As the news of Fulani attackers in Igboland filters through the internet, this writer called a few friends to find out their reactions. The purpose of this write up is to report on how some Nigerians reacted to Fulani herders/murderers who are terrorizing citizens of Southern Nigeria. Conversations were held with a fearful Owerri woman whose account I didn’t bother to write down in details because she wasn’t able to make much sense; my secondary school classmate who was a Nigerian Ambassador retiring in Plateau State; my old New York Igbo friend who calls himself a political philosopher (sometimes, Emeka goes by political scientist whenever a spirit hits him and for reasons best known to God) ; a secondary school classmate Charlie who is retired from college teaching at Enugu (Charlie talks in a long, rambling monologue; he appears to be horror-struck while discussing events and stories of persons murdered on Ogui Road, Enugu; and my friend a Nigerian American professor named Dr. Okah in Chicago. Names have been camouflaged to protect my friends’ identities.
Unnamed Owerri Woman
ME: I hear Fulanis are attacking Nigerians, that the Hausa /Fulani herdsmen are driving hundreds of cattle into people’s farms in Owerri and Enugu to eat up gardens. We hear that persons who complained were killed with machete or shot dead. Is that true?
WOMAN: Nigeria is becoming something else. Only God will save us. We’re living in fear.
ME: Only we can save us. God is so overworked He has no time for His other responsibilities, like protecting us from malaria or driving away people coming to kill us. What do you say to this?
WOMAN: Chimo-oo (my God). He is for us all all the time. He cannot be tired of His children. OK?
ME: Aren’t the Fulani cattle rearers or herders His children too?
WOMAN (laughs): Hahaha. Okay. You say His children?
I am asking myself what’s so funny about Fulanis and killing people that makes this woman laugh hahaha! I am becoming angry and wanting to discontinue the discussion. Finally, in a moment of composure, though, I am exasperated when people laugh at situations that call for empathy or solemn reflections. You don’t laugh at wake keepings or in funeral processions, do you?
ME: Yes, His children, too. Madam. Please tell me, Madam, why did you laugh? Excuse me. Sorry. Please tell me this: why did God create the Fulanis?
She was speechless so I answered my own question.
ME: Because He’s God and He can do whatever He desires. Good bye, lady. Thanks a lot. Please be careful.
I called up old classmate, retired Ambassador, residing in the vicinity of Jos, Plateau State He picked up phone at first ring.
ME: Hello, Ambassador Gyang. How are you doing today?
GYANG: Fine. And you?
ME: You know the Fulanis are down South killing Igbos?
GYANG: It is not only the Igbos they are killing. They are also killing everyone. They are carrying machine guns and every weapon.
ME: What is their problem? What do they want? Are they crazy?
GYANG: They think their man is in charge so they can do anything.
ME: Wait a minute-oo. You say their man--. Are you saying the Fulani bastards think Buhari is their man so they kill others at random and with impunity?
GYANG: Yes, that ‘s what I mean. Nigeria is very dangerous and these Fulanis make the country quite unsafe.
ME: Thanks, classmate. Please take care of yourself and tell all my other classmates the same thing.
Emeka the Political Scientist
I called up a friend in New York, USA, who calls himself a political scientist. I really don’t enjoy discussing serious business , involving life and death with Igbo intelligentsia because they pride themselves very highly with their education and they’re into too much philosophy even when you are killing them with a feather. Let try this New Yorker Igbo man and see what happens.
ME: Emeka,what is happening in Nigerian with Fulanis killing you Anayamirins? Have you heard that?
EMEKA: Yes, I’ve heard that. That’s old news. As a political scientist-------
ME; Look here, man. I’m seriously talking about our people dying from Fulani bows and arrows, and you’re talking shit with your political shit. Do you hear me, Emeka? If not, I’m going to hang up.
EMEKA: As I was saying before, Ojukwu said One Nigeria wouldn’t work, and he was right. Ojukwu advocated breaking the country into separate states. Like it was before Biafra. The North for Hausas. The East for Igbos, and the West for the Ofe Manu (oily soup). Every tribe goes their separate ways. Then, there will be peace.
ME: Ofe manu? What’s that?
EMEKA: Oily soup. That’s what Igbos call Yorubas. You don’t know that?
ME: Hmm! what would breaking the country up do for our people? Would it prevent Fulanis going from where they are to your states and killing you?
EMEKA: Yes, it will prevent that . Every state becomes autonomous by itself and every one goes their own ways.
ME: Man, listen one more time----
ME: Emeka, Emeka, Emeka, you’re not listening. Shit with your political philosophy. Fulanis are carrying bows and arrows, machine guns and bombs, and they are accompanied by boko haram boys. Do you hear? They can come to your father’s house and bomb your ass.
EMEKA; It doesn’t matter. They can come and we shall be prepared to deal with them. Let then come to Biafra and see hell.
ME: What? Emeka, Biafra doesn’t exist and Emeka, the Igbos don’t have machine guns ;all they have are blunt machetes and pieces of wood. Emeka, you don’t go to war empty-handed. You carry something. Igbos don’t even own a gun.
EMEKA: Who told you Igbos have no guns .They have been manufacturing guns during Biafra and from old days. Isn’t there the ocean south of Biafra. Machine guns can come in by the millions. Are you saying Igbos can’t manufacture machine guns? Hmm Hmm
ME: Which machine guns? Are you saying everyone in Nigeria should have the right to bear arms?
EMEKA: I am not saying that. I am saying that If everyone gets a gun, it would be like America where people kill each other everyday.
ME: That’s what’s going to happen in Nigeria to stop Fulani bloodbath . Everyone owns a gun for self--protection . And if the Fulani can come to my village, destroy my cassava farm, and then kill me and my family, then I advocate changing or suspending the fucking Constitution and let people have the right to carry guns to kill Fulanis in self defense. I would shoot every Fulani I see in my town and shoot their cows, too.
EMEKA: We can’t say that openly.
ME: I’m saying that openly. Shit. You know exactly you only have one life to live? Then death. So, what?
EMEKA: Prof, you’re tough.
ME: You’ve got to be tough in the face of death. The Boko boys are dying. And Christians are living and turning the other cheek or just looking around. When do Christians learn to fight? Shit! Always talking about forgiveness. Hell with turning the other cheek. And being killed?. Shit. Good bye, Emeka. You’ve gotten me going. Good bye. Thanks for calling. Sorry. I called you, didn’t I?
Charlie at Enugu
I chated with Charlie my old secondary school mate at Enugu where he is retiring from teaching.
ME: About the Fulanis and killings of Igbos. Is it true?
CHARLIE: Yes, indeed. It is true. Much worse than you people in America are able to hear. For days the killings have been going on and kept hidden. Dead bodies are found everywhere in towns and villages. They come to your house at night and drag you out for the killings. Someone leads them to your house. People are running around, hiding in hotels and in villages to hide. Nowhere is safe any more.
ME: What are Igbos doing? Aren’t Igbos together to fight this thing?
CHARLIE: No. We are divided, Some are looking for money. Others are unconcerned. While this goes on, the Senate President Ekweremadu is out launching his book. This is not the first time the killings have been done. The Fulanis just come and kill people and the police does nothing. This is first time President Buhari is is addressing the problem. Too late and too little. There s fear everywhere. Don’t know. One thing I know is you people outside the country can help to draw world’s attention to what is going on in Nigeria.
ME: We are doing that through writing and discussions at our meetings. Good to hear from you, Charlie.
I am thinking how I dislike people who vacillate or beat about the bush in emergency situations such as the killing of your people. Perhaps that person was right to say that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in moments of moral crises maintain their neutrality. You either live or you die. There is no in-between. No other way. I am reaching for the phone when the ringer startled me. It was old friend, Nigerian –American Professor Dr. Okah
DR. OKAH: I have been calling to get your opinion on the Fulani killings of Igbos. You’ve heard it?
ME: That’s sad. I heard from a friend at Enugu that these people are armed with the AK-47, that the Igbos are not together to present a united front, that Igbos have not set up vigilante groups in villages and towns to identify the attackers, and that, while the killings were going on, Senate President Ekweremadu was busy going around the country launching a book he has written. The friend asks that we Igbos are doing to help. What can we do?
Dr. OKAH: Yes. I know this Christian-turned Moslem who wrote on Facebook that the news of the killings of the Igbos is false. He says that Igbos are killing Igbos and blaming it on Fulanis.
ME: That’s terrible. I wonder if there is some truth in that. You remember the unsolved murders of Igbos whose bodies were found floating on Ezu River. No man or woman has been caught and charged with the murders.
DR, OKAH: I wonder how the Fulanis get those expensive machine guns. The last time I checked at Wal-Mart, those things cost a lot of money. Where do they get the money?
ME: About how much was it at Wal-Mart?
DR. OKAH: About 300 dollars each, and as much as 500 dollars with ammunition.
ME: That’s cheap for criminals. Fulanis and Hausas have lots of money. They’re experts at smuggling, money laundering, sale of drugs, human trafficking. You name it and they’re into it. Have you been to the Hausa market at Lagos or Abuja to convert dollars to Naira?
DR. OKAH: NO. Why?
ME: Moslems have dollars and British currencies slacked against the walls to the ceiling. When I went to convert just 1000 dollars one time, a Mallam was calling me: “Hello, we have up to 0ne million dollars How much you wan change?”. They took me inside the room, and I saw what made me faint. Kpatakpata. Dollars packed as high as the ceilings. Buying aircrafts, bombs, and what-have-you is nothing to Fulanis. Plus they sell their nasty beef and hides dried in desert heat to make extra money. You know they have been caravan traders like their prophet Mohammed or centuries. That they have money is all I can tell you for sure. Lots of money.
OKAH: Are you certain?
ME: Look here, Doc. Shit! Never you again think Fulani don’t have money. You see them walking around haggard behind their smelly cattle with dirty sandals and kwarikwata –infested garments. Though they appear to be wretched and penniless and starving, yet they’re loaded with millions of money in any currency you can think of: American dollars, British pounds, and Chinese yuan, French francs, and you name it.
OKAH: Chai. Really?
ME: What do you think? I believe the Fulanis are into heavy crimes and money laundering. I wouldn’t put it past the ability of Fulanas and Hausas to have access to machines that print all counterfeit currencies, including Naira in the millions, and the currencies look like the real thing. Have you heard of Dantata? You’ve not heard of Alhassan Dantata? Shit, Doc. How do boko boys obtain those sophisticated bombs and fire power in Sambissa forest? You don’t know shit, Professor. I hate talking with you Anyamiirins who think you know so much book like my friend Dr. Osuji, and yet know nothing. shit. Bye bye. I have to go.