1. ' Experience has shown that when change is denied or too long delayed, violence will break out here and there, not that men planned or willed it, but that the accumulated grievances of the past erupt with volcanic fury .' -Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
2. ' The Ghananian (Ghanaian) is like cattle Fulani; he has no fixed address .' - A judge in Minna, the Capital of Niger State in Nigeria, denying bail to Ghanaians on trial.
When I was growing up and attended school at the Adansi Brofoyedru Methodist Primary School, the local postal agency had a messenger simply known and called, 'Mfruani', obviously a corruption of 'Fulani'. Yes, he was a Fulani.
I remember that he was slim and light-skinned. He had a bicycle on which he rode to collect the mail from Adansi Fomena. I think letters to the villagers were often addressed as 'via Fomena' or 'via Bekwai, Ashanti.
One legend that sprang up around Mr. 'Fulani' was that he had the power to appear and disappear as he went on his work of bringing in the mail.
I was too young to know or care about Mr. 'Fulani'. What I know, and recall, was that he had a child, a girl by one of the Adansi Brofoyedu women. The little girl grew up to be a very beautiful woman. She is still alive, but Mr. 'Fulani' is dead.
It was during this period that I regularly saw a herd of cattle followed by white egrets as they (the cattle) grazed on an abandoned football field near my father's house. Like most other boys in the village, I feared cattle, but the white egrets fascinated me, as they followed the cattle and picked off ticks from their bodies.
Why this long, apparently irrelevant preamble? Well, I want to establish the fact that long before I was born, Fulani lived among us, and that cattle farming has always been part of our agricultural endeavours. So why this hostility towards Fulanis that has been building up and culminating in events in Agogo, and the tragic slaughter of Fulanis in Zamashegu village in the Gushegu District of the Northern Region?
By the last count, 13 or more Fulanis had been killed, with about 17 injured. The number of the dead Fulanis could rise as the days go by.
I have not quoted Kwame Nkrumah to justify the reaction of the people of Agogo and the people of Zamashegu. I merely wish to lay emphasis on the point that for every action, there is bound to be a reaction.
By all accounts, the people of Agogo did not suddenly decide that they could no longer live with the Fulani herdsmen amongst them.
Like most communities in Ghana, Agogo is noted for its farming activities, with farm produce like plantain and water melon featuring very prominently.
The spokespersons for the 'rebellious' youth talked of Agogo youth returning from Accra to settle and farm. For a long time now, something had been happening.
The allegations against the Fulani herdsmen included the massive destruction of farm produce, especially water melon, which the Fulani herdsmen split open so their cattle could eat them.
The Fulanis were also accused of murdering people, especially, those farmers who used weedicides. The Fulani impudently said that killing the weeds means their cattle had no weeds to feed on.
The Fulani were accused of raping women, including pregnant women, before the very eyes of their husbands. As a result, some husbands had divorced these unfortunate wives.
In fact, the livelihoods and, literally, the lives of the people were in grave danger of being extinguished. Indeed, it is interesting to note that Nana Akuoko Sarpong, the Omanhene of the Agogo Traditional area, and his Traditional Council, were also forced to take to court those herdsmen and their cattle, for failing to abide by the terms and agreement entered into with them.
Under the agreement, the Fulani herdsmen and the cattle owners were to fence off the cattle and also dig bore holes to supply water to the animals. The terms of the agreement had not been complied with, hence the court action.
Whole sections of the Agogo people could not wait for the outcome of the court. They decided to take the law into their own hands by banning the holding of funerals in Agogo.
They allowed bereaved families to bury their dead and nothing else. Armed with catapults, these 'vigilantes' accompanied the bereaved families to the cemeteries, and brought them back to ensure that their 'order' was complied with. It is significant to note that even the Omanhene himself could not perform the final funeral rites of his close relative, said to be his benevolent uncle. That is how serious the matter was.Continued...