Between A Cattle Ranch And A Cattle Colony
While ranching involves acquiring some plot of land for catering for livestock, a cattle colony is a different thing all together. In a cattle ranch, the pastoralist acquires land and still abides by laws and constitution of the community that gave out that land. He is like every other business owner who pays tax and renews rent of the property he transacts with. But a cattle colony is something else all together. Just like the name suggests, a cattle colony is a mapped out area, operating by its own sets of rules and regulations and the rules of the community around it does not affect how its business is run. It is like a state within a state. More like what you will get in our army barracks in Nigeria.
It is also bigger than a ranch and should not be confused with Cluster Ranches. In Cluster Ranching, there are many ranches in a location and the rules and regulations governing the place or community where it is located are also upheld in the ranches. It is simply a combination of two, three, four, or more ranches in any location, like a market where there are different stores owned by people selling provisions. I have seen people talk about the unreasonable fear against the creation of colonies and some even confuse cluster cattle ranching for cattle colonies. A cattle colony have cluster ranches but they are not the same thing. Cluster ranches exist in all cattle colonies but not all cluster ranches are cattle colonies.
Good Or Bad Idea?
A ranch or colony is a good idea for countries that wish to improve their milk and cattle production. A ranch, in Nigeria, will solve the problem of both cattle rustlers and destruction of farmlands. Because the cows are kept in a place and taken care of, problems of trespassing and stealing are reduced and phased out. The cattle are given healthy feed and milking, made difficult by the wandering of the pastoralist, is improved on. Both the herdsmen, the farmer and the country gain from this development. The same thing can be achieved in the cattle colonies.
The cattle are taken good care of; the herdsmen, whose wandering constitute nuisance in one way or the other, are better for it; the men who steal cattle will have a difficult task at hand; the farmlands destroyed by grazing are no longer under threat and the country’s produce spikes; and more importantly, there will be no reason to start a fight that will lead to the destruction of many homes, farmlands, properties and above all, human lives. This will eliminate the problem of bad blood that is building from the agricultural angle of the country. A colony or ranching will do, but while ranching is necessary, a colony is not.
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The biggest producers of Milk in the world, India, and the biggest producers of Meat, United States, do not run colonies but ranches. So, why do we need cattle colonies in Nigeria? Why can’t we work with ranches? Or are the people talking of a system of colonisation correct? Would it be illogical to see it as another form of colonisation by the Nigerian Fulanis, who have openly voiced their disdain for modern means of rearing cattle? The truth is, Nigeria doesn’t need cattle colonies but ranches and whoever doesn’t want to fall in line with this modern method, should suffer the full weight of the law.
Why We Are Afraid: History Matters
When Nigerians complain about an attempt by the Fulanis to overrun and take over their lands, it may sound like hate speech but any good student of history wouldn’t classify it as one. Even though the government only used the word ‘Herdsmen’ in their proposal, we have come to identify the word with the Fulanis who are Herdsmen, because they run the cattle business here. The Nigeria’s Federal Government and President, Buhari, their Grand Patron, have come to their defense on so many occasions and these didn’t go down well with all emotional and logically thinking people. So, an attempt to create colonies for these persons, who have gone away with all manner of crimes, will, in any conscious place, generate this amount of tension. History matters.
The Fulani Herdsmen have refused to bulge to the dictates of modernity and this is a striking quality of conquerors. That stubbornness and principles against liberalism is a strong quality of those who have conquered people and nations. We have seen this play out in the coming of Uthman Dan Fodio, the coming of the British, the invasion of North Africa by the Arabs, the Arab Slave Trade, the Atlantic Slave Trade, the coming of the religions of Christianity and Islam, the taking over of Illorin, a Yoruba kingdom, by the Fulani. In Illorin once lived a great Yoruba warrior, by the name, Afonja. He was said to have accommodated his Fulani friend, Alimi, who betrayed him and took his place.
Afonja was a very stubborn man and pride, greed and sabotage led to his death and the installation of an emir in Illorin. He got tired of taking orders from the empire and when he couldn’t tolerate them anymore, he went to war with his brothers. He took with him, Fulanis fighters, supplied by his friend, Alimi. Unfortunately for him, Alimi had other plans. Afonja was destroyed by the mercenaries he employed and that was how Illorin was lost to the Fulanis till this day. Uthman Dan Fodio, the grandfather of the Fulanis in Nigeria, also got into Northern Nigeria with the same disguise. The Hausas of Northern Nigeria, are the only Nigerians to be colonised twice. First, by the Fulanis and second, by the British.
So, Dan Fodio came with that disguise and Friendship which was seen in Alimi in Illorin. Gradually, he waged war against the Northern kings and had almost all of them dethroned while he became the Sultan and established a caliphate. He also spread Islam in the same light. Now, looking back at that book I read in Primary School about Gandoki, I think it was telling us of Uthman Dan Fodio. Till this day, that is the status quo. These things happened hundreds of years ago and we have seen the strength, patience, and genius of these set of Fulanis and we are now wary. Nonconformity is the bedrock of most conquerors.
When the British landed in Africa they brought their own structures and systems and wouldn’t bulge no matter what we did. At the first stage, which the Nigerian Fulani Herdsmen have since passed, trust was worked on by mimicking and trying to align with us. But once trust was gained and followed by ground, they showed true colours and dammed the consequences. This is what we are seeing now. The Herdsmen have said they are not ranchers and nobody will stop them grazing wherever they want. Some have even boasted of owning Benue State lands by virtue of some imaginary conquest. These guys are not liberals and we are worried. We’ve checked history and seen that we may become slaves in our own lands and get a second colonisation. The fear is legitimate and logical.
The current government only helped in worsening the issue. A situation where a man who admitted murder is walking free is not good for confidence or trust. Giving some murderers special treatment even when they admitted murder is an invitation for mistrust and this is clearly logical. When you have a leader who can’t punish criminals from his own tribe but talks about establishing a place where state and community laws don’t exist, rejection is not illogical. If he can’t protect and account for the lives of those already killed, how are we supposed to see that these colonies are not geared towards a greater agenda?
By choosing to talk about colonies, rather than ranches, isn’t he buying into the plan that ranching cannot work for the Fulani Herdsmen? The President has never deemed it worthy to visit states like Benue and Enugu where herdsmen did great damage and this has helped the argument. It is simple. The only reason you are not worried is because you don’t consider the lives there human enough. A man who admitted his group killed 73 persons in Benue because 1000 cows were stolen is walking free. A person who said that as long as laws against open grazing is in practise there will always be blood is walking free.
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A person who said the laws are responsible for the killings is in charge of the country’s defense. A person who said that the killers are not Fulanis but herdsmen from Senegal and Libya is the President of the country. With these persons and their history, and other ancient histories, why will any sane conscious person pretend there is no ulterior motive? Only cowardice, a dangerous form of political correctness, and/or wilful ignorance of past and present history will make you pretend nothing is fishy. That’s why most Nigerians are scared. They have seen history and they can see the actions of men currently in power and they see consistency. Their fears are logical.