Friday, January 16, 2009

Starting Over

We had a major religious/political crisis in Jos on Nov. 28/29, resulting in hundreds of deaths. Just three days before the crisis, there was a major fire in part of the Jos downtown market. Because of the crisis and the ensuing tension in Jos, it was at least a month before I entered the main market and saw the devastation for myself.

The news of the fire had been eclipsed by the crisis. In fact, I hardly even remembered hearing about it. Therefore I was shocked at the devastation that I saw when I entered the market. At least 40 shops had been consumed by the fire. The shops are quite small, about 12 feet by 20 feet, all joined under one roof. I offered condolences to a couple of the merchants I knew who lost everything. The fire occurred around midnight, and they don’t really know what caused it.

In the past I often purchased items from the man pictured at the right. After asking him about the details of the fire, I asked as an afterthought, "So how was the crisis for you?"

To my utter shock, he said, “They burned our house and our car, but we thank God that our lives were spared.” I just wanted to weep right there; how could one family lose its livelihood and home and car within the space of three days in separate, unrelated incidents? Jos is a city of approximately 1 million people. The market and his home are about 1 mile apart. What are the odds of that happening?

How do you pick yourself up after something like this? I don't know, but I do know that Nigerians are the most resilient people I have ever met.

1 comment:

Sandi said...

What a story! Have I been to this market area with you?