Zainab (27) is one of the IDPs in chief Idrisa's new community. She lives with her husband and two children in a tent under a huge baobab tree. Before the arrival of the IDPs the tree was standing lonely just outside the village, but the tree is now the centre of the new community. Zainab explains: ‘I have the privilege to live under this giant tree. He provides shade and fruits. Sometimes you have to be careful that the fruits don't fall on your head. The fruits aren't mine... I am only a guest. I bring them to our hosts and we can keep some for ourselves. We share them with our people in the community. That way the tree provides for everyone.’
The 'new village' was established by IDPs fleeing Boko Haram. Idrisa was the chief of a community of about 5,000 residents in Gwoza. In April 2014 as Boko Haram came closer Idrisa and the village council sought to find a safer place for the villagers. He travelled 350 kilometres to the village where Abuba was head as he had heard that his people would perhaps be welcome. After consultation with its community, Abuba offered a piece of land to Idrisa for his people. However on 3 June 2014 Boko Haram occupied Idrisa's village and held it for two weeks before the Nigerian army liberated them. More than 3,500 people were killed or captured. Ultimately only 1,500 people were able to flee to Abuba's village.
Abuba: 'It was not a difficult decision to make. If my people shall ever have to flee I also hope to find a safe refuge. Of course, in the beginning it was exciting: how would the two communities live together peacefully. Who do we let into our community? Idrisa's community lives on the outskirts of the village. He leads his community and I mine. I can not imagine that they would be gone. Idrisa and I decide a lot together and talk to each other daily. I want to meet every new resident of his community. Our guests may use our drinking water and agricultural land. My people have helped with the building of the new community. Residents donated rope, wood, poles and household goods to our guests to build huts. We shared our food because many were weakened. Meanwhile, the first marriage already taken place between the two communities.'Idrisa: 'When I was on my way to get my people, I was warned that it was already occupied. Men and women were killed in front of their children, girls as young as 10 married off or taken prisoner by the occupiers and boys taken for the armed struggle. Only if you have the courage, you dared to flee. My wife and several children, in the pouring rain, walked away in the middle of a dark night. They were hiding in streams, trees and caves because if you are caught, then you're dead. My wife held her hand over the mouth of the youngest, so she would not cry. She was pregnant and gave birth during the flight. She finally walked for eight days and nights before they arrived here in safety. My oldest daughter is still missing. I am very grateful that we could come here. We d