Narrow, dirty alleys paved with red stones traversed the length and breadth of Warinje, Abujan Kwata and other communities living on a rock.
The brownish rock stretches from Gombe road gate to hundred of meters through Abujan Kwata, Warinje and other communities in Bauchi metropolis
When one climbs the rock, a scenic view of a large part of Bauchi metropolis appears before him with its splendour of old and new buildings.
According to the ward head of Abujan Kwata, Mallam Sale Usman, the communities develop and rapidly spread in the last 30 years as houses dotted the hilltops.
“I came to this place about 30 years ago. I was living in a rented house in the town. I got this plot of land and built my house. There was only one house on top of the rock and it’s only my house that is here. As you can see, my house is not on the rock, but the road to the top of the rock begins here,” he said.
The ward head, who has three wives and 12 children, said that, he built a small house where he first stayed which he later expanded as the size of his family grew.
“Seven, out of my 12 children were born here. I was made the ward head about eight years ago. Although our community is located inside Bauchi metropolis now, we suffer a kind of isolation. Some places are not easily accessible. Most of the uphill places can only be accessed on foot,” he added.
A visit to any of the communities will fascinate one with the kind of life the inhabitants of the rocky settlements go through surrounded by boulders from large to small which in many instances also form part of walls of some houses in the community.
Like any urban slum, Warinje, Abujan Kwata and other communities are home to thousands of people pushed by circumstances to an environment that is harsh and sometimes dangerous.
Their location is unique as it could be called a people living on a rock as their houses dotted the landscape on the expanse of rock.
Living on top of a large rock with unstable boulders of all sizes hanging overhead is one feature that made the communities unique.
Most of the houses in those communities are made of mud which portrays the standard of living of the inhabitants.
Building a house in these rocky communities poses a great challenge.
Although, the plots may be cheap or sometimes gotten free of charge, developing the land is both hectic and demanding.
Some residents either build their houses between the rocks which serve as walls, or use the small boulders as foundation of their buildings.
“We utilise what we have around us to build our homes” says Mallam Surajo Musa and Abubakar Liman, two elderly people found by our reporter resting near a Mosque in the area.
Pointing to his house on top of the hill some meters away from where he is sitting, Liman said: “I just added another structure some months ago which serves as my quarters.”
For most of the youths in the area, finding a place to build a room is always a challenge as the houses in the area are relatively small accommodating an ever growing family.
“We are facing challenges, if we want to marry, we build rooms in our parents houses or rent a place elsewhere if there is no space in our homes. We usually go to neighbouring communities or inside town to rent a place to keep our wives,” Mamman, one of the youths said.
Boulders, a threat?
Although the residents see the boulders as not a threat, they sometimes pose one to some if not all the residents.
Depending on the location of one’s house, the boulders, scenic as they appear may be piece of trouble for an individual or a family who might have an encounter with an unstable one.
Close shave with the rocks
Many incidences of close shave with the boulders have been witnessed in many locations around the communities.
Reports have it that, the ‘Rolling Stones” sometimes missed some of the residents by just few inches.
A recent incidence reportedly left a woman with a broken leg when a boulder tumbled down and broke her leg.
When asked about the incidence, the ward head said that, it was not in his area.
“You know this place is very big, it should be in another area. We have never recorded this incident in our area. Of course there are boulders everywhere even in our homes, but we are used to them and we don’t see them as a threat,” he added.
Children who grew up in those communities live with the deprivation of lack of basic social amenities like schools and hospital as the residents have to seek for such elsewhere.
“We have no school or hospital. Our children have to leave the community to attend school. The only school we have here at Abujan Kwata was the one down there which we built so that our children especially the small ones can attend.
“The grown up ones attend public schools outside the community. We thank Allah, because the schools are not far from here. So, our children now have a very good chance to attend school despite the fact that we don’t have them in the community,” he added.
The communities are also closely knit as its residents almost know one another because they are engaged in one trade, or another.
Youths, mostly Okada riders or artisans, like most of their parents, are seen in groups discussing after the day’s job as our reporter visited the community late in the evening when most of the residents are returning home.
Idris Sani, a youth who acts as a guide to our reporter, said that, most of them are engaged in various trades save for others who chose to remain idle. “They are the ones giving us a bad name in our communities,” he said.
Despite their size and population, the communities have been neglected for a long time because there is almost nothing that was provided by the government in the communities.
According to Abujan Kwata community leader, they do everything through self help to bring succour to their communities.
“We mobilise to confront our problems through contributions and self help, instead of waiting for the government and endless promises of politicians who came in anytime they want our votes,” he said.
The ward head disclosed that, they bring light to the community through communal efforts some years ago as requests to help the community have light had fallen on deaf ears.
For a visitor these communities may look like a place where water will be scarce. It was however an irony that, water is not a problem. Thanks to the presence of a concrete reservoir and flow station, built many decades ago, at the highest point on one of the rocks. Water is, therefore, available as it runs downhill through network of pipes.
Malam Sale Usman said a politician, Aliyu Garu, facilitated the provision of tap water to the community some years back. This is being complemented by water from wells dug all around the community.
“Our wells also have clean water. Most of the old houses here have wells, if there is any problem of water supply we rely on our wells for our water needs,” he added.
The ward head also said the community was also politically neglected as they don’t even have a polling unit in the area.
“We are also politically irrelevant as all our effort to get a polling unit in our area has failed. Our place is part of Dawaki Ward. We have to go out to register or vote anytime there is an election which is not fair to a place like this,” he lamented.