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Some field work will send you to bed each night, in tears. Especially the ones that show that things are worse than you'd ever imagined.

Earlier this month, while conflicted over whether to share this or not, the Zamfara killings became a trending topic.
This place we went to is called Sabon Koki - meaning new Koki - in Bungudu local government of Zamfara state. It’s called new Koki because old Koki was razed to the ground by cattle rustlers.

Every evening at 6 p.m., all the men in the village abandon the community and move to
...the surrounding villages to sleep. Because EVERY NIGHT, the bandits come. They are not in a hurry, these purveyors of evil. They take their time to rape, pillage and eat dinner.

Many of the village's children, like the one in the picture below, are fathered by these bandits.
Imagine growing up in a place where every night, a different man shows up to rape and rough up your mother & your father shows up in the morning to take stock of the damage.
Where terrified soldiers run through farmlands to seek refuge, than face armed bandits.

And life goes on.
I'm sure that you are wondering why the women stay back. They are tired of running. If they stay, they and the children won't be killed.

As soon as the boys hit puberty, they join their fathers on the run. Because if they stay, they will die.
The tension is the air is thick, like smoke in our lungs.

Do you know what it means to be so tired of being afraid of death, that you'd rather be raped and beaten than keep running?

Can you imagine how broken a man must be, to leave behind his wife and run with his son, so...
...they can live one more day? How resigned they've become to this, that they've accepted it as their normal.

Imagine the terror; the emotional, physical and psychological trauma of the men, women and children of Sabon Koki.
This is another real bit of Nigeria. The one you don't hear of in the news and probably never will.

Where scared children run from our cameras and there are more peering eyes from behind mud walls, than people joyously milling outside.
But somewhere, in house of assembly and the Senate, this local government has representatives who are paid millions of naira every month. Somewhere representing them, is a governor, a Vice President and a President.

This is the story of just one village. There's more. Think of this as you go into the new year, and when you vote in the next elections.

Remember Sabon Koki.
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