8 months ago


Vanguard Newspaper 15 April 2018


PAGE 22—SUNDAY VANGUARD, APRIL 15, 2018 Continued from page 21 officials and educators. As soon as they were released from Boko Haram, the women were whisked to Abuja where they spent weeks in the government’s custody, questioned for information that could help find their still-missing classmates — and to satisfy officials that they had not grown loyal to Boko Haram. Security agents warned the young women not to talk about their time with militants, arguing that it might jeopardize the safety of the students still held captive. Forget about the past and move forward, they were told. For months, their access to their parents was severely restricted. They weren’t allowed to leave the bland government building that was their dormitory. Even today, their only regular connection to their families is by phone. Last summer, officials at the American University of Nigeria travelled to Abuja to meet with the government. Back in 2014, the university, in the city of Yola, had taken in about 20 students from Chibok who had been kidnapped by Boko Haram but had managed to escape within hours. Administrators pitched the government on a plan to take the newly freed women, too. The idea was to incorporate them into a program designed to help them catch up on their studies, reunite them with their former classmates who were already at the university and prepare them for college life. Now the Chibok students’ lives are highly structured. With militants still at large in the country, they are considered high-profile targets. And as public figures, officials fear, they are vulnerable to exploitation. “They will not be the normal people they were before they were abducted,” said Ms. Mahdi, secretary general of the Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative, an advocacy group for women and girls in Nigeria. “A lot of restrictions will come with their lifestyle.” Former hostages Officials at the university had no experience educating a large group of former hostages from a village school. But neither did anyone else. “We’ll take them all and figure it out,” the university’s president, Dawn Dekle, an American, recalled thinking at the time. “They were traumatized as a group. Their healing has to be in a group.” All but one of the newly freed students agreed to attend. She had already been married at the time she was kidnapped, so she went back to live on her farm near Chibok with her husband. At the university, officials scrambled to prepare for the students, renovating a dormitory so they all could be housed together and finding classrooms to accommodate the extra pupils. The assistant dean of student affairs became the women’s de facto principal. A therapist in the United States, who had counselled some of the early escapees from the kidnapping, was recruited to work as the students’ psychologist. A conference room was designated as a prayer room for the few women who are Muslim. And for the Christian students, the person in charge of the university’s recycling program, who also serves as a local pastor, leads Sunday services. Last September, more than 100 of the students arrived at the tidy campus, with its trimmed hedges, three-story library and solarpowered buildings. Not everyone was happy to welcome such a large group of women who had spent the past few years living with militants. Scared Some of the other students were scared that Boko Haram would come for the Chibok women again, especially at a university representing the sort of Western education that Boko Haram has long condemned. Others worried that the women had grown attached to their captors and could be terrorists themselves. One student told officials that she feared waking up at night to discover one of the women holding a knife to her neck. After arriving on campus, the women were The women told their parents that they had endured periods of hunger while with Boko Haram. They were made to cook and clean for fighters We are free and in school, our friends are Boko Haram slaves -Ntakai, Chibok girl number 169 escorted to the university cafeteria for their first meal. The group drew stares from the other students. “I could tell they were not feeling comfortable,” said Reginald Braggs, a former United States Navy R.O.T.C. instructor who is in charge of the program for the Chibok students. Rather than force integration, administrators decided to let the new arrivals eat most meals in their dorm. All in their 20s now, the women are housed at the university, but in a program that sometimes seems designed for elementary students. Classrooms are decorated with pictures of Spider-Man and basic multiplication tables. “Remember to flush the toilet and wash your hands,” reads a poster on the bulletin board. For months, their tablets, all donated, were ordered turned off at night. Messages of positive thinking are plastered on every wall: Never give up. Believe in yourself. Shine like stars. When some of the women were upset at messing up during spelling bees, administrators gave them the words to study ahead of time. Even their church service, during which the women seemed relaxed and joyful as they sang and danced on a recent Sunday morning, is watered down. Raymond Obindu, a charismatic speaker who bounces beside the pulpit and uses an equally ebullient interpreter, keeps his sermons for the women more uplifting than the ones he delivers to his local congregation. “The Bible says you are fearfully and wonderfully made,” Mr. Obindu said during the service. “Everyone say, ‘I’m beautiful.’ “ “I’m beautiful,” the room of women chanted. He asked if anyone wanted to give thanks. “I thank God for leaving me alive,” said Magret Yama, who was released by Boko Haram last May. University officials have the women adhere to a busy schedule — including classes on Saturdays — to keep their minds off the past. “They’ve seen hell together,” said Somiari Demm, the psychologist, who counsels the women, teaches them yoga and attends church services alongside them. “They share the extensive narrative that no one else does.” The women told their parents that they had endured periods of hunger while with Boko Haram. They were made to cook and clean for fighters. Some were raped. Some have shrapnel lodged under their skin. One is missing part of a leg from injuries suffered with Boko Haram. Ntakai Keki, 60, said his daughter Hauwa had told him that the militants beat girls who disagreed with them or refused to follow orders. She was once lashed 30 times with a cane, he said. Hauwa had told him that she saw the dead bodies of children who were being held hostage and witnessed fighters die of wounds from aerial bombings by the military. “That has all ended now,” Mr. Keki said. Psychologically, Mr. Braggs said more than half of the women were in what he called the red zone. “They’re just sad or down,” he said. University officials do not let journalists ask the women about their experiences with the militants, arguing that it could traumatize them further. “They’re grown women by American standards,” Mr. Braggs said. “Even physically they are grown women. But look at their social development. They’re still very vulnerable.” “I’m very, very cautious about people thinking I’m overprotective,” he added. “I don’t think they’re children. But there’s a certain •Rahab Ibrahim responsibility I’ve been given.” At the university, the women are instructed to speak only English, a language most of them struggle with (they grew up speaking Hausa and local languages). Other than a few staff members posted to their dorm, most of the people in charge of the women can’t communicate with them in their own languages — including the women’s psychologist, their teachers and the director, Mr. Braggs. A handful of the women speak English well. Some are using kindergarten-level phonics books. Yet most of the women counselling sessions are carried out in English, raising questions about the depth of their therapy. Ms. Demm contended that some of the Chibok students who had initially escaped the kidnapping had travelled to the United States, only to be exploited by people there. She said they were made to repeatedly recount the night Boko Haram came to their school, with their testimonies used to solicit donations for churches or other organizations. Ms. Demm argued that she wanted to empower the students in her care to tell their own stories, in their own time. For now, she said, the hardest adjustment for the women is “being free, but not really free.” Recently, one of the women, Glory Dama, learned that her father was being treated for an illness at a hospital not far from campus. She wanted to see him, so the university prepared to organize an escort for her. Before it happened, though, he was discharged and relatives drove him back to Chibok, without waiting for Ms. Dama to arrive. He died on the way. Ms. Dama was devastated, and as the news travelled through the group so were the other women. Activities were cancelled for the rest of the day. The women, who spend their days in airconditioned classrooms equipped with Wi-Fi, know that their current circumstances are vastly better than those of most people who have escaped or been freed from Boko Haram. Militants have beheaded some of their captives, conscripted others to carry out murders and strapped suicide bombs to women who were the same age as the students from Chibok. Some captives freed from Boko Haram have been placed in crowded military barracks for months. Others live in squalid government camps where they have been raped by security forces and struggle to find enough to eat. Nurse, lawyer Ms. Dama wants to take university classes, return to Chibok and be a nurse to help her community. Another student, Rhoda Peter, wants to be a lawyer. “I know I’m in a place where nobody will chase me and do something wrong to us,” said Ms. Peter, 22. “They are here to help us.” In February, about 170 miles from Chibok, the unfathomable happened again. Boko Haram stormed a secondary school in a village called Dapchi and left with more than 100 female teenage captives. The nation began to mourn the kidnapping of yet another set of schoolgirls. Then, late last month, the militants suddenly brought most of the girls home safely, for reasons that are not entirely clear. The Nigerian government says it is negotiating for the release of the last missing girl from Dapchi, as well as the dozens of students from Chibok who are still being held captive. Grace Hamman, a Chibok student who was released from Boko Haram last year, said she took comfort during her time in captivity in the knowledge that she hadn’t been forgotten. “I heard on the radio people were crying for us and were concerned,” she recalled. “I thank everyone for what they did for us.” * Source: New York Times

SUNDAY VANGUARD, APRIL 15, 2018, PAGE 23 Put Your Wife Down At Your Peril! 08112662589 LARA had often moaned that someone else had got the life she was supposed to have. We were mates at the secondary school and have remained close decades after we left. A fairly brilliant student, we were all mildly surprised when she opted for matrimony. Within the spate of a decade, she’d not only had four children, she’d become fat and frumpy, It didn’t help that her husband’s clerical job didn’t pay much to keep the family above the breadline. In the end Lara resigned her lowpaid job and trained as a caterer. “It was the best move I’d made so far,” Lara had said. “After running a modest canteen, I was extremely lucky when one of our mates in school helped me get the job of running the canteen in her office. It was a big one too and the responsibilities were challenging. But there were perks too - it meant the difference between paying the school fees and putting decent meals on the table. You would think Lere my husband would appreciate the extra money. The business centre he set up when he was retrenched wasn’t bringing in much and that really frustrated him. When we argued, he said lots of things - that I didn’t know when to shut up, that I looked like the back of an elephant. He even complained I came home reeking of kitchen fume. “Thanks to his criticism, I spruced myself up a bit. I got some new clothes I could afford and tried applying make-up. The staff teased me but I enjoyed the attention. But the day that really changed my life for the better happened some nine months ago. We were already packing up for the day when one of the top officials sent for me. He was going to work late and wondered if I could rustle up something for him to eat. I told him I would try my best. The rest of the canteen staff were all set to leave so I told them not to bother I would handle things. “When I later took the tray to the man, we shall call him Leo, he was already on the settee in his office with a lot of files on the coffee table. I cleared a portion of the table and set the food down. I gave him drinks from his fridge and told him I would wait at the reception when he was through. He shook his head and told me to sit with him as he ate. He told me to help myself to a drink and I took a bottle of stout. He raised his brow slightly and giggled. When I sat next to him again, I noticed a photo of three smiling children - all boys and they looked.just like him. He chatted as he had his meal and I realised what a friendly man he was “The setting was so domesticated that I suddenly realised I missed proper sex and felt sexually drawn to Leo. I don’t know where the courage came from but as he raised his glass for more drinks, I leant forward and kissed him. Leo’s eyes widened in surprise. I thought he might recoil, embarrassed, and order me out of his office. Instead, he pulled me closer and frantically kissed me back. As he pushed my top up, I tugged at his trousers. His fingers were all over my boobs. I was wearing an old, grey bra, but he didn’t mind. He pushed it up, wanting skin to skin. Some of the files laid scattered on the floor but we took no notice. I ended up with some of them under my buttocks as we made frantic love. I felt I was that ‘someone else’, that I had finally taken my life back. “When it was over, Leo seemed happy with himself as he gave me a cuddle. You’re one sexy big girl!’ he whispered. In that moment, I knew it would happen again. And it has. Sex with my husband had become something that happenmed on a Saturday night when he rolled in from his beer parlour to wake me up. I missed proper sex and thank goodnes , Leo is providing that. “I supposed you could say we’re having an affair - except that Leo and I never meet anywhere but at the office. Yet it’s enough for me. Lere and I are still arguing. A few nights ago, I even blurted out in the heat of temper: 1’m sleeping with one of my bosses!’ He looked at me as if I’d gone off my senses. ‘Don’t be daft,’ he snorted. ‘Who’d want a fat slob like you?’ Well, Leo does. And ‘that’s why I won.’t stop what I’m doing. I can face life and my husband’s callous indifference as long as Leo wants me. He’s a very generous man too. Come to think of it, I must be a lot cheaper than those hoitytoity high-maintenance girls in the office - and I’m no threat. “Thanks to his generosity, I’m able to afford small luxuries for the family - including my husband! I’ve shed a bit of weight too - not that much as I enjoy my food. If Lere notices anything, he hasn’t said a wnrd, He should really be grateful that another man is helping him shoulder his responsibilities.” 08052201867(Text Only) Strengthen your heart with regular exercise PERSONS with the long est lives in the world are the Georgians of the Caucasus mountains in Southern Russia, the Hunzas of Kashmir and the Vilcabamba Indians of Ecuador. These three, seem to share some common traits which must be the key to their longevity. On the whole their diet is frugal, low in salt, refined sugar, fat and high in fibre and hardly any frying in oil. They consume a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. The drinking water is high in mineral content from fresh mountain streams. They practise holistic medicine, applying traditional herbs and medicines to forestall and cure diseases. They seldom drink or smoke. They exercise regularly by way of their hard lives. They don’t use preservatives and live at altitudes with little air pollution. They respect their elders who are actively engaged in their 100s and harp on good human relations over the pursuit of riches. They live in extended families from the cradle to the grave. They enjoy regular sex even at 100. * Heels-To-Crotch Pose All these point to the fact that the healthiest life is the one with as much naturalness as possible. The further we go from nature, from what’s natural, the less healthy we become. As regards activity, the more occupied we are the better it is for us. That’s why the person whose job is sedentary must set me aside for regular exercise which need never be over the top. With exercise there can be as much as 10 percent of improved physical function in the young. In the old it can make as much as a difference of 50 percent. Exercise, performed on a regular basis can fulfil the antiageing functions of regulating weight, joint mobility, flexibility, strengthening of the skeletal system and strengthening of the heart. Exercise improves the blood circulation and this in turn brings extra nutrients to the surface of the skin, increasing the collagen content to make it thicker and more flexible. Apart from the above, exercise also helps lower blood pressure, cuts down on the risk of heart attack, stroke, arthritis and depression. I suppose if we all become very aware of how serious we need to include exercise in the life on account of the many serious conditions we can sidestep if we practise, we should be abl;e to summon up the discipline to exercise consistently. Below are some Yoga postures to practise. DEEP KNEE BEND (Supine) Technique Sit down in between both heels. Lower the trunk down, first on one elbow then the other and gently ease the whole trunk flat down with the hands by the sides. Breathe normally. Stay in the posture for about 10 - 15 seconds. A variant of the posture is to keep the trunk erect. Benefits: The deep kneebend banishes stiffness in the hips, knes and ankles keeping those areas well lubricated. HEELS TO CROTCH Technique: Sitting down with the feet extended in front of you, draw the knees and place the legs flat down on the floor with the feet touching each other and the heels as close to the crotch as can be. Form a ring around the big toes with the forefinger and thumb and then lower the trunk. A variant of the posture is to keep the trunk erect. Benefits: The posture tones u p the muscles of the legs and it is also said to improve manly vigour. C M Y K