By Ahmed Yahaya Joe.
I personally took the attached photograph on the Plateau earlier this year in June on my way from Kaduna to Jos through Manchok via Vom. I was awed by the engineering genius in the road construction. Barely a week later that same road reportedly had become a killing fields of sorts particularly for delegates returning back to the North East from the APC national convention held in Abuja. That is how precarious that axis of Nigeria despite that many of us are still pretending that the nation is not dangerously sitting on a time bomb following latest events on the Plateau.
Call them potato chips or French fries you can’t have any without the Berom just as you can’t traduce the Fulani and still enjoy your Suya or Cow tail pepper soup anywhere in Nigeria. We are therefore all involved on the Plateau. That nevertheless it would be an act of deliberate mischief and reckless presumptuousness to box the Berom into a genocidal corner despite the circumstantial evidence recently found at a pond in Du District.
This is simply because an alleged crime scene is very much different from a suspected dump site. No doubt there is probable cause for complicity that however does not translate into credible evidence against the entire Berom. Truth is General Alkali and other hapless Nigerians suspected to be victims in the vicinity of Du are actually collateral damage of a longstanding proxy war of historic elite dynamics on the Plateau. That notwithstanding the suspected perpetuators of whatever led to Alkali’s car been found at the bottom of a Du pond must be fished out and made to face the full wrath of the law. Permit me to reemphasize that the rule of law must prevail. While that would bring some semblance of justice and temporary succor for the nation at large what of the fundamental issues that created the enabling environment for the dumpsite to exist in the first place?
The fire on the mountain currently on the Plateau is all part of the symptoms of a deeper malaise caused by the stubborn virus of religion. Merely treating its symptoms without ridding the underlying virus will continuously be an exercise of futility for the nation. If so what then are the fundamental issues bedeviling the Plateau? Jos is a Green Line of sorts which makes it the Nigerian version of Jerusalem. Jos is the home of the Izala sect founded by Samaila Idris a religiously controversial army officer that was forcibly retired in 1978 who hails from Bauchi’s Jahun Fulani clan. He set of up JIBWIS that his one-time teacher Abubakar Gumi became the Grand Patron of. The Sunni Izala is essentially Wahabbist and anti-Sufi. Their openly confrontational stand to all others that don’t subscribe to their teachings does not need further elaboration here.
Meanwhile Jos is also the home base of the Sudan United Mission that was the arrow head of missionary activities in the non-emirate areas of the North. That is one aspect. The other is Jos is the capital city of Middle Belt consciousness making the Plateau a perfect storm waiting to happen in the political North. Under such circumstances the truth and level headedness are normally the first casualties. With Jos being hotly contested historically between the Berom “Gwash” narrative and the Hausa-Fulani “Jas” counter narrative the battle lines are therefore well entrenched and rest is now living history. As the say in the Middle East if the talking stops the shooting starts.
The Northern Muslim intelligentsia and North’s Christian must find common ground in Jos or there will be much more General Alkalis which an endless number of Zaki Biams or even Odis can never stop. History has a curious way of repeating itself. First as tragedy then as farce.
The Nigerian Army on 15th January 1966 lost its present day equivalent of Chief of Administration then known as Adjutant General in person of Lt Col James Pam. He hailed from Du and his body was never found after he was abducted by mutinous troops loyal to the infamous “5 Majors” from his Ikoyi residence. 52 years later the same institution has lost another Admin chief in Du District under the same circumstances of inter-communal violence as one section of the Nigerian polity angrily raises up against another. Both chiefs have somehow become victims of the inherent contradictions of our nation building process.
Have we not learnt anything in 5 decades? Back then drums of war were beaten right now drums of war are still beaten. Back then also there was anger and revulsion in segments of Nigeria. Right now there is still that same kind of anger and revulsion. What historical inferences can we draw from the unfortunate incidences of 1966 than could serve for us as useful signposts in 2018? That should be the topic of conversation.
Every issue in Nigeria no matter how complicated has a big picture and a small one. In any case apart from its infamous pond what else is Du known for? Du is the home district of Lt Col James Pam, DIG Victor Pam and Air Cmdr Jonah Jang. The senior Pam was the 4th most senior Northerner in the army when the unfortunate events of 15th January 1966 unfolded. His esteemed seniors Maimalari, Kur, Largema also lost their lives alongside his good self.
He was the Adjutant General having taken over that office from his bosom friend Yakubu Gowon who had to proceed to Staff College in the UK. The police Pam was billed to by seniority succeed Gambo Jimeta as IGP but was seconded to the National Guard instead. He would later be Gbong Gwom of Jos in 2004. A tough cop he met the Maitasine sect eyeball to eyeball in Kano, Bulunkutu, Gombe and Jimeta. He also set up the Mopol school in Gwoza.
Many political pundits have put it that if his Mopol hardware ordered from abroad had arrived earlier the coup to topple Shehu Shagari would have failed. As the monarch of Jos he criminalized selling of any Berom land to non-Christians and any Christian parents whose daughter converted thrown out of the Church a source put it to me. He also attempted ridding Berom land of its famed Burkutu small scale industry. He woefully failed.
Little wonder before joining the police in 1958 he trained as a priest at the famous TCNN in Bukuru. Jang on the other hand if it would be recalled was Military Administrator of the former Gongola and Benue respectively under IBB. Shortly earning his first star he was appointed head of air force logistics then almost immediately retired. He is still bitter which trickled down to the rest of the Berom.
IBB ever the Maradona would then appoint Lamba Gwom a former Navy paymaster to replace Domkat Bali on the FEC to water down Berom anger. Worthy of mention is the “Langtang Mafia” that apparently came into ascendancy as the Berom star was dimming. They were AFRC members when Jos South and Bukuru LGs separately created to diffuse Jos North. That is why I had earlier mentioned elite dynamics and its overall effect on what is playing on the Plateau.
Without understanding the context and background of this multitude of diverse factors how can a veritable solution ever be crafted out on the Plateau? God bless Nigeria.
Strangest explosion rocks the Karachi international airport just as a massive deployment of US marines arrived the busy airport. Stories of victims and their relatives, responders and their purpose, perpetrators and their reasons, unfolds a tale of current resolutions based on old conceptions.
The narrative tells of the most diverse colorful global characters surrounded with a good mix of friends and foes. David Holden is the English Doctor who loves humanity more than his origins and Abdul Kazaar Ali is his opportunistic aged patient who lives out his perception of Muslim norms like he desires.
Aaamu and her mother Rael, live by their wits as their circumstances allow. Fatima is smart enough to outwit her sexuality but too human to resist normalcy. Ruth is the Israeli genius whose Jewish father gave her a lot more than just his name and Lee is her Chinese boyfriend, trying out fantasies alongside opinions. Then there is Sean Samuel, the Irish-American reporter with a huge reputation he constantly seeks to live up to, like his country.
Ark, baby, bold, bride, cut, Deep, Everest, hills, ill, lion, literature, parent, peak, poem, Poetry, pretty, pride, raw, roar, run, scar, seek, spouse, Steals, The poet in the poem, true, visible, vow, War, World, Wounds, yasniger
Worn with its pride
As any true bride.
A scar from a war
Is like a lion’s roar.
Not on Everest’s peak
Must anyone do seek,
For even on all hills
Are these worlds ills.
The baby that cries,
Steals away and tries;
To be his own parent,
Where he is only sent.
That spouse out back;
Behind one Holy Ark,
Leaves the same vow
Yet remains, some how.
They; as many, are
So near and not far.
Wounds made bold
In this very world.
They welcome guests well,
As prosperous strangers tell.
Soon dominance is so evident
And for the sold they want rent.
Wherever time is so kept,
Such a place has it since left.
Two is never again one unless
One is expunged and no less.
Identity established so firm,
Fights a war not for their farm.
Bullying their co-farmers’ yield
With poised spears and a shield.
What do you tell a son
Bits from about the The tale of two people as taken from What do you tell a son
“While he was away, time also went away from his people on one of its numerous trips of change and it returned with the scourge of the Sheep from virtually nowhere. Time had brought the highly adaptable but unchangeable Sheep to live amongst the Goats and the Sheep came with change.
“Why the sheep herding people came with time to our founding father’s goat herding people, at that time in history and in his absence, wasn’t ours to tell. The apparent civility and common simplicity of the Sheep was however deceptive.
“The Sheep appeared cotton white and came from the far away northern sandy plains, with a popular ruse of a history. Yet they reveals to truly be creamy coloured sponges at close sight, soaking up the different surroundings of their current abode and still not changing. The deceptive Sheep took up full residence on the hospitable Goats’ rocky plains and the Goats allowed the Sheep to be ease. The Sheep sheltered in the many comfortable shades of the hills and lived under the few short trees, staying outside the Goats’ homely cacti fences. The Sheep was free to go and do as they please and the Goats weren’t bothered in the least, at first.
“The Sheep are very familiar with life on perpetual transit, they have always led a squatter’s lifestyle by their faithful orientation. Their visit didn’t at first look like it was permanent. Their intention to stay wasn’t apparent, as they seem to have merely paused on their trip. But over time they appear to have been held back, not by their needs for necessities but by their initially hidden desire to dominate.
“Disguised as a lone caravan of a purely commercial purpose, they embarked on trading. The Sheep are well journeyed and the Goats accepted them in good faith. The Sheep are indeed well traveled and they actually traded. But before long the Sheep established a life of their own kind in pockets around the rocky hills of the Goats. They bred and fed and stayed and remained on the Goats’ vast rich plains.
“Everyone has a home of origin. Some place, somewhere their history had particularly began, where the first of their kind fell and hit the ground from where ever they believe they dropped or emerged, or simply had faith they came from. Everyone has a place they name as theirs and the Goats point at the vast richly fertile rocky plains as theirs. Theirs is a huge arable plateau they are proud of and the Goats point at it with the boastful ease of its rightful owners. They own the land and run it as they stand on it.
“This isn’t disputed even by their guests, the Sheep. But then the Sheep also started to point at the plateau as theirs too.
The Sheep bragged with the legal shield of time and change, but not the same historical ease the Goats could muster. The Sheep truly showed that they had acquired big chunks of the plateau with their efforts and will thus run it as they stand on it too. Still the Goats had borne their continuous indigenous identity without the shame or regret most other would have for letting the Sheep stay on.
“But the Goats were all about their own ways and weren’t set on dominance and the dominance of any people is allowed them by those around them they influence in their deliberate ways. Growth flourishes in hospitable settings and the Sheep developed. The Sheep influenced their way into every facet of the Goats’ way of life, until before long the Sheep looming dominance was becoming a reality. The Goats were made less comfortable on their land and they got increasingly apprehensive of the Sheep, as they also took to habitually sun-bathe their spongy cream coloured hides in the grassing plains the Goats frequent.
“The Sheep were unperturbed as they continue to dry their ego in the lazy sunlight as the rains park their clouds away on the rocky hills daily. The earliest choices of the Goats were made in an era that harmlessly allowed it.
“Literacy comes with harsh discernment and this can subsequently hurt the knowledgeable candidate. It makes a simple favour become cruel, it makes good food poisonous and culture archaically crude in its established nature. The Goats grew knowledgeable and realized the Sheep had remained and over stayed.
“The Sheep are well known for their sacred ordered nature, which they have established vastly in all their far northern lands under economic, cultural and military duress. The Sheep are religious nomads, robed in their spongy external purity, which has been forcibly trusted all over the larger region as in the ancient deserts it originates from. This however only gives credibility to their adapted creed but not their person. They are as circumstantially religious as everybody else and not any different than the Goats they grew to belittle and seek to subjugate.
“The Sheep is a dumb animal and this is essential in faith. The Sheep is the kind that doesn’t question faith but accept it as it is; root, trunk, branches and leaves. It chews the blossoms with their buds and thorns. This made the Sheep the most selfless faithful convert ever. They are diligent to their faith with strict blindness.
“Faith and religion prospers thus, when it is unflinching, steady and sure. The stupidities of illiterate disciplines feed the course and develops it to an enviable height. The Goats lacked this steadfastness, unlike the Sheep. The Goats do not venture out of their habitat to seek change, ever. This change had only come to them with time and they had very little control on how it came or what it does.
“The Goats ordinarily sort their communities base on their immediate clans and they endlessly stay hidden in their rocks, on their high cold plateau. With the permanent presence of the Sheep, change had found the Goats out, where they had remained for all time. They were not prepared for it. They were unschooled and unready to accommodate this and any other kind of change.
Change naturally behaves like physical pressure, which steadily alters the state of all the elements outside its immediate presence. Pressure like change sucks all elements in or out of its place of domain, inevitably scattering the particles of all other elements. The Goats were thus doomed for lacking that conscious absorption of knowledge and ideas through continual exposure rather than deliberate learning.
“The Goats realized that they must change their ways to adapt to the presence of the crafty Sheep or only relics of their ancient origins on the plateau will be scraped off their rocky hills as fossils. In their place, the visiting Sheep will get the enviable honour of being pointed out in the future as the indigenous clan of the region because they had dominated it. The legacy of the Sheep would tarry and their opinion sought for because of their tenaciously gotten self worth.
“There is no changing a past but there is shaping the revealing future. The past can not physically hurt anyone now, but the present can and does. The present physically brings its pilgrims of change along to do the job the past didn’t do.
“Change comes with the legal right of its sheer presence and change always has unusual catalysts. The Goats learned this with time as the wise Sheep waited for the hinted sojourn of their dominance to take root. The Sheep are ever patient in their deceptively stupid poise. They are dexterous in making the smallest meal last longer by re-chewing their cod. They had time and make time last longer.
“As the entire land and far beyond it changed into a modern state, becoming one wholesome regional entity, the Sheep were fully settled and had become old on the land, with legal rights that can not be given, or taken away again. Suddenly, home became common to the Goats and Sheep alike. None of them could move, even if they wished to. But their very different worlds doesn’t need reminding of its origins, as none argues about their true origins. They took to grappling loudly over their current tenant-ship or ownerships, as the Goats or Sheep respectively view it.
“Their debates and fights for dominance grew and wouldn’t abate. It became a huge carnivorous integral monster, firing up their rage with fear, hate and greed. The beneficiaries of this legacy of disputed ownership weren’t promised much and that was the tale of his beleaguered people when our village’s founding father descended from the mountain top. He had no idea that his original Goat herding people had changed over the years he had been on the mountain. The village he had in his sight when he descended wasn’t peopled with the same simple minded people he left years ago. They were now wary of strangers and a very hostile lot.
“Life thrives on relationships; urging, courting, pushing, pulling and coaxing. Wealth, health and peace spell dominance and are the faces of the war that ensued on the lands beneath our mountain. It was right beneath our founding father all the while, on the vast plateau, where the very essence of his people was being lost forever. The conflict had just taken root when when he visited for the only time and as the future steadily unfolds before our very eyes, both the Goats’ and Sheep’s still aren’t willing to unconditionally accommodate each other.”
As we moan in our far watch;
Nagging our peopled conscience,
We miss out entirely that the catch
Is made up of all our overt nonsense.
A large rich island just drags on,
Not for the size it must always hug.
The bulk of it lost the very reason
Why rich minds will make it a slug.
TOO DARK FOR THE SUN
Shade’s own place in the sun;
Like the shadow’s that will run,
Is hidden from its glories glare
With the truth they all must bear.
THE WAR THAT WON A BATTLE
The rocky coast of Macbeth’s fate
Must be taken up to be like the bait
That clips the pet Eagle’s keen claws
Or ties up a feeding Croc’s weak jaws.
The lesson in any story is found
And in any form it will astound
The minute detail of our simple act
Or corrects excesses in our daily act.
BARI / LEAVE
In ka ki ka ji bari,
Lalle za ka ga bari.
Domin dare ne sakon;
Rana ne mai bakon.
If you refuse to leave,
Surely it will still cease.
Because the night is dark;
The sun ensures it is back.
HEADS OR TAILS
Toss the coin all your life,
Balance on edges of a knife.
Whither roam your own course
If life to you is just a lone farce.
Are you not lost in thought;
Like the canine who fought
His own tail round and round,
With its very head not sound?
HANDFUL OF CLAY
That simple deed you daily handle
Reveal so much about how you work.
Just as everybody carries their bundle
Of life’s joy and sorrow that will mock.
That piece of action you handle
Reveal your final piece of work.
Just like every artist’s own bundle
Of clay would praise and also mock.