"How can we explain how good peace is when all we remember is violence?"
The organization Voice of the Martyrs shares the moving testimony of Julius Adamu, a Christian teenager from Nigeria. A victim of violence from Fulani herders, he found refuge in a Christian reception center.
When his parents divorced, Julius stayed with his grandmother. "Life is hard for everyone because the Fulani herders attack us again and again", he explains, "there is no rest".
"It's like this: on good days we eat in the afternoon, so on those evenings our bellies don't growl. Our village has no electricity, so we sit with our neighbors, around a fire after dark. Sometimes we sing, or Grandmother tells us stories and the big ones talk until it's time to sleep on our mats. We had a kerosene lamp, but the Fulani stole it. My grandmother's house is the third house I remember. The Fulani burned the other two and stole everything: our goats and our chickens, even my two ducks. They shot our dog All our yams and the ginger grown to pay our school fees, our maize, our Indian maize and the millet from our grain store, his cooking utensils, our farm tools, our lamps, our clothes, anything worth stealing."
Then he recounts the cries, which warn of the arrival of the assailants, and the flight to save his life.
"We hear faint noises in the distance in the bush: everyone is silent, standing to listen. Shouting in the distance. The Fulani. We grab what we can and run fast in the bush, away from the shouting. My father helps my grandmother. The Fulani have no mercy, even our old people and our babies are killed. My father says that the Fulani are full of tramadol, a drug that numbs their minds so that they can do anything how wicked. Our men were trying to defend our village, but the Fulani have better guns. Too many of our men are dead, so now we are all running."
In August 2020, it was his pastor who brought him to this Christian reception center. There he was able to return to school.
"It's hard to explain how different it is to live where we all eat well – three meals a day, with clean water to drink, to take our baths, to wash our clothes every Saturday. We have new clothes. We have shoes. How good it is to play football with friends in the evening without fear! We sleep peacefully every night. We do not listen to the noises that warn us that the Fulani are near our village. "We don't have gunshots and terror at night. Instead, we hear singing. How can we explain how good peace is when all we remember is violence?"
His father was killed by Fulani herders. He was the only health worker in the village. In 2022, on Christmas Eve, when Julius returned to the village to see his family, Fulani people arrive. Sick, his father could not flee, but he forced his son to escape.
"I'm not ashamed that I cried because I knew there they were killing my father and I couldn't do anything but run. My father wanted me to live so I have to run and stay in I kept running through the bush until the noise behind me was very low, then I found a big tree and climbed all the way up."
The next day, Julius returns to the village. Men bury his father. That night, he was the only victim.
Image credit: Shutterstock/Red Confidential