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  • on 15.11.2015
  • at 12:39 PM
  • by Kimberley Evans

Meet the Nigerian woman taking on Boko Haram 0

On a long, barren road in northeastern Nigeria, Hafsat Mohammed, squeezed into a public minibus, saw the gunmen materialise from the bush like a mirage.

The 33-year-old was on her way to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State and the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency, when two Hilux pickups swerved onto the road ahead.

The minibus stopped. Men in combat fatigues and balaclavas emerged from the first pickup and aimed their guns at the windshield. They ordered the passengers out onto the hot tarmac. The second pickup sped off towards a nearby village.

The men beat the passengers with their guns, jeering and calling them names as they did so.

A former radio journalist-turned-civil society activist, Mohammed wasn’t usually afraid to speak up; she thought she might shout or scream, but, instead, she found herself mute.

“I was praying in my mind,” she recalls. “I did not dare pray out loud.”

Then they opened fire.

Mohammed remembers how the dead body of a woman fell on top of her and how she lay there, beneath it.

She heard the screams of two women as they were forced into the pickup. Then the gunmen were gone, leaving tyre marks behind in the dirt.

They had killed five passengers, but Mohammed was unharmed. She and the other survivors, including the driver, got back into the minibus and drove off.

I first met Mohammed in January 2014, just weeks after the attack. She was back at her office in a nondescript high-rise in Kaduna city, the old political capital of the north, gearing up for initiatives to tackle religious intolerance in Nigerian schools.

Continue reading on Mail & Guardian

by Caelainn Hogan

Photo Credits Caelainn Hogan

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