‘This is not our beef,’ Sikirah Oniwo, spokescow for northern herds declares to Trouble
In a recent interview granted to Trouble and Alaba on the vexed question of Fulani herdsmen and local farmers across the country, Sikirah Oniwo, recognised and acknowledged spokescow for the northern herds, insisted that the interest of the herdsmen did not coincide with those of the long distance, long-suffering cows. What the herdsmen are after and what the cows want are different. “What they want is not what we desire; their beef is not our beef, asking pardon for the English expression.”
In a rambling panoramic geography and history of cows across the world, the learned spokescow mentioned places and histories where cows are sacred, where cows are valued and where cows are just tolerated. Beginning with places where cows are worshipped, Sikirah Oniwo mentioned India, that subcontinent of the strangest beliefs on earth. In India, it is heaven on earth to be a cow. Cows are worshipped as gods and goddesses. Cows are seen as powerful deities conferring on their worshippers great gifts and incredible lucks in their day-to-day and night-to-night activities. Cows go where they like, how they like, singly or in the company of other cows. They eat whatever type of grass they desire and they rest where they like. And when they die, when cows finally decide to give up their lives, they are not eaten, like common food. Taboo! Their bodies are revered and prepared for ritual burial like the gods and goddesses they had been worshipped in life.
In Uruguay in South America, cows might not be gods and goddesses but cows are the gold of the country. Cows have been made to be the best cows the world had ever seen. They are treated as the most valued possession of the country. This little country of South America provides the best beef and cow products to the rest of the world. The binging into life and caring for cows has been made an incredible science to the extent that the DNA of every cow from Uruguay is available and traceable. This is to ensure that the Uruguayan cow is accorded the greatest respect in life and in beef everywhere and anywhere in the world. Yet, you would not find any cow wandering anywhere on the streets and byways of the country. All you would see on the streets of Uruguay are kids playing football, a sport for which the citizens of this country are ready to kill, just as they are ready to kill for the protection of their valued cows.
Unfortunately, here in Nigeria, cows have no respect. They are used and misused according to whatever people feel like doing. There was a time when northern cows were stigmatized because some southerners claimed that they were counted as part of the population of the northern parts of the country. This scandalous claim annoyed the cows to no end but nobody paid attention to the way the cows felt and the issue dropped out of the newspaper headlines.
Then, there is this tragic occurrence and re-occurrence of killings around the country in name of cows and finding feeding grounds for them. Everywhere you turn, cows are driven into regular farms, places planted by farmers for their own feeding. Cows are driven into these farms and what else can cows do but to feed on what is laid before them on their table for lunch, dinner and breakfast? Herdsmen turn on farmers who had turned on cows to avenge the destruction of their crops and their farms. This tit for tat, on behalf of herdsmen and of cows and of farmers is unnecessary. This destruction of property and of lives is uncalled for. There is no reason why herdsmen and farmers cannot prosper side by side, even this is an opinion expressed by cows that you do not respect. There is truth in accepting to prosper and allowing your neighbour to also prosper. That is what cows believe and this is what Nigerian cows would like to teach Nigerians and citizens alike.
Cows have even been accused of eating highly educated and sophisticated weeds and crops. At the agric-farm of one of the southern universities gm-crops over which scientists had spent years developing and for which the federal government and state governments had allocated generous funds were all devoured over a morning by some hundreds of cows. You should have seen professors and Phd students of agriculture holding their heads and foaming in the mouth cursing cows for eating what cows eat best: mere vegetables. And the fact is that in spite of the claims made for these gm-crops and vegetables they did not taste any better or different from other crops and vegetables that the cows had been eating on their heroic march down from the north by way of Abuja and Akungba towards the eastern parts of the country to deliver themselves to the cruel knives of those suya specialist of that side of the River Niger.
Something else about some of those who condemn wholesale all cows in sight the minute they see them. Well, can these people understand that not all the cows you see are directly from the north fresh and new and discovering the southern forest for the first time. In fact, some of us are local cows belonging to local cow owners who employ local herdsmen to take care of their cows. Now, this complicates the matter. Because why? Well, because some of the cows that eat all the fancy gm-crops and phd-ed vegetables might in fact, be local cows chewing cod on the sweat of professorial seeds.
What needs to be done is simple. But Nigerians do not take advice from any one with the required knowledge. Hopefully, they will take advice from cows as delivered by their spokescow Sikirah Oniwo. Cows are not particularly happy trekking thousands of miles to hand themselves over to their killers. Cows can be bred and fed where they are needed. They should not be used for taking over other people’s farms and land. That is not our beef, fellow cow Nigerians, we submit.
Kole Omotoso, 16/04/2016