Hassana, a young Hausa girl was only 12 when her mom gently pushed
her into a deep ditch in the backyard one morning in August 2014.
Her mother,in a note worthy manner, continued her class act for nine
months until Nigerian soldiers recaptured the town in March 2015 and
helped bring out the young girl from the ditch.
Contrary to what Hassana thought, the push was not to kill her, but
instead to save her from being becoming a child bride to the Boko Haram
foot soldiers who had just invaded their hometown of Madagali in the
northeastern Nigerian state of Adamawa.
Since 2009 when the death of its founder Mohammed Yusuf triggered the
insurgency, hundreds of women and girls have been abducted, sexually
violated or killed outrightly and this is what his brave mother tried to
save her daughter from..
In April 2014, the high-profile abduction of over 250 schoolgirls
from the village of Chibok in the neighbouring Borno state made the
headlines and Hassana’s family were paid a visit by Boko Haram.
Knowing all of this, Hassana’s mum, the 47-year old Zainabu Hamayaji
hatched a plan to outsmart the terrorists as well as save her four
She had guessed that the Boko Haram gang would consider Hassana, her
eldest daughter to be of marriageable age and would kill her husband.
She was soon proved right.
According to her, “They killed my husband and many of the men here”,
she tells this reporter in a school-turned-camp in the mountainous town
of Gwoza, declared by the insurgents as the seat of their caliphate in
August 2014. “Some of my children ran off but the rest of us could not
leave the house because they were killing people running out of town. So
many people were dying and couldn’t escape.”
Many of the other women gave out their daughters to the insurgents in
exchange for food items and property stolen from other villages so they
could take care of their remaining children – some reluctantly and
others happily. But Hamayaji was unflinching in her resolve and
methodical in her act to save her daughter.
To protect her daughter, she loosened her hair to look mentally
unstable and began to roll on the floor for several hours a day outside
their house and in various parts of town. She urinated on herself. She
defecated on her clothes. Then she rubbed both all over her body. Her
neighbours avoided her just as flies swarmed to her.
The Boko Haram extremists did not buy her act at first. They had
come knocking after a villager mentioned that Hamayaji had a daughter
old enough to be carted away into captivity. She denied it and for that
and they beat her mercilessly, dislocated her shoulder with their guns
and knocked out a tooth from her mouth.
Still, she stuck to the story she had planned and so did her two young children.
Talking about her act, she said: “They didn’t believe me so they came
every day. I continued to strip myself naked, unplait my hair, roll in
trash, put shit on my hair to make it seem like I was really mad.”
“They asked my two children if I was okay because they kept doubting
me”, Hamayaji reminisces. Both kids – aged seven and ten – swore that
their mother’s insanity had begun a while ago and that she used to
frequent a psychiatric hospital in Maiduguri, the state capital.
Soon the terrorists could not help but believe her and they inscribed
a warning on the house to deter their Boko Haram comrades who might
subsequently visit, from attacking the Hamayajis.
This was because they believed that if they killed a madwoman or took
her child, their military operations would fail. One of them reminded
the others about how their people killed a mad woman on another raid and
her curse affected them badly.”
While in the ditch, Hassana cooked the food items that her mother had
pushed in along with several jerry cans of water and matchboxes for her
to cook and survive. She defecated in nylon bags that decomposed around
According to Hassana: “The soldiers asked if I was a wife of Boko
Haram and I said no. They didn’t believe my story until we went to the
The now 14 year old girl, was profuse in her gratitude for the depth
of her mother’s love and kept thanking her over and over again.
Soon, they were carted away in a solider vehicle and this is where she tells her story.
culled from fabwoman.ng