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Menace of Fulani Herdsmen is a worry to communities in Upper West

Fri, 12 Feb 2010 Source: GNA

A GNA news feature by Bajin D. Pobia

Gwollu (U/W), Feb. 12, GNA - In the Upper West Region there is no community, village or settlement where people are not campaigning against the expulsion of Fulani herdsmen and their cattle from the region. Women and children are worried because they are leading a "milky mouse freedom" class of life. Their social and economic activities have been curtailed. None of them can go to the bush to fetch vegetables, pick Sheanuts, baobab fruits or dawadawa fruits for home consumption. The small boys can not also go for rats and other fruits that are of nutritional value to them.

Farmers are crying loud, they can no longer leave their foodstuff in the farms. Their yams, cassava and millet that are left in their farm huts are broken into by herdsmen for their cattle to graze on as fodder. Yam and cassava mounts are destroyed and those who sow their yam seedlings are eaten up by the cattle.

Water sources are drying up. Economic trees such as the shea have their branches slashed and the leaves used as fodder. All ant hills in the bush are eaten up by these cattle. The Fulanis add salt to water and pour it on the ant hills for the cattle to eat. Hunting has come to a halt in many of the communities in the region.

Rape and defilement are high, threat to kill and killing farmers is equally high in the communities. In deed the people have now become social and economic refugees on their own land, all in the good name of the Ghanaian hostility and the Great ECOWAS conventions. In some of the communities one does not need to go to another community by following the old roads. There are now many paths created by these cattle leading to all communities in the Sissala West, Sissala East and Wa East districts. The environment is completely destroyed and farmers now have to travel long distances this time round to their farmers. Madam Florence Zaato, Vice Chairperson of the Sissala Union, expressed worry about the huge environmental degradation caused by Fulani herdsmen and their cattle to the land at the annual general meeting of the union at Tumu recently.

She urged district assemblies and traditional authorities to collaborate and get them out of the area to save the land for their children. She expressed unhappiness about their involvement in rape and armed robbery.

The South Sissala Tertiary Youth Association also appealed to the chiefs of the South Sissala area and the Wa East District Assembly to expel all Fulani herdsmen from the area for degrading the land and making it unproductive.

Mr. Timothy Nbenaba, President of the Association, explained that the decision to call for the expulsion of the Fulani herdsmen is to avert any future clash between the farmers in the area and the herdsmen that may consequently lead to loss of lives.

He said last year there were clashes leading to the payment of compensation by the herdsmen as a result of losses incurred by the farmers through the invasion of their farms by the herdsmen and their cattle. At Gwollu the District Chief Executive of Sissala West, Mr. Robert B. Wavei, appealed to the youth to compel their chiefs and all those who had settled Fulani herdsmen and their cattle in the communities to let the herdsmen go.

He said it is disheartening for some chiefs to accept cows from the herdsmen and keep them in their communities and slaughter the animals to entertain their visitors. A prominent farmer, who wants to remain anonymous, said the north would soon become a desert if the Fulani herdsmen and their cattle are not expelled.

He said government should be bold to say no to the Fulani herdsmen to save the people from virtual bondage. "After all, the Fulani herdsmen have somewhere to go but our people have nowhere to go when the land is destroyed," he said. He said the district assemblies should not use revenue mobilisation as an excuse to harbour the herdsmen and close their eyes to the huge destruction that they are causing to the environment. "The land belongs to the people and they must not be made to feel as slaves on their on land," he said.

Columnist: GNA