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Cattle herding is an art, a culture, a tradition, a way of life.

One is born into it and the training starts early but takes a lifetime. Cows understand a language, they understand prompts and certain sounds.

Observe an 8-year-old Fulani boy herding cattle and you will understand what I am saying.

He carries a stick and uses his still-squeaky voice to command an animal more than twice his size and about 5 times his weight. He carries a stick that is just a whip in comparative terms to a large cow and uses it on cow’s thick skin. Does the sensation of pain register to the cow at all? I do not know but I know is the boy has been taught exactly where to place the blow.

All I know is the large animal knows who is the master. It knows.

The cows and boys have been taught the language of control and the commands and all from an early age. The relationship between calves and boys evolve into the relationship between man and cattle.

If you disbelieve me, find yourself in a cattle herd and try to command the cattle or direct them.

I know these things because as a child, I played side by side the Fulani children whose parents came to graze on our farm after harvest. We tried to mimic the sounds, speak the language, but we could not. Children smaller than us commanded their beasts and the animals obeyed.

When the terrorist group MACBAN claims 300 of their cows were stolen by the Berom boys (who are “farmers” not “herders” to use their terms), I pause to ask “Really?!”

Cattle herding as well as cattle rustling is a professional activity.

Who stole the cattle? Renegade fulanis perhaps? I have listened on occasion to the Miyetti Allah group agree that they have bad eggs among them like everyone else. Who speaks to the cows? Who rounds up a herd of 300 animals and whisks them away without a trace in a few hours? Who knows the terrain, the routes and the hideouts?

We are talking about cows; slow animals not fleet footed horses.

How do they disappear by morning and cannot be found?

Can we tell the truth please? Can we challenge these narratives? Can we amplify our voices? A lie spoken a hundred times may sound like the truth but IT IS NOT THE TRUTH!

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