Nigeria | Grandmother. Herdswoman. Peacebuilder.
Today we turn to Benue State in Nigeria where the risk of mass atrocities continues to threaten peace. Thankfully, women like Fatimah Musa - grandmother and herdswoman - are stepping up to stop the violence. Recently, Fatimah took part in a Nexus-funded training for women to learn to build peace in their communities.
Where I live, women are pressured to stay silent in most public arenas, so it’s rare for us to take part in activities like negotiating peace. Yet everyday we live in fear of mass violence between local herdsmen and farmers. I have seen firsthand how quickly violence can escalate and spread, and I wanted to be part of the solution. That is when I found a training with the local Women for Positive Peacebuilding Initiative, where I learned how I could play a leading role in decision making and peacebuilding.
Not long after I participated in the training, local farmers brutally killed my Uncle Alhaji while he was herding cows with his grandchildren. His killers put his body in a sack and called our relatives to inform them. We were devastated. His fellow herdsmen were furious and mobilized for revenge. I worried violence would spiral out of control.
I asked my son, Musa, to quickly gather herdsmen and farmers from nearby villages. I pleaded with them not to carry out their plan for revenge. It was unusual for a woman to stand in front of a group of men to make these pleas, and they were resistant at first. But as I shared using the tools from my training and spoke with confidence, their resistance faded. I led a discussion with the two groups as we began to work toward a solution together, and prayed for a positive outcome.
Soon after, Musa told me that the reprisal attack was aborted. Instead they shared the information about peacebuilding I gave to them. Violence between herdsmen and farmers is still a risk, but since that day our area has been peaceful.