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.
Nigeria has its tensions, but the people are warm and beautiful. While traveling across Nigeria by bus in 2002, I was escorted on each leg of the trip by someone who designated himself as my temporary host, buying me food and sometimes paying my fare. Here’s a shot of a breastfeeding mother, a girl in her village, and kids crowding in a bus station to get a view of Ofir.
Sharia law in Nigeria has been condemned for its human rights abuses and has been played up by political opportunists, leading to violent outbreaks between Muslims and Christians who once lived side by side in peace. This poster, nailed to the wall of a mud hut, was sold in markets at the time of Ofir’s visit. The poster shows the punishment for each “crime,” from lashes with a whip to death by stoning.
Unable to fight winds on the dammed Kainji, Ofir sold his canoe and moved north to write about the growing religious tensions in Nigeria post 9/11. When locals in Yelwa learned that there was an Israeli among them, they contacted the family hosting Ofir to coordinate his killing. The sicker in the photo is on a taxicab.