The power of love knows no boundaries, whether in times of peace or conflict, as demonstrated by couples who found their spouses in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Nigeria, Punch correspondent writes.
The last thing 20-year-old Fatima Isa was hoping to find in an Internally Displaced Persons camp was love. Last year, the extremist group, Boko Haram, had launched an attack on Isa’s village in Borno State, forcing her and tens of other villagers to flee into the mountains. But when Cupid’s arrow sought her at the IDP camp in Malkohi, in the heart of Yola, Adamawa State capital, there was no place to hide.
One Friday this year, Isa met 25-year-old Ibrahim Musa, a volunteer security guard at the camp, just after the customary Muslim Friday prayers. For Musa, it was love at first sight.
He told a correspondent, “I’m a volunteer at the IDP camp here. I help the military to open the gate and take note of people who come in. On one of those days, I saw Fatima for the first time and I felt excitement because she was beautiful to look at. So, I approached her and I told her my feelings.
“I told her I wanted to marry her. I said I was not playing around because I had fallen in love with her. She then asked why I was interested in her. I said that was how God destined it. She said since I was interested in her, I should ask my family members within the camp to approach her family and ask for her hand formally.”
Both Isa and Musa are from Gwoza. Gwoza is a rocky border town in Borno which is famous, within security circles, for hosting the elite police academy where mobile policemen are trained. But since the Boko Haram crises began, it has suffered several attacks from the violent sect.
It was during one of such attacks that Isa’s first marriage ended abruptly. During the attack, she fled to the mountains in terror. Her husband of two years, Adamu, was not so lucky. He was killed by the insurgents. So for Isa, love and marriage held painful memories.
But she soon caved in under Musa’s persistent overtures, put her past aside and decided to love again. According to her, Musa’s concern for her emotional welfare was crucial to her decision to marry him.
She said, “I told him about my late husband and how he was killed by Boko Haram. He was there to comfort me. We both shared our stories of how we managed to escape from Gwoza. Our stories brought us closer.
“I was attracted to him because I saw that he can be a responsible man. I also like his faith and he showed that he can handle responsibility,” a smiling Isa told a correspondent one afternoon at the IDP camp.
Since their marriage two months ago, which was conducted by an Islamic teacher at the camp, the couple say life has taken a better turn.
“For now, he does not have the money to rent an apartment outside the camp; that is why we are staying here together. But some day, I would like to return to Gwoza. I’m looking forward to raising a home with him outside the camp. The number of children we would have depends on God,” she said, adding playfully that she felt a bit jealous when he looked at other women in the camp.
Musa laughed it off, saying, “Although I had seen other women here at the IDP camp before I took interest in her, from the first day I saw her, I knew she was the one I would marry. For me, she was the most beautiful and pleasing among them. Nothing has changed. It is God’s will. I hope we can spend more time together in the future as husband and wife.”
Isa said she wanted to learn a vocation like knitting, while Musa said he desired to go back to farming after they return to their communities.