The one-year-old girl on the left has the strength to ride on the back of her bigger sister–arms at the neck, legs clamped–for most of every day. The older girl is eating a stalk of sugar-filled sorghum.
Ofir bought a billy goat and rode in the back of a pickup toward the Achipawa, searching for the first Achipawa Christian, Timothy, who lived on the edge of Achipawa territory and who would speak English. Ofir was in the remote north of Nigeria. Several days on, he and Timothy began to climb the volcano on which the Achipawa live. The two boys pictured were working seven years in the fields of their future father-in-laws, strangely echoing Jacob in Genesis. The Achipawa are animists.
Brother Bulus Demena tried to build a church in the territory of the Achipawa and was driven out. He told Ofir, “They are guarding their chief called god. No one enters. He is their god…They will not let you in. Don’t go there.” Still, as is the custom in Nigeria, Brother Bulus welcomed Ofir to his house and surrounded him with enough pots of food to feed a family of five. On the wall behind Ofir is a Year 2000 Doomsday poster, which delineates those going to heaven and those not. People drinking in bars, playing soccer, and practicing karate are not going up.
A year after beginning his search for Niyi Gbade, Ofir finally found the man in Lagos. Niyi was hesitant to share information about the Achipawa out of worry that Ofir would strengthen their local beliefs and thus strengthen their resistance to Christianity. Ofir pointed to his scars and said he’d nearly been killed trying to meet Niyi, and the man said only that the Achipawa were located between the Niger and Kebbi states. Armed with this information, Ofir returned to Leo’s hut in the bush, and after many days of walking they found an elder who had been to those states, a man who said, “If you reach the mountain of the Achipawa you will meet a man who when he speaks you will hear thunder.” The elder is pictured below with his homemade gun.
The author of the report citing the Achipawa as “hostile animists” was brother Niyi Gbade. Ofir’s hope of finding the Achipawa lay in finding this man. Three weeks in to following Niyi’s trail across Nigeria, Ofir was in a bus that flew off the road and rolled down a cliff. Cut by glass across the neck, arm, and legs, Ofir barely survived. The photo is with the doctor who saved his life in a bush clinic that operated without running water and often without electricity. Ofir’s head leans to the right because of the injury to the muscles of his neck.