The Killings by the Fulani Herdsmen

Akinola Aloba (Lagos, Nigeria) laments the lives lost at the hands of the Fulani Herdsmen. 

Nigeria is a country that’s broadly divided into three. The northern part is shared by the Hausa and the nomadic Fulani, while the southeast by the Igbo, and the South West by the Yoruba.

I’m Yoruba and I live in the most populous city in Nigeria: Lagos, in the southwestern part of our country. For a little more than 2 years, the herdsmen of the Fulani tribe have been killing people that don’t belong to their tribe. These killings are, according to them, because those people are on lands that belong to them, that they should be using to rear their cattle.

They kill men and women, young and aged, and even kill children too. The killings have continued daily, with hundreds losing their lives every week. Because our president and his security heads are from that same tribe, they’ve done nothing to stop the killings. Instead, they say we should live in peace with the murderers.

I wrote this poem when I saw the picture of the corpse of a young boy of about 4. There was a nasty gash from his head to his back, exposing his brain and spine, probably made by a machete. He was looking so innocent and my heart broke literally at that moment. What could make a man kill a fellow a man? Or why would you want to cause a child harm?

The poem is dedicated to those that lose their lives daily to these monsters and to those that stand by and watch while this goes on.


Sangria, 2018

The nurse cleaned
The boy’s
Nasty cut on his
He would need stitches

He had not spoken
All day
The shock had robbed him
His voices

He turned to the nurse
With one word


His voice was like the first breeze of
The harmattan
Bringing goosebumps and the cold hands of the grave

How could she explain
That he was now an orphan
That he had no relations
In the

That his
Were slaughtered on the altar
Of the gods
Malu and Ehi
That the ones who were supposed to
Are for No-bodies and Every-cows
She said not a word
But the boy
He sighed

An old sound from such a young body
A firecracker sounded in the distance


“They have come.”

More statement than
As he tried to hide under the chair
The nurse smiles and says it’s just a
Nobody is coming

They both know she’s lying
For the bovine army comes
They don’t eat grass
No grass for these ones!
They drink wine
Red wine
Brewed in human marrow

She wipes the last of the blood
From his back
As she wipes her tears
She notices
That her tears are

Author’s note: Malu and Ehi are Yoruba and Igbo word for cows.

Akinola Abola (Lagos, Nigeria)


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