Revisiting Baga The Fishing Depot of Borno

By Ibrahim-Gwamna Mshelizza

Following the alleged killings of more than 200 people and destruction of about 4000 houses in the clash between members of Boko Haram sect and soldiers from the Joint Multi National Joint Task in Baga on 16 and 17 April this year, the town was deserted by residents for sometime.

Recently however normalcy has returned as residents who fled have begun picking bits and pieces of their lives where they left it.

A visit to Baga on Wednesday reveal that while fishermen have begun repairing their fishing gears which include nets, canoes and hooks. Traders who sell raw fresh fish and those that fry before selling were busy at their trade.

The waterfront which had been silent for nearly three weeks is now a beehive of activities.

Halima Sadiya , a 14 year old daughter of Usman Bagobiri told our correspondent "we have come back to our work of fishing because life must go on. The Borno State government has made it possible for us to pick up our lives again because they us relief materials which have sustained us since the crisis".

A fisherman Kolo Modu also said, "but for the generosity of governor Kadhim Shettima, we wouldnt have come back to fishing . We had lost everything to the Boko Haram attack. They burnt our nets and canoes ehen they were retreating after they attacked town and the fishing settiement".

Mary Osundu a smoked fish dealer popularly called "banda" in Hausa said, "Iam glad that Baga is now burstling with activities again because my people have almostnran out of fish at home in Benue State. Baga fish is sweeter in taste and our people in Benue prefer it to the fish from the river".

Also at the wsterfront some Buduma women were busy drying the "Banda" using salt and potash to hasten the drying process and that it does not smell badly when it dries.

Away from the waterfront in town some youngmen were also busy frying fresh fish and making brisk business because most food vendors were yet to return to bussiness because so fried fish is in high demand.

Some family members were also trying to put up thatched rooftops over their houses which had earlier been burnt down by the attackers.

Umar Kolo , father of three and husband of two wives was being assisted by his neighbour Bukar Tijjani to put up the roof.

Aminu Mohammef a widow was busy fixing a door to her house as there was no one to assist her with the task. She said, "Iam haopy to be bsck home and repairing my house. I slept in the bush for seven days and I was feeding on fruits and drinking water from nearby stagnant pools. I developed fever while in the bush but now I can finally have a roofover my head",

When our man visitef the refugee camp set up by the National Emergency Management Agency ( NEMA) only few people were seen because most inmstes had returned to their houses.

Alhaji Abubakar Halidu , an 80 year old told our correspondent "I hope to lesve this camp tomorrow when my son comes from Sokoto to take me home with him. I have lived in Baga for 50 yesrs and it is a tragedy that I lost all that I have worked for here. I thank Allah however because Iam still alive and I hope to see members of my family whom I have not met for long when I get home".

Baga is presently a shadow of its former seif but surely life is gradually returning to normal.

A house destroyed in Baga during the crisis

Peolpe on a street in Baga

Youngmen selling fried fish in Baga