Oh West Africa! Mysterious yet renowned as the land of the great Mansa Musa. The richest man to ever live. He was a native of Timbuktu, Mali. This man was so wealthy and so generous that during his pilgrimage to Mecca, he gave out so much gold in the cities of Cairo, Mecca and Medina thereby inadvertently causing hyperinflation and nearly impoverishing the 3 cities for over 10 years.
But this is neither about Mansa Musa nor Mali. This, ladies and gentlemen is about the men and women responsible for coining of the hashtag, #BringBackOurGirls.
Yes, believe it or not, this is the story of how I came to a close encounter with the infamous Boko Haram. The militant Islamist group causing havoc in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, through a wave of bombings, assassinations, abductions and fighting hoping to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.
Touchdown was at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos after a great flight. I love Nigeria. I have been there countless times in the past and I must say that I too love Nigerians and Nigerian men to be specific. They have this aggression and grit that makes a young lady wonder if they are descendants of Shaka Zulu. And without any bias Nigerian women have bodies that can only be compared to goddesses.
Anyway that’s more than enough of my Nigerian fantasies. I have been to Nigeria before because I love to travel the continent of Africa once in a while and I am still young and wild at heart with a thirst for exploration and new territories, I sometimes wonder why I was not among the European men that ‘discovered’ some of the places on earth like Christopher Columbus. But then again I remember that I am just a mere citizen of the world born in the 20th century and loving it!
I leave the plane and await to be transported to my room at Eko Hotels & Suites, Lagos.
The sun was shining bright and it looked like it would be a great day ahead. For lack of a better word, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I was gonna ‘chop money’ from the Nigerians that night. I mean, Nigeria is home to the richest man in Africa so spending a few thousand Nairas on this beauty would be nothing but a drop in the ocean for the Nigerian brother that would catch my attention that night.
I must admit that at that very moment my head was floating far above the clouds just as it always does when flying from one African country to another. But this time it wasn’t the pilot responsible for me being on Cloud 9 but it was this tall, dark and handsome man whose body is probably oiled with dark chocolate cream and who’s ego is bigger than that of a 17th Century African monarch – my Nigerian – my African King.
My short stay in Fantasy Haven was interrupted by gunshots and screams. I hadn’t even realized that we had made it to the departure hall of the airport and with nowhere to escape or run to.
‘EVERYBODY GET ON THE GROUND!’ and a few familiar Arabic words were all I could hear while I lay on the ground in total disbelief and terror. I was in tears, praying to God to protect me and making empty promises to Him like we always do in times of desperation.
Everyone in the terminal was silent apart from the distant sounds of women wailing and breathing heavily. One unfortunate old man tried to be a hero by trying to snatch a gun from one of the assailants but he was intercepted by one of the masked men and taken away into a room and all we heard was a lot of bashing and crashing. We could only imagine the worst.
Just when we thought that things were finally taking shape and the help that we were all desperately anticipating for was on its way or finally arrived, a tall and heavily dressed man in all black and face covered with a mask stood in front of all of us and took off his kanzu. What we saw beneath the kanzu left us all saying our last prayers. He had explosive devices planted all over his body.
Before he could trigger a device that was on his hand, he took off his mask and just before he had uttered a few words, military police stormed the departure hall from exit points and places that we did not even believe could fit grown men strapped with AK 47’s and seizing the armed assailants in record time and taking them away. And then a man who I assumed to be the head of the counter terrorism squad entered the departure hall with a loud-speaker and announced, ‘Don’t worry no one got hurt, that was just a COUNTER TERRORISM exercise and you all acted appropriately if it were a real life situation except from the old man’.
Could you believe this? A drill? I was so relieved but still very angry at the whole situation and so was everybody else around.
That was my close encounter with ‘Boko Haram’. Thank God it was not the actual militia group. I however enjoyed the rest of my stay in Nigeria and hoped never to be caught in between such a drill in the future.
[The above is a true story regarding a counter terrorism exercise that took place at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos Nigeria, November 2016. The original author is a lady of Ethiopian descent by the name of Samket Amanuel getting into Lagos at the time of the counter terrorism exercise and experienced everything first hand]
Have you ever been in such a situation or what would you have done if you were in such a situation? Let me know in the comments section below…