Story Telling

Esther Chizaram Ngele: The charms around your waist



akwa gi n’achomu okwu,

onye isi kanda,

gbaya egbe na afo,

tuaa! Onwu ola!

This was a chant we sang with joy and happiness, as we watch the cattlemen make their way across the streets. The cows would moo and chew on grasses.

With their dewlaps swinging as the Brahman swings from side to side. Their horns in opposite directions seeking for routes to pasture. We run out from our huts, dropping the tray of melon in haste; we watch in glee with excitement. We were innocent little children; but our hearts drums when we have to share a passage with them.

We are terrified! Fear that those horns would seek after our lives and Pierce our hearts. “Don’t wear red!” We’ve been told, as that would rattle them and cause them to attack.

But Mallam was always diligent to overtake them and haul them back to lane. Out of our way and we, out of danger. They cared. Cattle rearers supplying beef for stew and soups for our homes and parties. Businessmen.

For years we sang for the cattle until we were grown enough to leave that to the next generation. Who sadly have no idea about the lyrics nor what it meant.

Security is the ultimate goal, not because it has been enshrined in section 14 CFRN, but because it has always formed the basis of it all. The society, man’s way of living with his kind, in hopes of preservation of life and property.

Protection of rights unalienable Locke says, preservation from our own hardened ways; solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short says Hobbes.

But for whatever reason it maybe, coherence has to be unanimous not labored. But for Luggard, it was for convenience sake and easy administration.

The Southwest in it’s law abidingness for the principles of justice and security, acted on demand. Amotekun was conceived and birthed. But on it’s birth certificate, no paternity to attest to it’s legitimacy. Power division between the federal and state government on the issues of security. Which is resting on the exclusive list.

The herdsmen are now a concern or a special specie of them; the Fulani herdsmen. “They have charms around their waists!” We’ve been told. Every hunter does. They say. Attacks on farm crops and attack on human lives and settlements.

It is now on top priority list of security issues amongst Boko Haram insurgency, Militancy and vandalism.

The Yoruba Council of Elders supports the eviction from their land, the Fulani herdsmen who are allegedly believed to be causing havoc in their states. The Northern Elders Forum, rely on their rights and would not bow to any form of intimidation.

An ultimatum is given, but who is he that speaks when the master has not spoken? Well, this is how we identify ourselves. We are always branded with one thing or the other.

On a large scale, by race. In Nigeria, by tribe; ethnicity and religion. They knew we were never one and we too know it sadly.

On the basis of these, we fall back to the thing around our waists. Charms! Juju!!

African Traditional Religion, embellished with marks and charms. Warlords on each side of the ring. We are all fighting intimidation and oppression but we are also sending a postcard for ethnic war. God forbid!

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