“We slept in maize farms with our children as herdsmen slaughtered our kinsmen, burnt our homes” – S/Kaduna Survivors

3 min read
Grace Zacharia escaped with her children after spending a night in maize farms amid persistent rains

When Mrs. Grace Zacharia, a young mother of three returned from the farm on Monday July 27, 2020, trying to prepare dinner for her family, it never seemed like a troubling day.

Goran Gan, her village in Southern Kaduna’s Zango Local Government Area neighbors several villages that had been attacked the previous days. However, the village houses both Christians and Muslims, native farmers and Fulani herders included. Thus, despite prevailing threats in neighbouring communities, Grace was at peace. After all, military Task Force operatives were stationed in the village.

What Grace however did not know was that a young man in the village had been attacked on his way from farm, and left for dead with several machete cuts on his body and head. The herders, Grace said dropped a letter on his supposed dead body, announcing their plans to invade the village.

“Even the soldiers we thought were there had been withdrawn that same day, and all Muslims in the community had vacated. We were told they called a native Muslim in the village and told him to evacuate his family that they were going to wipe Christianity from the village,” said Grace.

At about 6pm, gunshots started rumbling from one end of the village, with smoke and cries of fleeing and/or dying women and children rising by the minute.

“They went from house to house, slashing and breaking locked doors open with bullets and machetes, killing hiding women and children, and burning the houses behind,” recalled Grace.

The assailants had taken advantage of the bush patrol embarked upon by most men in the village on receiving the letter announcing the planned invasion. They operated unchallenged with no immediate security intervention. In less than 30 minutes, the carnage had nearly covered the entire village with at least 16 people killed.

Grace stays with a junior military relation in Jos with her three children, two female cousins and an aunt

Grace and her children ran into nearby maize farms along with other survivors while the attackers, including “known and new faces of herdsmen”, chased after them.

“We heard our neighbor running along with us in the maize farm screaming the name of a Fulani man we know and have stayed with for years. He was even talking in the background while clearly chasing her, that he must kill her but she escaped and we met the next day in a camp in Zonkuwa.

Grace and other survivors ran throughout the night amid persistent rains before getting to Zonkuwa, located several miles away. But even in Zonkuwa, safety was not guaranteed.

“When we went to Zonkuwa, we camped in a school but we heard rumours they were planning to attack us there so we started calling relatives in other States to help.

“After all, the place was crowded with over five people sleeping on a 4ft wide bed. The threat of coronavirus and hunger was enough reason to leave the camp,” said Grace.

She and her cousins, Miss Obida Ibrahim and Sandra, her three children and aunty were later conveyed by relations to Jos, where over 30 other victims of the attacks were taking refuge.

None of the survivors currently with relations in Jos escaped with anything but the clothes they wore before the attacks. Kindly call 08062923239 to reach out.

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