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Odera Okakpu: My Narrow Escape From Terrorists



If I was a fetish or superstitious person or if my life was being relayed in a Nollywood production, the statement “E be like say na from her village they do her this thing oh” would have come up by now. And if I didn’t know any better I would think it was true because terrorists seem to pop up wherever I go.

Tuesday September 11th 2001, I was 9 years old attending primary school in New York. I witnessed the black smoke surrounding the top of the twin towers I had admired so much. Hours later I watched in raw horror as the building came tumbling down.

May 14th 2013, I was a final year student in the American University of Nigeria, Yola, when the Federal Government decided the tension in the north east region needed to be curtailed by a state of emergency. The phone networks were cut off for a complete month and a curfew was set which is still in effect till now.

Fast forward to the present day. June 25th 2014 a bomb went off in the middle of Abuja, at the very popular Emab Plaza in Wuse 2. Coincidentally I had just finished doing my hair just behind the spot an hour before.

Of course, my narrow brushes with death have made me all the more grateful to God, but I am of the very strong notion that everything happens for a reason. There are lessons for me to learn in all these situations. For one, my mother bundled me and ran back to Nigeria after the 9/11 crisis on the presupposition that her country was safer than America. This only proved to me that the concept of terrorism I learnt at age nine is not exclusive to America and Americans alone but also known amongst my own people.

It has taught me that no matter where you are in the world it is generally an unsafe place. Whatever peace there is has to be one obtainable by all. At my young age I have come to understand that appreciating life is better in the moment because it only takes a second to change your whole life.

I have learnt that prejudices sting and if you continue to refer to a person or group of people with certain prejudices sooner or later out of anger and frustration it will suit them to prove you right.

Most importantly I’m beginning to understand that if I want my world to change the change must start with me. I cannot simply sit back and wait for whatever government to come and save me. I also simply cannot flee the scene or ignore what is going on. It will still come back to stare me in the eyes. And truthfully there is no time. We do not know what the future holds and we have no idea what effect our actions in the present have on the events in the future.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Phartisan


My name is Odera, some call me Deedee, some call me Odie. I am the only child but I have not been spoiled materially only with lots of love. I believe I’m very opportuned. I graduated in 2013 with a BSc in Journalism from the American University of Nigeria, Yola.


  1. Yvonne

    July 8, 2014 at 7:04 pm


  2. Jo!

    July 8, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    I’m sorry, but all I saw was “…finished “doing” my hair…”
    You were doing your hair abi? DOING it?

    • Jo!

      July 8, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      Just saw the “Bsc in Journalism”, Ha! Upon all that money Atiku is collecting.
      Chai! DiarisGod o, all these degrees you’re sharing…

    • Theresa Omoronyia

      July 8, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      Please stop it. Is this the only comment you can give after reading this? SMH

      @Odera, thank you for this brilliant article. Your experiences in life have given you wisdom beyond your years. I agree with you wholeheartedly that no place is beyond terrorism, that we have to deal with prejudices and also be the change we desire to see.

      Thank you very much for these reminders. May God help us in our search for the wisdom we need to do the right things, amen.
      Keep on writing girl, may your pen never run dry… 🙂

    • Jo!

      July 9, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      Sorry Madam, loool. Seriously, there’s nothing personal here, just pointing out something very simple
      I mean, she has a whole degree in journalism, I don’t know sha o, seeing as I don’t have a degree in Journalism, maybe “… just had my hair done/fixed/braided…something else!” would have sounded MUUUUCH better, but as I said, I don’t know.
      I also said, couldn’t read the article beyond that point

    • Odera

      July 11, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Sorry the grammar offended you, but I should point out that I have an editor, a seasoned journalist, who read it before I sent off to BN. In addition, before anything is published on the BN site their editor goes through it as well. If these even more qualified people did not point it out I’m sorry for your background in English.
      For next time though, in case I come across your kind again, would you please offer the alternative you would have preferred to read? I’m very curious.

    • omoobanta

      July 8, 2014 at 9:45 pm

      please English teacher what is it supposed to be. Don’t say ‘making my hair’ because that’s Nigerian English. Noone outside the country says that ish.

    • Amed Demirhan

      July 8, 2014 at 11:55 pm

      She is writing for Nigerian.

    • O'de

      July 9, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      Thank you! And I hate when Nigerian women say that… makes me cringe.

    • MC

      July 9, 2014 at 10:28 am

      As opposed to “making hair”?

    • O'de

      July 9, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      You’re such an idiot. What she wrote is acceptable.

    • chi-e-z

      July 10, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      erm she said “I had just finished doing my hair” finished is the verb there and I think doing my hair could suffice as a prepositional phrase so she wrote perfectly well. Are you confused or something

    • Ferrari

      July 10, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      Please what was she supposed to have said? please don’t say “fixing my hair”

  3. Jo!

    July 8, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    I know I’m now officially trolling, but BN removed comments approval??? Niiiiiice, first comment since the new site launched, hated it initially, just getting used to it sha

  4. Ivie

    July 8, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Oh BN please reply a sister…. cant view on my mobile phone . missed all posts lately due to this. I can only access it on my PC. what should i do… #BNaddict::)

  5. Ivie

    July 8, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Back to poster….Nice write up ! We Are the change we seek!!!


  6. laila

    July 8, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Thank God for your life! I encourage you to continue working on your craft

  7. Maxwell

    July 9, 2014 at 1:00 am

    Thank God to your safety. Please share to your loved ones and wherever you go be it Ojota, Otako or wherever be aware of your surroundings. God bless you for sharing

  8. anas

    July 9, 2014 at 2:45 am

    Good Article odee, i’m really proud of you. we need good writers like you in the nation, may god continue to guide you.

  9. Hi

    July 9, 2014 at 7:26 am

    @Odera, ode si go. Are you from Ogidi in Idenmili North Local Govt Area of Anambra State?

  10. oyaga

    July 9, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Jamb question. what is your own with where she’s from?

  11. dp

    July 9, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Lovely write up, thank God you are alive to tell the story a whole lot of people were not fortunate. Keep it up

  12. Dorin

    July 9, 2014 at 11:50 am

    You are an amazing writer Odera. Please keep up with this and even more…I’m proud to be associated with your kind…lov u D

  13. O'de

    July 9, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Great article, Odeera! You’re making me so proud of AUN journalism, which I had a hand in cultivating! 🙂

  14. sherrypha

    July 9, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    odera be doing us proud!! *fist bumb* ma niggur!!

  15. AK

    July 9, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    ” I have learnt that prejudices sting and if you continue to refer to a person or group of people with certain prejudices sooner or later out of anger and frustration it will suit them to prove you right.”
    Odera, can you clarify this statement? In the context of your write-up, it seems like you are in someway justifying the actions of terrorists because they have been prejudiced.

    • Odera

      July 11, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      No I am not justifying the actions of terrorists. I am simply pointing out that part of the reason terrorists never lack for recruits may be as a result of the prejudice they come across.

  16. chi-e-z

    July 10, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    erm she said “I had just finished doing my hair” finished is the verb there and I think doing my hair could suffice as a prepositional phrase so she wrote perfectly well. Are you confused or something

  17. Onyinye U

    July 11, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Nice article odie…well done! proud of you…plus ignore the self proclaimed English teacher 🙂

  18. Zee

    July 11, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Lovely write up dear.. Don’t mind dem haters

  19. Zirem

    July 11, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    True, we cannot run away from our problems-which in nijja terrorism is just one of them, lets in our own little ways try to make a change. It starts from the little things.

  20. Ozed

    July 11, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Is that why you didn’t return my change from doing the hair?

    I didn’t even like it seff.


  21. Alisha

    July 11, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Odie I am so proud of you, and for our new English teacher plz if you don’t have anything to say then don’t say its not compulsory…

  22. Samie

    July 11, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    This is a lovely article Dera!

  23. People's Editor

    July 11, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Odera kudos, warts and all you have got what it takes to weave words together for an effective communication. The simplicity of your style, and resort to the flashback technique marks you out as a budding story teller. I can relate to the prejudice bit because my experience in Kaduna today just sits well with your alert. I have been in Kaduna since Monday to offer support and solidarity to a close friend who had just undergone a successful major surgery. Ostensibly because of the pervading state of insecurity no thanks to the Boko Haram insurgency, Kaduna like most cities in the country, also has its own fair share of military checkpoints. Don’t get me wrong, Kaduna is calm, much more than Abuja where I live and work. Up until this Friday morning, my reception at those checkpoints have been heartwarming. On a drive to a popular eatery that has become a rendezvous of sorts for me I was pulled over this morning by a young soldier at the checkpoint close to the Nigeria Customs office in Kaduna. I do not want to conjecture that the reason why I was pulled over was because I was dressed in a flowing “jalabi” with a cap to match. I support every effort at cleansing our land of the menace of these sickos, but even as we do that we must avoid the pitfalls of prejudice and profiling.

  24. Joyce Agumagu

    July 11, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    So proud of my girl doing her thing… Known her for years and I can attest to the fact that she is very smart and articulateIts unfortunate when people comment on trivial things rather than the content of the material. if this was written by an American I’m sure no one would have criticized anything. All the haters “Leave her alone”!!!. While you’re sitting your ass down hiding behind a PC doing nothing but be spiteful, she is moving above and beyond, making a name for herself. Awesome article Deedee.. 🙂

  25. Annabel

    July 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I remember coming out the office and seeing the smoke and the first thing I did was start my head count … When I called you and you said you just left I was so happy… I just kept telling everybody the testimony… We thank God for guidance and protection.
    I won’t stop saying I’m proud of you

  26. clara

    July 27, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Congratulations Odera, thank God you were whisked away by the angels from these awful scenarios,its sad what our world has become,your skills are evident as a good writer and the most important you have established is clarity and emotional connection with your reader,keep it up.

  27. Donedi

    August 20, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Delicious Food for thought you composed here. The importance of gratitude can never be overemphasized! Welldone Odera!

  28. AMAKA

    August 25, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Odera, I’m proud of you. Say NO to cyber bullies. Peace!!!

  29. Prof Labambam

    September 6, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Odee, may the good Lord continue to protect you

  30. Louis Nwadialo

    April 11, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    Odera means Once it is written, it is written. It is obvious that you’re cut out to change the world or better still affect humanity positively by addressing blood chilling events that pre-date your birth and those you experience. Tell your own story draw inspiration from the the Chimamandas of this world. The world is waiting for you.

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