Friday, 10 February 2017

The Hunter Queen

[Media prompt] Aisha Gombi Bakari, 38, is one of only a handful of female Boko Haram hunters.
The Hunter Queen

Until I was sixteen, and old enough to conduct my own affairs, I lived with my family on the edge of the Sambisa Forest, home to ten thousand shades of green; from the heavy darkness of the wild black plum after rain to the dry yellow-green of a Malabar almond leaf at the summer’s core, and everything you can imagine in between. If you are patient, and can sit without moving for long enough, you will see the hues of the Jackalberry tree change with every blink of your eye, from the time the sun rises until the leaves blacken at nightfall. On cool days, early in the morning, sunlight makes the leaves of the red bushwillow almost transparent, the colour I always chose for my dresses when I was a small child.

Nowadays, I still dress in green, the green of dusty date palm fronds in summer, and the green of a baobab tree when the afternoon sun sets the trunk on fire and transforms the leaves high up to the colour we call baobab blood. But I no longer play at hunting in the forest of ten thousand shades of green. I hunt for real.

With predictable regularity, Abubakar Shekau, or more likely an imposter, sends hooded beetles out of the forest, where they scurry among the towns and schools in search of virgins, young school girls who, through the act of being kidnapped, play no roles other than to spread fear and provide sexual services to men in the service of a warlord who convinced the uneducated he was something less than a madman. Without a doubt, they understand the forest, its contours and dangers, but they have failed to distinguish the many shades of green. Dressed in camouflage, they attract attention by remaining an unvariegated but unchanging colour all day long, in rain or in the dry, in the early morning or late afternoon. It is their greatest mistake.

Mile by mile I am closing in, each kill bringing me nearer their main camp. The children of Mohammad are fond of green, they even have a shade named after their cult of violence, Islamic green, and I wonder why they bleed red when I dispense with yet another of their rapists, and not the green so beloved by their prophet.

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