There they stood, about to die for a religion they never chose. The thought wasn't a widely held one, in fact in the heat of the moment, in the face of the sharpened machetes, the snarling hate that was almost palpable under that implacable Northern heat; it was an idea that occurred to only one person. It was an idea that was about to get him killed. And he knew it.
He was the son of two pastors so his religion was chosen for him before he was old enough to make the decision for himself. He wasn't your typical pastor's child in any way, he wasn't the young man on fire for God and he wasn't the embittered rebel challenging every one and everything or taking out his frustrations with his parents out on their God. What he was, was a conundrum. An intellectual obsessed with practicality, enamored with the why of things. A dutiful son, he went to church with his parents without much complaints. A disinterested son, he participated in the bare minimum his parents would endure, a number that reduced every year. His parents got tired of him, because try as they could they could not get him to commit to their religion, neither could they get him to rebel against it.
He was already a teenager when he met Idris. Idris was named for one of the greatest rulers of the ancient Kingdom of the Kanems, because of his father's mostly imagined relationship to that linage. Idris was a hothead who liked arguing only slightly less than he liked fighting. So the unexpected friendship between the two of them baffled all and sundry, and not just because of the strength of their parents different and somewhat antagonistic faiths and tribes.
Their unexpected friendship blossomed as they got older. It baffled their families but they played, laughed, argued and fought, becoming closer and closer until one would not be found without the other. Their names became one of those paired things, some even thought they were brothers or cousins at most. They transcended the 'conflict' of the religions they were born into.
Until one day when the harmattan was heavy upon the land and the devil was in a mischievous mood. No one really knows how it started, some said a woman was spat at a Quran and the local youths beat her to death, others said the woman was passing by the mosque when a young man whose attentions she's spun decried her for blasphemy. Either way, the woman died and her family did not take it lying down. Her brothers and cousins beat the young man to death and his relatives went on their rampage which spurred on retaliatory actions and so on and so forth until the pastor's son watched his parents butchered as he hid unable to do anything, and Idris watched a cousin and the girl he loved die.
And so these two friends found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict, armed like their counterparts with machetes, cutlasses, daggers and the odd old style dane gun. The pastor's son looked at his friend and thought of how he was about to die for a religion that he never chose, that was never his. Then he thought of his parents, of all they wanted for him and how they were butchered by the young man standing next to his friend. The young man snarling hate at him. He raised his machete to the unmerciful sun and screamed his hate and fury to the world. Then he charged.