By Pelu Awofeso (@PeluAwofeso)
It’s been reported that dozens of people were killed in a twin explosion in Jos earlier today. I recall spending a little over a week in the tourist city just after Christmas in 2013 and stayed into the New year (2014). it was largely a cheerless stay–my mood was crushed by the dirth and disarray I came across in the city centre, popularly known as “Terminus”.
From the Ahmadu bello Road to the to the Murtala Mohammed intersection and adjoining streets, there was heavy hustling as far as the eyes could see. The place was chocked and moving about the market was a task in itself. Men and women sold everything from footwear and clothes to foodstuff and toiletries. An old man I chanced uopn say by a few packets of cigarettes and sweets. He looked forlorn. I could never forget that.
I was enraged: the Jos I first visited as an adult in 1998 was too beautiful to compare to what it has become 15 years later. back then, the city centre was a charming and serene arena where you could take a casual stroll in the evening.
The few traders I spoke with said they were victims of circumstance and if they had their way they would be elsewhere doing something else more befitting. “It’s not as if I am satisfied to sell on the streets,” says Usman, who recently relocated from Maiduguri. “This is what I could afford to do as a petty trader. If I had my way, I wouldn’t be doing this.”
Sadly, it will be young and hard working men like Usman who have lost their lives to the suicide bombers yesterday. And to think that the previous government of Mr Joshua Dariye did nothing to rebuild the Jos Main Market after it was gutted in 2002; sadly, the current administration of Mr Jonah Jang has also not deemed it necessary to rebuild one of the state’s treasures after seven years in office.
Below are some of the photos I took as I trekked through the city of Jos five months ago. I could never have seen a bomb blast coming.