After the voting patrols are finished, around 2 PM, we attend the Saturday “peace prayer” in which over two thousand men – yes entirely men – come out to sit together and pray that the kind of peace we have seen today continues. The prayer is spiritually led by the important figure the Emir of Mubi.
The Emir is essentially the local traditional ruler, appointed by the main local king in Yola. He fled Mubi along with the rest when Boko Haram came, and is famous for his bravery in returning early to the city.
Alhajee Suleiman’s black gown stands out in the crowd like a black sheep among well a flock of two thousand white sheep, and if the metaphor seems to be pushing things, well, it is not. It is exactly like that, and Alhajee is exactly like that too.
We are supposed to go to see the Emir after the prayer, and film with him and Alhajee Suleiman, but when we arrive at the Emir’s palace we are told we are late and that we must come back tomorrow. It is hard to understand how we are late, when we came from the exact same peace prayer he was just at, and we are ten minutes early according to the clock, but the Emir of Mubi is that kind of guy.
He famously stood up international reporters who had travelled all the way to Mubi for a scheduled appointment with him. Mr Chamba explains that it is part of his demonstration of his power, to be able to control the situation with anyone, no matter how important they are. And myself and the leader of the vigilantes are not very important in the greater political scheme of things.
Instead we visit the house of a notable public figure in the area. He offers us hospitality, a meal, and many verbal tributes to the vigilantes – and then gives us each the equivalent of $100 as a parting gift. Such gifts in Nigeria often happen; in this case there is no reason at all except generosity and custom for the offering… So I take it, to give to vigilantes later.
Later he invites us to a bigger dinner with the favored gubernatorial candidate, Senator Bindo, who is also from Mubi. But though we enjoy the dinner and are most grateful to have a real meal and a toilet with running water, Sen Bindo is stuck campaigning in a village and we have to go home before he arrives.
There’s a curfew after all, and I have to charge batteries before the couple hours of power in the Bano Hotel runs out. There is no electricity in Mubi, only generators run everything, and the Bano is not willing to run the power except when people are arriving home and preparing to sleep. It’s extended election hours, 6 PM to midnight – but still barely enough for me to get the needed work done. And not even close to enough to fire up a geyser, so while the batteries charge and I wait for footage to transfer I take a lovely freezing cold bath using water that has been stored for days in a giant plastic garbage can.