Cyprian Ekwensi’s fictional prose, Burning Grass, vividly x-rays the kings of the jungle. I am using the ‘Fulani’ here as the approximation of Nigeria’s far north – because he is the consequential being there. And, I think anyone who fights him or wants to fight him or is being fought by him should read the history of his assumed ancestors, the Hyksos (Shepherd Kings) of Egypt, and then read Ekwensi. The Burning Grass is an evocative exhibition of what disease and deceit, drought and decay and death do to shape the worldview of those who answer Nigeria. It is, more importantly, a character portrait of Nigeria’s owners of power. One of the major characters in that Ekwensi story boasts: “We are Fulanis, the sons of Dan Fodio, master magicians; we who fight like cats, who die a hundred deaths and live; we who test out manhood by the Sharro…We are men of cattle, our cattle come first and since it is our wish to take them to better pastures, all else must succumb to that wish.” This rings so true. ‘All else’ in Nigeria has truly been succumbing to our Hausa Fulani North’s pursuit of ‘better pastures’ across patches and ages. And you will understand why this sounds very correct if you know that fiction and reality are Siamese twins – one draws its breath from the other. It is part of the succumbing story that the North has just found a new stone to kill two birds – kill the arrogant southern peacock and kill the vulture of its burning grass. Because of ‘better pasture’ for its cows, the Hausa Fulani North last week moved to block the South from accessing its foodstuffs.
- Nigerian Tribune