‘You know, for a mere writer you have very interesting connections Mr
Yusuf,’ the white man said. His suffocating American accent
the foetid air of the small room. I looked down at my hands.
‘You forgot the handcuffs.’
The overhead light paused in its buzzing as the American let out
a low laugh, ‘I am so sorry I had to ask you to come like that, it has
given you a false understanding of why you are needed here.’
‘I wasn’t asked. I was ordered… with four Nigerian militants at
‘As I said, you have very interesting connections.’
‘Well I could say the same about you. CIA?’ I was demanding an
answer but he pretended that I had only humoured him, though the
tensing of his body suggested otherwise. It took a while until he
decided it was in his interests to indulge me. ‘I am part of an anti-
terrorist force that has allied with the Nigerian army; in particular,
the covert operative section. I am here to seek your assistance.’
I ignored the last few words he said. ‘I guess there is a lot in it for
the West to try to foment a war against terrorism in Africa. I know
the record. If Nigeria goes… Chad goes. Kenya goes.’ I wondered to
myself what ‘goes’ even meant.
‘You were at the site of the bombing in Jos.’ He made a grim
attempt at a smile.
‘I just caught the second bombing, near the bus station.’ I felt the
dull burn of my freshly healing wound creep up the outside of my
‘There were at least 100 deaths and many more casualties –
‘I know the statistics.’ They made me sick.
‘Then you know your people are dying. And you would know that
it would be absurd to refuse foreign aid at such a time; we – you and
me – have the power to intervene, to change this unfortunate course
of warfare. But if we don’t do anything, well, evil would look a bit
like us.’ His certainty imposed itself onto me but deep down I was
already on his side; just scared of the repercussions.
‘Yusuf is a very common Islamic surname is it not?’ He took my
contemplative quietness as consent, his shoulders smoothing as I
replied with a grunt. He continued, ‘I suppose that is why you never
changed it when you left the Boko Haram.’
‘I was never a part of the Boko Haram.’