Ogbuefi! Ogbuehi! Ogbueshi! You hail an Igbo man with any of them and he will be pleased at the high compliment you are paying him. It is a title buried deep in Igbo custom and tradition. It denotes an achiever, successful and wealthy enough to slaughter a cow at will. The cow in question is the small short-horned variety reared by Igbos. It is what we use for sacrifice and other ceremony. For instance, two years ago, I had to give a cow and other things to my late mother’s people as part of the materials for idu ozu before I could conclude her funeral rites. We kill cows even to appease dead relations and I remember how many times my mother reminded me that I had not killed cows for my late nephew and cousin. But it must be this variety of cow – not nama, the larger Fulani cow.
I have expressed the opinion in my previous posts that the Nigerian Civil War destroyed the Igbo way of life. It eliminated our old order, enthroned mediocrity, fierce individualism, ostentation and the craving for money at all costs. The new `leaders’, contractors, traders, business men had no scruples. People drop out of school for quick money. How it comes is unimportant. However many degrees you have do not matter. What matters is, `How much do you have in your pocket?’ Simple events like burials, weddings, palm wine carrying, became jamborees for display of wealth. Somebody loses a father he had never cared for puts him in the mortuary and embarks on building a house he should have built for the man while he was alive. His many friends from the township have to be impressed. The success of the burial is gauged by the number of cows, nama, Fulani cattle, he slaughters to entertain his friends. Years ago I had a friend in high office who, after burying his mother, had forty two cows, nama, Fulani cattle, brought by friends who wanted to impress him, left over! He was not sure what to do with them.
The Igbo society has always been a welcoming one and I remember Mallam Umoru Altine from Sokoto who was the mayor of Enugu as far back as 1952. But the end of the Civil War opened up the society further. The fact that Igboland was a market for the larger Fulani cattle had always been obvious. It came in trailers from the far North. But the end of the Civil War and the enthronement of new values was like a signal. Ndigbo needed cows in the millions for their burials, palm wine carrying and so on.  Add that to the indolence of the most northernmost governors who only made noise but did nothing to check the rate at which the Sahara desert ate into their states, reducing their land mass and you would understand how precious arable land was becoming. So the cattle Fulani had a rethink – instead of sending the cattle in trickles in lorries why not walk them in millions into the south, the ready market? This they have done over the past few years and as at today virtually every Local Government in Igbo land has its shanty Fulani settlement. When I needed a cow for my mother’s funeral obsequies an Igbo agent for the Fulani cattle man who had settles at the Odo Plains produced one with the necessary Fulani butcher within thirty minutes. I dare say that in addition to the Igbo man’s normal need for meat at least thousands of cows are slaughtered weekly for the various ceremonies. It is big business.
So now enter Boko Haram and the terrorists. Nigeria is busy decimating the Boko Haram from the Sambisa Forest in the North East and the terrorists are running helter-skelter. They must spread what they have learnt – destruction. Nigeria has porous borders, does not know citizen from foreigner. It is easy for foreign trained terrorists escaping from Libya and other North African trouble spots to melt into the Nigerian society, come in as Fulani herdsmen and continue their destructive activities and the soft centre is South East Nigeria. And suddenly, the Fulani suppliers of cattle have become our achilles’ heels. They are there in every local government, meeting our craving for cattle and carrying out terrorist activities at will.
Suddenly we wake up and hear a call for grazing routes and reserves in our national assembly. Grazing routes to where? – deeper into the south, the ready market. Nobody has told us how these cattle will be taught the difference between the Igbo man’s yams and cassava and grass on the so-called routes. Will these routes have iron boundaries to stop the cattle roaming into other areas? The south is greatly disadvantaged in land mass. Remember, land mass is one of the great advantages the North has in the sharing of the national booty. So from the South that has little land mass, grazing reserves and grazing routes are to be carved out for Fulani herdsmen from the North – the Biblical `to those who have, more will be given’ in play again.
Perhaps this is one time the south, if there is such a unit, can stand together and say, no! We cannot have Fulani mini states in every state in the south. But I am afraid, the power of money and Ghana-must-go bags will come into play again. When will Ndigbo unite and save themselves from extinction in a country in which nobody cares? But I am gratified to note that, as if on cue, Willie Obiano, the Anambra state governor is awake to the challenge. His helicopter police patrol of the state boundaries is noteworthy provided that police do not just use the helicopters as toys and turn tails when they see Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen or terrorists.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *