Saturday, November 21, 2015

Of Words and Soccer Balls

We had traveled somewhere around five hours across the searing semi-arid desert of northeastern Nigeria, timing our journey to beat the crowds pouring out of mosques on Friday afternoon prayers. That's because, in all honesty, as an American it's better to keep a low-profile on Friday afternoons in the vast swath of Muslim-dominated northeastern Nigeria where Boko Haram is known to operate. Through villages we dodged kids and livestock, stopping for lunch at a roadside food stand where we picked up two women and a child who squeezed into the back seat of our SUV for a lift to town.
At our "picnic table" beneath a fraying tarp, slender young boys hovered around us, smiling and hungrily eyeing our lunches of boiled fish and rice. I left some of the rice and fish on my plate and as I headed to our SUV watched the little boys pick up our plates, only to have them commandeered by older boys who had swooped in. My last sight of our roadside eatery was a group of teens wolfing down the scraps as the little boys watched. 
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