Nomadic herdsmen activities in Ghana: To ban or not to ban?

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The clamping down on illegal mining otherwise known in local parlance as “galamsey” [corrupted from gather and sell] remains a watershed moment for many stakeholders of agriculture, environment and water resources in Ghana.

All the major drawbacks associated with “galamsey” are likely to be sunk into oblivion in the coming years. Ghana media clarion crusades against illegal mining, its attendant environmental degradation, and water pollution have yielded some dividends. All and sundry must applaudAkufo-Addo led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government and the media for the “galamsey” fight.

The previous government must also be commended to some extent.Illegal mining is sinking, but what about the conflict between Fulani herdsmen and some farming communities?

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One issue worthy of considering is the activities of the Fulani herdsmen in Ghana.  Is it not nonsensical for us to be glutted every now and then with stories of bloody conflicts between Fulani herdsmen and some inhabitants of crop farming communities in Ghana? “Nine Fulani herdsmen and some Kwahu farmers including; two brothers have been killed at Dwerebeafe, Aboyan and Mpeamu in the Kwahu East District” (Source: modernghana.com October 28, 2017).

Fulani cattle ranchers and Ghanaian farmers must end attacking and killing one another. Interethnic interactions are needed to create a microcosm of cultural and economic diversities. Development is evident when there is an intricate interplay of human cultures. Diversity and development are bedfellows. This partly explains why every development-driven sentient creature must welcome diversitywith alacrity. Fulani herdsmen in Ghana contributes to the economic culture of the country. Suffice it to say that Fulani herdsmenhave been grazing their cattle on others crop farms, appropriate interventions are needed rather murderous clashes between the farmers and the foregoing pastoralists.  You and I know with perfect certainty that beef remains a major delicacy in many households in Ghana. Beef goes with food mostly produced by these crop farmers. We cannot totally ban cattle rearing. We can rather encourage the Fulani herdsmen to adopt best practices concerning cattle farming.

The delicate nature of Fulani herdsmen activities in Ghana reminds me of the novel entitled: “The Beggars Strike” by the Senegalese writer, Aminata Sow Fall. The writer prosily intimated that in one of the African cities, the city authorities saw the presence of beggars on the street as a nuisance to tourism. An attempt by the authorities to clear the beggars enveloping the streets to boost tourism was saddled with howls of indignation from the latter and as a corollary demonstrated their frustration through strike actions.  The beggars went on strike meaning that they did not only fight against the city authorities but equally would not beg again. They were begging but they opted for strike actions! Yes, they will not beg again so Mr. giver comfortably save your alms! The authorities could also have their streets!

The book is otherwise known as “The Dreg of Society”.  Herbert Spencer and Robert Merton created a sociological or a social psychological theory that perceives society to be a complex system working in harmony to promote unity and stability. The beggars are part of this system better conceptualized as structural functionalism. The beggars were part of this complex system. The Fulani herdsmen in Ghana are equally part of Ghanaian social structure. The extent to which your “banku” and beef okra soup or “fufu” and beef light soup would be affected by the Fulani herdsmen strike better explains the structural-functionalist theory and the philosophical underpinning of Aminata Sow Fall’s beggars strike. The crop farmers are also part of a complex social structure in Ghana. Since the Fulani herdsmen are an integral part of Ghanaian society, we can only speak against their undesired behaviors but not to hate them.

Is Ghana the only country on earth where cattle are reared? Animal husbandry is the mainstay of the Indian rural economy, yet we hardly hear of such conflicts. Brazil and United States produce 15% and 19% of the global beef respectively. Open range cattle rearing is practiced in many parts of the world. For example, in the US state of Idaho, open range cattle have right of way on the main road legally. In other states, there are legislations that required open range farmers to fence their cattle off other people’s properties. There are better ways of managing the Fulani menace devoid of emotions. We must learn from other countries to better manage the thoroughgoing Fulani menace.

The schools and faculties of agriculture at Ghana’s universities must come out with interventions to coach cattle owners on best cattle ranching practices. Parliament must come out with a legislation on the limitations of open range cattle ranching in Ghana.  Government, cattle owners must take a concerted effort to end the bloody clashes between local crop farmers and Fulani herdsmen. We can have a good case against the free-range Fulani herdsmen, but our modus operandi could frustrate our efforts in seeking justice. God Bless Our Home Land Ghana!