When discussing ethnicity, it’s important to consider culture as a vital lens through which we view different groups. Often, however, this lens gets clouded by politics, leading to misconceptions and contestations fueled by a lack of cultural understanding.
In an enlightening interview on AkweyaTV, Hadiza Bagudu, a distinguished novelist renowned for her work Fantah, delved into the rich culture and peaceful essence of the Fulani ethnic group. Addressing the recent demonization linked to acts of terrorism, Hadiza challenged the prevailing narrative by shedding light on the true essence of the Fulani people.
Hadiza, born to a Fulani mother and a Nupe father, spent her formative years immersed in Fulani culture, drawing inspiration from her grandmother’s captivating stories about the Bororo-Fulani way of life. Her novel, “Fantah,” a love story that unveils the Fulani culture, takes readers on a captivating journey across West Africa’s landscapes, from the Fombina Empire’s grasslands to the sands of the Sudan Kingdom.
Counteracting the misconception of violence and terror associated with the Fulani, Hadiza emphasised that the Fulani culture is inherently peaceful, characterised by integrity, respect for friendships, and a strong sense of community. She unequivocally stated that terrorism has no place within the Fulani culture.
Addressing the periodic clashes between the Tiv people of Benue State and other North Central Nigerian people, Hadiza acknowledged a historical bond between the Tiv and Fulani, which sometimes falls victim to politically motivated conflicts. Notably, she acknowledged that every group has its outliers, including the Fulani.
Hadiza passionately advocated for artistic expression to dispel the negative narratives surrounding the Fulani. She highlighted that media portrayals often fail to capture the genuine nature of Fulani individuals, their values, and their traditions.
While acknowledging occasional tensions between herders and farmers, Hadiza highlighted that these issues are often resolved through peaceful dialogues led by tribal elders and village leaders. She pointed out that cattle rustling, although a provocation, has been addressed through the efforts of figures like the former Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir el-Rufai.
In a world where culture and ethnicity are often conflated with politics and turmoil, Hadiza Bagudu’s insights offer a much-needed perspective on the Fulani culture—one that fosters understanding and appreciation rather than fear and prejudice.