In Nigeria, there is a little-known war being waged: the war between Fulani herdsmen and farmers. The Fulani herdsmen are a traditionally nomadic group of cattle herders from Northern Nigeria that move to allow their cattle to graze in new lands. However, a combination of climate change and attacks from the terrorist group Boko Haram have forced the group farther south. As the group moved, conflict began with farmers. With resources scarce, the Fulani were accused of allowing their cattle to graze on farmers crops and polluting waterways.
To add to this conflict, the traditionally Muslim Fulani were coming into conflict with Christian farming communities. As summarized in our last blog, there is a huge religious conflict between these two religions in Nigeria. Because of this conflict, many Fulani have joined local militant groups. They have been linked to over 1,200 murders in 2014 alone.
One man, Dzeramo Moses Hemba, found himself at the intersection of this crisis in 2014. Dzeramo said,
“I had heard rumors about the Fulani crisis in our area, but I never once thought the insurgency would be in our settlement.”
On this day, Dzeramo was on a motorcycle ride into town with his youngest son. Along the way, the two came to a pass that was just big enough for a motorcycle to fit between. High grasses surrounded them on both sides. As they got closer to the passing, Dzeramo’s son saw blood on the ground. He went cold as he realized what they were approaching.
As he struggled to turn the motorcycle around on the unkempt road, he noticed four armed Fulani herdsmen rushing towards them. Before Dzeramo could make an escape he felt a bullet tear through his left arm; the entire left side of his body went numb in what was later diagnosed as a stroke. The herdsmen continued to attack his now unconscious body, leaving him with severe cuts.
In the midst of this attack his son was able to escape, running barefoot over 2.5 miles to the nearest town for help. By the time aid arrived, four other people were added to the count of lifeless bodies at the scene. The bodies were taken to town for burial. Just as Dzeramo was about to be thrown into his grave, he moved. He was rushed to the hospital where they treated him for his severe injuries. They stitched his wounds, provided him with blood transfusions and identified the stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body.
While these procedures were life-saving, Dzeramo could not afford continued treatment. Over the course of the two years since the attack, he has lost everything trying to treat himself.
When ’13 IRIS YES alumni Teryima Manta heard this incredible story he felt like he had to help.
“I heard about Zaki one Sunday morning at our local church, and at once I felt this was a family I must visit. During my stay in the United States, my host mom ran a food pantry for the church she worshiped at. Some days I would go to volunteer, and in the time I visited my eyes where open
to the importance of giving. Since then, I have grown deeply with the feeling of helping people in need. I saw Zaki’s family as people in need because they have lost everything, and the best way to help was to show some love.”
Teryima pooled his resources to provide a monetary and food donation to Dzeramo, the first donation he has ever received from a stranger. To help fund projects like Teryima’s or to learn more about our Global Grants and Scholarship program, visit https://iris-center.org/alumni-grants-and-scholarships/.