The Fulani Herdsmen Saga: My thoughts

or Some suggestions on how to think about the whole thing.

Beautiful Fulani Ladies

I have done a lot of this within the past year, some of them things I never imagined I will do. This year I am up to something; to do a lot of such things. Adventure I call it.

I have read a lot of sad news from Nigeria about the clashes between Fulani herdsmen and locals in Nigeria and yes, this has escalated into something that has to be immediately and decisively dealt with even though many concerned Nigerians are alarmed by the high level of passivity given to this issue. I hope some of what I will write, even if just a little part of it, will help spark up more constructive discussion into how to deal with that. My family had a special, unique experience with the Fulani herdsmen a long time ago, before I was born, and the story was passed down to me. I will have to go and find out exact facts surrounding the whole incident, but will now write a little from what I can recall I was told a long time ago.

My mum had just married my Dad, young happy couple. There home was in my village, Minda, a few kilometrs from Jalingo, Taraba State capital in Northeast(yea — I hear you say BH) Nigeria and they worked in Jalingo. There were some classes between some men(allegedly Fulani men) and locals somewhere not far away. The Fulani herdsmen were allegely in pursuit of their trouble makers, and passing through my village, they allegedly slaughtered a lot of Old people who could not flee, and burnt some houses. My parent’s house was one of the houses, and some close relatives lost their lives. I was born a few years after that, and while still at home, I remember that Fulani people were once again living peacefully around(there were definitely some clashes, but that did not lead to widespread, aggravated murder and bloodshed). I remember Fulani friends coming into my house in the village to drink water, sell some items, or just to greet and say hi! Even though everyone was aware of what had happened, there was peace(or at least relative peace). So I was very sad when I heard from home recently that my relatives had to flee the village again because of the condition around.

The Fulani People

Read the wikipedia article.

Many people in Nigeria do not understand alot of things about Nigeria, and even though they learn that Nigeria is a large Multiethnic(or Multinational as the Russians will say) country, the Country with 1/5th of the worlds Black men and also the giant of Africa, they still are unable to bring to scale all those information, or evn to picture Nigeria properly. Coupled with the fact that many Nigerians do not travel, even if it is withing Nigeria, their whole picture of Nigeria is one fed by Sentimental, stereotypical and they-say information.

Coming from a very small Ethnic group(or Nation), I have always been a victim of this widespread ignorance. I am native MINDA, from MINDA village in Lau Local Government Area in Taraba State, Nigeria. Just gooogle MINDA and the search results will give you an idea of what I mean by SMALL. First of all it was in primary school — many peolple insisting I am not what I say I am -Minda, and even going to the extent of even insisting I agree with them. Then forward to secondary school, where my mates-from almost all parts of the country insisted I was HAUSA, and thus a close relative of the FULANIS.

I have been many things in Nigeria except Minda. Forward to when I got admitted in to UI(The first and the best), the admissions officer insisted I had to be Yoruba since Thani did not really say where I hailed from, and that I should better come back home. Or leave home he meant. I have ever since been giving basic lectures about Nigeria to my ignorant colleagues and to just about anyone who tries to insist I am Hausa or Hausa-Fulani as the more ignorant ones would say.

Just to be clear, when we say Nigeria is Multinational(not a mistake)- it really is. If you do not agree, just take time and travel round physically, or at least using a book/internet.

Just like no one claims to be Yoruba-Igbo,Igbo-Yoruba, Minda-Idoma, there is really no Hausa-Fulani. There is Hausa, and there is fulani. Some families could be mixed just as it is obtainable everywhere, but just know that those two are still distinct.

Last summer I was a volunteer teacher at ABJ School of Music in The Gambia, and I worked with and taught native Fulani(or Fula) people. That was one of the best experience I have had. Just to confirm what I already knew, the Fulani people are not the dangerous, heartless, human-slaughtering and inhuman herdsmen you might be tempted to assume they are. They were very friendly, and some of my brightest pupils. Also just to clarify a fact-The Gambia is really the smiling coast of Africa you need to visit. You can be a volunteer also!

My Thoughts:

The herdsmen problem is a matter of emergency and every responsible, patriotic Nigerian would love the whole thing to be handled with the urgency it deserves.

How can you not solve this problem?

  1. Write useless, unproductive, xenophobic and ignorant comments as it has become very common these days.
  2. Settle down and be indifferent.
  3. and a lot of other things…

How can this problem be solved?

These are suggestions for Nigerians, our government and anybody interested in solving these problem.

  1. Find the real cause of the problem, and address it. Many times more serious issues are camouflaged by mischievous groups of people who try to play on everyone ignorance and impatience for some purported selfish gains. I think the real cause of the menace has not really been found — please don’t remain ignorant.
  2. Take this issue seriously. Dedicate the needed resources-using force, retaliation is a very unproductive approach and may even be a way to amplify the crises.
  3. Look at some obvious, possible causes. Poverty, youth unemployment, corruption, weak and poor governace, lack of proper policies to adress such issues. Happy, gainfully employed, future-fucosed, bright-minded and progressive-thinking people will probably never be involved in the very barbaric crimes that are going on now.
  4. Take time to learn a bit about Nigeria, and don’t rely on stereotypical, the-say information. Interact with fellow Nigerians, including Fulani people.
  5. Come up with a sustainable solution — new system for the Fulani herdsmen to be engaged in their natural occupation, and don’t try to come up with aggressive, retaliatory policies. PS: This is not being passive or Fulani Herdsmen sympatizers or backing what some of them may be doing.

These are just a few point I could not sleep but write out. I will add this list, and feel free to share what you think.

God bless Nigeria!

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