KILIMANJARO

Life has dealt Jilo Abdullahi an abundance of adversities. As the eldest, she lost her mother and was burdened with the task of caring for her seven younger siblings. With an absent father, Jilo was forced to invoke her submerged courage and face up to the travails presented to her. Playing supplicant to the neighbors and piercing her armor of dignity, Jilo moved from one door to the next begging for food. Eventually she was subjected to a pitiless wave of rejection from all the neighbors as they equated her with habitual bludging.

With a despairing feeling in the face of starvation, an older man proposed to her. Thinking that she would accept out of desperation, it came as a defeating tragedy to him when she refused to marry for the sake of finances. But the elders of her community, with their characteristic interference, covertly coerced her into marrying this man.

The cruel twists of fate had not ceased. Shortly after her wedlock, a proliferation of violence erupted as the Kenyan military engaged in a bloodbath with the Shifta militia. Jilo and her husband were rounded up in a concentration camp and forced to feed on expired products that inevitably led to palsying food poisoning.

With the zest of survival beating rhythmically in their hearts, Jilo and her husband decided to escape. Under the unsettling chill of the night, they made a quick reconnaissance and spotted two cows wandering about unaffected by the ongoing lunacy. Using these unaware animals as a shield, the couple managed to sneak out of the camp with a blazing triumph. 

Covering an immense distance, they fled to the outskirts of Garissa and spent five years there until the smoke of instability settled down. With peace being brokered between the Kenyan and Somali governments, the couple came back to Isiolo and built a house made of sand and branches.

With her husband dead and children scattered, Jilo now lives with her son who was born with mental instability that causes him to strip stark naked and run away. When this occurs, Jilo picks her walking stick and beseeches her neighbors to help her search for him

The only sadness that perches in her soul is the thought of dying and leaving him behind. “Without me he will get lost,” she said with a breaking voice.