In the English language, some things or entities are referred to as ‘scared cow’. The Chambers Dictionary defined ‘scared cow’ as “an institution, custom, etc, so venerated that it is above criticism.” Thoughts on ‘sacred cow’ readily directs the mind and intellect to India. There, many things are held sacred, and western civilization’s ‘wokeness’ has not been able to consume this part of the Indian life, even after many episodes of engulfing it. When thoughts on ‘sacred cows’ are taken literally, the Hindus who revere their cows come to mind. In places like India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh where Hinduism is the norm, sacred cows are not in short supply. Elephants, tigers, tortoises and even the mouse also have special statuses in Hinduism. They are all sacred in their own rights. There’s also the Hanuman of India and their scared ape.
Sacred apes also abound in Awka, the capital of Anambra State. As cosmopolitan as the Awka people are, they still revere their monkeys. They don’t harm or kill them let alone eat them. There are the Osokwa people in Ngwaland. They revere the bush fowl and don’t kill them. They also don’t eat the animal. The Oje people of Yorubaland won’t hunt the weaver bird. Of a fact, part of the Oje panegyrics is that the people loudly pride themselves as “a child of Oje who must not eat the weaver bird.” Also in many parts of Africa, the python is seen as sacred and is revered. The Eke Idemili (Anambra State of Nigeria) of yore comes to mind.
People derive all sorts of strength in their cultural and religious beliefs. Also, a lot of myths surround their submission to these animal symbols, and these vary from culture to culture. For instance, there were some rams from Ekebedi community in Ikwuano LGA of Abia State that were not declared sacred but which carried about that aura of invincibility because they were said to belong to the community’s deity, Kamanu. As primary and secondary school children, we saw the black rams frequently as they freely roamed and destroyed people’s homeside farms and gardens in the Ekebedi and in nearby Amizi. The rams, called “EbilaOgwuma” were common sights in Amizi and Ekebedi communities but curiously not found in even a nearer Awomukwu. The rams embodied danger as they moved in the herd, and they portended anger because they were always hungry and could be dangerous. Our fathers and mothers warned us not to harm them because they were owned by the gods. Thus, they were free in their destructive majesty up to AhiaOrieta and all around the Amankwu community axis of Amizi. The best we could do was to chase them from the gardens.
However, of all the animals in the list, I’m still curious why the cow is the most popular one used by the English to symbolize sacredness. It could be the shallowness of my knowledge of these things, but that is how I feel about the English language. What is it about the cow? Why didn’t the English say “the sacred python” as we have in some places in Ghana and Benin Republic, instead of “scared cow”? Like the sacred cow which the dictionary says is “above criticism”, other animals held sacred by various people, including the ‘EbilaOgwuma’ are also beyond reproach. So, why just the cow?
In matters of spirituality, there might not be a completely indefeasible argument. We just take it as it is, because it is beyond human comprehension. Perhaps, that is how we should simply bow to the proposition by the Zamfara State government in matters involving the man popularly agreed is a champion bandit and terrorist: Bello Turji. The Zamfara State government, through the deputy governor of the state, Senator Hassan Nasiha, said the notorious bandit has embraced the peace initiative of the government. The deputy governor indeed commended Turji for deciding to ceasefire after all these years and also thanked him for his action because it had brought about relative peace in three local government areas of the state namely: Shinkafi, BirninMagaji and Zurmi. “There were several wars fought but that did not stop the parties involved for dialogue to resolve their differences through peace deal. It is in the light of this that Governor Bello Mohammed thought it necessary to use kinetic and non-kinetic approaches. It would would not be a gun battle or a war using whatever weapons between the bandits and the people.”
Going by the numerous reports available on the killings that have been going on in the northern parts of the country, the region is not at war. What was and is being reported is that armed bandits, who have now been declared terrorists by the government, have descended on and seized towns and villages for mostly pecuniary gains. They have relentlessly massacred people and sacked villages and communities. Not once was it reported that Turji and his ilk were fighting a war and why. It is worthy of being studied what kind of voice Bello Turgi’s sanctimony came in which sucked-in the Zamfara government this much. It is to be seen what would become of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that would be relegated at the instance of Turji’s unilateral homecoming. Again, is the forgiven Bello Turji of Zamfara the same Bello Turji of Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina and Niger states? I think another study of the armed banditry in the various parts of the North will help unravel the flowery language with which Zamfara is describing this man.
Bello Turji is not known to be a man confined to one territory like Zamfara. He is like the Ìjàkùmò… He is not an animal for one territory. Meanwhile, helpless farmers are everywhere negotiating huge fees with terrorists and bandits so as to be able to access their farms. The farmers and their government leaders are all writing their history.
In matters of terrorism and banditry and security of life and property, Northern Nigeria is shaking hands with a clenched fist. There have been movements among enabling banditry to allowing it to condoning it and sundry languages as such. The deputy governor of Zamfara State might not know that he and others are breeding a monstrous tiger and creating historic chapter as he addressed students of Medina University. To many, Nasiha and his principal have achieved a great success by shutting Turji in their cage. To many others, there are doubts cast on this type of success and its genuineness, in all its ramifications. How secure is the cage in which the terrorist is held? We might need to read about him again.
The sacred animals come to mind once again. Sacred cow seems to have a new meaning. We must dig deep to find out which gods we offended that have unleashed these animals on us? These sacred animals are ruining our sanity.
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