I have read two accusations affecting us, writers of Northern origin, on the recent massacre of Fulani in Taraba. The first one targeted Fulani writers and mentioned me specifically on Facebook. The second – more combative in its tone – I read this morning on WhatsApp. It accused virtually everybody in the society of a conspiratorial silence, including the press like our dear Daily Trust and of course the southern press. As usual Northern leaders – whoever that refers to – got their fair share of the bashing too.
I can understand why the southern press cannot report a carnage that does not fit the narrative of hate and anti-Fulani propaganda that they are used to. So to accuse it of silence in this case is normal.
So also the accusation against northern leaders like Governors, legislators, public office holders and traditional rulers, some of whom were quick to hypocritically threaten Northern youths on the quit notice they issued to Igbos.
But I will go to every length to defend the Northern press against any such blackmail any day, anywhere. The few media houses we have up here have been doing their best since 1998 to cover happenings that affect us as much as they can. With Daily Trust leading the way, they have played the role that the New Nigerian has played in the past. Sun share mana hawaye. For anyone to accuse them of silence on or because of his perceived under-reportage of the Taraba massacre, I think he is only doing so out of shock – if he is truly a pullo. Let them continue to do their best. We remain grateful.
The same goes for individuals who have shown the Fulbe great sympathy before and now. Many have written in the past and indeed the present, posting pictures that gave us a clearer view of the pogrom. Without them, little was reported by the Tarabans themselves.
Here, I must repeat a point I once made on a similar occasion. Such individuals are working voluntarily and none of them deserve any public reprimand when he falls short of anybody’s expectations. They belong to themselves, unlike the public servants who belong to everybody. The latter – who are equally Fulani – collect fat salaries and allowances for the very job these poor individuals are volunteering fill in many times at great risk their lives and for which they suffer intolerable alienation.
I will rather choose to be forever grateful to any private citizen who – even for once – was courageous enough to speak for the oppressed than publicly scorn him for a silence I perceive, the reason of which I do not know. Remember there are thousands of others with similar qualifications, means and language who have chosen to remain silent forever even when their cities are under attack. They do not want to be in the bad books of our leaders from whom they solicit appointments and other spoils of the Nigerian state.
I will advise that blackmailing people is not the best way to win their support and assistance. Such accusations do more harm than good to your cause. We write for a cause, neither for fear of anyone nor in quest of appeasing him. Blackmail may only dampen our spirit. Stop it. If there must be any accusation, direct it at those who belong to everybody.
Now coming to Dr. Tilde. Yes people did not hear much from me this time, surprisingly. Crisis of this proportion shock us and affect us in different ways. We react differently depending on its proportion, our individual differences and the times. This was surely very horrid, beyond anyone before. So I have resolved to be different.
For Taraba massacre I wrote a post saying, “Taraba.Taraba. Taraba. Be warned.” I even consider this to be too loud. Why? Biology teaches that the female mosquito that bites and sucks your blood does not make noise, unlike the male. It is silent.
Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde