FEA­TURES Ruga: How clashes and end­less mi­gra­tions threaten the no­mad’s camp

Daily Trust - - FEA­TURE -

While agree­ing that the camps are re­duc­ing in num­ber in the area, he says that he does not have money to build a new dwelling. This ex­plains why “I now live with my fam­ily un­der a tree.” Kire Ardo also nar­rates a sim­i­lar story. He too lives at Bakin Kogi, hav­ing been ex­pelled from Lafia East by the mili­tia. He also lives un­der a tree in the new lo­ca­tion, with his 2 wives and 19 chil­dren “I didn’t build a new camp, be­cause it is ex­pen­sive to do so. Be­sides I lost 26 cows and 42 goats, so my fi­nances are in bad shape.”

Then there are those who con­struct the camps whom Daily Trust met at Bahyano. They too have a story to tell. Jib­rin Ibrahim has been build­ing camps for 11 years . He says that it could take up to 2 months to con­struct a camp of 4 rooms, and agrees that there are fewer camps to­day than they were a lit­tle while ago. This is be­cause they have ei­ther been burnt down,or the own­ers fled. Ab­dul­lahi Adamu and Mo­hammed Ahmed are two other builders who also share the view that the Fu­lani camps are re­duc­ing both in vis­i­bil­ity and num­ber.

The world is chang­ing Ar­chi­tect Idris Isa Bawa, who has done re­search on the ar­chi­tec­ture of no­madic so­ci­eties, ex­plains “The camp is chang­ing. It is not as com­mon as it used to be, be­cause of so many fac­tors. Also, those who build the camps are not as nu­mer­ous as they used to be, and most of the no­mads are turn­ing from the way of life they used to know, ow­ing to ur­ban­i­sa­tion and mod­erni­sa­tion. Among the younger no­mads, it is no longer fash­ion­able to live in a camp, es­pe­cially those whose camps were ear­lier de­stroyed dur­ing com­mu­nal clashes. Th­ese ones think it is bet­ter to start mov­ing into ur­ban cen­tres where they will adopt mod­ern cul­tures.”

He speaks on the is­sue of change as a grow­ing cul­tural force in the world at present “The whole world is chang­ing,and the camp will grad­u­ally be trans­formed into mod­ern houses in a re­serve. Be­cause of the need for con­stant move­ment by the no­mads, by the time you don’t move, you have to build per­ma­nent struc­tures. This is what is hap­pen­ing in some parts of the north. Some places in the north used to be camps, but they have grown into big­ger set­tle­ments be­cause the need to move no longer ex­ists. For in­stance, there is the ex­am­ple of Sabon Gari Na Bordo in Toro lo­cal gov­ern­ment of Bauchi state. In 2001 when there was ethno-re­li­gious crises in Plateau State, a num­ber of no­mads moved there from plateau. If you go to Sabon Gari Na Bordo now,you will see houses built with alu­minium roofs. It is grad­u­ally be­com­ing a town. This ex­am­ple shows that a camp can van­ish and be­come a big­ger, new set­tle­ment. This ac­tu­ally hap­pens and it is cor­rect and this is the nor­mal process. On the other hand fre­quent mi­gra­tions mean that the camp which hasn’t reached the stage of grow­ing into a large set­tle­ment, is also van­ish­ing. For in­stance, if the herder is left with some herds af­ter a crises, he may de­cide to go into some re­mote ar­eas, and live by a tree in a for­est, hop­ing that af­ter a few years, he will re­cover his cows and start life afresh. But some of them may for­get about the no­madic way of life al­to­gether, to go and set­tle down in a city or in an ur­ban cen­tre.

Like Bawa above, Has­san also thinks that the camp is threat­ened “So many is­sues neg­a­tively af­fect the camp to­day in Nige­ria. When there is no school around them, they mi­grate to a place where they can en­roll their chil­dren in schools. If there is no re­serve, the no­mads will also mi­grate, be­cause the avail­able space wont con­tain them. If they set­tle in a place, and their an­i­mals are in­creas­ing and there are farm­lands around them which are also be­ing used, then there will be no space for the an­i­mals to graze, and the no­mads will nat­u­rally leave.” He says that many no­mads have aban­doned their camps be­cause of the ef­fects of rustling,and moved to the city to live a more set­tled ex­is­tence. On those who con­struct the ruga, who are also key to the sur­vival of the dwelling “The skill of con­struct­ing the camp is col­laps­ing. This is be­cause those who can build the camp are now mov­ing to the city, where they cer­tainly won’t con­struct the camp.” ‘Many non Fulbe have never

seen a camp’ Has­san now shows how vi­o­lence trig­gers mi­gra­tion and af­fects the camp, an ex­am­ple be­ing the post elec­tion vi­o­lence in Kaduna state in 2011 “In south­ern Kaduna where I come from, when post elec­tion vi­o­lence oc­cured in 2011, a large num­ber of camps to­tal­ing 70 house­holds mi­grated to dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions. Some went to Bauchi, Nasarawa, Abuja and other places.”

But Has­san has also no­ticed a sig­nif­i­cant change in the camp “The ar­chi­tec­ture of the camp has been chang­ing.It used to be a more per­ma­nent struc­ture, but on ac­count of con­stant clashes which have grown over the years, the no­mads have re­sorted to the con­struc­tion of thatch dwellings which are eas­ier to dis­man­tle.” Dr. Baba also pro­vides rea­sons for the camps de­cline “Be­cause of pop­u­la­tion pres­sure and the fact of ur­ban­i­sa­tion the camp is threat­ened, and so it is de­creas­ing in num­ber, as well as in size. Fi­nally, the camp will dis­ap­pear, and even to­day many non Fulbe have never seen a Walbe or camp. At best of times, the camp is tem­po­rary. Even­tu­ally, it grows into a set­tle­ment, just as in Sokoto where there are set­tle­ments which be­gan as camps.”

Sav­ing the camp Bawa re­calls that many no­mads are keen on re­tain­ing the camp as it is, but with some changes “most of the no­madic Fu­lani want to pre­serve the camp, but they de­sire a mod­ern way of do­ing the ruga. My re­search pro­posed mod­ern ma­te­ri­als for the con­struc­tion of the camp. Th­ese items will be lighter in weight, in­stead of ma­te­ri­als like grass which are hard to pre­serve. I sold the idea to the no­mads and the re­sponse from them was good. So far,my idea has not been trans­lated to re­al­ity, but I hope it will come to fruition soon.”

He states “The camp plays a very im­por­tant role in the life of a no­mad,and pre­serv­ing the camp means pre­serv­ing pu­laaku, and in pre­serv­ing pu­laaku, you are help­ing the gen­eral so­ci­ety, be­cause leav­ing the no­mads to aban­don Pu­laaku has im­pli­ca­tions for the larger so­ci­ety it­self.” Bawa says “The fu­ture of the camp de­pends on the sus­tain­abil­ity of the way of life of the herder.If the Fu­lani no­mad is com­pelled to aban­don that sys­tem, then nat­u­rally the camp may van­ish, but if the no­mad is al­lowed to con­tinue with his way of life,then the camp will be pre­served.”

On the way for­ward, Mo­male, speak­ing against a back­ground of the col­lapse of the ex­tended fam­ily sys­tem, adds “The smaller fam­ily unit emerg­ing to­day can be nur­tured to pro­vide the guid­ance that the head of the house­holds were pro­vid­ing in the past.”

He points out “The head of the house­hold who used to pro­vide moral up­bring­ing, train­ing and ori­en­ta­tion, is no longer there. Also, the par­ents are not ad­e­quately tak­ing over the role of the head of the camp, and the role of the grand­par­ents, that is the fe­males, who sup­ported the head of the camp, no longer ex­ists. To ad­dress the prob­lem is to sup­port the no­mads to recog­nise their new roles in an ever chang­ing en­vi­ron­ment, and to pro­mote ed­u­ca­tion among the pas­toral fam­i­lies.”

Jalido thinks that if the no­mads will be helped to re­side in graz­ing re­serves, their camps will not only be pro­tected, they will en­dure “Graz­ing re­serves should be set up for the no­mads. The re­serve will have a vet­eri­nary clinic, dams, schools, doc­tors and am­ple space for the camps. The camp will flour­ish in the re­serve, rather than van­ish as we see hap­pen­ing to­day.”

Daneji camp near Ajaokuta, Kogi State. This serene set­ting is slowly fad­ing as a re­sult of many fac­tors. Inset: Herder has built a new camp with palm leaves.

Many camps were set ablaze dur­ing re­cent con­flicts in Nasarawa State.

‘Hav­ing lost our camps, we now live un­der the trees.’

Shuaibu: ‘I dis­agree. The camps are in­creas­ing in num­ber.’

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