from Africa in Transition

Norma’s Letter from Jos

February 8, 2011

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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A woman sells tomatoes at a roadside grocery stall in Nigeria's central city of Jos March 9, 2010. (Akintunde Akinley/Courtesy Reuters)

The Niger Delta Working Group blog has posted another letter from Norma, the American expat farmer living near Jos that I blogged a few weeks ago. She provides a first hand account of the region’s instability and the negative impact it has had on daily life.

This past weekend was particularly awful. After a fight on Friday between some okada riders and some students of UniJos, a hellish scenario was let loose in Jos. The students attempted to demonstrate, and soldiers trying to keep them in the campus shot some of them (not fatally). The situation allowed youth gangs of both Christians and Muslims in the area of the university (the northern part of the city) to embark on a rampage of killing and burning of properties of other faiths. The conflict spread to some neighboring villages, and to some other parts of the town. In the end, the whole of Farin Gada area of Jos was completely destroyed. This includes a couple of square km of the mechanics’ village where about 80% of mechanics in Jos are located, including many sellers of spare parts. Some mosques and churches were burnt, as well as many houses and several petrol stations. The main regional vegetable market, from where most of the produce destined for Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt is loaded, was also completely destroyed, including the wholesale onion and tomato market. The area is completely devastated and is currently occupied by the army, with restricted movement in the area. The town is generally very tense, as everyone is expecting that there might be some retaliation attacks, and people are again afraid to move around.

Read the whole thing here.

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