The Osama Friday
Salma examined the scar on her right foot. Although the wound had long been healed, the memory of the cause of the scar never erased from her mind. "The Osama Friday", that was what her mother called the day. Perhaps she was right.
House 409, on 14th street, used to be their house before the ugly incident. Mama Akara's House! The green house with black painted gate. Her mother used to fry Akara (Bean cake) outside their gate. That Friday morning, as usual, her mother had prepared her bean cakes. The patronage she received that Friday was very poor. at noon, she had to pack her cooking utensils. "I can not tell what went wrong, the sales is poor today." She had complained to her daughter who helped her to carry the tray which was filled with unsold bean cake. But little did they know the trouble that was lurking by the corner. Some hours later, while they ate their afternoon food, Salma and her mother voices of people shouting at the top of their voices. "Laila-inlala- Allahu-Akbar!"
"What is happening outside?" Her mother fearfully asked.” I am worried about your father and brothers at school." Salma and her mother dashed outside. They were shocked by the sight they saw. Angry mobs in hundreds with sticks in hand were terrorizing their neighborhood. They were attacking the houses on their street, while they continued shouting "Allah-hu-akbar!" Salma had heard of religious crises, but had never anticipated to experience one. Her mother pulled her arm. "Let us get out here. There is trouble in town!" They ran back inside their yard, locked the gate and hide inside the kitchen. The mobs attacked their gate and forced their way into the yard. They smashed the car that was parked inside the yard before they headed for the front door and windows. Salma over heard them speaking in Hausa dialect: “Let us burn the car and the house with the people inside." In confusion Salma did not know how she lost contact with her mother. She remembered sensing the danger their were in, she ran through the back door to the backyard, climbed the wall and jump over the wall to the next compound which had already been attacked.
When she landed by the other side, she felt a sharp pain on her left foot, it was bleeding, but that did not matter then. She hid by the corner of the building. The heat of the sun was beating her head. She could hear them angry mobs destroying their properties then in what seem like a nightmare, she saw thick smoke in the sky. Their house had gone up in flames! "Lord keep my mother safe," she prayed. She thought about her father and younger brothers. She remained in hiding until the angry mobs left aand anti-crime police officers came to their rescue.
That was the year 2001. The same year she was supposed to have married had the incident of Osama Friday not occurred. She was grateful to God that her family survived the religious riot! She touched the scar with her fingers and tried to imagine what might have become of the houses on 14th street at Shagari Quarters housing estate, off zoo road Kano-Nigeria. Her mind could only picture, burned roof, ashes and shattered glasses. Right then, she was inwardly glad that her family relocated from Kano after "The Osama Friday".
(c)All Rights Reserved. Johnson O.J. Arumona.2001
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