The Hausa Fulani, the Yoruba and the Slaughter in Ile-Ife /

I have been reluctant to write anything about the clash between the Yoruba and the Hausa Fulani in the ancient city of Ile-Ife and in which far many more people were killed than anyone cares to publicly admit.

I was reluctant because Ile-Ife happens to be the home of my ancestors and indeed my hometown and for four generations my family have had a stake there and have been making meaningful contributions to the affairs and development of the community.

Consequently I have an emotional attachment to the town and when I hear that a son or daughter of Ife is in trouble or is in any way hurt or harmed it hurts me to the marrow.

This is because the Ifes are more to me than just my kinsmen. I consider them to be part of my family and deep down I love each and everyone of them whether they be friend or foe.

Yet despite all this, on this occassion, I am constrained to set emotion aside, look at the cold facts and write about this ugly and tragic episode.

I compelled to do so out of a sense of loyalty, honor and morality. This is especially so given the fact that the victims in this conflict appear to have no voice and no-one appears to be ready to speak for them. I am ready to be that voice. I owe my people, history and posterity that much and I have no apology for doing so.

The crisis in Ile-Ife started when a group of Hausa Fulani men molested and physically abused a young Yoruba woman by the name of Kubura and almost killed her in the process.

She went home covered in blood and when her husband, Akeem (a leading member of the NURWT in Ile-Ife) found out what she had been subjected to he went back to the Hausa-Fulani quarters (commonly known as Sabo) with her in tow to find out why she had been subjected to such barbaric treatment and who the perpetrators were.

On getting there instead of being received with sympathy and remorse the husband himself was viciously stabbed and almost lost his life.

After that the Hausa Fulanis in Sabo went on the rampage killing many sons and daughters of Ile-Ife their host community and in the process they proceeded to behead a young Yoruba man and they  paraded his head on a pole through the streets.

This infuriated the people of Ile-Ife and they retaliated by attacking the perpetrators. After that all hell broke loose and many Hausa Fulanis were killed.

I have been reliably informed that at the end of the day approximately 300 Hausa Fulani's were killed and buried in mass graves whilst over 70 per cent of the houses in Sabo were burnt down. The Ifes lost about 30 in the conflict. This is a tragedy of monumental proportions for each and every one of us.

The casualty rate on both side is unacceptable and I wholeheartedly condemn the taking of human life for ANY reason unless it is in self-defence.

As sad and tragic as this event may be we must point the fingers at the right places and place the blame for the conflagration where it belongs. Many have failed in this respect.

For example instead of blaming the aggressors for the crisis and the carnage and warning them to stop killing our people and raping and beating our women, Governor Rauf Aregbesola has been shamelessly begging the Hausa Fulani and saying such an attack will never take place again.

It is right and proper for him, and indeed all responsible leaders, to call for restraint, to sue for peace and to encourage people not to break the law or take the law into their own hands in the name of retaliation and I must commend the efforts of our most reverred traditional ruler, his Imperial Majesty, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11 in this respect.

However it is equally important for Aregbesola to condemn the aggressors, the wife-beaters, the rapists and the murderers and to tell them in simple and clear language that Ile-Ife, the source and cradle of the Yoruba race, or indeed anywhere else in Osun state or the south west is NOT the sort of place that they can commit such atrocities and get away with it.

We are not Southern Kaduna or Agatu in Benue state. We find it difficult to sit by idly and watch our people being slaughtered in cold blood. And neither do we bow down before our oppressors.

There is something deep in the Yoruba spirit and soul and particularly that of the Ifes that resists and rebels against injustice, brutality, barbarity and subjugation and the history of the Yoruba proves that.

We are slow to anger but irresistable in battle and the fact is that for one hundred years before the British colonial masters arrived on our shores we were fighting brutal civil wars against one another.

We know the tragedy, the pain, the terror, the evil and the horrendous sacrifice that comes with war and conflict and though we avoid it as best as we can, we never shy away from it once it is forced upon us.

Worse still the youth of Ile Ife, many of whom are veterans of numerous Ife-Modakeke wars, are hardened and battle-ready any day and any time.

This is indeed a potentially volatile and dangerous mix. In this respect relevant and insighful are the words of Oloye Gani Adams, the leader of the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), when he said, just yesterday, that "the Yoruba cannot be conquered!".

And if anyone has any doubts about that they should consider the sheer courage and unconquerable spirit of a loyal anf faithful son of the Yoruba like Ayo Fayose, the Governor of Ekiti state.

This is where Aregbesola missed it. This is what he appears to have forgotten and this is what slipped his mind.

This is the point that he failed to appreciate and instead of doing so he chose to tread the disgraceful path of servility and appeasement whilst sacrificing the lives and interests of his own people.

Though I am a firm believer in the right of self-defence, I do not seek to incite anyone to violence and neither do I advocate, condone or encourage it in any shape or form.

I am simply stating the facts and pointing out that it is important to call an aggressor an aggressor and call a spade a spade.

My old friend Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso who is the former Governor of Kano state then entered the ring and made matters worse.

He went to Ile-Ife, met with the Hausa Fulani community and had the nerve and effontry to tell Aregbesola that our people must pay compensation for the killing of his people: sounds familiar?

I remember General Muhammadu Buhari's words to Governor Lam Adesina in 2001 when, after a conflict between the Hausa Fulani and the Yoruba in Oyo, he asked "why are your people killing my people?"

Kwakwanso came to Ile-Ife 16 years later, demanded an answer to the same question and asked for compensation!

What a gratuitous insult this is delivered at a time when everyone is suing for peace and calling for calm. If the truth be told who should pay compensation to who? Who is accomodating who? Who did the attacking? Who killed first?

Who drew first blood? Whose land and soil is it and who are the guests and visitors? You come into a man's house and enter his land and you start killing members of his family and people and then you ask him to pay you  compensation?

Does this make sense? How many people did the Fulani compensate after they slaughtered the indigenees of Southern Kaduna, Benue, Enugu, Abia, Delta,Taraba, Lagos, Plateau, Kwara, Kogi, Adamawa, Nassarawa, Niger, Edo, Ebonyi, Ondo, Ekiti and numerous other states in the country in their own land?

How many did they compensate after the sectarian and barbaric killings of Christians and southern Muslims all over the north over the last 56 years?

How many did they compensate after the pogroms, mass murder and genocide perpetuated against the Igbo all over the north just before the civil war in 1966?

Who should apologise and who should compensate who?

Honestly I cannot stomach all this. It would have been better for Kwakwanso to start with an apology for the beating, raping, carnage and barbarity that his Hausa Fulani brothers indulged in and unleashed on their generous and accomodating hosts before the fighting started.

Do some people have a greater right to life than others in Nigeria? Is the blood of some more precious than the blood of others?

Do the lives of the Ife people mean nothing to these people? Does anyone not feel a deep sense of outrage about what the Hausa Fulani did and how this whole thing started?

Are we supposed to brush it under the carpet out of fear and our accursed desire for peace at ANY price?

How do we expect the woman that was beaten and whose husband was almost stabbed to death for attempting to defend her honor to feel? How do we expect the family of the young man that was beheaded and the families of the other Yorubas that were killed to take all this?

Are we not dancing on the graves of those that  were slaughtered for no just cause? What does that say about us as leaders and as a people? Are we not meant to defend the weak and stand up for the oppressed and the defenceless?

Do the people of Ile-Ife, a proud, gentle, kind and accomodating people with a rich and distinguished heritage, deserve to be visited with such violence from their guests and such contempt from their leaders?

I used to love and respect Governor Aregbesola even though we belong to different political parties.

I knew him to be a proud, strong, unrepentant and inspiring Yoruba nationalist who knew the history of the Yoruba inside out and who was ready to stand his ground and fight his corner with anybody at anytime in defence of the Yoruba cause.

Yet now it appears that all that has changed. Seven years in public office as Governor has softened him and made him lose his nerve, his edge and his fighting spirit.

One wonders what really happened to the fire-brand that we knew as "Ogbeni?" The old Ogbeni was strong but the new one is weak.

His love for power and desperation to foster and maintain questionable and futile political alliances at any cost and price has impaired his vision and beclouded his better judgement.

The old Ogbeni would never have compromised with the aggressors and purveyers of violence in this way and he would have called a spade a spade and been fair to all.

He would not have bent over backwards to appease the Hausa Fulani community and abandon his own people.

The truth is that though I still love Aregbesola I find it difficult to forgive him for refusing to rise up to the occasion and for not defending and protecting the people of Ile Ife and Osun state from the reckless adventurers that have humiliated, assaulted and afflicted them in the last few days.

He has refused to shelter and protect them from the evil scourge that seeks to subjugate them and turn them into village idiots and second class citizens in their own land.

We needed to be consoled and comforted for the outrage and wickedness that was visited on our people by the Hausa Fulani settlers but instead Aregbesola betrayed his own people, went on his knees and begged the aggressors and those that beat, raped and slaughtered them.

I despise anyone that bows and trembles before tyranny and those that take pleasure in killing the innocent in the name of faith, cows, cattle or some strange and misguided notion of ethnic supremacy.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Leader of the Yoruba, once said, "Kaka ka dobale fun Gambari ka kuku roju Ku"  which means "instead of a Yorubaman prostrating for a Hausa Fulani it is better to take courage and die".

Have our leaders in the south west forgotten these heroic words so soon? Has Aregbesola  lost his memory?

Since when have we had cowards as leaders in Yorubaland? Since when did we start fearing our own shadows and since when did we start speaking in hushed and muffled tones? Is political correctness more important than the lives of our people?

The truth is that Rauf Aregbesola has forfeited the right to lead Osun state and I pray that the Lord forgives him for dancing on the blood of the people of Ile Ife and wining and dining with the enemy.

Yet sadly the stinking mess does not stop there. I have been reliably informed by the spokesman of Afenifere, Oloye Yinka Odumakin, that up until the time of writing this piece only the sons and daughters of Ile-Ife, including notable traditional rulers, community leaders and other prominent men and women, have been arrested by the police and put in police cells in Osogbo, Ibadan and Abuja.

Not ONE person from the Hausa Fulani community in Ile ife has been detained by the police or security agencies up until now.

Given this, one wonders whether the 30 sons and daughters of Ile-Ife that lost their lives in the conflict commited suicide?  One wonders whether they committed what the Japanese call "hari-kari".

One wonders whether they slit open their own stomachs with a long sharp sword and spilled their own bowels all over the battle field.

I say this because no-one seems to be interested in bringing those that butchered them in the sanctity of their own homes and their own land to heel.

Such a selective application of justice can hardly be described as being reasonable or fair and surely that is not the way to foster better relations between the Hausa Fulani and the Yoruba in Ile Ife or elsewhere.

A note that was sent to me captured the mood rather well when the author said the following:

"There is no Yoruba person who has incited anything beyond putting our case across. We cannot keep quite when our people are being harassed  and intimated. Barrister Gbenga Awosode,an Ife indigene has just been summoned to Abuja yesterday. As we speak no member of the Arewa community has been summoned. Our people have been killed on our land and on Arewa land over the years with no arrest made in history. We will not look for anybody's trouble but if anyone look for ours he will get it double. Yoruba will not die on our knees. Any death that will kill us will meet us on our feet. But before we die......".

The concern is clearly building-up and the anger is mounting.

Yet despite that the impunity continues. I say this because in the last seven days alone the Hausa Fulani have slaughtered scores of innocent people in Ile-Ife (Osun state), Buruku (Benue state), Arochukwu (Abia state), Malagum (Southern Kaduna) and Igbeti (Oyo State). Must we continue like this?

Our faith, identity and ethnic nationalities are under attack and are threatened with annihilation and you want me to accept it in the name of one Nigeria?

The fundamental question that we must all answer either now or later is as follows: if we cannot live together in peace and unity as one nation must we stay together by force?

Is the unity of Nigeria truly sacrosanct? And if the older generation believes that this is so must the younger generation believe so as well?

Never in the history of our country, other than during the civil war, has there been so much ethnic and sectarian blood-letting as there is today?

And it is the usual suspects and those that the late and great Chief Bola Ige called "the Tutsis of Nigeria" that always spark it off and attack others either in the name of their faith or in their quest to take over and forcefully seize the land of others or in the name of herding cattle and grazing cows.

When one considers this one is constrained to ask the following question: is it a crime to demand for the restructuring of our nation or for the peaceful and equitable dissolution of our very unhappy union?

Can we not at least attempt to be civilised and start learning from others? Must we continue to ignore the voices of our fathers, elders and reverred heroes like the great Pa Ayo Adebanjo and the gallant General Alani Akinrinade who saw all this coming many years ago and who urged us all to sit up and prepare for the worst?

Must everything here be by compulsion and by force? Must some of us be regarded and classified as field hands and slaves whilst others are described as being "born to rule?"

Is this not insulting to the majority? Is it not unacceptable? Is it wrong for people to exercise their God-given right of self-determination? Is that not the basis and the very essence of freedom and democracy?

Let us consider the nation of Scotland. Her people will have another referendum on whether or not to leave the United Kingdom in 2018.

When the leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party announced their intention I did not hear Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom or the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth 11 or the Chief of Army Staff of the British Armed Forces, saying things like, "Great Britain will not break for the next four milleniums" and I did not hear them threatening, insulting and condemning the Scottish people.

I did not hear the French Ambassador or the Ambassador of any other country telling the Scots that they would never be allowed to have their way and that they should perish the thought of Scottish independence.

Yet when it comes to the affairs of Nigeria it appears that everyone feels that they can tell us what to do.

For example the French Ambassador to Nigeria recently said that those that were agitating for Biafra were indulging in an exercise in futility and that they would never achieve their dream.

It appears that this man knows little about the deep resolve of those who are fighting for their freedom and frankly he needs to learn a thing or two about the history of his own country.

Apart from the fact that it is not for him to tell us what to do or what not to do, what he has offered is nothing but inappropiate, misplaced and unsolicited counsel and advice.

The French people, since the days of the Great Revolution of 1789 and bold leaders and reformere like Maximilien Robespierre, Jean-Paul Marat and years later, the greatest of them all, Napolean Bonaparte, have always prided themselves on being the friends of the subjugated and deprived and the champions of liberty and freedom. They have always resisted oppression and tyranny.

They must not stop now.

The wave of ethnic nationalism rising throughout the world, including countries like Holland, the United Kingdom, France, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, Israel, Germany, Turkey, Austria and, increasingly, Nigeria cannot be resisted or played down.

And in Nigeria the more of our people that our collective ethnic oppressors kill, the more that wave will rise.

The right to take pride in our ethnicity and invoke the principle of self-determination cannot be denied.

We reject the concept of globalisation and the enthronement of a new world order. We reject the concept of an artificial, man-made, multi-cultural, multi-religious, mongrel mega-nation that is made up of ethnic and religious incompatibles.

We reject the notion that we must bury our ethnicity, forget our differences, arrest our development, discard our values and enthrone the idea of a strange and complicated hybrid nation where we are expected to live with and accomodate those that hate our faith, despise our people, scorn our values and that rape, maim and kill our loved ones and compatriots in the name of religion, conquest, land, cows and cattle.

The truth is that no force in hell or on earth can stop the rise and establishment of the sovereign state of Biafra, Oduduwa or any other ethnic nation that will one day be carved out of what is presently known as Nigeria.

This is what the German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler once described as "Mein Kampf", meaning "my struggle".  This is my hope. This is my desire. This is my dream.

In conclusion I call for restraint from both sides in the Hausa Fulani and Yoruba conflict in Ile-Ife. I call for the restoration of peace and I pray that the souls of all those that were slaughtered rest in perfect peace.

God bless and be with the people of Ile-Ife and the Yoruba nation now and forever. 


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