Roots of central Nigeria violence deeper than faith


From National Public Radio (NPR). By Ofeibea Quist-Arcton

The central Nigerian city of Jos is at the crossroads of the country's Muslim-dominated north and the mainly Christian and animist south. In recent months, renewed clashes between Muslim and Christian communities there have left hundreds dead.

Nigerian authorities are under mounting pressure to prosecute those behind the unrest. Nighttime curfews and an increased military and police presence are maintaining order — for now.

But observers warn that while religion may be the fault line for a decade of periodic fighting, underlying grievances in Jos go much deeper. The area is plagued by poverty, joblessness and fierce competition over land and scarce resources.

For generations, Jos' indigenes — indigenous people, including the largely Christian Beroms who traditionally rely on farming for their livelihood — lived side by side in peace with settlers who moved to the area, mostly Hausa or Fulani Muslims. The Fulani are traditionally herdsmen. Jos, which was a tin mining and tourism center with fertile farmland, was a magnet for migrants from all over Nigeria.

About 10 years ago, trouble erupted — for reasons including a roiling mix of politics, economics and rights to grazing lands, but which was fought along religious lines, with churches and mosques torched.

Latest Cycle Of Sectarian Slaughter

Picturesque rolling hills and giant boulders frame the farming village of Dogo Nahawa, on the outskirts of Jos, the once prosperous and cosmopolitan capital city of Plateau state.

On March 7, in the dead of night, the village came under siege.

Elizabeth Bulus, a 29-year-old Christian and mother of four, says that she heard gunshots at around 3 a.m. in the latest cycle of sectarian slaughter.

Another Christian resident, Victoria Yohanna, 28, with four children, says that this time, Fulani-speaking Muslims attacked the Christian Berom community in Dogo Nahawa.

Down a dirt track, past burned and blackened sand brick buildings, are the charred ruins of Yohanna's house. "I heard Fulani people speaking their language ... saying, 'Where are the pagans, where are the pagans? Come out,' " Yohanna recalls.

There were about 20 people, setting houses ablaze, she says.

"We ran away for our dear [lives]," she says. "All my in-laws, they just slaughter them like a goat. They cut the back of their necks, their head, their faces."

Witnesses say the attackers hacked Christian children, women and men to death with machetes, axes and other crude weapons, and rammed corpses down water wells...

Read the full article at National Public Radio (NPR).

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