Chibok has always been a difficult place to get to. Here are stories of two journeys to Chibok 50 years apart.
Story #1 Chibok Visit – A trip to Remember
(recalled by Ralph Royer – long time missionary in Nigeria, Supervisor of the 40 Church of the Brethren Elementary Schools during the 1960’s)
In the early 1960s the government of northern Nigeria announced a desire to transfer primary schools, both mission and native schools, to what were called Local Education Authorities (LEA). There being only a few non native schools in Borno LEA made it a good place to start. I made several trips to Maiduguri to help work out some of the details to transfer our three schools in Borno LEA – Chibok, Kaurwatikari and Mbalala. It was decided to do the transfer in 1963 and I felt the schools and teachers needed to know this as ownership and employment etc was to transfer to the LEA.
Usually Chibok was cut off by road from July to October, but this was August so I decided to take a small 50cc motorcycle from Lassa for the thirty miles to Chibok. At the Musa stream I had to get men to help hoist it over our heads to cross the stream. One of the shorter men stepped in a hole and briefly disappeared below the surface. When I was within seven miles of Chibok, I came to a large flowing stream at a spot I knew to be only a low area with an occasional mud puddle. Now it flowed two hundred feet across. I had already had help several times crossing streams, so seeing no around, I parked my moped by a tree and started walking in water up to my chest. A few miles on I met some Fulani cattle herders and their dog, but we could not converse and we each went on. After separating some distance, I heard a funny sound and turned around to see their dog really bearing down on me. I reached at it and the dog veered off, but it raised the hair on my neck and added to the seriousness of the whole situation with water everywhere. As I approached the last stream just behind the mission station, I began to wonder where the station was. There was nothing but water as far as I could see. A slight movement ahead caught my eye, it was a woman climbing into the branches of a tree. I watched as she went through to the other side and down holding onto small trees as she went forward. I followed and later found that this tree grew in the middle of the stream and we had crossed the stream where it was ten feet deep and three feet beyond each bank.
It was a very surprised Grace Brumbaugh who met me when I arrived at her house! They had four and a half inches of rain that afternoon and many mud houses had collapsed. It was also an appreciative group of teachers to whom I explained the upcoming changes in the running of the schools.
Over the next several years we arranged for the transfer of all of our forty-two schools. Informing these teachers required less “heroism”!
Story # 2 My Wilderness Journey To Land Of Chibok (An excerpt)
By Naija247news Posted In Crime & Investigative Reports
(A journalist tells of his trip to Chibok some time after Boko Haram had captured 276 girls)
The road to Chibok is bad and full of uncertainty; checking points everywhere mounted by vigilante group. Bombed cars, trucks and buses abound on the road to Chibok. Burnt houses and hot. Several villages sacked by the insurgents whose inhabitants now live under trees with their children begging for aid from travelers. Abandoned Police Posts that had received the insurgents’ baptism of fire! The Damboa-Chibok Road is particularly very bad. The major road has been taking over by flood. Drivers now drive through the desert forest like antelopes sneaking to avoid wet bushes from touching them. Some have been killed on the road by the insurgents and many escaped with varying degrees of gunshots injuries. Pastor Manasseh for instance, showed me injuries he escaped with on this road. At some checking points mounted by policemen and soldiers passengers are asked to step out of the car and walk through the check point.
We continue to remember those abducted by the Boko Haram and pray for their safe return.