Many years ago, Saadatu at the detriment of being disowned by her parent went ahead to marry the man she loved in Gwoza and convert to Christianity. ‘‘Moving to Gwoza was a very easy decision for me because I truly wanted to be with the man I loved. I didn’t mind converting to a Christian. It was fun living in Gwoza until Boko haram started infiltrating the community, then my husband and I decided that with our 12 children in tow, it was time we moved to safety before Gwoza becomes fully invaded; hence our soujourn to Legodisa started.’ Said Saadatu
Unfortunately for Saadatu and her family, they journeyed right into the den of the insurgents as Legodisa had just been attacked. Saadatu’s, her first loss to the insurgency was her 20 year old son who promptly refused to be cajoled to join the deadly group that had invaded Legodisa, faced with two choices – join them or be killed, he choose the latter. Within a quick succession, she also lost her second to the last born who died of starvation while in captivity.
Saadatu said ‘‘loosing 2 children was very hard on me and my husband also became very ill, surprisingly the leader of Boko Haram where we were in captive allowed us to leave to seek for medical attention for him; it was our freedom and opportunity to escape. Our first thought was to return to Gwoza to get medical attention but returning home was the biggest mistake we ever made.’’
Sobbing Saadatu recounts how Gwoza who now had a civilian joint task force to tackle Boko Haram in its community labelled her husband a member of Boko Haram and she as an abettor. ‘‘We called on neighbours to come out to identify us but seeing that we had being out of Gwoza for a while unannounced, no one trusted us enough to stand for us. My husband was handed over to the military, I learnt he was taken to Abuja and till today, I haven’t seen him nor heard from him. They called me the Boko Haram wife and my children were called Boko Haram children. The military moved us to Giwa Barracks where I was subjected to various counselling and supposed re-orientation on my stance as a boko haram supporter and wife. Those counselling sessions were horror; I cried all the time but for all the wrong reasons opposed to what the military and counsellors thought. They asked me questions in relation to Boko Haram that I didn’t have answers to. No one believed us and I gave up.’’
In November 2017, 47-year-old Saadatu was selected alongside 60 other women from various communities particularly from Dikwa community to participate at the livelihood/skill acquisition training organised by ActionAid and funded by UNFPA. Here she learnt the making various drinks such as zobo, kunu, soya milk and other local juice. Saadatu shares her excitement at her new skill acquisition – ‘‘the three weeks of intensive training were the best days of my life in the last 3 years. 9 of us actually learnt drinks production. On the day of our graduation, ActionAid provided us with freezer, coolers, zobo leaves, sorghum and bottles for packaging as our start-up pack for each of us. What more could I have asked for? I am getting back on the right track now. I am starting production immediately! The only challenge I foresee is lack of electricity but I have a back-up plan, to buy ice blocks to cool my drinks for sale when there is no light. This is the beginning of financial stability for me and the end of hunger for my children. I just want to say thank you to ActionAid!’’