By Marie-Therese Nanlong
Fulani Christians have cried out over the notion by many Nigerians that the Fulani are associated with violent herders causing trouble with farmers across the country.
The Christian Fulani under the aegis of Fulani Christians Association of Nigeria, FULCAN, said it was wrong to stigmatise all Fulani as violent when such accusation has not been proved with empirical data. For this reason, FULCAN has begun a massive mobilisation effort to correct the erroneous impression about them and to create a new image for themselves and the next generation of their people.
The body has also called on the Fulani race to step out and educate their children on the wrong notion being bandied against them and free themselves from the deep-seated and widespread stereotyping and stigmatisation.
As a first step towards correcting the wrong impression, FULCAN is engaging the Fulani in Cameroon, Chad, Central Africa, Niger, Ghana, Burkina-Faso, Gambia among other West African countries with a strong message that the time has come for all people irrespective of tribe and religion to embrace peace.
Chairman of the Association, Rev. Buba Aliyu, and members of the body have already taken the message to Niger Republic where he spoke about the need to embrace peace and seek the face of God in all that they do so as to change the current state of events in the land.
He said: “The Fellowship brings together Fulani across the entire West African region. The denominations that came together to form FULCAN were SIM, ECWA, TEKAN, Anglican, EYN, COCIN, Baptist, CRCN, NKST among others and unite the entire Fulani who are Christians in Nigeria and other West African countries. We are out to educate and create this awareness that there are Fulani Christians in these countries. We the Fulanis that have accepted Jesus Christ as our Saviour want people to understand that the Fulani man you see if educated properly will contribute a lot to the development of the society.”
Citing the examples of Moses and Joseph who were herders in the Bible, Aliyu said, “if you go back to history and the accounts in the Holy Bible you will discover that among those God manifested Himself to were herders. My greatest concern is that our Fulani people left education behind saying that they want to herd, forgetting that today, the world has got to a point that you don’t even see bushes any longer because of population.
“That is why we as Fulani Christians are calling on the Fulani race to step out of what they are into and educate their children on how to know God and God will also know them. By this, nobody will submit himself to go and be perpetrating evil. Any religion that says you should carry arms and go and kill your fellow brother does not know God. This is because this life you are taking belongs to God.”
The cleric added that FULCAN has an outreach arm known as Fulbe Outreach International, which propagates the gospel of Jesus Christ and also attends to some pressing challenges confronting the Fulani communities. He recalled the good neighbourliness, which existed between the Fulani and their host communities in the past, stressing, “we don’t advise or support that you go to kill people and force them out of their land so you can use for herding.
“We will be happy to see that you contribute positively in fostering peace among the Fulani and their host communities. In those days, whenever a host community was celebrating anything, the Fulani in the area would take a good and healthy sheep to such a family to use for the celebration.
“And so also if we are to hold any celebration, the locals will bring sorghum for us to use in making (kunu) local drinks, and this is the kind of brotherly living that we continue to advocate.”
“We want political leaders, religious leaders, traditional rulers to continue to speak and preach to their people for us to live in peace and harmony with one another. There is no tribe that will say he doesn’t need another tribe to exist in this world. We all need each other just like our body parts need each other. There should be dialogue and genuine forgiveness of one another.”
“Some people keep referring to the Law of Moses, an-eye-for-an-eye. But recall that Jesus while on the cross said Father forgives them for they do not know what they are doing. It is in the light of this that we are calling on the entire Fulani in West Africa to throw away those bad things they hold to heart and take the path of love so that we can educate our children to grow in the fear of God.”