A bloody Sunday. Like many, unfortunately. If to the east war in Ukraine continues outside on its meaningless path of death for over 100 days, and in the west it shootings in the United States they are almost on the agenda, the ‘news’ is the massacre that took place inside one Catholic Church in Nigeria. It is among the most peaceful states in the country, spared in recent times from the wave of kidnappings and armed attacks that have hit neighboring regions, but on June 5, Ondo came into the spotlight for having been the scene of a bloody shooting of an armed commando , who broke into the Mass, opened fire on the believers and killed at least 50 people, including many children. Here we are again: innocent children killed just for being in the wrong place (how can you define a school wrong – see Ulvade, Texas – or a church?) At the wrong time.
The attack in the Church of Owo
It was going on there Sunday Mass when it, as the local police and media reported, at least quoted witnesses five armed men they opened fire and threw bombs at the believers inside Church of San Francesco in Owo, in southwestern Nigeria, killed several people. The command shot at people outside and inside the building, leaving at least 50 people lifeless, including women and children, and injuring dozens of believers who are now hospitalized in two state hospitals. The attackers then fled and their identities are unknown. Funmilayo Ibukun Odunlami, spokesman for the police in the state of Ondo, says investigators are investigating the causes of the attack. The motive is unclear but according to some sources, it can be attributed to the bloody inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions between the locals and the Islamic nomadic shepherds, Fulani, who cross the most populous African country.
Ondo Governor Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, who visited the scene of the attack and the wounded at the hospital, described Sunday’s incident as “a terrible massacre“It must not happen again. “It is very sad that while the Holy Mass was going on, unknown gunmen attacked the Catholic Church of St. Francis … leaving many dead and many more wounded and the church violated,” the spokesman for the Catholic Church said in a statement. Nigeria, Pastor Augustine Ikwu. According to him, both the priests and the bishop were present in the church unharmed. Also Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the attackcalls it “cruel,” and the Vatican has made it known that Sheepinformed of the attack on the church committed during the celebration of Pentecost, “pray for the victims and for the countrypainfully afflicted in a moment of feasting and leaves both to the Lord so that he may send his Spirit to comfort them ”.
Shepherds against peasants: “the harvest of death”
But what makes five men walk into a church that is mostly filled with women and children hurried to attend the fair on a Sunday in June and open fire? The reasons behind the massacre are not clear, in-depth investigations will be necessary, but the most accredited hypotheses relate to a rivalry as old as the world, it between peasants and shepherds, aggravated for religious and environmental reasons. Nigeria, especially in recent months, is struggling an Islamic uprising in the northeast and against armed gangs performing attacks and kidnappings for ransom purposes, especially in the northwest. But in the southwest, where the state of Ondo is located, attacks like this are rare. Unfortunately, not even a peaceful population of farmers can escape the massacre: in 2018, Amnesty International had released a report documenting a genuine “the harvest of death“, Documents the deaths, more and more (in the form of thousands of people), even though they are ‘ignored’ internationally – and some are even accused by President Buhari himself – caused by this internal conflict between nomadic peasants and shepherds.
Yesterday’s attack on the church of San Francesco di Owo in the small agricultural state that houses over three million inhabitants, most of them Yoruba Christiandespite its illogical cruelty, it does not appear to be different from those already taking place in the past – albeit in smaller numbers than in other regions – of Fulani extremistsa semi-nomadic population of Islamic faith spread in several West African countries.
The climate crisis and the rivalry of the faith are fueling the conflict
There is an environmental cause behind the repeated attacks by nomadic shepherds. Because of climate change and the progressive desertification of land, in fact, populations like Fulani is forced to continuous movements to find pastures for farms and it leads them to go further and further south. A real battle for the landwhich leads them to destroy however, I crops and crops of permanent people of the various African states. Josiah Oluwole, at The Times, for example, explains that in the state of Ondo, this would be the cause of the diatribe. Even if, as he explains, it conflict on the religious level, between Muslim nomadic shepherds and Christian peasants. Unfortunately, there are few who accuse the central government itself of passivity against the invading ‘extremists’, also because Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, is from the Fulani family, which is why he would have ‘turned a blind eye’ to several times in his term, facing certain attacks. The fact is that one losers, as always, are the most defenseless people, especially innocent children. And it is also a story as old as the world, which, however, should be put an end to.