We were pleased to catch up online with some familiar ‘faces’ at the UK-Nigeria team meeting this week. However it was clear from our discussion that although the post-electoral violence in Kaduna State has subsided - helped by the continued presence of soldiers - things were still not back to normal. It became evident that in the wake of the destruction there is much rebuilding to be done, both physically and emotionally.
On the physical side, many buildings and homes were destroyed. In previous blogs you can read about the destruction of the vibrant Kafanchan market and the emergence of a peace initiative designed to reconcile warring parties. Comfort said: “The burning of houses and the market has affected people's disposable income, but …. some form of business seems to be coming up."
Emotionally the community needs to come to term with the fear they experienced and the sights they saw and to deal with any anger towards the people who have inflicted further hardships upon them. The efforts of Fantsuam Foundation, together with other local civil societies and the Kafanchan Peace Market Plans has a vital role in the reconciliation process.
It appears that on the surface some semblance of normality is returning. Fantsuam Foundation has itself re-opened this week and trading is taking place on the new site for the Kafanchan market. However, this is merely embryonic as Bala, the head of Zittnet, said: “Everyone needs to 'sleep with one eye open', but generally nights are quiet. There's still tension, that’s what caused the trouble to escalate so much in the first place. But soldiers are around so there is relative peace."
Bala went on to tell us: “The academy is suffering because many students have not returned, they are having to combine up to three classes to make up the size of one since students are so few. It will certainly affect their income . . . some ZittNet clients have also not resumed business, which means they will also not pay subscription”
The Microfinance programme has also been adversely affected. Comfort told us: “Some of our MF clients are from the Muslim communities and getting to them now is the problem.”
Although FF is non-partisan and non-religious, it is located in a Christian area and so is perceived as being Christian by some of the disaffected youth. Some of the staff have been displaced.
Zitnett network administrator Chollom said: “The dimension the crisis took was religious so it does not matter whether FF is known as a 'christian' organisation or not. What I think matters is the safety of staff. The field officers are majorly Christians so going to areas considered predominantly Islamic is dangerous right now.”
John Dada and his team at Fantsuam are currently busy drawing up the immediate, medium, and long term needs of their community which Dadamac will help make public.
However, despite the undeniable hard work that the current situation is going to require, I shall sign off with Kelechi’s inspirational words. He said: “Most important of all is that we keep the Dreams alive, our inner Fire. We should keep that burning."