I had an awful dream last night. I was in Nigeria with my husband and the fulani herdmen were rumoured to be in the area. They locked down the building and killed everyone in sight. I managed to escape leading two other women to freedom. The dream was so real that I woke up visibly shaking.
Then I checked my phone this morning and someone had posted pictures of dead people from Lagos by whataspp to me. The message accompanied with few pictures states that Fulani herdsmen killed a whole bus load of people travelling to Lagos. A lady’s voice crying hysterically in a voice message followed the first message. In her voice message, she cried confirming the pictures of death people, saying that is true, it is not a rumour. Fulani herdmen killed everybody in ‘God is good’ motors.Etc. (Story unconfirmed).
There are other stories about fulani herdsmen attacking Benue residents leaving a tail of dead body.
Then I asked myself these questions:
1. Why did I dream of them fulani herdsmen and woke up to see this messages?
I have always been a compassionate observer but now I must write about this. It appears that all of a sudden, the word or name, ‘fulani herdmen’ have become a terror on social media and in Nigeria. It is paramount to understand the beauty of fulani culture and not to stigmatize them as terrorists.
As a child growing up in an area populated by the Fulani, we enjoyed a healthy co existence; fulani women made my hair. Fulani women sold us fura dey nunu. We enjoyed their cultural marriage displays and transition into manhood celebration. We danced in school with similar fulani regali and engaged them in conversations in Hausa in the street of Minna.
Why the sudden national conflict with settled Nigerians?
Growing up, one thing I learned about fulani people is that they are down to earth. They practise traditional norms and values. They don’t start a fight but if you start a fight with them, the whole clan and herdsmen will come fighting. My late mom always tell us not to get involved in a fight against a fulani. I was brought that way.
‘Do not engage them, I repeat, do not engage them. You can not finish it.’ She warns.
I remember as a child, people are prejudiced against them. My late parents had stores in the city centre where they pass from their isolated clans. A fulani man can never live outside their clan. They are not settled people. They travel with their cattle until they find a good pasture. They stay there until it is no longer serving purpose. Then they move to another place. However, they always come back and every unfinished scores must be settled later. If you steal, kill or maime a fulani man cattle, he will protect other cattle first, he will cry and walk away but do not be deceived that it is a sign of weakness. He will come back in grand style to your perishment.
They have a unique culture; back then, a prospective husband must receive 100 lashes of koboko or whip. He mustn’t cry or he loses his wife. It is meant to test a man’s patience. The flogging sometimes is done in public for us to see. The stores owners knows that, hence they disdain them and make jokes about them. Sometimes, they make such jokes in their presence but mostly in another language.
One day, a fulani man got an idea of the mockery and there was a stick fight in the area. Only by negotiation and conflict resolution did this fight ended. After that, everybody respected themselves and minded their business.
A fulani man has an elephant brain. You hurt him and he will never forget. An attack on one of them is an attack on all of them. They avenge their dead. Once they perceive injustice against their kind, the feud never ends.
Now the question is, what injustice was made against them by Nigerians?
Judging from my experience as a teenager, I think, and that is, if the stories are true, that a wrong had been done to them. This wrong was not rectified. Mind you, it might be that someone killed or stole their cattle from a village. It could also be that they feel it is their right to graze any where because a fulani man believe the land is owned by God and not you. It could be that a fulani man’s wife was violated. The list is endless but mind you, whatever it is, they are coming back for your entire generation with an iron fist. However, if this story is false, then this new trend is an example of how prejudice towards a particular tribe could spark division and discrimination.
There are trends and conspiracy on social media, some people say that the Fulani herdmen are president Buhari killing machines, some say, they are boko haram disguised as Fulani herdmen. Other says, they are fulani from other countries whose mission it is to kill Nigerian. For me, this is simply what it is, conflict and every conflict need resolution. We need trained government official to investigate, confirm and negotiate this before it get out of hand.
So here is a tip for you, stay out of their way and if you must engage them, go with a white flag or cloth and keep your words or agreement. Do not engage them in a fight, I repeat, do not engage.
I want to hear your opinion on this. Like, comment and share
Note: the picture with dead people on the page is not a genuine picture from fulani men attack. It is a rumoured attack but the picture was taken in a scene of an accident. Other pictures are from Google image.