SUNDAY ISUWA captures the sight and sound of Christmas celebration in a Kaduna community by indigenes and Fulanis.
The reports of attacks on Southern Kaduna communities during the yuletide period was strange to the people of Bafai Gora community in Zangon Kataf LGA as both Christians and Muslims, natives and Funalis gathered in one field, not for the purpose of war, but to celebrate Christmas and also thank God for bringing them to the end of the year and for what He will do in the New Year.
Tuesday 26 December, 2017 was a day set aside by Bafai Gora Community in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State to showcase the community’s rich culture and celebrate Christmas.
The celebration witnessed display by different cultural groups including the Fulani group in Bafai Gora community who showcased their cultural heritage and also displayed their culture. This was applauded by all that gathered to witness the ceremony.
Prominent sons of the land, including Brigadier General Katunku Simon Gora (rtd), friends, political associates from within and outside the local government gathered to celebrate the day and the lives of their loved ones.
One thing that was unique was the composition of those in attendance.
The gathering cut across ethnic, religious and political affiliation with some people describing it as a gathering of a mini Nigeria. The gathering was for unity, love and an opportunity to express joy to the Almighty.
Former ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, state commissioners as well as other past and current political office holders of all the tiers of government were not left out in the ceremony.
In the spirit of love, unity and togetherness, an 80-year-old Fulani man, Alhaji Idi Waje, led the Fulani delegation to the celebration.
Waje, a resident of the community, who was born and brought up in Bafai Gora, along with his entire family and other Fulani men, women and children were featured prominently in the celebration.
The Fulani leader who was recognised and appreciated by the community for working for peaceful coexistence in the area despite the challenges faced in other parts of the country and Southern Kaduna in particular, conceded that nothing could replace peace.
“We always get surprised when we heard that communities in Southern Kaduna are attacked. This is not part of our culture. I was born here and we have been living in peace with our neighbours. Nothing will divide us,” Waje said before special prayers were offered for more understanding and harmonious relationship with each other irrespective of religious beliefs.
The people also prayed, asking God almighty to keep the community in peace, good health and understanding to live together in the years ahead.
Captains of industries, academics, business men and women, unionists and security experts also took advantage of the occasion to reach out to the people.
The occasion was also an opportunity for political parties to spread their tentacles by preaching the gospel of ‘get your PVC.’
Speaking to LEADERSHIP Weekend, one of the prominent sons of the area, Gen Katunku Simon Gora (rtd) expressed joy over the event.
Gora said right from his childhood, the community had been living in peace and harmony with the Fulanis in the area despite differences in tribe and religion.
“This is the message we heard from our parents who had lived with the Fulani men for years without any misunderstanding. Today as a community, we are all witnesses to all we heard from our parents. Alhaji Idi was a very good childhood friend of my father. After the death of my father, he has continued to carry out the responsibilities of a father to me and my siblings up to this day because love has kept us together through all these years.
“What is being said about the people of Southern Kaduna having problem with their Fulani neighbours is quite surprising to me because things of such nature have never crossed our imagination as clearly demonstrated here today. I want to say without mincing words that we are a peace-loving people, and we will continue to live peacefully with our neighbours as brothers and sisters.
“We are resolute and committed to ensuring our goal of maintaining and sustaining peace, unity, understanding and brotherly love, and no amount of propaganda or mischievous incitement will intimidate us,” the retired general said.
According to Gora, “This is one of the motivating factors that have inspired me to venture into the political landscape to share and improve upon the misconception of the nature and character of the good people of Zangon Kataf/Jaba Federal Constituency of Kaduna State, and indeed the God-fearing people of Southern Kaduna.”
“We as a people, irrespective of any perceived differences, have come to the conclusion that we will pursue peace which is the cornerstone of any meaningful development. The presence of our Fulani brothers and sisters here today in this celebration is a true testimony that we are living in peace and harmony with each other, and we will continue in this path as laid down for us by our forefathers, for the benefit of our children and for generations yet unborn.”
He continued, “I have the firm believe that we in Southern Kaduna are not being given a fair assessment of the relationship that exists between the natives and the indigenous Fulani herdsmen who have lived with us for years. Very soon the true picture of our cordial relationship will be unveiled to the shame of those who do not wish us well in this part of the state,”
A former Minister of State for Aviation, who is also the Kaduna State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Felix Hassan Hyet, was not left out of the occasion.
Hyet, who commended the Bafai Gora community for organizing the event, said the insecurity in Southern Kaduna was as a result of the inability of both the state and the federal governments to ensure law and order, bring the perpetrators of the wicked acts to justice.
The PDP state chairman who lamented the rate of unemployed youths, noted that engaging the youth in meaningful ventures would go a long way in curbing restiveness in communities.
The PDP chairman who went to the celebration venue with a message of ‘operation get your PVC,’ called on all who have attained the voting age to ensure that they were registered in the on-going Continuous Voters Registration exercise.
He said, “Get your permanent Voter Card. PVC is your power in the electoral process,” while stressing that as a political party, the PDP would do everything to ensure transparency in all its dealings with aspirants in future elections.
A former minister of environment, Mrs Laurentia Laraba Malam, who was earlier in 2017 kidnapped alongside her husband, also used the occasion to share her experiences.
According to Laurentia, the incident made her to believe that the kidnappers were not the indigenous Fulanis that have lived with the Southern Kaduna people.
She said the illicit act was being carried out by people she described as foreign invaders with the help of evil local collaborators.
She said, “Steps must urgently be taken to disabuse the minds of the youth by engaging them in meaningful activities that will earn them something in future.”
She extolled the leadership qualities of Gora for bringing his people together to celebrate the end of the year.
“The presence of different tribes seen in the community of Bafai Gora today goes to show that there is understanding which must be sustained by all means,” she said.
The chairman of the occasion, Dr Isuwa Dogo, expressed joy with the cordial relationship that exists between natives and the Fulani herdsmen whose relationship he noted, dated for years.
Isuwa, a former chairman, Lagos State chapter of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), said the type of relationship Bafai Gora was witnessing was a welcome development.
“This has been made possible because sons and daughters in the community have adhered strictly to the way and manner they were brought up in love by their parents irrespective of their differences.”
“This is the message we should be preaching to one another because we are a people that love whoever comes our way. To support someone who has virtues of love and is doing it practically in his home town is indeed a worthy ambassador that we should be proud to support and present in our Federal Constituency of Zangon Kataf/Jaba and even beyond,” Isuwa said.
A former commissioner in Kaduna State, Mr Tsahiru Bako told the people of Zangon Kataf/Jaba Federal Constituency to tap from his wealth of experience for better democratic governance and inclusive leadership in the country and for the dividends of democracy to be fully actualized in the area.