A Carnage Before Dawn

A tribute to a brave aid worker, Dr Kachi, who was killed during the Rann attack in March 2018

Sa'id Gaya
A doctor examining a child

02 March 2019

On the night of the 1st of March 2018, the news was transmitted, an armed group had overrun the military installations in the town of Rann, Kala Balge LGA, a town at the Nigeria/Cameroonian border in Borno State. I immediately sprung up with utter surprise and reached for my mobile phone to call my friend and colleague Dr. Kachi Izuogu, who was supervising the activities in that location. I was just in an adjacent location operating in a similar environment. We communicated via WhatsApp messenger and the conversation went thus: "Chief, what's going on in Rann?" He responded, "there is an attack by Boko Haram terrorists on our base." I again responded, "since when and how severe is it?" Then, there was this deafening long silence with no response. By dawn, I had received a string of images of Dr Kachi, whom I was communicating with the night before, in a pool of his own blood, shot in the head at close range. The pictures, conveyed a salient point, he and his colleagues were hopeless and defenseless just before their lives were snuffed out of them. This, was one of the darkest moments of my entire existence.

A month before, Dr Kachi Izuogu and myself discussed how UNICEF had given us a robust platform to change the trajectories of our careers and how we had played pivotal roles in the humanitarian sphere as doctors. Kachi projected how the future seemed so illuminated by prospects and, he always opined that the frontiers of opportunity were close. He reaffirmed to me that the very daunting tasks we surmounted everyday in the IDP camps and the risks we took, was definitely the corridor to a stellar career. Moreso, no other kind of work could uphold the ethos of the Hippocratic Oath better than what we did in Borno state.

The last images I saw of Dr Kachi were not just that of his helpless self lying on the ground; what I saw, was a stallion, a lion, and a hero who braved all the odds to identify with the position of the vulnerable Borno child and woman. Even in his resting place, his legacy still illuminates the horizon of that boy and girl who had the opportunity to meet him during his service in Rann, Kala Balge. 

In the words of Ambrose Redmoon, " courage is not the absence of fear, but rather, the judgement that something else is more important than fear". The courage and the odds that Kachi braved will forever remain indelible in the annals of time and when posterity comes, we will sing his praises and make them remember that, he gave his life so that every child in Borno state might have a fair chance.