The Fulani Herdsmen: Modernism, Nomadic  and Stealth Destruction



“Fulanis from across the country and neighbouring countries gathered here last week and they requested for my permission to go and retaliate but I insisted that they should sheath their swords. Said  Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, Kwara State Chairman, Alhaji Usman Adamu. This is the position of Nigeria as it stands now. Lately, Nigeria as a country has been confused on what to tag the Fulani herdsmen, killing along their paths and causing wanton destruction.

Anyone, soldier or not that kills the Fulani takes a loan repayable one day no matter – Nasir

Fulani as a tribe has a dossier of violence in their history so it is today.  Unlike other African tribes, Fulani as a tribe has refused to let go some of the vestiges of violence.

Historical Background:

Majorly Muslim adherent and a bit wary of modernism. Accrding to online sources (Wikipeadia) it puts the tribe in this way: The Fula people or Fulani or Fulɓe (Fula: Fulɓe; French: Peul; Hausa: Fulani or Hilani; Portuguese: Fula; Wolof: Pël; Bambara: Fulaw), numbering between 20 and 25 million people in total, are one of the largest and a widely dispersed Muslim ethnic group in Sahel and West Africa.The Fula people are traditionally believed to have roots in the people from North Africa and the Middle East, who later intermingled with local West African ethnic groups. As an ethnic group they are bound together by the Fula language (Fulfulde), culture, history, their religious affiliation and their efforts to spread Islam in Sahel region and the West Africa. Also the source continued : The Fula people are widely distributed, across the Sahel from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea, particularly in West Africa. The countries where they are present include Mauritania, Ghana, Senegal, Guinea, the Gambia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Niger, Chad, Togo, South Sudan the Central African Republic, Liberia, and as far east as the Red Sea in Sudan and Egypt. With the exception of Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger,  where the Fula make up the largest ethnic group, and Fulas are either a significant or a minority ethnic group in nearly all other countries they live in.

Strides against modernization:

More of cattle rearers and sometimes rustlers, this has put the tribe on a war path with their host community as we see in some villages outskirts of Jos, a sleepy town somewhere in the middle belt of Nigeria. Like a thief in the night, they struck, killing innocent women and children. Intermarried with the Hausa tribe, another predominantly Muslim tribe in Nigeria , making it hard to distinguish them. Distinguishing the Fulani from the Hausa is like differentiating between six and half a dozen or differentiating a leopard from a jaguar. They are defined in this term by Wikipedia : Fulani herdsmen or Fulani pastoralists are nomadic or semi nomadic Fulani herders whose primary occupation are raising livestock.The pure Fulani pastoralist engages in random movement of cattle while the semi-nomadic makes trans humance migration and return to their camps or homes.

Loving their livestock for than themselves, they are notable nomadic and have remainded so, right from ages. Though, the human has evolved from a nomadic lifestyle to homom habililis then homo sapiens. But,as it stands , the majority of Fulani herdsmen wander around with their cattle, making it difficult to domesticate them.

Though , they love their cattle, but, the people whose farm has been destroyed and live snuffed out of don’t love the Fulani Herdsmen.  In short, they will love a situation where they will not want to have anything to do with them.

In May 2016, Governor Ayodele Fayose, Nigeria’s enfant terrible and governor of Ekiti  state and a member of PDP(opposition party)  prohibited cattle grazing in Ekiti state in order to prevent the growing violence between farmers and herders. This announcement came shortly after the death of two Ekiti residents following a violent clash with herders in the state, as well as countless other reports on farmer-herder violence across Nigeria and the perceived threat that herdsmen pose to settler communities nationwide. Though, this move has been criticized as a ploy to slight the president who is a Fulani and has been accused of paying  lip services to the incessant killings.

“In 2014, more than 1,200 people lost their lives, according to the most recent Global Terrorism Index. This made the Fulanis the world’s fourth deadliest militant group, the report said.” Said BBC report

A Fulani herdsman water his cattle on a dusty plain between Malkohi and Yola town on May 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO/EMMANUEL AREWA (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL AREWA/AFP/Getty Images)


This has placed the group in a enviable position and a few yards from dreaded ISIS, though the president of Nigeria, who himself is a Fulani man and has a ranch , He has put a lot of machinery in motion to ensure that the menace of these sets of people is curtailed. Fulani Herdsmen has done a lot of damage to his image, to his tribe image and above all to his religion( Islam) .

In some quarters, people have complained that the president is paying lip service to these killing, others have said that it’s an orchestrated effort to Islamize the Southern Nigeria .  This is coming after Enugu ( A regional capital of Igbo who are 99% Christian) killing, which up till now there hasn’t been any conviction, then  Ile Ife ( a holy city to Yoruba and their cultural capital)

Ride against Mordenization:  

Killing in the middle of  the night and the day come as a result of either destruction of   farmers or host communities trying to safeguard their farms and properties. The Fulani herdsmen have a way of reogarnizing and regrouping to launch an unprecedented attack that kills up to 70 people in one swoop! As we saw in the case of Zaki Ibiam which happened a few days ago.  A call as being called for the federal government to develop a ranch and train them on the nitty gritty of modern day agriculture.

Known to be averse to anything modernization, modern ranching system isn’t an exception. The Nigeria Government wanted to take an escapist route of creating grazing bill. This is in a bid to take tgrazing field by the government and give to the Fulani. A move that was rebuffed by well meaning Nigeria.

“Why can’t the Fulani herdsmen who hail from the North simply subscribe to modern, civilised culture, acquire land formally and establish ranches in the North?” Ayo Foyose

Though, the Grazing Bill has been thrown out, some states have tried to be politically correct by giving out lands to these herdsmen to graze.  With the  high level of illiteracy and low level of education amongst them, showing them the rudiments of ranch system will be slim.  It will  take another three decades to see a Fulani cowboy as we used to see in Texas and Colorado, there might not even be a Fulani cowboy. Education and domestication will be paramount.  As the Fulani herdsmen refuse to domesticate, taking Islam to a new realm and wandering about with heir cattle , without any imperative action by the national administrators. Nigerians must learn now to sleep with one eye open and guard themselves for the consequences that might occur, either nicely or badly.



Anthony Emeka Nwosu

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