By: Tay Martins
I recently embarked on a trip back to my place of birth, a village located in the south-west region of Nigeria, to find that things were no longer the same. The trip confirmed the tragic turn of events caused by the ongoing conflict that is generally tagged as the Fulani Herdsman Killings.
I ran into my Fulani friends. They could not look at me in the eyes. What I see in their faces is fear, dejection, rejection and anxiety. They thought that I nurse within me the general “Fulani-phobia” in this trial period of Nigeria. I walk up to them and shook their hands with a smile on my face. They managed to smile back at me, trying to phantom if I share in the general phobia against them. I could perceive that they are not happy and they are living in abject fear. This saddens my heart.
What next did I do?
I joined in the gathering of the village heads to organize meetings, including the Fulanis, Igedes & Tivs (Benue people in the community), all animal and plant farmers, to reassure ourselves that we are in one accord of love and peace. We are still scheduling more meetings so that we can keep talking, to identify the bad ones amongst us. Believe that the true Fulanis –our true Nigerian Fulani brothers are cooperating and standing on our side to protect the community. Notwithstanding, there would always be mistakes, mishaps and misunderstanding as these are the nature of human beings and co-existence. What matters most are the manners we choose to solve our issues. Mistakes could happen that angers us. But let us always remember that an entire farmland is not worth one life –by this conduct, I have instructed all my farm workers.
Meeting my Fulani friend today after the meetings, it was like blossoming flowers. See pictures. We are “One Nigeria”. The question is: what are you doing to restore hope and peace in your community?
Good and bad
This short post does not to deny that there are Fulani herdsmen attacks. As well as we try to deal with the situation confronting the national security of our nation, let us bear it in mind that it is not fair for innocent men to suffer for the crimes of the wicked. There are bad Fulanis and there are good ones; just as much as there are bad and good Nigerians.
I seriously condemn the activities (savagery) of the wicked ones. But while the government has failed in many measures; remember that we have God and ourselves to rely upon –to offer a helping hand. The spreading of fear has not helped in any way. Do your part in the effort to restore peace in our great nation.
If you have lost loved ones, it is not proper for me to say that I have an understanding of how you feel because what happened to you didn’t happen to me. I cannot imagine losing a loved one to illness, not to talk of brutal murder. But I can tell you that my heart bleeds for you in your sorrow. How I wish I could pay you a visit in Benue or elsewhere; to wipe your tears, do your laundries and cooking while you get better. But unfortunately, I am just a man who cannot be everywhere like God.
God bless Nigeria
Please brethren, let not this situation turn you into what you are not, even though I can imagine how difficult it is to forgive such wickedness. Do not hate, so that God could reward your loss. If you’re a Christian, remember the promise of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ: that we shall meet again (our departed loved ones) to part no more. Hold on to this and let this promise spring up hope in you. Let the thoughts of seeing them again bring smiles on your faces. By this promise, let your strength be renewed with hope, to move forward in your journey of life.
I plead with you brethren; find a space in your heart to forgive because forgiveness shall surely profit you. May the Spirit and love of the Lord abides with you (Muslims and Christians). Receive my Holy Kiss.
Many communities in Nigeria are distressed as we speak. Besides government efforts, what are we doing on our own to restore peace and hope in our communities? While the security agents engage the situation according to their profession, let the peacemakers amongst us rise on their feet to do their part. Gather yourselves in groups and start doing the needful by reaching out to the affected communities on both sides.
Reach out with love and forgiveness; shame the enemies of peace that are in this nation. I know that many are angry at this government but one thing is certain: this regime cannot be there forever. So rekindle yourself for hope is near. Put every effort of peace in motion to save as much lives while we get through this era. We have learnt many lessons and we shall emerge of this situation a wiser nation.
God bless you. God bless Nigeria.
Tay Martins is a pastor and a peace activist.