My name is Oluwabunmi Bernard. I teach Yoruba language and literature at Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria.

I obtained my B.A, M.A., and PhD in Yoruba language and literature in 2008, 2012, and 2017 respectively from Obafemi Awolowo University. My area of specialization includes, Yoruba literature (oral and written), sexuality and gender studies, environmental studies, postcolonial studies, and peace and conflict management. I have published articles in books and Journals in these areas. My most recent publication titled “Construction of Environmental degradation and (in)fertility in Yoruba Orature” was published by Religion Compass in September 2021. I am currently in the US at the University of Michigan doing a research titled “Lend me your penis: A critical analysis morality and sexuality in Yoruba lampooning rituals” and in January 2022, I will be at SOAS University of London working on a research titled “Ecocritical Analysis of Ifa corpus on climate change, environmental degradation and sustainability in southwestern Nigeria”.
For the SFA workshop, I am working on a paper titled “Àlọ́ (Yorùbá Folktale) and the Discourse on Herdsmen-Farmers’ Conflicts”. My study will focus on arguing that conflicts between herders (Hausa/Fulani) and farmers (Yorùbá) are not recent issues with evidence drawn from Àlọ́ (Yorùbá Folktale). Àlọ́ (Yorùbá Folktale with chorus) is a genre of Yorùbá orature (oral literature), that tells stories about myths and histories. One of such stories is the one about how farmers have been incurring losses because of cattle grazing on their farms.

Nigeria is a country in west Africa, and within it are three (3) major ethnic groups; Yorùbá, Hausa, Igbo. The Yorùbá are mostly farmers while the Hausa are mostly pastoralists. Open grazing as opposed to ranching which allows for cattle to roam freely is more popular among the Fulani because it is believed to be tied to their ancestry. With this open grazing, herdsmen can travel with their cattle on foot from the northern part of Nigeria where they are domiciled to other parts of Nigeria including the Southwestern part where the Yorùbá farmers are. They move from town to town without settling in a place for a long period. The open grazing method of herding makes the cattle eat crops planted by farmers and that has resulted into conflict between the herders and farmers which has caused displacement of hundreds of thousands, thousands of deaths and environmental degradation. The conflict has been going on for a long time and even currently, it has become a national issue so much so that the herdsmen are now been referred to as terrorists.

What makes this research interesting to me is that as both a scholar and a Yorùbá native, I find it exciting when Yorùbá orature addresses not only local issues but global issues as well. Studies about peace and conflict have posited that “only in understanding the nature of what divides us can we hope to ultimately come together”, so, there is not a better time than now to carry out research of this nature because the conflict is now claiming more lives than the Boko haram insurgency in Nigeria.

Oluwabunmi Tope Bernard

Oluwabunmi Tope BERNARD, PhD teaches Yorùbá language and literature at Obafemi Awolowo University. Her research interest includes Yorùbá literature, gender and sexuality, postcolonial and environmental studies. She has authored and co-authored papers in these areas and published in reputable outlets. Her research on ‘Sexuality and Morality in the Yorùbá Lampooning Songs’ and ‘Ecocritical Analysis of Ifá corpus on Climate change and Environmental degradation’ won the prestigious UMAPS fellowship at the University of Michigan and A.G. Leventis fellowship at SOAS, University of London respectively in 2020. Her article “Constructing Environmental Degradation and (in)fertility in Yorùbá Orature” was published in Religion Compass in September 2021. Her current research “Àlọ́ (Yorùbá Folktale) and the Discourse on Herdsmen-Farmers’ Conflicts” employs hermeneutical tools for analysis of Àlọ́ (folktales) songs to show that Àlọ́ (folktales) contains historical references for understanding the plight of farmers in the hands of herdsmen. It draws excerpts from Àlọ́ (folktales) to conclude that its representation of clashes between herdsmen and farmers is evidence that the presence of these conflicts has always been part of the experiences of the people.