LET SOUTHERN KADUNA BREATHE  

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I read a lot about the gruesome killings in Southern Kaduna from time to time but often constrained to lend my voice because of past experiences whereby claims of the extent of casualties and perpetrators are often contentious with claims and counter claims.

I remember when prominent music label owner; Audu Maikori made a social media post on the plight of Southern Kaduna relying on the narrative of his driver but which turned out to be a hoax and was debunked.

I also remember the case involving Prof. Chidi Odinkalu and Governor Nasir El Rufai over the purported killing of 66 Fulani Herdsmen in Kajuru in February, 2019 which Prof Odinkalu claimed was a lie and how it brought both of them on a collision course resulting to litigation.

However, regardless of the past, we need to dwell on the present events and situation report.

The Southern Kaduna crisis is a recurring decimal which needs to have an end put to it.

Recently, Southern Kaduna women demonstrated nakedly of recent killings.

The State Government has had to call an emergency security meeting on the development.

For all these to have happened, it simply means the situation is bad.

While I try to stay away from tribal, ethnic and religious discussions because they erode humanity, civility, tolerance, and underscores our level of exposure and development but at times it has to be broached like in this case. I lived in Kadina state for years, witnessed and know the intensity of the ethnic and religious wars that happens in the state from time to time from as far back as 1987.

 I was jostled when I read an emotional Facebook post by an old school mate who is from Southern Kaduna and which moved me to tears.

 It reads;

“We are being attacked.. God help us.. Zikpak.. Kafanchan.. about 30 of them .. cant hold them back”.

“Update: Survived the first and second wave of attacks. The rain worked in our favour. Long night ahead. Pray we make it till the morning before I can give details of body count and destruction. Not by my might.. God is in Control”.

“Update: Thank God for the blessing of a new day. “Good Samaritans” have arrived. Off to bed I go. Will give you further details when I wake up…”.

“Couldnt sleep.. had to go round the house and do a perimeter body count.. so far 9 dead and 6 wounded”.

“Update. A woman with 3 gunshot wounds died today. The count is now 10 dead, 16 injured and 9 missing. A mass burial was carried out at 5pm earlier this evening”.

“*sigh* Back at it again. Rapid machine gun fire at Kurmi.. Fingers crossed”.

 I was moved to tears because I can relate with the terrain of the purported attacks because I travelled to Kafanchan sometime in November, 2007 in company of my uncle and his friend (a retired military officer) and I discovered that the man we had gone to visit was the father of the school mate referred to here.

We had gone to honour a wedding invitation unknowingly that my school mate father was the host and I had seen him from afar while driving past the church to the house to pay homage to the host before returning to the church and reception venue, but we missed each other as I was told he left for Abuja before we got to the reception.

The attacks of the recent weeks took place in the area highlighted by my school mate above in his post.

While pondering over it, I tried to figure out the devastation that must have happened to that axis of Kaduna state over the last few years based on the incessant attacks of suspected marauding Fulani herdsmen. This is because the last time I was there, which was in 2007, I could still see ruins and deserted settlements from the fallout of previous onslaught.

It happened in 1987, 1992 and 2000. In 1987, the fallout of a dispute between students from different ethnic and religious groups in Kafanchan resulted into violence which extended to other towns.

In February and May 1992, the Zangon-Kataf crisis started as a result of clashes in Zangon-Kataf between the Hausa and the Kataf (a predominantly Christian ethnic group). It was initially a dispute over the relocation of a market. Killings of Hausa by Kataf were followed by reprisal killings of Christians by Muslims, including in several other parts of Kaduna State.

Some people have said the situation in Southern Kaduna is an attempt at ethnic cleansing and it could be difficult to fault such an assumption because of the consistent pattern.

My mate re-echoed the assumption and belief of his Southern Kaduna people by responding to a comment and advice  to flee on the Facebook post thus;

“………..that is there(sic) goal. When you abandon your land they take them over and turn them to their settlements. After some time they will forge documents and claim their forefathers own the land. They have been repeating the same strategy for decades. I cannot be a part of supporting the plan of my enemy. We die here! We will no longer facilitate the agenda of displacement”.

I don’t blame him, as I remember Fela Anikulapo-Kuti once said that;

“No man forever allows his mother which is his land of origin; to be constantly subjected to all forms of vilification, oppression, exploitation and degradation without rising up against it even if it means his eventual annihilation. For that that has been man’s historical path”.

However, I also remember the homily of Revd. Fr. Hassan Mathew Kukah at the funeral of Seminarian Micheal Nnadi who was killed by kidnappers in Kaduna in February,  2020 that;

“…Through Violence, you can murder the murderer, but you cannot murder Murder. Through violence, you can kill the Liar, but you cannot kill Lies or install truth. Through Violence, you can murder the Terrorist, but you cannot end Terrorism. Through Violence, you can murder the Violent, but you cannot end Violence. Through Violence, you can murder the Hater, but you cannot end Hatred..”

The only way forward,  I suppose is a political resolution to these incessant crisis to avert any form of revenge or prolonged tension.

We have seen it work with the Ife/ Modakeke situation and I believe it can work elsewhere.

I think it is time that we have a Southern Kaduna State to put a stop to the tribal mistrust that has caused the state and nation a lot in terms of human casualties.

The complaint of the Southern Kaduna people is that most of their chiefdoms have been replaced by Emirates. Also, that most of their farms have become grazing areas without their consent and what else remains of a people when you conquer their traditional institutions and take away their means of livelihood? It means you have subjugated them and this is what they believe the Fulani are doing to them and the state government is not doing much to permanently put a stop to it.

It’s been an unpleasant experience for Southern Kaduna especially since the Zangon Kataf crisis of 1992.

The people of Southern Kaduna are not less deserving of being treated as first class citizens that they are in Nigeria.

They are one of the earliest settlers in modern day Nigeria. The Nok people of old were sculptors versed in terracotta and pottery. They were also said to be versed in Smelting and forging iron for making tools.

The Nok art is masterpiece with loads of terracotta still evident in some sites till date.

They are sedentary and descendants of the old Iron age as shown in archeological artefacts (terracotta) found in Nok village, present Kaduna state in 1928, that is why it becomes confounding on why the Fulanis are poised to displace them from their ancestral land.

According to Christopher Muscato, a lecturer at the University of Northern Colorado on Nok people and culture, wrote that;

“Nothing that exists today simply appeared. Everything, from our languages and cultures, to our arts and even the places we live is a result of thousands of years of history. Modern cultures owe so much to the cultures that came before and as archaeologists and historians, part of our job is to understand that. For example, the people of modern Nigeria may not realize it, but they owe a lot to the cultures (who lived thousands of years ago) that first started forming major settled societies in the region. One of those groups was the Nok, an ancient African culture who lived in what is now Northern Nigeria from roughly 900 BCE-200 CE. For many years, archaeologists saw the Nok as a somewhat isolated culture that slowly appeared out of nowhere and quickly faded for no reason.”

That the earlier settlers faded into oblivion is not enough reason to attempt to erase the relics of their existence and history.

Nok culture is one of the oldest in Africa and her history needs to be preserved like Timbuktu city in the Mali Empire of old. The domain ought to be preserved as some sort of heritage sites rather than having them having the lands usurped for pastoral purposes and the people maimed in cold blood.

Being a minority in a state should not be a crime or shouldn’t make the people unfortunate.  They deserve same fundamental human rights like every other citizens of the republic and should not be continuously decimated in their own country.

It has to stop, we do not want the Bosnia Serbs/ Croats situation or the Rwanda Hutu- Tutsi style ethnic war on our hands in Nigeria.

Government at both State and Federal level must rise up to the occasion and save the people of Southern Kaduna.

dolcewalepsky@yahoo.com

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