Thursday, 9 January 2014

The Nomadic Fulani and the Rest of Us (1)

The Nomadic Fulani and the Rest of Us (1)

Last Sunday, Kaduna State awoke to the news of attack on the Sholio (also known as Moroa) people in Manchok, Kaura Local Government Area, by unknown gunmen. The Sholio blame this attack on the Fulani, who have severally been credited with other such attacks on populations in the southern parts of the state including the lush areas of Plateau State, such as Riyom, Ganawuri and others, which border the Sholio, Takad and Gworok lands, in Kaduna State. It is interesting and instructive to note that, especially after the post-election crisis that ravaged Kaduna State and most of the north in 2011, the Oegwam Sholio, HRH Mallam Tagwai Sambo, was on record for his eloquent pacifism in inviting displaced Fulani and Hausa in those parts of the State to make his domain home. Whatever is the immediate reason for the recent attack is not the subject of this piece today.
Only yesterday also, some national dailies reported the confirmation, by the Special Task Force and Police, of the death of 16 persons in a similar attack attributed to the Fulani on Tuesday in the Riyom area of Plateau State. From Katsina to Oshogbo, Sokoto to Benue, Zamfara to Taraba, Kebbi to Nassarawa; virtually every other part of this country is having to contend with the Fulani. The Fulani are clashing with people almost everywhere they find themselves and are earning for themselves enemies all over the place. It would appear to simple watchers that there is something inherently wicked about the Fulani herdsman that propels him into such mindless onslaught. Infact one has heard opinions such as that the Fulani never forgive any undoing; that they must repay, pound for pound, either now or later; personally or by proxy.
But this problem does not only stop there at the level of the Fulani as a tribe. It gets even more complicated. In many quarters, everything Fulani is northern Nigeria; everything Fulani is Hausa; everything Fulani is Islam, depending on where one finds oneself. Therefore, the Takad or Berom man, who is generally Christian, who finds himself attacked by the Fulani easily construes some Islamic conspiracy in the situation and, therefore, every Muslim, especially of the “Hausa-Fulani” extraction, is an enemy. The community in Cross Rivers State that finds itself in altercations with the Fulani easily construes northern political domination in the dispute and so sees in every northerner an adversary, regardless of tribe or religion. Hence, as a result of such attacks in the past attributed to the Fulani, there have been reprisals which have affected many peoples, depending on where the attacks took place, who have absolutely no link with the attackers or the Fulani except that they were perceived to share the same religious, regional or political cause with them. Such innocent people so affected in such reprisals also have gone on counter attacks in their own enclaves and the cycle has gone on and become intractable. Thus, for very simple reasons like this, many Nigerian communities have gradually become each other’s enemies. This speaks to a certain level of crass failure on the part of the state to which we shall return.
Some questions have to be posed here. Is the Fulani inherently wicked to people other than his own? Is the Fulani simply a trouble maker who goes around, in racial arrogance, causing crises all over the place? Is he by any means a victim also? What are the possible factors that can predispose a people to such self-inflicted pariah status? Have any quarters seized the Fulani reality for gains of whatever kind? What possibly could the Fulani nation, especially the educated ones, have done that they have either failed or refused to do to arrest the situation? What about the Nigerian state: has it paid due attention to this problem and the dimensions it is taking the Nigerian society to? Are there concrete steps taken by the state, with every sense of goodwill and determination, to address the problem and its effects? Even though it is becoming difficult to tie the Fulani to any one region, the fact remains that they are a northern people; has northern Nigeria really cared to be a part of really putting the their problem to rest apart from harping rhetoric? What about the vast peoples that have clashed with the Fulani; have they done well enough to, putting their anger and pains aside, interrogate these realities with a view to being a part of pushing for a holistic solution to the problem other than dwelling in their hurt?
In subsequent editions, I shall offer my thoughts on some of the questions raised above, if only to stir a more critical debate on the subject. Keep a date with me.


(Published on BLUEPRINT Newspaper, Thursday Jan 9, 2014)

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