Aisha Bakari Gombi
Aisha Bakari Gombi was recently crowned as Sarauniyar Baka Adamawa, or Queen of Adamawa Hunters, by the leader of the Hunters Association in Adamawa State, Usman Tola at an annual gathering of hunters attended by hunters from all over Nigeria, as well as Cameroon and Niger Republic. The eldest child of a famous hunter, Bakari Gombi, she was born into a family of archers who hunted wild animals for sport. During a chat with Daily Trust, the 30-year-said while she was raised in the family tradition to become a skilled hunter, proving her mettle among male counterparts came naturally.
Catch them young
Aisha’s father discovered her potential early on, and took time to guide her along the path of the tradition that has brought him recognition across Adamawa and Borno states, as well as parts of Cameroon. Her hunting career began early. “I cannot remember my exact age at that time, but I became a huntress as a little girl,” she said. As a cocky teen, she always attracted the attention of male colleagues, who were often stunned by her abilities and dexterity in handling of dane guns and other hunting gear.
Aisha would brave forests in Adamawa, Borno and more, on hunting expeditions to compete with established male hunters, bagging all sorts of wild animals including buffalos, antelopes, and even lions. Then the involvement of vigilantes in the ongoing war against Boko Haram saw Aisha participate in several battles, locking horns with the insurgents. Her experience as a huntress, she believes, gave her the courage to face Boko Haram when they invaded her hometown.
Dressed in a long-sleeved jacket, combat trousers and jungle boots, with her head covered with a scarf, Aisha held her dane gun firmly while three stern-looking men stood behind her. She is commanding dozens of men at the war front where they assist the military in the war against insurgency in the North-East.
As a child, Aisha’s father made her a small-sized bow with arrows to practice with, her gender notwithstanding. He soon realized her skill, so he encouraged her even more to become a great archer. Aisha told Daily Trust that she once overheard her dad telling relatives that she will be the one to keep the family’s tradition alive when he is no more.
Aisha recalled her first kill to Daily Trust – a wild reptile called ‘Damo’ in Hausa – which she caught with her bare hands while assisting her father catch an antelope in a forest in Cameroon. “We beamed a light to temporarily blind the animal, and I caught it with my bare hands,” she added.
Her fierceness has seen Aisha command the respect of male hunters, and a number of them spoke about her glowingly.
The Sarauniyar Bakan Adamawar, who doubles as a tailor, said many people in her community found her interest in hunting strange, and even immoral. Wild gossip made her friends advise her to quit hunting to concentrate on her tailoring business.
But on the other hand, Aisha’s role in dislodging Boko Haram from Gombi and surrounding villages made her a bona fide hero, endearing her to many.
Revisiting her encounter with insurgents when they took over Mubi town while she was visiting relatives, Aisha told Daily Trust how she assisted many people to escape to Maiha and other relatively safe areas. Ironically, few weeks after she returned to her hometown, the insurgents struck. She refused to flee, instead answering a call to arms from a senior hunter called Bukar, who inspired her to join the war on terror.
Chairman of the Hunters Association, Usman Tola, told Daily Trust that the decision by hunters to install Aisha as Sarauniyar Baka was unanimous, based on her bravery during the aforementioned battle against Boko Haram in Gombi, as well as many other encounters with the sect.
Tola said when he led his men from other parts of Adamawa to assist the military recapture Gombi, he met only three hunters who stayed put and one of them was Aisha. “Most of the residents, including hunters. Only Aisha, Bukar Jimeta and Doctor Sadiq fought with us to reclaim the area,” he said.
According to Tola, Aisha’s fighting ability and doggedness in the Gombi battle has made her become a bit of a legend among her peers. “She’s a true huntress,” he said, “And a fearless fighter.”