A Quest for Water, Chapter 4: A Close Call (4)

Fulani childA QUEST FOR WATER: (Based on actual events in the southern Sahara)
Chapter 4: A CLOSE CALL (4)

The sun began to set on the horizon as the trio neared the second well. Mouheini tried to improve the spirits of the younger two by recounting a story about a genie who fell in love with a human maiden. She was deep into detailing a love sequence, when suddenly, machine guns rang in the distance. Mouheini jumped. Confused, she looked around. She saw nothing strange. Again, they heard more gunshots, followed by men’s angry screams. Suddenly, several pickups transporting dozens of men whizzed past, lifting up a huge cloud of dust in their wake. Dressed all in white, the men whooped and pumped their AK-47s into the air, as if in celebration. The girls fell to the ground, hiding behind their donkeys.

Mouheini grabbed onto Takat and held her tightly. More angry voices and screaming rang out from a distance, prompting Mouheini to pray, “Allah, protect us. Do not let these frightening men catch or hurt us.” Lifting herself up behind her donkey, she peered over to see if the men were still in sight. It seemed as if they had not noticed the girls, and as if they had, they had more pertinent business at hand. Nonetheless, remembering the stories of rape and violence she had heard about armed men from the West, and already traumatized by the long day’s event, she yelled out at Takat and Raichatou to run away, ordering them to leave their donkeys behind. They ran and ran, until they collapsed on the ground from exhaustion.

photo: Fulani child. I did not have a photo appropriate for the text.