click to watch video: https://youtu.be/C93bCvki34s
Boko Haram; the terrorist group located mostly in NE Nigeria.
Fulani herdsmen conflict with farmers mostly in central Nigeria.
Oil conflicts mostly in the Niger Delta.
I want to focus on the one most recently in the news when in late June over 200 villagers were reportedly killed and their homes and churches burned by armed Fulani herdsmen.
|photo credit http://canng.org/news-and-events/news/173-nigerian-church-protest-killing-of-christians|
This is not a new problem: In 2014, more than 1,200 people lost their lives, according to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index. This made the Fulani's the world's fourth deadliest militant group, the report said.
Hundreds of people have been killed in 2018, and the tit-for-tat violence has been ongoing for several years. A report from 2016 suggested Nigeria's pastoral conflict was the cause of more deaths that year than Boko Haram. It seems this trend continues: More people have died in this crisis this year than at the hands of the better known Boko Haram.
As you might imagine, the reasons these conflicts originally started and why they continue are quite complicated. They all have religious, political and ethnic origins… Despite all the stories of ethnic violence, we know that not all Fulani are violent. In my west African travels I have experienced the delight of Fulani hospitality and friendship (as well as wonderful friendship and hospitality from Christians and Muslims). Despite the truth that many Christians are being killed and many churches burned, we also can imagine not all christians are innocent in the conflicts. Despite the fact that many Fulani herders are Muslim, we also know that not all Muslims are violent. (And not all Fulani are Muslim). There is a wonderful story on BBC of "The Nigerian imam who saved Christians from Muslim gunmen" https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-44657339
This imam saved hundreds of mostly Christian villagers who ran to him for safety as their neighboring village was burned and attacked… This Muslim cleric immediately came to their aid, hiding a total of 262 men, women and children in his home and mosque!
I've read some articles which make this sound like only a religious war … Yes it is that, but it is more than that:
Farmers and herdsmen clash… sometimes the Fulani herders attack other Fulani farmers, Muslims are killed and Mosques burned.
In times of chaos like this, bad guys take advantage: Highway bandits and robbers also take advantage of the situation…. And the Fulani are blamed.
A couple things which remind me of our global village embedded in these news stories…
One is that fake news is prevalent in these situations… https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-44655148 Sure, the term fake news might be new, but rumors amidst terror isn't new. I remember when we were contemplating evacuating our home in Ghana (pre-internet days) during a local war, it was quite difficult to know which stories were true. But similar to now, we turned to BBC news for reliable reporting.
The 2nd thing that I noticed is the local protests. The Nigerian Church is now involved along with others protesting the violence! Most Nigerians want to live in peace and safety. Don't we all?
|photo credit: http://canng.org/news-and-events/news/173-nigerian-church-protest-killing-of-christians|
People are asking the government to do something… to protect the borders (reportedly not all the bad guys are even Nigerian) and possibly help the herders to set up ranches which some hope could bring peace between farmers and herders who compete for limited land resources.
The difficulty level of helping these semi nomadic cattle herders settle down in Government provided ranches seems quite high to me… Some estimates say it could take 10 years and cost upwards of $500 million.
What can we do to help?
Let's pray for everyone affected by this senseless violence and for peace to prevail. Pray for the persecuted church in Nigeria.
Let's pray for ongoing Bible translation in these areas and that God's word would bring comfort and conviction to those in need.
Let's pray for the Nigerian church to play a leadership role in solving these crisis.