Wednesday 31 October 2018


The sun rose, gently peeping over the horizon as it sent wisps of reddish light across the dawn sky; delicately beautiful, yet awakening fear in the hearts of Bovina and the others she was caged with.

It signified the start of a new day and time for some of them to die.

They knew that in a few minutes, their captors would come into the hold to select no less that 50 of them for the slaughter, leading them out never to be seen again.

Then afternoon would come and the killings would be temporarily forgotten. They would continue trying to stay sane in that cramped, littered confine, grateful not to have been amongst the unlucky ones for the day. Evenings too were peaceful, characterized by sleep and frequent, almost soundless mating under the cloak of darkness. It’s the mornings that were bad; it’s the mornings that held death.

The hold was a large, open outdoor cage, constructed from wood and it held over 200 of them – male, female, children and even babies. As large as it was, it was not big enough to contain all of them at the best of times, and certainly not now that there was unrest in the air as anticipation of the brutality that was about to take place grew.

Suddenly, unceremoniously, a dozen men burst into the hold. Strapping, muscular men with glistening, bare upper bodies, wielding knives and hatchets savagely.

Moans and cries rent the air as many tried to back away from the killers as they walked around the hold, ready to select those who would die today.

“Don't be afraid, Bovina.” Yaro spoke up beside her, trying to calm her down. “Insha Allah, they shall not pick us today.”

Yaro and Bovina had grown up together in the plains of Daura and were now sweethearts in captivity. Daura… how she missed her home land – the peaceful fields, the warm afternoon breeze, the simplicity and calm that life was…

It had all been roughly snatched away from her; whole families taken violently and brought to this place where they were put in captivity and harvested daily for meat.

“Are we ever going to be free?” Bovina responded to Yaro. “Are we ever going to leave this place alive?”

Any response he wanted to give was cut off when four of the killers came to them and roughly began examining their bodies, prodding at their flesh and slapping their buttocks. Then one of the men threw a rope around one of Yaro’s legs and began to pull him out with it, while another supported by pushing Yaro from the back. 

Yaro was big and quite strong so he gave the men a tough time, digging his heels into the ground and refusing to move. But the men managed to overpower him with the rope they employed and the heavy sticks they hit him with, slowly but surely dragging him out of the hold. 

“Nooooo, nooooo,” Bovina bawled. “Not Yaro, nooooo!"

But she might as well have saved the energy for her own resistance. The remaining pair of men, same way as had been done with Yaro, threw a rope around her legs and began dragging her out of the cage. Her time was up too.

Bovina found her heart thumping wildly in her chest, extreme fear surging in her veins, knowing fully well the cruel death that awaited her.

Outside, she saw that Yaro was still giving the men a run for their money. The moment he spotted one of the other prisoners being forced, legs tied, onto a dirty concrete slab that still sported bloodstains and waste matter from the previous morning’s killings, with a long, curved knife held to his neck, a strength ten times his usual came upon him. He struggled wildly against the rope that held him and another one was quickly thrown around his head with more blows falling upon him from the sticks the men held. Still, he continued to struggle, and it seemed like he was going to gouge the eyes out of one of the men at any moment.

The men called out for back up, and the next thing Bovina saw was another man come rushing down with a bucket of steaming water which he threw all over Yaro.

Yaro let out a bellow as the hot water seeped fierily into his flesh. He stood stock still and his muscles began jerking in pain. As he stood there, almost paralyzed by the intense pain, the men were able to easily drag him the rest of the way to the slaughter slab. They forced him down and tied up all his limbs so that he was completely immobile.

Horrified, Bovina watched, close enough to see every little detail, as one of the men picked up the slaughter knife and expertly drove it through Yaro’s jugular vein. She watched as her lover's blood and life force burst out in spurts, the life draining out of his muscles and eyes.

For the first time in her life, she wished she was able to cry. But all she could do was howl in pain and deep loss.

Then it was her turn.

She could not even fight them anymore, resigned now to her impending doom, and let them lead her like a sheep to the slaughter. 

Beside her, another captive was being forced to the slab too, and was roughly dragged across the concrete by at least 4 men, his excreta, forced out of his system by fear, trailing behind him. She also saw another being hacked open and cut into bits and parts that were quickly stacked into waiting basins.

She wanted to close her eyes, but could not, so she continued to stare with wide, rolling eyes as the butcher's knife came down on her throat and dug into it with an intense sting.

“It's fine that humans eat us. It's fine that we are just beef to them. But why do they do it with so much cruelty and torture? We have feelings too; we hurt too,” were her last thoughts as her life drained away onto the dirty concrete slab of the abattoir.

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