His school was somewhere in the heart of town and along my own school runs pickup route.
I set off and turned into the narrow dirt track that led up to the school gates and right in front of me, in the heart of Abuja town, was a Fulani herdsman leading his cattle and completely blocking the road.
But that was not the interesting part.
The interesting part was what he held menacingly in his right hand – a well sharpened, glistening machete.
Normally, I would place my palm on the horn until the cows were herded to one side of the road but the thought of the next morning’s headlines just ministered the spirit of gentility into my soul.
“The Mouth gets hacked to death by a Fulani herdsman in retaliation for the 200 cows she yabbed to death along a lonely Abuja road”.
Wisdom is profitable to direct. And wisdom not only told me to shut up and be still, wisdom advised me, the one who had right of way on that road, to clear to one side while the man led his cows down the road. He didn’t cross the road, they walked along it until he came to what looked to me like a farmland.
He herded the cattle into the farm and as they started munching, I drove down, keeping a wary eye on him that if he made a menacing move with the machete, I could abandon both car and my shoes, and negotiate an escape with my feet.
The herdsman and his cattle, were destroying someone else’s livelihood in order to sustain theirs. I wonder what would have happened if he had met anyone on that farm and that person had challenged him.
Sometime in the past, I recall our having a party in our house and one of our uncles donating one cow to improve the jollification levels. Kimon. See preparations for jollofing, until it came time to kill the cow.
None of the people gathered had a clue on how to proceed, they couldn’t even get the cow to lie down quietly for a few minutes and allow itself get properly trussed up. After they had spent a good one hour waltzing and tangoing with the cow, someone suggested we call the person who had delivered the cow to come and slaughter it. He had dropped off his number while leaving on the off chance that his services would be required.
He arrived with a bag full of long knives but that was not the astonishing thing.
This small kpelenge guy walked up to the cow and placed his hand on something on its neck (don’t know what), and the cow went down on its side. He called the men in the compound to secure the legs and when that had been done, with a flick of his wrists, the deed was done.
It still required at least four men though.
So when I hear that the people of Agatu community in Benue State killed 10,000 cows which set the herdsmen on rampage and carnage, killing people and burning down houses, I find that I do not quite have enough fingers and toes to calculate how many Agatu men as in MEN it would take to slaughter that many cows and where they kept the carcasses while they were at it.
Perhaps the people of Agatu used sub machine guns which can, erm, kills cows but can’t kill human beings.
The time has come to take a stand and condemn these marauding brigands. Maybe stop eating the meat they bring us because:
1. Nomadic herdsmen of Nigerian cattle trespass wilfully on farmlands across the country, the livelihoods of others are forcefully taken to sustain theirs.
2. Nomadic herdsmen have reportedly raped women and young girls in some of the states they have passed through. Patronising Nigerian beef is, therefore, giving patronage to rapists.
3. Fulani herdsmen are listed as the 4th deadliest terror group in the world. Would you want your N500 suya to go into supporting terror?
4. The blood of hundreds of Agatu people was spilled on the flimsy claim that 10,000 imaginary cows were killed. Agatu is just one in a long list of communities in Benue, Plateau, Ebonyi and Delta states that have been menaced by these nomadic cattle rearers. If you eat Nigerian beef, you subscribe to bloodshed of innocents and children whose only crimes was protesting the rape of their farmlands.
5. Most of the cattle is owned by people who can afford to buy land and ranch their cattle. Grow their own grass, supplement with hay during the dry season, etc.
The blood of the slain in Agatu and other communities in Nigeria cries out for justice.
You do not need to eat beef to survive.
This menace of the herdsmen can fall upon anyone at anytime. We have seen herdsmen leading their cattle across major expressways in the nation and state capitals, there is no need thinking they wouldn’t dare.
#BoycottBeef and let the herdsmen ranch their cows.
#BoycottBeef and support justice for the slaughtered humans who were deemed dispensable and less valuable than cows.
#BoycottBeef and seek out healthier alternative sources of protein.
#BoycottBeef and lend your support to the ending of the herdsmen menace.
Let us all unite to say a resounding “No” to the mindless slaughter of our compatriots in order to fatten beef for our soup pots.