The vagabonds of Sambisa

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By Hope Eghagha

There are thousands of viciously violent vagabonds banded together in the evil forest of Sambisa, north east of Nigeria. Some have fled into neighbouring towns and hamlets, bombed by the Nigeria Air Force. Others have fled across the border into Cameroun. But Sambisa Forest has remained a home to the evil operations of the cowardly morons of Boko Haram. The name ‘Sambisa’ carries a foreboding element, a mystique that is suggestive of dread, an end of good and the permanence of evil. It is like the ‘evil forest’ so popularized by the inimitable Chinua Achebe in his all-time classic Things Fall Apart. In most African societies, the evil forest is where men and women who have run afoul of sacred laws are thrown into when they die. But the Sambisa Forest carries another type of evil- evil in the guise of religion. Sambisa carries in its rotten belly an army of depraved human beings who make forays into sane society to unleash death and destruction. The men carry weapons of mass destruction in their hands; they carry a mindset of infinite hallucinations; they are propelled by ignorant zealotry that is morbidly misdirected into exterminating human lives.

Their tactic is drill fear into the minds of the public. They have refused to clearly state their demands. They have refused to come for negotiations. They are neither friends to Islam nor friends to Christianity. They are no friends to traditional African religion too. They are not welcome into the homes of the three major religions in Nigeria. They hate everybody.

Everybody, I suppose, hates them too. I won’t be surprised if they hate one another too.

For this reason they are better described as vagabonds. And because they have made the thick forest their operational headquarters, I have chosen to name them ‘Vagabonds of Sambisa Forest’. Indeed, these Sons of Dog are vagabonds of the highest order, men of ‘vile affection’ and profound ignorance of spiritual values. The official name for the group is Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Dawa’wah wa’l-Jihad; further described as a ‘Sunni Islamist Militant organisation’. We, members of the sane society call them Boko Haram. They claim to fight for true Islam. And I ask: which Islam, which Allah? Which Allah commands them to enter a mosque where Muslims are praying to God and bomb them to death? Which Islam commands them to kill innocent human beings whose only offence is that their point of view is different? Which Islam commands them to kill and maim women and children of other faiths? Which Islam commands them to deceive a 10-year old boy or girl into carrying a suicide bomb to kill human beings created by God Almighty? They are vituperative against anything western; yet they carry about arms and ammunitions made from the factories of the Western world. They record their activities on video systems produced in the ‘sinful’ capitals of the Western world. They use communication gadgets and equipment produced in the ‘sinful’ capitals of the western world. These are profound contradictions in the character and style of this group made up of bloodthirsty hoodlums masquerading as men of faith. Their cowardly leaders do not carry the suicide bombs. They recruit naïve teenagers and feed them with filth. They order them to kill. They order them to revel in the smell of burnt human flesh; to revel in the cry, sorrow and trauma which come with each attack. They ask of them to die. But they themselves remain alive to feast on the ravages of destruction. They call on them to act for Allah and enjoy seventy virgins in heaven. But the leaders enjoy the virgins and free women here on earth. When they attack villages and communities they take women as hostages of war. They rape the women. They force female children into sexual unions. But they ask the suicide bombers to wait for their turn in heaven. When their hideouts are invaded, pornographic material and sex enhancement drugs are found in their possession. They are so filthily immoral that all they think about is the female genitalia. They swim in the sea of pornographic materials which are made in the ‘sinful’ cities of the Western world, using Western technology. So I ask: which God do they serve? Who are they deceiving? The vagabonds of Sambisa invaded Girls’ Secondary School in April of 2014 and kidnapped 276 girls into the forest. What was the offence of the Christian and Muslim girls whose youth have been so violated by the rapacious vagabonds of Sambisa Forest? To be sure they have backers in civil and decent society; these backers are the main beneficiaries of the extremely violent culture of the Boko Haram sect. The wealthy sponsors provide money and cover for the vagabonds. They hide under the canopy of respectability. It’s a veneer that won’t last forever. They are cursed because of the innocent lives that are taken daily in the Boko Haram insurgency.

Before they die they will fall terribly ill, wet their pants and swim in their own excrement; they will be struck by terrible experiences that would make them regret, albeit too late; they will end up on the wrong side of Divine Judgment. Thus there are two categories of vagabonds in the discourse of Boko Haram in the Nigerian context. The foot soldiers who unleash violence and their sponsors who sometimes sit in Council in the smooth confines of Government House, either in Maiduguri, or Yola or Jalingo or Abuja are vagabonds. The latter are the Very Important Vagabonds (VIV). Those who received millions of dollars from the Federal Government for the purpose of expelling the roaming vagabonds and pocketed the monies are greedy vagabonds; those who failed to secure the territorial integrity of Nigeria against the insurgency of Boko Haram are also vagabonds. They deserve to be hanged before the families of victims of Boko Haram attacks. Even if Man forgives or hides them the final judgment awaits them. There are also some who played politics with the Boko Haram issue. They are the greatest of the vagabonds. They smell already from a hundred miles. They will eat the bread of sorrows! ‘Woe to the donwpressor’, Bob Marley crooned. If Boko Haram were a truly religious sect, it would not take lives of fellow Muslims or any human being for that matter who have done no wrong. The members are foolish ideologues or naïve nincompoop who will end up in the flames of destruction. Significantly, Boko Haram does not have a mystagogue or spiritual leader like Gandhi or Elijah Mohammed or even El Zaky Zaky whose stature, knowledge and understanding of religion could pass for something progressive and positive. When the people have no true leader they perish for lack of understanding. The time has come for the Federal Government to wipe out the smelly, tabooed and rotten vagabonds of the evil Forest of Sambisa from the face of the earth.

*Eghagha is a Professor of English at the University of Lagos

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