Burkina Faso : Clash between farmers and herders at Poni
A clash between farmers and stock-keepers ended with three deaths and a number of people injured in the village of Perkoura, in the south west of Burkina (County of Loropéni, 25 kms from Bouroum-Bouroum, a couple of cable lengths from Dimolo.) It all started on the evening of May 24th, with a fight between a farmer and two cattle herders, putting a strain on the 8 year long peaceful coexistence between the two communities.
The stock-keepers campsite in Perkoura was reduced to ashes. The village, in the department of Loropéni, lies in the midst of luxuriant green vegetation. Upon our arrival the first deputy of the mayor and a team of security police were on guard at the site of the camp, destroyed by fire the previous night. According to witnesses, the fire was an act of retaliation by a brother of Palé Sognaté Kodjo, who was killed on May 24th by two herders. The victim’s wife, Palé Kpièwènami, says they were clearing their field when oxen, belonging to the two herdsmen, came on the land. Her husband, after his return home, went back to the field and ordered the two herdsmen to leave. A dispute broke out and degenerated into a violent fight. The farmer had felled one herdsman to the ground, but succumbed after being struck in the back by a second herdsman carrying a machete. The president of the village community Jonas Kambiré called the police and the governor of Loropéni. The funeral took place the following day, once the formal investigation had been completed.
On the evening of May 25th two herdsmen were beaten to death. One was the family head of the camp and the other a young man who had been hired to guard the cattle. The author of this double killing was allegedly the brother of the slain farmer. The compound consisted of about ten huts, which were burnt down and there was also considerable loss of other goods. According to Barry Saga 2 motor cycles, 5 bicycles, 9 sheep and 3 calves had been taken away. He could not understand why his hosts wanted to lay the blame for the slaying of the farmer on him. His view was that the crime had been committed by a cattle keeper and his companion. They had then fled and subsequently one of them had been arrested by the police.
Widespread panic in the neighbouring villages
On Tuesday the 27th, calm returned to Perkoura, where 3 people had died, 4 herders had disappeared and several had been injured. But general fright, bolstered by rumours, had reached all the surrounding villages. Thus a team of security officers and the Governor of Loropéni went out to the villages of Dipeo and Dimolo, where farmers and cattle keepers had also been fighting. At Bouroum Bouroum there was a stampede of people running from the central market and the school, after a rumour spread that a pupil had been killed by a cattle keeper.
A Perkoura, the two communities, which have been living peacefully side by side for 8 years, no longer seem to see eye to eye. The cattle keepers preferred leaving the village, taking with them the belongings left to them.
Hompko Sylvestre KAMBOU
LE PAYS daily paper
May 30th 2008
When we decided to publish this account of the clash between farmers and herders, the aim was not to accuse on side or the other. Our primary concern was to alert readers to a factual state of affairs, which is all too often swept under the carpet. It also serves as an introduction to our next newsletter, which is on a happier note and refers to other situations, which have generated good relations between the two camps. We will also be looking at ways to help
pastoralists – too frequently treated as foreigners - find their rightful place in society in Burkina Faso.
March 31st 2008