Hes and endless eaten the nomad’s camp
or terms for Rugga.In the north west, it is known as Hoggo or Hodddore. In the north east it takes the form of Walde or Welbe, while in the north central it is known as Hodhere.”
While agreeing that there has been a marked decline in the number of camps in the country today, Dr. Baba adds “The word ruga is a Hausa word for Fulani encampment, especially those of the nomadic Fulani. Among the Fulbe, there is no single word for ruga, the temporary encampment, because the Fulani pastoral concept of the camp,is different from that of the Hausa.” But what are the reasons which explain the collapse in the number of camps today?
Epic collapse Occasional conflicts between the Fulani and some of their neighbours, have collapsed the number of camps. Mohammed Hussaini says that the first Ombatse crises occurred in Nasarawa state in January 2013, and it is an example of the sort of conflict which can erode the camps. According to Hussaini, who is the Nasarawa state Secretary, MACBAN, more than 200 nomads were killed in the attack, while 10,000 cows were lost. He says that 2,000 camps were destroyed during the first attack. The second Ombatse crises started in Fadama Bauna located in Lafia east local government. Over 40,000 nomads were sacked during the violence, 8,000 cows were lost and 2,000 camps were burnt down, Hussaini tells me, bringing the total number of destroyed camps during the crises to 4,000.
On the declining number of the camps, he says “First of all the population of camps in Nigeria is reducing. This is due to ethnic clashes and also as a result of the outbreak of diseases which make the nomads to migrate all of a sudden. When diseases affect our animals, the nomads normally flee from that place. They then set up a camp at the new destination. But they don’t set up camp again and they now live beneath a tree in the new location. The nomads move, but they won’t set up a camp again, and there are many of such nomads who live today with their families under a tree.”
He comments on forces affecting the number of camps “Another factor which reduces the population of the camp is climate change. People migrate from north to south as a result of changes in the weather pattern, which sometimes brings excessive rainfall all of a sudden, or spells of dryness, and migration as a result of this, naturally and inevitably affects the camp. When there’s less rain, and no grass for the cows, the nomads move southwards or out of the country.”
He states “There are fewer camps in northern Nigeria today, and some nomads have moved to Ghana, Togo and Benin. This movement is also as a result of insecurity in northern Nigeria. For instance, you cannot sleep when you keep on hearing the sound of guns, and people will depart to places of greater security.”
Next, he draws attention to a problem usually noticed “Some of those living in camps don’t even have nomadic schools. The camp may have up to 2,000 persons living in it, but it may not have a nomadic school.” If the camps are destroyed, so much is immediately lost among the nomads, he seems to be saying.
Momale speaks on what is lost when a camp no longer exists “First of all the foundation of Fulbe discipline and culture is the basis of the ruga.One implication of the loss of the ruga is that this will affect cultural upbringing, and lead to change of values of Fulbe society, with implications for social behaviour, discipline and enterprise, especially livestock enterprise. Then there is potential reduction in the available number of cows in the country, and this means that Nigeria will depend on the importation of livestock and livestock products. Next, the opportunity for development deriving from livestock products, such as dairy development and veterinary services would be lost or halted. Also, the heritage of rural architecture will vanish with the disappearance of the camp. UNESCO did some work on Fulani culture some years ago, but nothing similar to that effort is being done today by any group.”
Burnt down But let us turn to the field in Nasarawa state, and what do we find in parts of Lafia east, Nasarawa Eggon as well as Wamba local governments? Here are empty burnt out camps with blackened walls, and these stretch as far as the eye can see, with a few sections standing like a physical dirge. Maize fields have sprung up around the camp. In many places a circle of burnt sticks indicate that a camp once flourished at the spot. Altogether, we visited 30 burnt camps of the nomads. A few nomads gather to narrate their stories. Jabo Ardo, a herder, is telling the story of how he, who used to live in a big camp, now lives beneath a tree at Bakin Kogi, with his 2 wives and 10 children “In August last year the militia burned my camp down. This occurred at 9.00 am. I was not at home, but my whole family ran away when they arrived. Now, we are living beneath a tree at Bakin Kogi.”
nd climate change, have pushed psing its numbers.
‘Those who construct the camps are losing their skills.’
Hussaini: ‘4,000 camps were destroyed during the Ombatse crises.’
Maidubu: ‘We have lost all our camps.’