|Fenny J. Fwa|
History is a good lesson in life. If certain unpleasant things happened in the past and they rear their head in the present you are supposed to take a sober reflection of the past and look for more viable solutions to the present situation.
I wish to recall an incident in the past that now shapes my present and future. In 1978 I was a student in a ABU, Zaria. It was the year we protested against the sudden increase in cost of students meals. It was increased from I think 50K to N1.
The whole universities in the country were on fire. In ABU we embarked on a very violent demonstration dubbed Ali must go (Col Ahmadu Ali was then Minister of Education under OBJ military regime). For more than one week we held everybody plying the Zaria- Samaru road to ransom.
The last stroke that broke the camel’s back was when a major’s car and he himself was detained by the students.
That was the tonic the soldiers needed to storm our campus. They came with their guns fully loaded but we were not frightened and confronted them with stones. Thank God in those days, human life was valuable. If it were today, I wouldn’t be alive to tell this story.
Just as we didn’t kill the major, but only locked him in a common room, the soldiers came with rubber and live bullets. And they used the live bullets sparingly. In order to break our resistance they killed few of us. When one of the live bullets killed an almajiri in front of us and another past my ears and killed somebody behind, it became clear that we had to run for our dear lives.
It was in the process of escaping that I knew there was a railway line passing through the outskirts of Samaru village. Now that I’m close to 60 years, do you think I will use a stone to fight a soldier with a gun? I’m not David that killed Goliath with a sling because he was anointed by God? No way.
Now this is the lesson I want those communities that are confronted with Fulani militia to learn. These herdsmen are well armed with sophisticated weapons, the kind of arms used by Boko Haram that led to the defeat of our soldiers in so many battle fields until we were able to match their weapons with newly acquired ones. It is therefore lack of wisdom to confront this militia with bows, arrows and den guns. More so when we know that constituted authorities (just like GEJ handling of BH) are helpless. So what is the solution: retreat?
He who runs away will leave to fight another day. I want our communities facing the menace of the herdsmen to adopt the methods my elder brother our paramount ruler used to check the manace of the herdsmen.
They are summarized here below: Our father Murum Joel Fwa in his reign established Fulani/ Mbula community relations where all Fulanis coming for grazing were identified and were registered with the Ardo( local Fulani chief) of the area. Any problem arising from herdsman/ farmer conflict was easily resolved before they escalate to violence. This was reinforced when my elder brother took over. Murum JJ Fwa advised the mbula farmers ( which they were adhering to) not to attack herdsmen that destroyed their crops, rather the matter be reported to the village head of the area and once the damages are ascertained, the Fulanis involved were made to pay for the damages and in fairness to them, they have been paying such fines imposed. Where the herdsman is not identified, the Ardo in the area is asked to task the Fulanis in that area who willingly pay such fines.
to adopt the methods my elder brother our paramount ruler used to check the menace of the herdsmen. They are summarized here below: Our father Murum Joel Fwa in his reign established Fulani/ Mbula community relations where all Fulanis coming for grazing were identified and were registered with the Ardo( local Fulani chief) of the area. Any problem arising from herdsman/ farmer conflict was easily resolved before they escalate to violence. This was reinforced when my elder brother took over. Murum JJ Fwa advised the mbula farmers ( which they were adhering to) not to attack herdsmen that destroyed their crops, rather the matter be reported to the village head of the area and once the damages are ascertained, the Fulanis involved were made to pay for the damages and in fairness to them, they have been paying such fines imposed. Where the herdsman is not identified, the Ardo in the area is asked to task the Fulanis in that area who willingly pay such fines.
Even a month ago some, Fulanis paid for the damages to some farmers whose crops were destroyed by herdsmen. Where a Mbula man takes the law in his hands and kills a Fulani man because he destroyed his farm, he is handed over to the police. I know of 3 cases where our paramount ruler personally fished out the culprit and ensured they were handed over to the police.
Handed over to the police.
However all the cases were not taken to court because our paramount ruler would then ask the entire village to visit the parents of the bereaved and apologize and on compassionate grounds the Fulanis in all cases withdrew the charges. I know of a case where the Fulani parents of the dead went with the parents of the accused and withdrew a case.
To be fair to average Fulani herdsmen once there is show of remorse and apology, they no longer press charges. Furthermore, there are areas where dry farming takes place. Fulani are not allowed to even come near the area until the crops are harvested and they have been adhering to this. But this year the locals backed by their foreign collaborators are threatening to break this accord. In our chiefdom we have met with them and they have accepted, but it appears they are being instigated to break the accord.
The best we can do in such circumstances is to further plead with them to respect the accord, while we report the matter to constituted authorities, but we have warned our people that under no circumstance should they attack the Fulani if they break the accord. If the authorities appear helpless all we can do is to take the matter to lawful courts and also report our case to God, rather than loose human lives. The problem we have at hand is the foreign Fulanis that have not known the cosy relationship that had existed before they poisoned the minds of the locals not to have any forgiving spirit and to take arms against the hapless farmers. I’m therefore pleading with our bwatiye brothers to explore all avenues of dialogue, consultations, legality and above all the go to God in prayer ( placing their faith in God)to resolve this matter.
Taking the Jukun path will not work because the jukuns have used their highly placed people to acquire a lot of sophisticated weapons. Because they have sophisticated weapons and in addition to being totally committed to witch craft and voodoo they have been thwarting the incursions of herdsmen. The three factors that work for the herdsmen are also in abundance in Jukun land which are connection vs connection, weapons vs weapons, voodoo vs Voodoo.
The only advantage the Jukun had over the herdsmen is their local terrain. My conclusion is that wisdom (as being applied in mbula land), tact, diplomacy, dialogue, legality and above all total supplication and prayers to the divine intervention of God will resolve this lingering problem. The most important thing we should all realize is that we are created by God and all of us shall answer for our deeds sooner or later.
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