Wednesday, April 6, 2016

In Praise of Nigerian Cattle Herders

By Biko Agozino

Many thanks or Nagwode to poor Fulani Cattle Herders in Nigeria, thank you on behalf of poor Nigerians all over the country who have relied on you for over 100 years to supply them with beef and canda skin. Without your dedicated service, many more of our youth would be stunted due to protein deficiency. Dalu, Ese, Sosonw, Nagwode. Thank you.

And shame on the leaders of Nigeria who have relied on nama meat for so long without realizing that they too could establish cattle ranches all over the country to produce beef and dairy products to feed our people better. Instead, they have allowed the illiterate cattle herders to come into conflict with our poor peasants because wherever you have nomadic herders side by side with sedentary farmers, there is bound to be conflict because somebody's cattle ate somebody's cassava.

The solution was offered in 1951 when Azikiwe asked a Scottish rancher to establish the Obudu Cattle Ranch in the then Eastern Region. Since then, not another ranch was established and the greedy elite simply ate all the cattle and turned the ranch into a tourist resort. Shameless leaders!

With ranches established in every Local Government Area, we can reintroduce 'Igbo cow', Efi Igbo, or import adaptable species from Brazil to enable the Igbo to go beyond the conspicuous consumption title of Ogbuefi or Cow Killer and become Ozu Efi or Cow Raiser. This will help to create jobs for the people who will specialize in going to cut grass for the herd instead of depriving the youth of educational opportunities while being forced to serve as cattle herders for the millionaire owners. That way, poor Fulani youth will stop being Wakabout and start establishing their own ranches so that their poor children will finally go to school.

In one of his books, Agwuncha Arthur Nwankwo challenged the rulers of the South East to establish ranches that would provide milk for school children as a better alternative to white elephant projects. In her own prison memoir, Chris Anyanwu narrated how the cattle herders threatened to boycott the Lagos market when they were attacked following the annulment of the results of the June 12 elections by General Babangida and the price of beef became inflated overnight, forcing poor consumers to start begging the cattle herders, Ejoor o! I beg o!

Meanwhile, Nigerians should learn that meat is not good food on a daily basis. We should learn from the example of Ezulu in Achebe's Arrow of God by fasting once in a while the way Muslims and Christians do periodically. Stop chopping nama every day for your own good health.

To prove that sometimes politicians do listen to common sense, three days after this post, the Governor of Benue State responded with the news that the state will pass a law to establish ranches and make it illegal for cattle to roam in the state where conflict between farmers and herders had resulted in massacres and massive destruction of property.


Dr. Austin S Jane/Zhao shuyan said...

Happy to see all the efforts in boosting economy to avoid conflicts rather than defend in violence way,such idea should be followed and spread all the continents supporting by international community. Hope of peace!

Odozi Obodo said...

Thanks Dr. Austin for your support. Peace is better than war, according to the Igbo name, Udoka.