It was at exactly 10:20pm in Birani, when we heard the gun shots. “Kpuah kpuah kpuah

It resounded and echoed like gun sounds in the civil war.

We rushed outside the apartment we had rented to stay for the valentine. “If there is a riot, we should at least try to run” I said to Phillip.

Everyone was running, old and young, small and big; many met the same fate. The flames from the houses burned, ascended the dire parts of the sky. The street was stained with blood of those decapitated. It was a horrible experience in Zamfara.

We joined in the same vein, ran and ran and ran, without knowing why or from whom we run.

Abeg wetin dey happen? Wetin dey happen?” In curiosity, Phillip asked a man who look somewhat in his middle 30s. Why we stopped at a pace to catch our breath.

Na Fulani herdsmen o!” He exclaimed… Them say our community kill dem cow; so dem go kill us back.

Just as he was saying his head was severed from his body…

Holy Moses! I cried. As we beheld the killer standing right in front of us with a cruel visible appearance, and wielding a sword stained with blood. accompanied by a band of fierce giants with folded faces and armed hands.

Phillip! Are we going to die?” It was the question that popped out from my mouth. At a confused emotional state.

Madam we go kill unah feefool to replace our cow“, One of the herdsmen said… While the rest got hold of Phillip and tore his clothes.

I’m innocent oh“, Phillip cried; but none listened.

He was played as a man would play a ball and manhandled as a blacksmith treats his sword“…

The blood from Phillips face soak his eyes, looking at me he smiled.

I knew that would be the last smile he would ever smile.

My heart was aggrieved but nothing would I do.

How painful, it is for a woman to see her husband on a path of death. Yet! Do nothing to save his head….

After a rigorous torture, the old man with them shouted “cut am, cut am“…

And straight away he was given a swift death.

His head butchered in two; one fell beside his body, and the other in front of me.


What is life if not for living?

Now in widowhood, my husband’s killers unforgiven.

Government scornful of justice.

Tribe differs, all in malice.

A black valentine,

So swift as death crossed the line.

No hope to move on.

For in my heart, laid sorrows upon.

I can’t express it all in songs.

Let the immortal judge, all those I do no wrong.

Wife without a husband,

Nothing else can bind.

Now! Yes now, I have joined my kind.


PANDEMONIUM by johnbest obialo

(Inspired by 14th February Zamfara Killings)