Aisha Gombi Bakari: The Antelope Hunter Turned Boko Haram Tracker

It is easier now to imagine women in a number of roles where it would formerly have been impossible to imagine them.

The struggles of generations of women over the years has served up a world where it is not only possible for a woman to vote but to also be voted for.

More and more women can now go to school and become CEOs and rule in so many more places outside the home; to that wit, stories of women excelling in various fields are on the rise. Still, Aisha Gombi Bakari’s story is not one that you encounter every day.

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Boko Haram is the terrorist organization that has been organizing and conducting attacks in and outside Nigeria for a couple of years now. It rose in prominence to become one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups with a plethora of attacks that have included mass kidnappings and bombings.

Aisha Gombi Bakari is the queen hunter; the standout in a handful of women who hunt Boko Haram. The Nigerian army enlists thousands of hunters in the Sambisa forest region (a former stronghold of Boko Haram) on a contract basis to launch their offensives.

Aisha Gombi Bakari grew up near the Sambisa forest and used to hunt antelopes, baboons and guinea fowl with her grandfather before the problem of Boko Haram got out of hand. To date, the 38-year-old woman and her band of hunters have rescued hundreds of men, women, and children. She declares that “Boko Haram know me and fear me,”

Aisha Gombi Bakari

The band of hunters that Bakari leads include men aged between 15 to 30 years. They communicate with one another using sign language, animal sounds, and even birdsong. Although Aisha Gombi Bakari is a Muslim, she is a believer in traditional spirits and douses her fellow hunters with a secret potion to protect them from bullets as part of a ritual preparation before they set out.

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Last year, Bakari was crowned Sarauniyar Baka Adamawa (Queen of Adamawa Hunters) by the leader of the Hunters Association in Adamawa State, Usman Tola. The annual gathering of hunters where she was crowned was very well attended by hunters from all over Nigeria, as well as Cameroon and the Niger Republic.

It was a great honor for Bakari who also doubles as a tailor and had been urged by friends to give up hunting as it was considered a strange and immoral sport for a woman.

Aisha Gombi Bakari Is Now A Modern Day Heroine

Now, however, Aisha Gombi Bakari is a local hero whose feats in pushing back Boko Haram has endeared her to many people. Considering Boko Haram regularly utilizes females of all age groups to carry out their various attacks, it is good to see women such as Bakari who are involved in the fight to defeat them.

Aisha Gombi Bakari

Aisha Gombi Bakari is one among 228 male and female hunters who were recruited by a local government official last year to work on a more formal basis.

Financial constraints were, however, to doom the programme. By October, the 10,000 naira allowances that the hunters were being paid was stopped. In two months, a bulk of the team had pulled out of the programme, Bakari and a few others have, however, remained committed to the fight.

One thing that Aisha Gombi Bakari does regularly wish for is that the military provides the hunters with better weapons with which to better push their fight.