“The apprentice burglar whose father instigates to burgle a house, does not bother with the niceties of gingerly inserting himself. Out of zeal to make a good impression, he smashes down the front door with his bare feet.”
- A localproverb
It was easily the biggest congregation of cattle ever seen by many in Nigeria. Even according to some herdsmen themselves, they had never quite seen anything like it in all their years of cattle herding.
From all the corners of Africa they came. From the slopes of the Futa Jallon Mountain they came. From the southernmost tips of Burundi and Rwanda they came. From thewestern shores of the Congo River they came. From the southernmost fringes of the Sahara desert they came.
They all converged at a certain remote location in the Middle Belt of the country. They were gathered for the 1st All Africa Convention of Herdsmen hosted rather triumphantly by the Nigerian Chapter.
Some onlookers said they counted thousands of cattle. Other onlookers said they were wrong and that they counted tens of thousands of cattle. Many others were ready to swear on their ancestors’ graves that there were hundreds of thousands of cattle. A few bold ones said there must have been several million heads of cattle. Indeed it was a great spectacle to behold.
Although the herdsmen’s convention, was to last for one week, by the end of the first day all the grass and farmlands in the convention area had been wiped out. Panic seized some of the foreign herdsmen as they wondered if their cattle were going to chew their curds for a whole week. They approached the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) members to express their fears. But the (LOC) terrorist herdsmen laughed away their fears.
“Brothers fret not yourselves nor let your hearts be wearied about grass,” they reassured theirforeign cousins. “Look we have in our possession some wonder grass seeds which our country Nigeria recently imported from Brazil. In fact one of the prime reasons why we decided to host this first ever continental convention of herdsmenis to demonstrate and show-off the latest advances in nomadic cattle herding in which we are the worldwide leaders.”
“Our government encouraged us to demonstrate to you our cousins from far and near the potentials of this wonder grass called the ‘All Persons for Cattle – Wonder Grass’ or ‘APC-Wonder Grass’ for short. Look when we scatter the seeds of this grass in our fields this night, by tomorrow morning, they would have germinated and grown taller than your cattle.That is why the pay-off slogan for this Continental Convention is ‘Wonder Grass Colonies, Happy Cattle!’“
“So brothers, eat, drink, dance, relax and be merry. Please enjoy our government’s hospitality. But please tell those of our brethren who are armed not to forget to ensure that the safety catches of their AK-47 rifles are well applied. We do not want to see uncontrolled rifles going off rather indiscriminately and killing our beloved cattle while we make merry.”
“Look we have lined up a rich program of activities to make this Convention a memorable one. We shall have some technical presentations by some accomplished resource persons. Topics to be presented include “How to resist cattle rustlers deep inside a bush colony” to be presented by one of the brethren who is a renowned military tactician. Also we have “How toprotect your cattle from wild animals like lions and hyenas.”We also have other interesting topics like“How to treat snake bites inside the bush” and “How to graze upon native girls and women so that they would leave their families and husbands behind and elope with you.”
“To round up the Convention we shall have a ‘Miss Cow Pageant Competition’ for the most beautiful cow in this convention and a ‘Mr. Bull Fighting Competition’ for the strongest bull around. Needless to say, there are many prizes lined up for the cattle crowned respectively as Miss Cow -2018and Mr. Bull – 2018as well as their owners. In deed one of the prizes is that Mr. Bull – 2018 will have the opportunity of mountingMiss Cow – 2018several times during this Convention.”
“I do not think it will be out of place to expect that the first product of the tanglebetween Mr. Bull – 2018 and Miss Cow – 2018 shall be presented to our Grand Patron,Ali Banza as a token of appreciation for all the support we have received from him till date.”
“Also, we propose with the support and approval of all the brethren here present to crown our own Ali Banza as the Grand Patron of all African Terrorist Herdsmen. I hope you will be in support of this gallantgesture?”
There was a thunderous roar of approval from the thousands of herdsmen present. The clapping was even more deafening and prolonged. Immediately afterwards the intensity and tempo of the dancing and merriment increased without restraint.
Under the cover of the stampeding cattleas well as the chanting of thedancing herdsmen and the universallyhilarious commotion that night, nobody noticed or paid any attention to a shadowy group of 40 terrorist herdsmen holding a secret meeting inside a large tent.
The leader of the Gang of 40 Terrorist Herdsmen was addressing his comrades.
“Brothers, remember we are being invited to expand into the South and Middle belt of this country by our own Ali Banza. Unlike the ancient Arab, Ali Baba whobattled against 40 thieves in the 1001 Arabian Nights, Ali Banza is fully on our side. Ali Banza is solidly behind us, the Gang of 40 Terrorist Herdsmen. Just as the head thief in the 1001 Arabian Nights hid his comrades inside large oil jars, Ali Banza has agreed to hide all of us right inside the cattle colonies bill already winging its way speedily through the Parliament.”
“Now so that there will not be much debate about the merits or demerits of the cattle colonies bill, you herdsmen must command your respective foot soldiers to intensify the violent attacks against peasants and natives in the middle and southern parts of this country immediately. Do not worry, the head of the Nigerian Intelligence Service is an open sympathizer of our cause. The Head of the Criminal Investigating Force is fighting for tenure elongation so he will take instructions from us to preserve his position. As for the various Heads of the Nigerian Fighting Forces, theyhave been given standing instructions and rules of engagement by Ali Banza. Needless to say it is 100% in our favor.”
“The current roadmap now is to create enough violence in the interim while the cattle colonies bill is in the Parliament so that it may be passed quickly in a state of panic and without much scrutiny by the Parliamentarians. Our task has been made easier by the fact that most Parliamentarians from our target areas are criminals with a rich dossier of fraudulent activities. If they prove too stubborn Ali Banza shall threaten them with immediate prosecution for being in possession of stolen financial goods.”
“Our greatest danger however is the alternate idea of setting up cattle ranches which has beenfloating around in the media. We must stop this silly idea which will nullify our expansionist plans by ensuring that either the grazing reserves casketor the cattle colonies coffinis purchasedevermore quickly before people realize what they have bought into. Always remember that Ali Banzahimself has promised to hide each one of you inside whichever of the casket or coffin is purchased shortly by the National Parliament for the 36 statesand the Federal Capital Area. Once eitheris purchased and copies of the grazing coloniescasket or cattle colonies coffinhave been interred in therespective States, you are to emerge from your hiding places within them and assume your rightful position. Yes each one of you shall become the Amir (Ruler) of his own Nigerian state territory.”
“I as your leader shall be the Grand Amir of Abuja, while I hereby nominate Ali Banza himself to be the Grand Patron of all of us the Gang of Forty Terrorist Herdsmen. In my capacity as the Grand Amir Abuja, I shall remain in close contact with Ali Banza to ensure that everything is going on smoothly.”
“For the first 6 months after your installation, all you terrorist herdsmen must lie low and study your respective terrains and localities. Please if you need more manpower, feel free to send for the brethren in such far-flung areas as Central African Republic, Cameroun, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, etc. to reinforce your ranks. In fact that is one of the reasons why we are holding this Convention for all African Herdsmen so that you get to know them personally”
“Do not worry about passport or entry visa into Nigeria for the mercenaries. The Minister of Internal Business who is our sympathizer says our external cousins shall not be molested at the borders and shall be granted free passage into the country with all the assorted assault tools that they can conceivably bring along with them.”
“After one year of peace following the purchase and interment of the grazing reserves casket or cattle colony coffin, please you are instructed to start encroaching into the neighboring farms beyond your specially allotted grazing areas or cattle colonies under the bill. Infact you are advised to resume your openly hostile acts once more with increasing violence. A second bill for the expansion of our allotted grazing reserves or cattle colonies in exchange for peace shall then be presented to the Parliament consequent upon your acts of extreme violence.”
“This second bill shall increase the grazing areas or cattle colonies five-fold. Once this is achieved, please cease all hostilities for another period of 1 year before resuming your violence once more. We shall incrementally increase our grazing areas or cattle colonies until we drive all the indigenous peoples of Nigeria into the Lagos Lagoon, the Atlantic Ocean or slavery in Libya whichever they choose.I hope I am well understood?”
“Yes, yes, yes Grand Amir of Abuja,” all the 39 herdsmen echoed in approval.
At this point the Amir Designate Aba, raised his hands. “Grand Amir Abuja, I have a question.”“Yes go ahead,” replied the Terrorist Herdsman-in-Chief.”
“How do we counter the antics and ideas of Ali Banza’sbusybody maid a.k.a Social Media who is vehemently opposed to the passage of either the grazing reserves or cattle colonies bill and is suggesting that in addition to wealthy citizens establishing ranches, each local government should establish at least one livestock market where indigent herdsmen and pastoralists may keep their cattle and then buy grass cut from the surrounding fields by the indigenous youths and natives.”
“Thank you for that question Amir Designate Aba,” replied the terrorist herdsman-in-chief.”
“I can tell you that maid Social Media’s ideas are giving us sleepless nights. That is why we want to rush the passage of the grazing reserves or cattle colonies bill quickly. For this reason, Ali Banzarecently met with the heads of parliament and that is also partly why I am asking you terrorist herdsmen to increase your violence until the bill is passed.”
“We do not want to encourage debate into all these Social Media’suseless ideas as people may begin to see some merit in them and thereby foil our plans. Unlike the people who just say that ranching is the answer to the Herdsmen vs Natives conflict which by the way we can easily counter by the counter-argument that it is elitist since ordinary herdsmen do not have the resources to acquire ranches, this foolishmaid Social Mediaisfurther suggesting that each local government be encouraged to open livestock markets.”
“Note that Social Media calls it ‘livestock market’ and under the constitution, markets majorly fallunder the jurisdiction of local governments. So our members can never claim possession of those land ares in the future since they will be paying rent for the use of the markets to the Local Government. Moreover this ‘livestock markets’ idea deflates our argument about the marginalization of the ordinary herdsmen since the livestock markets shall be open to all.”
“In addition our members shall be forced to pay tax to the local government, pay for overnight security men for their livestock and be forced to rent houses from the natives. Nowe do not want this. We want our members to live in well-defined colonies which shall be ours for eternity.”
“Our way forward is to use the Members of Parliament to achieve our goals. When these native peoples sell their votes and consciences and elect people without conscience or scruples as their representatives they fail to realize the magnitude of the harm and damage they are doing to their own interests.”
“You should all note that unscrupulous elected representatives are vulnerable to either their own greed or to blackmail over their past misdeeds. Either way the native peoples’ interests must suffer. Unlike us terrorist herdsmen who are always loyal to our own group interests and are invulnerable to blackmail, these infidels are loyal only to their pockets and therefore always vulnerable to blackmail.”
“That is why Ali Banzais unperturbed. He knows we have all these people where we want them and that is by their balls. Their representatives will either vote for the grazing reserves or cattle colonies bill or be prepared to go to jail because of their past corrupt and criminal offences.”
“But we must do our own part to hasten the process without interference from extraneous ideas such as ranching and livestock markets. This we can only do through secrecy. Note that not all of our herdsmen brothers are as crooked as us. You know many foolish herdsmen are just simple, naïve and innocent. So do not disclose our plans to anyone outside our group and never to the ordinary law abiding and simple herdsmen you see dancing outside.”
“Regarding secrecy, another major problem we have is this Ali Banza’smaid Social Media. Ali Banza says this woman Social Media is uncontrollable. All it takes to expose our plans is one lunatic friend of Social Media armed with a computer or cell phone plus internet connection and a few hundred words of Turenchi (English Language).”
“Like I said we have the members of Parliament under our control. Through the brethren in office, we can control the regular media with padded envelopes. In fact the brethren in position have already padded the 2018budget allocations for this very purpose. But how can we control this stubborn maidcalled Social Media who exposes all our plans?”
One of the herdsmen raised his hands. The Chief Herdsman nodded to him. “Yes Number 32, what is your suggestion regarding this dilemma?”
“My suggestion is that since the friends ofSocial Media need electricity to operate computers as well as to charge phones, we should ensure that electricity supply across the nation falls to 0 MW and that there is no fuel (gas) at the pump stations. That way friends of Social Media cannot post new articles and even theydo, the people will not be able to read their posts. This will solve the problem once and for all.”
“Excellent idea Number 32. I must commend your ingenuity. You see this is one of the reasons why Nigerians must never see the light. We shall tell them that we intend to provide 10,000 MW of electricity but we shall deliver 0 MW. We must ‘almajirize’ the nation and turn Nigeria into a nation of wanderingmigrants who have to beg for food in far flung places like Libya to survive. Almajiris do what they are told provided they are given a little food to eat.”
“That is why we have a major problem with the Red Eboes. Unlike most other Nigerians, the Red Eboes are hardly organized. Each one of them is a law unto himself. They do not have recognized leaders that we can deal with to ensure their obedience. It is no wonder their ancestors gave the British colonialists so much problem. So much so that their women were married out to Ashanti slaves in Jamaican sugar plantations by the British to dilute their rebellious spirit. It is why Ali Banza’s troops recently danced ‘pythonically’ against the Red Eboes. I understand Python Dance II is on the way.”
“And this brings me to the grazing policy when we undertake aggressive actions.”
“For the women you encounter in the bush, you are enjoined to graze them below their belts so that they may yield fruit for us. For the men you are to graze-off their necks. The standing policy of the terrorist action is ‘graze upon the women and graze away the men.’ You may also kidnap the women and export them into your harem at home.”
One herdsmanwhose romantic preference was for men however complained loudly that he was being marginalized by the new grazing policy since he would have no ‘organically conscious’ male captive to graze upon. Having contemplated the matter intently and realizing that this particular herdsman despite his awkward romantic orientation was a man of valor, proven in battle, the Leader of the gang decided to make an exception.
“Okay, okay Number 13,” he said. “Those of you who have reverse romantic orientation are allowed to graze upon the male captives on their abutments. But you must immediately afterwards graze-off their necks. Remember the policy, no hostages caught in the bush may be seizedwhile organically conscious, except those with visibly protruding breastswho might bear our fruit in future and help to dilute the bloodline and resistance of the infidels.”
“Very good. Brethren I also want to notify you that I have arranged special syndicated break-out sessions meant exclusively for our gang during this convention. Topics to be covered include ‘How to organize a successful kidnap’ to be presented by one of our international brethren who is a renowned practitioner of kidnapping with many years of experience with Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM). Apart from the hard skills of carrying out a kidnap we shall also be learning from him about the soft skills of negotiating successfully for higher ransom payments from the victim’s families.”
We also have a special syndicated break-out session exclusively for our gang titled ‘How to graze-off people’s neck without attracting attention’ to be presented by a well-qualified resource person who worked for many years as an operative with Boko Haram and later graduated into ISIS. Do you have any other questions? I see there is none.”
“Okay great herdsmen – the gang of 40.The battle cry has been sounded. The conquest is on. Go back to your respective territories and practice extreme violence whileawaiting the signal to come forward for embedment in the grazing reserves bill casket or the cattle colonies bill coffin at the ripe time.”
With that admonition from their leader, the 40 herdsmen hugged one another exuberantly and melted away into the dark recesses of the night to join in the ongoing festive celebrations of the Herdsmen Convention.
Regarding the Convention itself, it was a huge success and a great spectacle. There was plenty of talking points ranging from the hillocks of cattle dung dotting the landscape, to the impressive performance of the APC-Wonder Grass which ensured that no cattle went hungry throughout the 1 week long convention. There was also an orgy ofclimbing up and climbing down going on among the hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic and well fed cattle present.
However what puzzled international observers most was how the herdsmen would be able to identify their individual cattle herds at the end of the Convention since hundreds of thousands of cattle had mingled thoroughly among themselves.
To the amazement of the observers at the end of the convention however, once each Herdsman packed his belongings and made a whistling sound, all his cattle separated themselves from the huge mass of cattle and followed him, their rightful owner.There was not an iota of confusion arising from a distraught herdsman searching for his cattle. In fact not one single head of cattle got missing.Talk of the wonders of nomadic cattle herding.
• (Writer’s note:- This updated piece was first published in April 2016 as Ali Banza and the Forty Herdsmen.)
Anthony Chuka Konwea, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, MNSE, FNIStructE, MNICE.
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (opinions)