Eventually morning comes, and if the streets were quiet for elections, they are even quieter today. The fact that it is Sunday has no real meaning in this nearly 100% Muslim town, but the fact that elections are over and nothing drastic has happened – yet – is more testament to the possibility in the citizens’ minds that some thing horrific may soon follow.
Myself, Mr Chamba, and our driver arrive at the vigilante’s compound to discover that the army has captured a Boko Haram suspect and are busy interrogating him, and they need Alhajee Suleiman’s help. I’m excited that I will get to film such an interrogation – but as it turns out, I won’t. Without permission from central command in Abuja, we cannot film anything involving the army.
Instead, I spend the morning doing brief interviews with a handful of vigilantes, basically having them explain who they are, what they do for jobs in “real” life, why they have become vigilantes, and what their most unusual experience has been so far. Cooks, carpenters, and blacksmiths, they span the gamut of occupations and all have mainly the same answer to why they have taken on this dangerous job – to protect their land, their people, their country.
Finally the interrogation is over, Alhajee Suleiman is back, and we set out to the Emir’s palace. When we arrive Mr Chamba tells me he has a bad feeling. He is right. The Emir’s assistant tells us that the Emir is very upset about how we offended him yesterday and will not be able to see us today.
But it is worse than that. Until he gives us the right to leave, we will have to remain in Mubi. We can leave the palace if we wish, or we can wait until his decision is made, but there is no way of predicting when that will come. Mr Chamba says it is very possible that we could be waiting another night, although we are expected back in Yola before nightfall.
What I find remarkable about this the most is that I realize at that moment that I thought being the only Bature in Mubi brought me some status, and that I could crash the king’s palace easily. Instead, it has worked to opposite effect. It seems he is making a point primarily targeted at me – that I should not think just because I am the white man here, I should be treated special and in fact, I should have to work harder than the locals to gain his grace.
We decide to wait in the main foyer of the palace. After about two hours of tense waiting, forbidden to film anything even in that room, we get “good news” – we can go home now. Maybe we can interview the Emir another time, but not today.
Before we leave, the Emir’s assistant hands Alhajee Suleiman a was of naira – more than five hundred dollars worth, it turns out. In a deft trick of “ogaism” (showing who is the boss), the Emir has all at once refused us entry, revenged the “offense” we have caused him, and shown who has the power by giving away such a sum as if it matters nothing to him, and to show that he means no harm.
I want to stay in Mubi longer and film – something – to make up for the lost day. But Mr Chamba and Commander Suleiman are unanimous in their insistence that we get out of there before something else goes wrong. Before I know it we are back on the road to Yola, driving so fast, blowing through all checkpoints, that I can’t even film the road home.