Thoughts Lead To Appreciation
Abubakar Shekau does not speak my language. Boko Haram are your people. They are not my people.
Those were my defiant last remarks as I was escorted out of Usmanu Danfodio University Teaching Hospital ~UDUTH for standing up to a man.
My words hit a raw nerve with a people who are at ease accusing an innocent citizen of being a security threat and forget that Boko Haram are their own flesh and blood.
Boko Haram are Hausa-Fulani not only in ethnicity but also in mentality, for Nigerians who join the insurgency do so on the premise that there is innumerable religious reward in inflicting harm on others – a core belief of the Hausa-Fulani.
The man I gave a piece of my mind was the second of two hospital security men who after I was searched and cleared by a senior security official still had unsavoury comments for me.
I gave them as much as I received.
On my exit from the office of their superior, who was a committed security professional, I heard the first male contemptuously state that if it was elsewhere “they will beat her”.
Immediately, I challenged him and repeatedly asked him:
Why will they beat me?
My question was deliberate, for there was an absolute liability of a security personnel inciting violence.
I wanted him to justify that violence while I am alive and to my face.
He did well to keep his mouth shut.
Clearly, he is well aware of moments to keep his objectionable opinions to self.
As soon as I turned to leave, another curtly asserted that I be made to leave the office building.
Why should I be made to leave?
He proceeded to offer me unsolicited and hypocritical advice:
When you come to a society, you have to behave the way the society wants.
I expect non-Hausa-Fulanis reading this will appreciate the role other ethnicities play in endorsing and enforcing the way of life of the North.
Yes, the same North they cry against when their northern allies turn on them.
Naturally, uncompromisingly, I rejected that.
The society behave the way they want; I behave the way I want.
He continued his outbursts; my hands under my Hijab were his problem.
What is your business with my hands?
Oh! And did I mention his words:
We are all Muslims.
That statement has become the modus operandi to psychologically disarm unsuspecting persons.
Even Christians say that!!!! Serious laughter!!!!!! Northern Nigeria!!!
I retorted with my usual declaration:
Do not tell me we are all Muslims. You practise your religion. I practise mine.
Realising he has run out of hollow official criticisms of my way of life, he went full-scale personal.
You are very rude.
As are you.
You will be told to leave the hospital. Is that the way you talk to your husband?
Is that the way you talk to your wife?
DEFENCE OF RIGHTS IN ANTI-WOMEN HOMELAND
I walked away from him, as a third man whose male ego has been battered muttered angrily in Hausa.
Seconds later, I was approached by two security officers and instructed to leave the premises.
Yes, I shall leave. You insult me and expect me to plead with you because you are a man. I give you yours.
The entire episode was instigated by a male staff of the General Out-Patient Clinic/ Department ~GOPC/ GOPD where I went to have medical assessment of a mole on the sole of my left foot that has grown painful.
As I carried out the registration processes, unknown to me this GOPC staff commenced a cultural gossip with female patients.
He instigated them.
I was transformed from a patient to a Boko Haram suspect.
NIGERIA NORTH: AHEAD OF 2015 ELECTIONS
To illustrate my new status, he addressed my group from the window.
Rather than enter the waiting hall to call our respective names, he had someone else do that.
On the walk to the ward, he and another male walked far ahead then away from the ward.
From a distance, they pointed out the ward for me.
Inside, I took a seat.
The two men came in and the second ordered me to remove my Niqab.
A nurse called me and whispered that I show the other patients my face as they are afraid.
No, I shall not. I am not here for them. And they are not here because of me. If I am carrying a bomb, it is not in my Niqab. They too could carry a bomb in their Hijab.
I expressed my readiness to raise my Niqab when I am being attended by a health professional, but certainly not for the patients.
In the subsequent dialogue, several arguments were tabled including that all the patients were women and that another woman in Niqab has raised hers.
That they are women does not give them rights over my body.
And on the Niqabi:
She dresses the way she wants; I dress as I wish. I do not need to follow her actions.
Besides, Boko Haram are their people.
A female medical practitioner came out and addressed me. I reiterated my position – to remove my Niqab on medical evaluation only.
The GOPC male staff was already at the window threatening to call security.
Go ahead and call security.
The Hausa-Fulani women were in a frenzy.
To calm the situation, my meeting with the doctor was brought forward.
In the physician’s office, I observed the GOPC staff peering through the window, grinning in self-satisfaction.
I gave him five fingers. I wish to acknowledge and appreciate each one of the staff who remained professional throughout the crisis.
The doctor ordered some blood tests and directed me to the laboratory.
On the way there, my attention was drawn, to which I turned.
Two officials in civilian clothes were accompanied by security men.
One, pointing at my protruding Hijab, asked what I held.
I brought out the objects: my purse on my left hand and the doctor’s prescriptions on my right.
I asked him whether there was a problem.
Another security officer joined us and made allegations in Hausa.
I shall say he was an accomplice of the GOPC staff.
He was on duty at the GOPC reception hall for more than an hour while I was there.
He did not utter a word to me nor ask to know what was under my arm.
However, as soon as his people demonstrated their cultural stupidity, he became active and added to inflame the crisis.
The initial official in mufti politely explained that I was accused of hanging something on my shoulder.
Yes! My purse! Good Gracious!
I was advised to accompany the security official to their office if I have nothing to hide.
I emphatically state here that while “if one has nothing to hide” is a common prompt for cooperation, that is not applicable when the security concern is triggered by cultural, religious or personal idiocy.
No one is bound to tender an explanation for the imbecility of another.
Hausa-Fulanis are perfectly free to live in fear.
Whether they have cause to live in fear is another matter entirely.
No one should attempt to dissuade them from their precious way of life.
Simultaneously, on no account should they – and all else who advocate that mode of living – project their fear on the rest of us.
From the hospital, I went to the university, for I had an appointment.
Usmanu Danfodio University is the second public facility where trouble constantly rules.
This time, it was the cultural prohibition of women sitting in the front seat of a commercial vehicle.
I have been aware of that for years and have paid no attention to it.
What is my business with nonexistent sanctions on women lifestyle.
Last week Thursday July 9, 2015 was, however, the first time there was an attempt by men and women to impose that practice on me.
I flatly refused to leave my seat.
I was pleasantly astonished when a young Hausa-Fulani lady affirmed my right to any seat of my choice.
This Monday the 13th, I sat on the front seat on both inbound and outbound buses.
For the return journey, I was quickly joined by a young woman.
Women do not usually want to sit in the front. You are sitting in the front today.
To that, she admitted she did so because she saw me entering the front of the vehicle.
That is good. At least, I have achieved something today.
My gratitude to my well-wishers including security agents, Imams and community leaders, who are vocal to ensure my freedom and security are not infringed.
Long live the Federal Republic Of Nigeria.