Tuesday, September 20, 2016

‘A peak at Borno: A visual journal’

At the foot of the Borno International Hotel, a symbol among many of the destruction caused by the insurgency in the Northeastern part of Nigeria, stood another symbol; 2600 internally displaced persons, male and female all lined up. However, instead of looking grim and sad as we have seen many times on the news, they were smiling and mostly dressed pleasantly.

But suffering on this scale cannot be hidden. It was behind the smiles, behind the moment of brief relief, just beneath the surface, in the unheard voices there was something or someone missing. This scourge had cost them their homes, the lives of those dear to them, their dignity, their sanity. This was a happy day in a sad life.

The lines were endless and the sun was relentless. But not as relentless as these faces; the faces of the people whose homes were taken in a war that showed the worst of humanity. A war where both sides are unforgivable and consequences that will last for generations.

My father used to tell me about oil tankers in Scotland, how they start pressing the brakes 8 kilometres before the port. Every major crash in our lives, in civilisation did not just start out of nowhere, it started long before it hit.

So what characteristics of our culture, our environment, our mindset, our religion could have led to this? Is it poverty, faith, ignorance, injustice? What about us needs to be reassessed to avoid this from ever repeating itself?

The Likeminds Project Team and Volunteers, sponsored by the Dangote Foundation
Will it take some like minds to turn the tide? Will humanity and all that is good heal these wounds that have dug so deep? I believe they will, and time will be the doctor. But we are the medicine, and that is why we must use our shared humanity to show that suffering is nothing, and love is everything.

My Peak at Borno has given me a broader perspective on the things we take for granted, most especially this life. My Peak at Borno DID NOT show me people who were beat down, but a noble, dignified people, desperately trying to close a chapter of there story; to start again, to smile gain, to be free again, to be the home of peace again.

But it will take all of us, and it will not be easy. However, I refuse to believe that Borno can be taken down for good, I refuse to believe that Nigeria can be taken down at all. The people of Borno themselves inspired me to write this, I hope it inspires you to help. 

Dangote Foundation, The Likeminds Project and various development partners have opened the doors, each of us should do our bit to walk through.

There is hope for Borno, there is hope for the Northeast, there is hope for Nigeria, there is hope for the world and that hope is you and I.

Contributed by Hamza Ajijola ; twitter @hamza_a_g ; instagram @life_of_the_lens; Facebook: Hamza Ajijola; email; haajijola@gmail.com

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