By; AMOS TAUNA
I was fortunate to see for myself when l paid a visit to Mercy camp, Zonkwa in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State, courtesy General Katunku Simon Gora’s invitation, chairman, Katunku Foundation to an Internally Displaced Camp (IDP) that came up to what is termed, “necessity the mother of invention”. I called the camp a necessity because nobody thought or planned for it but a group of spirited people of Southern Kaduna moved with the plight of villagers attacked by the suspected Fulani militias from Gora Gan and other villages in Atyap Chiefdom came up with the idea to cater for their own who were in dire need of accommodation and what to eat after they were forcefully made to look elsewhere in order to survive.
What moved me was the plight of thousands of mostly children and women who have left their homes due to insecurity to the camp praying that one day peace will be restored so that they could go back to their ancestral homes. One thing is certain, as they go back home, some are going without their parents or children who have been killed and definitely, life will never be the same with them following the loss of their loved ones. To these ones, whether young or old, if you ask them, they will tell you that nothing you can give them comfort in exchange of their loved ones that they will see no more.
Thanks with the wisdom God Almighty, who bestowed on the Atyap paramount ruler, Sir Dominic Gambo Yahaya, who did not hesitate to divine call but quickly acted on Saturday, 22nd August, 2020, when he called on stakeholders from Atyap, Fulani and Hausa within his domain to come to a roundtable for frank and sincere face-to-face discussions to explore ways for better understanding that could lead to peaceful coexistence in the Chiefdom and by extension, Southern Kaduna and the state as a whole.
No wonder, on his visit to the Mercy Camp, Zonkwa to pray with the victims of the attacks and share with them his widow’s mite, Brigadier General Katunku Simon Gora (rtd), chairman, Katunku Foundation, hardly held back his tears when he came to the reality of life of what the victims of Zangon Kataf attacks have been passing through. General Katunku saw every reason to call and emphasize on the need for the sustenance of peace when he reiterated the need for efforts to be made to sustain and work to the full realization of the initiative of the Agwatyap by the Atyap, Fulani and Hausa to work on the good foundation that was laid towards the sustenance of peaceful and harmonious relationships that have existed among them for decades.
He added, “I must commend the foresight of Agwatyap for the step taken to ensure the resolution of the crisis. We must support and encourage the process for peace with others who saw reasons and queue into avoiding unnecessary flowing of blood of innocent souls and destruction of property. I call on all communities, Atyap, Fulanis, Hausa and the rest to be honest and stick to the agreement by keeping it so that we will move to maintain good and peaceful life that will usher us to a better and formidable coexistence.”
He added, “l am touched to see mostly women and children in the camp living in a begging form. That is what our people are not known with. Our people have never experienced this, leaving their houses to come and stay in a place like this, is really very sad, pathetic and of great concern. It calls for people with pure conscience to put hands on deck to salvage the situation. The Atyap man has always live a contented person, however, they (victims) should take the present situation they have found themselves as an art of the Almighty.”
Touched by the plight of the internally displaced persons, the Katunku Foundation saw every reason to touch the lives of the needy with bags of rice, beans, garri, cartons of Indomie, cartons of Maggie, blankets, jerrycans of palm oil, children shoes, detergent, bathing soap, clothes, among other valuables to further give them a sense of togetherness. Cash was also given to the leadership to cater for those that may be in need of medical assistance.
While appreciating the efforts of individuals and organisations in alleviating the suffering of the victims, the Coordinator of Mercy camp, Zonkwa, Rev. Gambo Waziri, said the camp came about without any prior notice but said moved with the plight the victims found themselves, some of them were left with no option but to do what today becomes Mercy camp. He explained that on the day the Gora Gan was attacked, it was indeed a pathetic situation to see women, children and elderly people running to different directions for safety not knowing where they were going. Worst still, some ran bare footed while others had no clothes on them. “We had no choice but to immediately organize ourselves of like minded and form a team to rescue those we could. But His grace, we are where we find ourselves today. Thank God for the chairman and the leadership of the local government that encourages us to do whatever we could do to help whoever comes irrespective of any different. Our main mission is to save humanity.”
He added, “We started taxing ourselves with the little we had to take care of their feeding and what they could use to sleep. Before it was around midnight that fateful day, we recorded hundreds of people under our care. Indeed it was not easy but our God ever remained faithful to whoever believed in Him. No wonder, seeing what God Almighty did to us in the lives of the displaced persons, we named this place “Mercy camp”. The mercy of God has kept us with these people till date by providing to the needs of all of them that are here.
He thanked the Atyap people, other ethnic groups in Southern Kaduna and beyond for identifying with them by making the lives of the displaced persons more comfortable. “As l am talking to you, the number of the victims keep on reducing from 3,455 to what we have today because they have started returning to their homes. Six out of the pregnant women gave birth but two children have gone to be with the Lord,” he explained.