relieve the shock she was going through. Still the mom held on.
Luckily, they were not seen.
So, after everything, they buried him according to required rites. That happened two years ago when she was in SS one. She had, since then, bacame scared and frightened at quite little noise. But now, just as she is about to write her final year exams, she became more scared than before and she wished she shouldn’t sit for it. Her past haunts her.
The story of Azumi is a bit different from her friend, Ladi, who with Azumi attended the only secondary school in the village, Tsonga Secondary School but as time will tell, they shall share the same terrible fate.
On the day the insurgents attacked, Ladi’s father was not killed but was captured and recruited into the ranks of the insurgents where he progressed through and became the most feared executioner. Those that were lucky to escape from the net of the ifrits came with such horrible news about Ladi’s father. How, he, once a nice and honest gentleman is currently the sect’s most dangerous member.
“He slaughters, he kills and terminates any life that was deemed fit to be wasted and doesn’t show any remorse of doing so.” Said one of the escapees to Ladi.
She felt shocked and terrible, avoiding everyone except her mom and Azumi. She is scared due to stigmatization. She hardly went out for anything unless when going to school or visiting Azumi.
For the two girls, saw themselves unlucky, but what they had went through is just a little compared to what they would go through.
On the fateful day, each girl said farewell to her mom and each was embraced with warm hands that she wished she should stay back but as fate had it, she had to leave. Azumi’s house was on the road to the school so it was Ladi that always meet her for them to trek to school. As Azumi waited for Ladi at the front of the house, she remembered her mom’s encouraging words. “I promise nothing shall happen to you. The blood of Christ shall be with you, my dear.” She had said as she handed Azumi a little talisman as a protection charm. She held on tight to the charm believing her life depend on it.
Meanwhile, Ladi sneaked past any group of people she met on the road, hiding her face with her veil to avoid people from seeing her. Where she was unlucky to be seen, she was pointed at and she was called “killer’s daughter” by some. “Shegiya” someone shouted, “matsiyaciya” another said until she was sure she had being called all the bad names people could think of. When she arrived at Azumi’s, they set out without any of them saying a word to the other, each with her thoughts and mom’s prayer as company. They shall go on a rough journey that not even their parents had expected.