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Opinions of Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Columnist: Bernard, Afreh Manu

The ‘Ghanaian Fulani’ I never knew

By: Afreh Manu Bernard.

On Friday the 7th of November 2011, I read with interest and concern Mr. Abdul Musah Sidibe’s article, ‘Media Ignorance: The Story of Ghanaian Fulani’, posted on GHP. The entire write-up sought to tell us that there is a so-called “media fascism” against “Ghanaian Fulani”. Horrible to say, not only did the author nail the truth to a bleeding cross, he also made a lame attempt at rewriting history.

To begin with, who are “Ghanaian Fulani(s)”? If the Fulani is an ethnic group in Ghana as he wants us to believe, why don’t we have Ghanaian Asante or Ghanaian Frafra? And, by the way, when did we start having such compound titles to differentiate our ethnic lineage? In fact, in all my educational adventure I have yet to stumble across any text that lends credence to my brother’s assumption that the Fulani is an ethnic group in Ghana.

There is no denying the fact that some Fulanis, by virtue of inter-marriages and naturalization, are now legal Ghanaians citizens. However, this does not erase the fact that the Fulani is not an ethnic group in Ghana. Flip back the pages of the book of history, and you would realize that the Fulanis (known as Peul in Wolof) are rather indigenes of Nigeria, Guinea-Conakry, Burkina Faso etc. With a light skin, curly hair, pointed nose, thin lips and slender statue, who is not aware that the Fulanis are herdsmen who, when the grass does not sprout naturally in the Sahel region, tend to migrate southward in search of areas for their cattle to graze.

Tragically, at one point, Mr. Abdul accused the Ghanaian media of “demonizing his ethnic group” in the same manner as Jews during the infamous Holocaust. What irony! Pray, why would there be “media fascism” against Fulanis when they have absolutely no role to play in our political, social or economic agenda? Does reportage of the wanton destruction of properties and menacing attacks on our dear farmers amount to “media fascism”?

To be fair, it is worrying to see some of your tribesmen being labelled as ‘social misfits’. In such a situation, you find your heart palpitating and your mind screaming to ‘compose’ an article to be posted on cyberspace. As if by accident or design, Mr. Abdul allowed emotions to triumph over fairness when he accused the media of ignorance and “insensitivity… towards the Fulani people.” Let me state forcefully that the reports about these Fulanis are not mere market gossips. I have personally watched a documentary on the activities of their rampageous cattle; indeed, with the passage of each minute, I kept blanching with horror.

In these times of blistering and scorching sun, my heart bleeds for our dear farmers who work with cutlasses and hoes (maybe the Abdul Sidibes of this world, in the comfort of their Canadian suburbia(s), tend to forget the agony associated with this kind of farming). It is unfortunate that these nomads (Fulanis), without any form of sympathy, lead their cattle to feed on crops that serve as the major income of our farmers. To worsen matters, these migrant pastoralists RAPE, MAIM and KILL whoever challenges their authority.

Last week, I listened to an Assembly member of one of the areas in Agogo, in a radio interview, narrating how they were attacked by hoodlums when they once embarked on a demonstration against the unbearable attitudes of the Fulanis. He indicated that 13 people sustained gunshot wounds in the attack. For fear of their lives and with no support from government officials and traditional heads, the interviewee said they (he and the demonstrators) have now decided to boycott and disrupt all funerals in the town (including that of a Kyidomhene of the traditional area). This move, they believe, would push authorities to take immediate action.

Let me emphasise that nobody, no Ghanaian, is being hostile to the Fulanis or any group of persons. But as an editorial of the Chronicle newspaper rightly pointed out: “The Fulani menace has been with us for far too long … in the words of Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, when a handshake goes beyond the elbow, it is no more a handshake.” It is good news that Mr. Abdul has made it an objective to “expose (any form of discrimination) to the international press and international human rights organizations”; I hope he would join me in highlighting the human right abuses in those dungeons called Witch Camps.

Finally, it is an indisputable fact that Ghanaians are very hospitable. However, considering the nefarious acts of some Fulanis, one can only agonizingly conclude that it is about time we speak up against such veiled attempts of destroying our oasis of peace.

Afreh Manu Bernard,

nobunegga@yahoo.com

+233245326630