Photo credit: @Seun James Taiwo on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Before my adventure to the Northwest, seeing a cattle on the road where vehicles ply was like seeing fish swimming on dry land. Well, that was a little of an hyperbole! Nonetheless, we rarely saw herdsmen and their herds encroach on aesthetic and busy routes; they were either kept in ranches or restrained to only graze on city outskirts or small village settlements. This was the picture I had of the life of a Nigerian Fulani herdsman and his priceless four-legged massive meats. While in the far northwest, I saw ‘phew’ ‘phew’, like our elders would say, including some ridiculous events that could make one pee and even poo in the panties in disbelief. Did I forget to mention that first time folks had always referred to me as Fulani, for what ever feature they saw in my physical being, I felt they were harsh to compare me with the nomadic sec of our northern folks. Sooner did I discover that my root was indeed within the reach of the cattle breeders. Hence, one of my duties in the north was to troll upward through the extreme western axis of kebbi state, Sokoto state and eastern axis of Benin Republic and Niger Republic, searching for where my ‘so called’ ancestors came from. What a search! Fair enough to my Hausa and Fulani friends, many of those things I saw as disgusting were beautiful at their sights; there were just another treasured practices from the northern hemisphere, but for one thing I noticed the first day I travelled up north, I call it ‘the cattle craze’. Seeing herds competing for tyre space with speeding vehicles was not only unbelievable but I thought was also risky not until our driver smashed down his clutch and break to the barest. My folks in vehicle thought that was downright wrong and it was actually, in the ‘civilized sense’ of reasoning. We waited another three minutes to allow the many huge cattle cross over the road. As we were to move, a cow even had to cross back –seeing many vehicles waiting for it to leave the road completely o—and perched on the hot asphalt like it was resting on grassland. What an animal! What a state!
The picture above shows cattle holding vehicle owners and commuters in ransom on the street of Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja. The traffic warden could only watch through the unbecomingness. Posted on Facebook @ Iniabasi Bassey Asuquo
I later realised the bitter reason while vehicles in the north endorse the bovine herds as kings of the road each time they meet!
Driving within the towns and cities offered no different experience with the cattle. I almost became a victim myself on an express road after patiently waiting for the herds to move on, I accelerated as I fast as I could to meet up for a schedule in the nearest city only to look up to find a cow straying back on the road, the herds boy already thought I had hit his treasure but to see me vigorously swerve and zoom off without hitching for a break. Indeed, God saved me from a potential lynching that morning.
Two days later, I saw a friend of mine who covered Sokoto, Kebbi, and Zamfara state for a pharmaceutical company. He told me how he was massively dealt with by some Fulani nomads. He was travelling down to Zuru from Jegga in kebbi state when he accidently hit one of the on crossing cattle. The cow did survive but with broken legs and for him, his vehicle was seriously damaged. He initially thought he saw one boy controlling the cattle, but from no where were troops of Fulani mob. They harassed him and threatened to cut him in pieces if he, as much as, refused to pay for their damage, not considering my friend’s damage. He dropped every sum on him that day.
That was when I realised I could have been lynched if I had crushed the ‘mad’ cow that strayed back on the road that day. Because I had travelled with no dime on me, I wonder if anyone could have saved me from the hands of folks who are generally believed to value their assets more than their own lives? Hmm… I don’t know how true this believe is, but my case could have been another story of a man falling victim of Fulani herdsmen’s treat.
Even though this practice is not tolerable in towns and cities down south, nomadism is not just a business-means by our Fulani folks from the north, it is a lifestyle! You mistakenly rip them off their lifestyle, they put a threat to your life…
Many questions then follow this nomadic way of life… why do they take it to the extreme? Why have they been encroaching and threatening others’ way of life with theirs? Why all the killings? The Agatu people in Benue state? Igbo villagers in Enugu state and all? I surely do not have the kind of answers you may want from me but one thing I’m emphatically sure of is, a healthy and conducive way of life brings nothing less but utmost happiness and fulfilment.
Thanks for reading! Do enjoy the rest of your day.