The World Should Go Numb: Identify Problems By Nature, Not By Scale

The European Migrant Crisis was precipitated by the war in Syria. Instinctively, when a place is unpalatable for people, they pull up stakes. The Israelites were on the move for years, because Egypt was unpalatable for them. Moses became a hero for promising them exit… never mind the hitches along the way. Wole Soyinka said, “When the present is intolerable, the unknown harbors no risks”.

As countries tried to protect their borders from the influx of migrants, they upped the ante of border patrols. Normally, that works; but not when you’re dealing with thousands of people who would rather die than go back to their warring countries. Therefore, stiff entry resistance at the borders didn’t just look inhuman, they, in fact, were. The sentry who had worked at his country’s border for years, to his chagrin, becomes an enemy of the world overnight as he tries to use force to protect his country… so too his government up at the center. Hence, they devised a new approach.

What was the cause of these mass movements? Chiefly, it was the war in Syria. So these countries tried to mediate, because flying shrapnels from the war had become worrisome on a continental scale. Did mediation work? No! Because the warring parties weren’t letting up. What next? Try to pick a side, so that, win or lose, the war ends. That didn’t work either. So countries went back to the drawing board.

Today we hear of all kinds of summits on Migrant Crisis. The term has gone into our global lexicon. Countries have decided and are deciding to set up shelters for those fleeing the war. Refugees. In other words, they are ‘managing’ the crisis. They didn’t cause it, but they have to cope with it. This is because, water invariably finds a way out. While these countries do this, expectedly, they are still prevailing on those responsible to cease fire in Syria.

We bring it home.

Over the years, all kinds of predictions have been made about desert encroachment in the north of Nigeria. Is it happening? You bet! Did we do anything to combat it? Perhaps. Is that the point now? No.

The point is that cattle have to be grazed, or they die. Beef has always been a part of our diet, so that cattle rearing has become a way of life. It didn’t start today. What then happens? The herdsmen are leading them to where they can find pasture; and it is not in the desert-encroached north, no, it is down south. How has the south responded? Ward them off. How’s that coming? They won’t leave. Put your foot down! They come for war: they kill, they maim, they disappear… So says the narrative, I must add.

After the screams of death have quietened comes the outrage. In the media, on the streets, at the government houses… and on Facebook. It is loudest on the latter.

But the good thing is that we don’t just react by blaming and cursing; we give vent to “sheer wisdom”: “What the hell is all this?! No, the government cannot create grazing reserves on our land. Let them go and build ranches! In developed countries do you see anybody carrying cattle about in the name of grazing?! They have ranches. Then there is more meat and milk production, better leather production, employment for citizens, and reasonable returns to the government in the form of taxes.” On and on. But talk is cheap.

Things go quiet for a while. In that while, neither the grazing reserves, nor the ranches have been established. Fact remains, cattle must feed; or they’ll die. And remember, these herdsmen neither have televisions nor Facebook — at least not in the forests, so they can’t possibly gauge the national reaction of past mayhems. The only pressing responsibility they have is how to find pasture and water for their livestock. These livestock aren’t even theirs; they belong to rich men in-country who understand the dilemma of their employees. Our people say that ‘the boy whose father taught to rob/steal breaks down doors with his foot’. Voila!

Do we still have green, lush vegetation in the south? Yes? Herdsmen will come again. Oh they will!

Have we started hosting those kinds of summits that will throw up a solution, even if temporarily? Don’t know! Oh, I hear that we’re enacting state laws that prohibit grazing? Good luck with that! Who do you lock up upon apprehension and prosecution, the human or the cows? It is obvious. Oh, you’ll leave the cows to go? Hmm! The human you will be responsible for feeding in prison, the cows? they still need to graze. Has the problem been solved? By no means!

I think that the availability of green, lush vegetation in the South is nature’s capital investment in a possible venture of southern states. Ranches. It may not be first choice business idea for governments, but it has been necessitated by recent events. Neither the death of the indigene, nor the death of the herdsmen, nor that of the cattle is an economic gain for local, state, or central government. It is a tragedy anyhow. We may classify them as theirs and ours, but it is a tragedy in the end. Therefore, a summit is necessary here; if not to explore the ranch suggestion, then to proffer others.

Often in the past when we’ve had problems in Nigeria, I have been sad, but had rested assured that there were some people in charge who were taking care of it. I’m a man now, and I know better. Are there people in charge? Yes. Are they taking care of it?

Are they?