One evening, I Was driving from Kafanchan via Kagoro to Kaduna. Some few kms after I have gone-passed Zankwa in Zangon kataf, I heard a strange sound on the car engine and I immediately parked at the road shoulder. We were travelling together with Ndaks Kingsley , Yada Daniel Christian and Kyom Boi-adams Jonah. We resolved that we needed to get engine lubricant ( even though our solution was wrong) and we were contemplating on how to get it from the nearby village. Suddenly, we saw two young guys on a motorcycle who stopped to assist. We gave one of them money to get the oil for us and we asked the other to wait.
It will interest you to know that these two friends, one of them is a Baju chap and the other is Fulani. We went into conversation with the one waiting. He told us that his other Fulani friend has been his good companion right from primary through secondary school and now running their diploma programmes in the state polytechnic. They are happy together. They sleep together. They go to farm together. They go to markets together. They celebrate Christmas and Salah together. They dine and wine together. They appreciate their religious differences. Their families have been coexisting and relating in peace over the years.
There are people with this kind of relationship all over Southern before and after independence. There are Fulani settlements in many communities in Southern who have been living in peace with their host communities. Families would sometimes resolved to give Fulanis their family lands to settle. You could see Fulani speaking the languages of the locals. you could find the locals speaking fulfulde. I as an individual have many Hausa and Fulani friends who are muslims in Southern kaduna and outside southern Kaduna who we have long lasting cordial and mutual relationships that created amongst us the ability to tolerate and appreciate our different beliefs. Even as we are going through this security challenges in Southern Kaduna, many of my Muslim friends call to sympathise with us and try to sincerely chart a way forward.
The Fulanis we know in Southern kaduna have no problems rearing their cows likewise the farmers because they have a well established relationship of using the cow dung as manure and stalk as cow food. It’s like trade by barter. We have been coexisting in peace. We also have Hausa communities in Southern Kaduna who have been living with our people and because their parents and grand parents lived their, they have no other home than Southern Kaduna.
Kaduna state has history of religious crisis, hence, the preexisted animosity amongst Christians and Muslims in the state. When there is conflict of interests, whether political or ethnic or resulting from business engagements, it will be interpreted as religious and if not properly managed, it could escalate to religious crisis. That is how volatile Kaduna is made to be. Where did we get complicated problems on Fulani attacks?
Where there is attack by Fulani herders in Birnin Gwari or Zamfara it will be viewed as attack by Fulani muslims against Hausa Muslims. It Will not have religious interpretation because they don’t have history of religious crisis, moreover, they (Fulanis and Hausas in Birnin Gwari and Zamfara) are predominantly Muslims. But where there is attack by Fulani herders on communities in Southern Kaduna, a region that is predominantly Christians and has history of religious crisis, it comes with multidimensional interpretations depending on the knowledge of the interpreter about the complexity of the crisis. It might not be political but some will see it as political, it might not be religious but can’t help it because of the history of religious crisis in the region, … You can view it from different faces of a prism.
Who are the potential beneficiaries of the crisis in Southern Kaduna? Could it be the religious leaders who will say their churches or mosques are burnt and go soliciting for funds to enrich themselves ? Is it the political leader who would use the occasion of the crisis he wants to know nothing about but just to score political point and remain in power ? Is it the security officers who want the bar of their security budgets to shifted upward whether or not the crisis comes to an end? Is it that business man who specialises is supplying arms to Fulanis and the locals and he does not give a fucking damn who dies as long as he gets his money? Or is it that conflicts resolution expert who always want to appear in crisis zones claiming to have solutions as long as he will be paid? Whichever among these groups that is promoting this crisis for personal gain should know that the blood of the innocent souls will hunt them. The collective struggle put together to build the society has a spirit, and the spirit will torment the architects of the crisis by constantly reminding them on what do they stand to achieve by creating a divided society.
Because a Fulani herders’ attack in Southern kaduna could have multidimensional interpretations, especially religious, there is the need for the government, Fulanis who live permanently in Southern kaduna , Hausas alike, all the ethnic groups in the region to stop Fulani herders who will come from Cameroon, Chat, Niger, Senegal, etc to kill the people living in Southern Kaduna communities. If we allow them to continue , they will keep on refreshing the wounds of religious crisis in the area while they walk majestically back to their country homes.
The unpopular initiative made by the government to compensate the marauders/militias is not yielding results. We will not individually or collectively accept a situation where government will acknowledge the presence of foreign aggressors who come to complicate the security situation in the state. Both Christians and Muslims in Southern kaduna must be seeing condemning and ejecting any foreign militia who comes to attack southern Kaduna communities. The surprising attacks happened during festivities and under imposed curfew.
We must learn to fish out those who initiate attacks , whether they are citizens of this country or foreigners, and punish them because they are not ghosts. This will serve as deterrent to those who would want to engage in such acts in the future. It will help eliminate those elements whose aim and activities are to plant seed of crisis among heterogeneous society. God pass them. We have to be firm and fast about taken them off of our communities. This should be a collective decision.
We must not wait in confusion like the people of northeast who are confused about the nature of Boko Haram attacks at the beginning. When the insurgents were attacking churches, the some section showed less concern at the beginning but when they began to attack churches mosques, schools, government buildings, etc the people collective saw it as a problem confronting the society and together, they form Civilian JTF to protect their communities and give support to security agents. We have seen it in Adamawa and Born states where the state governments created budgets for Civilian Joint Task Forces who help in protecting their communities against Boko Haram aggression.
Lovers of peace in Southern kaduna, both Christians and muslims should form a JTF to protect the communities against aggressors. The state government should support the initiative as suggested by keen observers and students of the causes of the crisis. This will help the Fulani boy and the Baju boy have hope of keeping their long lasting relationship. This will help the people forget the loses suffered from the history of religious crisis in the area. Let us learn to outrightly reject all the things that will remind us about religious, political or ethnic battles.
Jerry is a peace advocate and an indigene of Kaduna State