Mad Cows And Even Madder Narratives By Wole Soyinka
The most distressful aspect of my recent interaction with cows and herders is that it has created a most unwanted distraction from the ongoing life and death Nigerian narrative. One has to take time off to deal with distortions and Fake versions, while students are being reportedly waylaid and killed and/or kidnapped in Ondo and farmers are being slaughtered in my own state. In short, the killings continue even as panels are being launched to enquire into immediate past human violations.
For those who truly seek details of the Ijegba incident, I hereby affirm that I was never physically attacked, neither did I attack any cows. The cows and herders did however attack my property – and not for the first time.
The police need to be very, very careful, learn to be straightforward with public information. Failure to adhere to that obvious, basic form of conduct means that the public will lose total confidence in security agencies and constantly bypass them in times of civic unrest, no matter how trivial or deadly. How on earth could the police claim that my property was not invaded by cattle? It was. My groundsmen knew the drill and commenced the process of expelling them. Fortunately, I was then driving out and was able to lend a hand by vehicle maneuvering. Both cattle and herdsmen were flushed out of my property.
Once they were outside the gates, I came down from the vehicle and beckoned the herdsmen to come over. At first they pretended not to understand, then, as I approached, fled into the bush. We thereupon “arrested” the cows, confining them to the roadside, while I sent my groundsman, Taiye, to the police to come and take over. Since they took rather long in responding, I summoned a replacement and proceeded to the police station. On the way, we met a detachment, turned round, and together we returned to the scene of crime. The police wanted to commence combing the bush for the fugitives but I stopped them – what was the point? Keep the cows, I advised, and the owner will show up. Of course, that owner eventually did.
I thoroughly resent the police version which suggests that the cows never invaded my home: home is not just a building, it includes its grounds. And it was not a stray cow, or two or three. It was a herd – we have photos, so why the lie? It is so unnecessary.