“The men who kidnapped my mother dressed in police uniforms. Her dead body was dumped in the bush after asking for 20 million naira. She died in their hands.”
They got in touch through a masked number phone call three days after the kidnap, on Saturday evening at 7 pm. It took them three days to make contact, it’s the usual pattern. They wait for 72 hours for a missing person’s report as the law states.
I  had already prepared for bed, it was past 10 pm and as I got into bed, I heard a knock on my door, I opened it and it was my dad. He had bloodshot eyes and I could sense danger and he spilt – Uzo, your mother was kidnapped. I was motionless for ten seconds and in ten seconds, I thought of a million things. And I fell on the bed feeling like the world had ended. In a way, it had because it was the beginning of the end for my family the way I have always known it.
The kidnappers asked for 20 million naira. We started negotiating and the negotiation dragged on for too long. They wanted it in two days and it wasn’t easy. If we had responded on time with the funds whatever went wrong in the camp may not have happened. I bear the burden of guilt.
There are coincidences that also burden me. It happened in my birth month, and I was the first person they called. I remember her words; “Do all you can to get me out of here, this is not the kind of place to stay. Call this person, call that person, make sure the money comes”. We did everything but it wasn’t enough to keep her alive.
The police and telecom company were able to unmask the number they contacted us with. It turned out to be her mobile number. It felt like a more profound violation.
When something like this happens to you, you don’t choose whether to share your emotions or not. Everyone can see it. Living through her kidnap, death and burial brought us closer as a family.
I want to remember her as she was before it happened, her love, her life, her smile, her care, and her essence. But the trauma lives on. Her last words to me and imagining what she must have passed through in her final days feel like a stab. I wish I can help not think about her the way I do.
Things will never be the same. There can never be another her. People say I should forgive, only Jesus can forgive.
When she died, everybody needed each other. But, everybody is a reminder of her. My mother was the live wire of the family, she kept the family together and her demise bonded us even more. It felt like a way of honouring her and keeping everything that meant something to her. It created an irony. Family traditions no longer happen as before. She was the core that held everything together. It brought us closer but also tore us apart. 
I know that life will find a way to have meaning again, but it’ll be different.
It also changed my relationship with my dad. Between us, there is so much to say and still very little. Growing up, he was never there for us. He loved his job as a provider and did very little about being a father.
It is an indescribable feeling, but we say to ourselves that if we had the chance to substitute, we’d rather him than her. It’s funny because the person we thought will go first ends up staying longer.
According to HumAngle, analysing data collected through Nigeria Security Tracker between 2015 and June 2021 shows a rise in kidnappings in Nigeria. According to security agencies, kidnapping is still on the rise. There are multiple instances where it has led to death. In this capsule memoir, I share the story of a friend who lost their mother to kidnapping. Stories like these are never easy to relive. I am grateful they let me share their capsule memoir.