After begging the people of Akpabuyo to lead me through their peaceful protest,
After swimming through a pool of thick mud and finding my way to dry land,
After missing our way and ending up in the dead end of another Bakassi,
After trekking long distance because the motorcycle chose a bushy area of all places to run out of fuel,
After almost an hour ride….
I finally found myself among a group of lovable but lonely people. I thought I had gone through a lot to get to the camp, but I realized my 20 years suffering cannot be compared to a days’ suffering in the camp.
I needed this visit, at least to be able to appreciate life.
A people so welcoming not minding that life had deprived them of happiness.
I was at last among a people, who had nothing left than the thought of when to die.
A people who smiled when they were hungry, because that’s what life had taught them.
Walking towards a deserted people who sat lamenting their fate, with their faces resting carelessly on their palms,
I told myself ”look, you are strong, you don’t have to let your strength fail you.”
I approached the abandoned classroom block were the fate of the little voices of Bakassi had been literally buried…
I was welcomed with smiles that still haunt me till now.
All I did was smile back and not finding the right words in this situation I ended up telling them platitudes, ” It will all be fine in no time.”
Although they had nothing to eat, they couldn’t help but share their lunch with me.
Taking another stroll, I watched the children run around the television set donated to them,
Probably to watch what life ought to be or to console them or maybe to lie to them that they were living a good life.
Christiana Ukung Alawa (squatting) eating lunch with Bakassi Children at the camp
Yes, mama… Her only wish was what she whispered to me, she knew she would die soon, she knew she had been neglected for weeks already, she was bed ridden and no health care, she was in tears as she struggled to make her last wish.
“She wanted to be buried in the land of her ancestors” a home of her own. Yes, I felt exactly the way you think.
I wished I was a fairy godmother, I’ll have granted not only her wish but the wishes of the young boys and girls who have roamed the streets of the village looking for what to do without any result.
I would have wiped the stigma from the eyes of those little kings and queens that have been permanently nick named “refugees.”
I would have granted the wish of little Mary’s dad, who lost his daughter BLESSING to death at the same time lost MARY because she was used as collateral for a loan taken to save Blessings life, the sorrowful man wished for nothing other than to be reunited with his kid.
The youths who have been lured into cultism and prostitution by neighbouring villagers.
If only I could grant their wishes, I would grant the wishes of those little kids who run around naked in tears holding tightly to their mothers bosom and finding no shelter, and looking deep into the eyes of the young mothers,
I see them searching for a story to tell their kids. A story of, maybe, a new life.
Then the wishes of the pregnant women, to have their babies in a hospital. I would have granted also the little but precious wishes of all Bakassi kids who go to school without foot wears, books and pencils.
I would have made those dreams of celebrating Christ’s birth come to fulfilment.
The future seems blur in that part of the world, and it is a sad story.
Holding unto nothing but promises that many people make to them daily and bearing the burden of being stripped of your ancestral home and all means of livelihood.
That is the daily life of a Bakassi man and woman in the camp.
With tears making their way into my eyes, but my face wearing a casual smile, I was tapped back to life by a little kid.
I decided to keep musing, at least till justice is done to the little innocent souls in Bakassi.
Christiana Ukung is a 200 level Accounting Student of the University of Calabar, Connect with her on Facebook: Ukung Alawa