Act 1: Scene 1
In slow motion, common sense somersaulted repeatedly as an absurd scene unravelled along the Abuja-Lokoja Road at sunrise. It wasn’t a Nollywood session. Call it Horror-wood, you won’t be wrong. Right on the federal road, at Buarry Junction to be precise, a weeping Fulani herdsman sat cuddling the head of a listless cow on his laps. Confused, the other cows in his herd mooed on the road in sympathy with the fate of a ‘cowleague’ who had probably fallen victim to snake bite or some bovine disease.
Bloodbath ticked like time bomb.
For experienced villagers and motorists, the scene was a prelude to another impending genocide. Nobody stopped to know what ails the cow; the weeping of the herdsman was calamity held by a strand. Fear froze words of sympathy in the mouths of hurrying passersby. Panicky motorists squeezed their way through the shrub-strewn shoulder of the highway, driving on broken bottles, stones and all. Everybody was running away from the butchery hanging overhead like a brood of chicks run helter-skelter when the hawk zooms down in predatory flight.
“Commot for road, mad man! Na canoe you dey drive?” the driver of a commercial bus yelled at a middle-age ‘Big man’ behind the wheel of a Range Rover. “Dey dia, dey do smeh-smeh until herdsmen come shoot you die for there, you hear, mtcheeeeew! You see Fulani man dey cry for cow, you still dey romance ya steering,” he glared.
Malik, the herdsman, kept wailing on the road. Kamar, his son, looked on sadly, his arms resting on the long stick slung across the back of his neck. Motorists sped by honking, swearing and sweating. Confusion breaki bone, yeepaa! A government security van with the inscription, “Joint Military Patrol: Operation Cow Dung,” also fled pass in full throttle with all hazard lights blinking and siren blaring!
The road was completely deserted by sunset.
Act 1: Scene 2
They are a family of three; father, mother and son. They live in a one-room face-me-I-slap-you apartment in the slummiest slum of the Mega City. Poverty and hunger also live with them. Mr Isola Fapola worked as a guard in the high court. He was sacked after a political party set fire to the court in order to destroy loads of evidence in an ongoing election petition. In his sack letter, Isola was indicted for not being able to identify any of the gun-wielding thugs who stormed the court at midnight and set fire to it.
They all sleep on the same mat – father, mother and Owolabi, their son.
“Your son is going back to school on Monday,” said Abefe, Owolabi’s mother. “I know,” Isola replied, clearing his throat in the darkness of the hot night. Father and mother lay awake, discussing how their child would return to school. Owolabi snores quietly. Isola now operates an okada while Abefe sells akara in front of their dirty apartment.
Act 1: Scene 3
In faraway Enugu, a palm wine tapper, Udo Udoka, stares at the thatched ceiling of his hut. He watches a gecko stalk a moth. Death, so close; he wishes the cup will pass over the moth. He also wishes to find someone who can borrow him money for his daughter, Adaku, to return to school.
His wife, Ogechi, had been killed by herdsmen on Afor market day when returning home from selling palm wine and kola nuts. Some herdsmen had approached her to sell the dregs of palm wine that remain in her gourd to them. The Fulani love dregs, which they mix with some herbal concoction for sexual virility. They call it ‘burantashi’. She sold cupfuls of dregs to them in turn; they drank and sang. When she asked them for money, they pushed her down, raped and shot her dead with their gleaming AK 47 rifles.
Udo and the people of the community demanded justice from government but this audacity provoked the killing clan from the North to shed more blood. And the government kept silent.
Act 1: Scene 4
In Zamfara, able-bodied Bala Ahmadu begs for alms. His son, Audu, is returning to school on Monday. Bala doesn’t know why the young lad continues to waste his time learning some strange tongue when he can feed on begging, too.
Act 2: Scene 1
Owolabi, Adaku and Audu are classmates and friends at the Federation Unity School, Abuja. On the way back to school from a field trip, the school bus bearing students including Owolabi, Adaku and Audu was nearing Buarry Junction when all hell broke loose. “Ha! These herdsmen again,” their driver shouted when he saw people running wildly in every direction. He braked and jumped out of the bus. Owolabi and Adaku jumped out through the window, fleeing into the night. But Audu didn’t jump through the window. He walked out of the bus and trekked to the junction.
Guns boomed. Sorrow echoed. Tears flowed. Blood splashed.
Act 3: Scene 1
“Dan mboro ba, shege!” cursed Sule, the leader of the herdsmen assault. “This kwantiri belongs to we only! You must learn to live with our cows. How can a healthy cow just fall sick suddenly? A cow that I drink his milik (milk) yesterday? “See,” pointing his gun at several commuters held hostage, “I go kill all of you one by one!” A loud cry of anguish went up among the victims.
Audu sidestepped several fresh corpses as he walked towards Buarry Junction. Sule saw him first, ordered him to freeze and asked him some questions in Hausa.
“I’m coming from a field trip with my classmates,” Audu told Sule, Malik, Kamar and the other killer herdsmen, adding, “I pray that none of them has been killed.”
Malik said, “Do not feel pity for infidels! Allah made them our slaves to be killed as we desire.”
Audu: But we’re taught in school that Nigeria belongs to all us and that we must respect the rule of law.
Kamar: Did your teachers not jump through the bus window just now?
Sule: It’s rule of North, and not rule of law! We’re the rule. We’re the law. Did we not kidnap Olu Falae, their leader? If not an ‘order-from-above’ that told us to release him, I wanted to open that his skull and see his yeye economic brain. We ransack Enugu, Imo, Abia. We kidnap monarchs. We kill every day in the Niger Delta. Wey dem OPC and Egbesu and IPOB and MASSOB? They should come out and fight us if dem fit.
Audu: But police and can stop you.
Malik: Police? Our guns better pass police own. When police hear our gun, dem go shit for trawza. As for the army, which genera go give soja order to fight us? The genera wan lose im job? In fact, na one of dem governors I wan kidnap now.
Audu: This venture is dangerous. You’ll be arrested and prosecuted.
Kamar: Shege!! This is the safest job in the land; we get funding and protection. Since you don dey hear of our Jihad, have you heard that one of us was ever arrested? This is a spiritual fight and it is backed by our spiritual leader. No one can arrest us. In fact, the police have been mandated to protect us when these infidels arrest us, occasionally. The army has been ordered to kill anyone that attacks us. So, you better pick a gun and join us. What are you going to school for? You’re born to rule, not born to school. See me, I never go to school in my life, but I’m very, very rich, making millions through ransom.
Audu: This isn’t the Nigeria of our forefathers’ dream.
Sule: It’s the Nigeria of our current fathers’ dream; a Nigeria of point and kill.