Tackling violent extremism ought to be everyone’s work

Habu Kale hanging out with children at Bakkassi IDPs camp where he was invited by NERI.

Could you describe the first moment when you realized you wanted to do this work?

I came to realize that I have to venture into peace building and promoting religious tolerance, immediately after Boko Haram insurgents were driven out of Maiduguri by youth vigilante aka Civilian JTF. The animosity between the family of the insurgents and their neighbors as well as other members of the community was getting sour. Also young children who witnessed the killings of captured insurgents, whom you’ll see trampling on the dead bodies of the executed makes me think twice. If a child could go about trampling on dead bodies without any fear or remorse, coupled with illiteracy what kind of a generation will be produced? These are some of the things that make me feel I’d not be doing justice to the society or myself if I don’t volunteer to.

Could you take us through a day of your work? Where do you put most of your time and energy?

Usually I visit young people from their gathering places. Such as football field, snooker stands, meeting and relaxing spots etc to preach peace messages. Although most of my work is through Social Media particularly Facebook.

What are your key achievements in your work?

When I was able to convince two warring group of youth into accepting peace and even celebrating it with a football match. So also becoming a fellow of the Northeast Intellectual Entrepreneurship Fellowship Program – NEIEF and being appointed as a Special Assistant to the Executive Governor of Borno State.

How does your organization promote inclusive participation of youth from diverse backgrounds?

It is open to everyone, irrespective of religious difference. Christian or Muslim, male or female. The bottom line is, if you see good in humanity and ready to defend its integrity you’re always welcome to our midst.

What has been your hardest struggle so far, and how did you get over it?

When I was saddled with the task of mediating and sensitizing a group of young people with a new kind of delinquency. The group was into drugs, fighting and disturbing people and leaders of the community. I was able to bring them together including the civilian JTF, iron out all the problems and agreed to a common ground. All the groups were disbanded, most of the boys were enrolled in to schools.

What is the biggest challenge you currently face?

The difficulty in convincing people that countering violent extremism is everyone’s business. And difficulty in going along with both my political and CVE activities parallel.

What has been your biggest surprise on this journey so far?

That the little work I do is appreciated and helping others.

What keeps you going and give you inspiration in your work? What gives you hope?

I’m always inspired by the fact that, no matter how difficult the work I am doing is, someone has to do it. After all, if we didn’t do it to ourselves no one will bother to contribute.

If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Be patient and read very hard.

What words of encouragement would you give to women, children, minorities, and other disempowered groups when they are facing rejection because of the prevailing cultural norm?

No condition is permanent. If a Nelson Mandela will stay in prison for 27 years, undergo lots of hardship and later become a president of the country that subjected him to such life, No condition is permanent, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel!

  1. How can people interested to connect you reach you?( email, blog, website, linkedIn etc). Mail: Habukalet@gmail.com Facebook: Habu Kale Tijjani Yajiwa Twitter: @Habuhk4 Tel: 08069572316