By Wale Akinola
The Fulani are traditionally a nomadic, pastoralist trading people. They herd cattle, goats and sheep across the vast dry hinterlands of their domain, keeping somewhat separate from the local agricultural populations. They are the largest nomadic ethnic group in the world.
The Fulani follow a code of behaviour known as pulaaku, which consists of the qualities of patience, self control, discipline, prudence, modesty, respect for others (including foes), wisdom, forethought, personal responsibility, hospitality, courage and hard work.”
That is how Wikipedia describes the Fulani.
In many parts of Nigeria where the Fulani domicile, there has been an increasing trend of farmer (sedentary) – grazier (pastoral nomadic) conflicts. Such conflicts begin when cattle stray into farmlands and destroy crops.
The often results in violent attacks and reprisal counter attacks being exchanged between the Fulani, who often feel their way of life and survival is being threatened, and other populations who often feel aggrieved from loss of farm produce.
The Fulani have often requested for the development of exclusive grazing reserves to curb conflicts. The stories from northern states of Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Adamawa, Bauchi, Nasarawa and Gombe where there have been killings and large scale destruction of property arising from the Fulani – host communities conflicts tell how turbulent their relationship is.
The relationship is not less violent in some southern states where conflicts triggered by the Fulani cattle straying into farmlands and destroying crops have not only been the order of the day, the herdsmen have also been accused of engaging in unwholesome activities like armed robbery and rape.
The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, captures the sentiment against the Fulani in many parts of the country when he says: “They (Fulani) have terrorized Nigeria.
There is no state where they don’t kill people. Where did these people get AK 47 rifles from? Who taught them how to shoot?
How is it that these people are never apprehended? I have reports that there are communities where they have destroyed crops, killed people, raped women, yet, at the end of the day, it is the local people the police go after.”
Meanwhile, a northern leader, Prof. Jubril Aminu, has a counter position: Fulani herdsmen are no killers; they are in fact victims. This is the first part of the Fulani story!