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General Board / On the Kannywood/Nollywood Dichotomy and Related Issues
« on: October 02, 2017, 10:39:12 AM »
On the Kannywood/Nollywood Dichotomy and Related Issues

Muhsin Ibrahim
Institute of African Studies and Egyptology
University of Cologne

I attended a conference themed “The Other’s Other: Performance and Representation in Language” organized by, and held at, the University of Cologne, Germany, between 25-26 Sept. 2017. I presented a talk on the subaltern themes and motifs in the Nigerian film industries [emphasis added]. It is a common knowledge, I guess, to all that “Othering” does not only exist in the film, it thrives. Thus, my paper argues on how the regional filmmakers in Nigeria have, consciously or not, been widening the existing binary and rivalry between the country’s diverse ethnic and religious groups. At the risk of sounding self-congratulatory, the paper generated a lot of discussions and debates. This article is sort of a précis of the talk and the debates.

The focus of the deliberations, particularly in the post-conference side talk, was surprisingly changed from “Othering” to the existence and peculiarities of Kannywood film industry besides the “Global Nollywood”, to use Krings and Okome (2013) term. The distinction is, of course, arguable, but I am of the strong belief that it exists. The regional, ethnic, linguistic and thematic differences between the two industries are too many and too glaring to be swept under the carpet. The Indian Bollywood, for example, too, does not represent all the country’s film industries, which are quite many and independent. A typical example can be cited with that record-breaking epic fantasy, Bahuali (2016&2017). To the surprise of many, as a film made by the south Indian company, it was not produced under the banner of the mainstream Bollywood.

Some scholars such as Kaplan (1996:661) suggest that “A nation has to develop its own cinematography, its own film language, by relying on its own visual culture, narrative traditions, and capacity for artistic experiments”, Nigeria, much more than India, cannot achieve that because of its heterogeneity and the raging contention between its diverse ethnic groups – IPOB, Niger Delta Avengers, etc. as a few examples. Nollywood and Kannywood are, arguably, the two major, distinct cinemas in Nigeria.

On the one hand, Nollywood is based in the South (mainly Lagos) and produces films with Christianity and mostly Western-influenced motifs as themes, and are largely in English, or other major Nigerian languages, except Hausa. On the other hand, Kannywood (named after Kano state) films are almost exclusively in Hausa; Islam is their trademark, though what they portray may not be in compliance with the religion. The filmmakers look up to Bollywood as role-model. That is why music and dance sequence is one of the prevalent signatures of their films.

For ages, Bollywood has had a long history of spectacular acceptance in northern Nigeria. For many reasons, though not central to the topic under discussion, however, some people believed that there was a need to establish an indigenous film industry. In response to that, Kannywood was born in the early 1990s. In other words, the film industry was purportedly founded as a reaction to the imported foreign films, mainly from India, Hong Kong and America that bear and bring in the foreign ethos that is not religiously and culturally “unsuitable” for the Hausa audience, especially children.

As aforesaid, Nollywood films are markedly different from Kannywood’s. Not only that, there has been a kind of incidental/accidental misrepresentation of the Hausa man in their films. Hausa people have been featured in varied roles. However, they are virtually consistently represented as subordinates or simpletons, and rarely as serious characters. A Hausa man may be a simplistic guardsman who speaks the worst broken English; or a foolish cobbler, a beggar, a corrupt politician with a bulging stomach, speaking in heavily-accented English; a randy old sugar daddy chasing female undergraduates, etc., amid an aristocratic, rich, cultured and educated world of southern people. Directly or indirectly, the Southerner is always the ‘Self’ - and that the northerner is the ‘Other’.

As a subtle counteraction or a subconscious description of the marginalised as well, the usual depiction of the southerners, or even some northern minorities in Kannywood films, is seldom nothing short of a travesty. Zukogi (2014) concludes that the Dan Gwari is constantly portrayed as a heathen who eats pork and gleefully drinks his local gin and is dull in his social interactions and poor in his mastery of the dominant language, Hausa; the Igbo is the quintessential Shylock, mean and grasps in business and money matters; the Yoruba plays the clown, the talkative, rambling character who repeatedly interferes in matters that do not concern him.

In both instances described above, the subalternity is, to adapt Marks’s (2000:05) words, sometimes “narratively thin but emotionally full.” Once a member of that ‘marginalised’ ethnic group watches how his kinsman is portrayed, he feels the pain of the attack, or, as it is the case sometimes, laugh if off.

There is, however, a little improvement in the portrayal of the ‘Other’ in Hausa films in recent years. The two leading film industries have, in an effort to establish an intercultural cinema, experimented a collaboration and produced films like Wata Shari’ar, Maja, Karangiya, Hajiya Babba, etc. in which stars of Kannywood and Nollywood, like the late Rabilu Musa (Dan Ibro), Nkem Owoh (Osofia), John Okafor (Mr. Ibu), Jim Iyke, Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme (Ake and Pawpaw) are featured. Some actors like Ali Nuhu, Sani Danja, and lately Rahama Sadau from Kannywood have equally been featured in some Nollywood films. But this is not enough to lump the two film industries together.

Again, the experimented collaboration was obviously not as successful as anticipated. It has been, by and large, suspended. One may argue, however, that it continues on the satellite channels broadcast series of Dadin Kowa and its sequel, Dadin Kowa Sabon Salo, Zarki, etc. But these are not known actors; most of them are debutants in the series. Yet, worthy of note is that the portrayal of the “other and sub-cultures” is generally positive, and poses to foster mutual respect and understanding among the diverse ethnic groups.
In a nutshell, my lecture on this dichotomy exposed to me the fact that Nollywood is amazingly popular in Africa and beyond, while Kannywood still, shockingly, however, lingers in obscurity. I am aware that some select films have been shown in the US and Europe, but the glory of Nollywood is matchless to Kannywood’s. A number of factors are responsible for this, but the chief ones include language (English vs. Hausa); the northerners standoffish, closed attitude towards Kannywood films, and lack of collaboration between our academes and the filmmakers. As I write this, only a single university in the whole Northern Nigeria offers Film Studies as a course. Academics that show interest to study film or a related discipline are still discouraged or denied any chance to do so.

Moreover, to many, supporting Kannywood in whatever name is a sin. The obloquy over and the rejection of the Federal Government’s proposal to build a 3-billion worth film village in Kano, which is the epicenter of Kannywood film production and consumption, is still fresh in our memories. I don’t want to restart any banal argument on the legitimacy or otherwise of what the filmmakers do and whatnot here. What I know for sure is that nobody can ban filmmaking in Kano and other northern states. If that is the case, we should look for ways to make the “rubbish” they do better, etc. Armchair criticism will not change anything. With your permission or not, your wife, kids and wards will watch that which you lampoon on the social media. Thus, we should not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Lest you forget what I have said in the foregoing paragraphs, Kannywood is not Nollywood. The two are related but different.

General Board / Ife Massacre I
« on: March 13, 2017, 06:28:24 PM »
News: Nigeria is sick 🛏️

According to a Daily Trust report, a fight broke at Panteka market, Kaduna state, between Igbos and Hausawa. Tracing the genesis of the clash, an eyewitness narrated that a Hausa trader, Muhammad, named his dog Ibere, after an Igbo fellow trader. Mr. Ibere warned him to rename the dog but he refused. To even the equation, the Igbo guy purchased a dog and named it Muhammad. And then, all hell broke loose.

Elsewhere, the Daily Nigerian reported from Sabo Ife, Osun state, that a disagreement,which was soon resolved, between a Yoruba lady and a Hausa man led to the massacre of more than 30 Hausa settlers by a militia group, Great Ife. Most of their business places, houses and mosques were razed down.

While I believe that the Hausa trader is at fault for refusing to rename his dog, the Great Ife miscreants have no ground whatsoever to go on rampage and murder such a number of innocent Hausawa. The state government should, as a matter of urgency, take decisive and drastic action to disband the group. Its members should be arrested and charged according to the book.

Nigeria has so much hurdles to overcome for it to move forward. Ethno-religious conflicts are some of the most serious blocks for the country's development. Unfortunately however, the crisis does not seem to end soon, perhaps forever. The recent spade of such clashes between clans should awake the government to take more serious measures, lest things go out of hands. It is despairing. Wallahul musta'aan.

May Allah restore peace in Sabo Ife, Panteka market and all other troubled places, amin. May Allah rest the souls of the deceased, grant speedy recovery for the wounded, and support all others affected, amin.

Islam / Is Islam a Curse to Nigerians?
« on: March 13, 2017, 06:20:20 PM »
"Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, has more Muslims than any Arab country does." - Lewis, 2006:563.

No doubt, we discuss, argue and fight over the religion more than any other thing. What is, and/or should be, a blessing is turning into a curse. It's sad, unfortunate and despairing.

Talk about Islam, and everyone is a Sheikh. Thanks but no thanks to Google and other similar technology - enabled platforms where every John Doe can just tap/click and voila, the verse and/or the Hadith appears. And he subsequently interprets it the way that suits him.

I am literally speaking tired of the intra religious squabbles we do every so often. I really am. It's largely futile, even puerile. Nowadays, the youths no longer attend Islamic schools, Tafseer and other forums where Islamic exegesis is taught. It's now Facebook, WhatsApp and so on. Hmm.

Islam (or is it the so-called Muslim world?) faces a lot of challenges. We really have to be very careful. Not everything we read online is worth savouring. Many stuffs do not deserve our attention, or deliberation. Go to real scholars. May Allah continue to protect His religion, amin.

General Board / Ife Massacre II
« on: March 13, 2017, 06:17:08 PM »
Sometime ago, a video of a Brazilian girl being attacked and torched by a mob went viral. I mistakenly watched it. I profusely regretted doing that, for it kept on hunting me like a scene from a horror film in my childhood.

Again, when the South African xenophobic attacks on Nigerians resurged last month, another video of a guy being shot several times by some attackers went viral. In my curiosity to verify the news of the attacks, I grudgingly watched it. Wallahi the incident still startles me.

And now, the #IfeMassacre occurred. I wrote about the bloodshed on Facebook and Twitter, and talked about it with many people for it's disappointing, disheartening and despairing. Yet I did not watch the video until much later - yesterday, I think. I couldn't help it, for I felt the urge to 'witness' what transpired over there, on the people I care much about, and on whose calamity I write and talk. I felt, and still feel, numbed after watching it. I had nightmare over it. The scene of human beings being on fire and chased like worst of animals is so barbaric, unsettling and unimaginable. Their crime is only being Hausawa! Innaalillaahi wa innaa ilaihi raaji'uun!

All said, I have read some stupidest of God's creations asking us what have we said when the so-called Fulani herdsmen killed people in Southern Kaduna. Another quarried me, when I tweeted the President about it, what did the President say about the same Kaduna killings? Can people be that dumber?

Supposed I or the President haven't said anything, and that's wrong; thus, what's wrong in saying something about #IfeMassacre? Wallahi if that video doesn't move anyone who watches it, one should ask oneself about his/her humanity. I am of the opinion that even the perpetrators would feel for their preys if they later watch the clip.

The Brazilian girl and the purported Nigerian in South Africa were not Hausas, or Muslims. They are humans. But what befell them pulled me down, WALLAHI. However, when some unfeeling fellow Nigerians, blacks, probably Muslims find it undoable or difficult to sympathise and empathise with their fellows is simply beyond my comprehension.

RIP, Humanity. RIP, Common Sense. RIP, One Nigeria.

Muhsin Ibrahim

General Board / The Rise of Rape Cases in Kano
« on: May 22, 2016, 02:13:30 PM »
The Rise of Rape Cases in Kano

Muhsin Ibrahim

The recent infamous sodomy case of Hassan Ibrahim Gwarzo Secondary School, Kano did not happen in a vacuum. Numerous similar other cases occurred and continue to but they are unfortunately seldom reported, for they did not affect the children of the affluents. For instance, about a week or so ago, I heard on Rahama Radio program that a young man had sexually defiled about 5 boys in their neighborhoods. While interviewed by Fagge Hisbah Command, the amateur homo said that nobody had ever taught, or had a similar contact with him. He, I learned, wanted to say that that was something inborn to him. This is a lie. Homosexuality is nothing innate; sex attraction is physiologically between opposite sexes.

Another horrendous, even more horrible, happening is the spate of rape cases of underage girls in the state. A doctor at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital disclosed that in the hospital alone they, on almost daily basis, get more than ten rape cases of either boys or girls. I didn't believe her story until when I heard that a boy in our neighbourhoods was sexually assaulted last night. And then the stories of similar cases emerged from here and there. I say: Innaa lillahi wa innaa ilaihi raaji'uun! What is our community turning into?

I have chronicled the following on my Facebook page. I think I should repost it on my blog for more publicity and awareness.

As reported on the Freedom Radio “Inda Ranka” program on 7th February 2016, a man raped his friend's daughter after fetching her from their primary school. On another instance, a 65-year-old paedophile raped a 12-year-old girl. Again, a few days later, this time at Gwammaja quarters, a girl, 6, was raped, decapitated and dumped on the street. I was devastated, wallahi.

I grappled with the sinister story for the rest of the night till the almighty sleep surreptitiously snapped me. As I woke up today, the same begins to hunt me. I am out of words to say. It's so sickening such things are happening in our midst.

A far more sickening shocker happened this week. A girl, 16, was waylaid by a gang of four rapists while seeing her friend's boyfriend off at Kawo Maigari, Hotoro quarters. The latter and a friend later joined the assailants who are actually his friends and raped the innocent girl repeatedly. She's now at the hospital battling for her life.

According to the reports, all the savage rapists are children born with silver spoons. Thus, their parents have been restless, doing everything to secure their kids' release. However the Kano police command paraded them, and vows to see that justice prevails.

It's heartrending that girls are becoming more vulnerable in our societies today. It's more heartbreaking that people don't seem to care much. We rather labour ourselves in criticising or defending politicians whom care little or not at all about us.

Due to our nonchalant attitudes, several other similar cases occurred and ended under-reported or unreported at all. Again, the rapists are oftentimes acquitted - and some are never even tried - in spite of whatever evidence brought against them.

I wouldn't get tired of telling parents to be more vigilant and more prayerful. It’s not all doomed. We really need to wake up. Parents and guardians ought to be very wary with regards to the movements of their daughters and wards. Do not trust any non-Maharam near them, though it is no longer girls whose movements and activities should be monitored. The same, or more, measures should be applied on the male children, for they are now equally vulnerable. Know their friends and other people they deal or chat with on the Internet and offline. Do everything, but don't be over protective, for only Allah can truly secure the chaste of our girls today.

India took a number of measures, including legislative ones to curtail dramatic rise in rape in the country. Nigeria should do the same to amend the constitution to apply a capital punishment to anybody found guilty of rape, or a very long sentence with hard labour for these animals. They deserve no mercy whatsoever, for they do not have an ounce of it. I hope Muslim Women Lawyers Association and similar concerned groups and associations will always follow any rape cases in and outside Kano.

Allah ya iya mana kawai, amin.

My Cogitations on the Nigerian Fuel Subsidy Removal Saga

Muhsin Ibrahim

I persevere but I don’t pretend; I deride double standard and declare the truth as I see it. I wholeheartedly believe that nobody is infallible, thus humans, including myself, can be right or wrong. I also believe that nobody can do anything to satisfy everyone. An old saw on politics however states that “majority carry the vote”. A politician wins or loses election by the sole decision of the majority, the masses. I practically believe that whatever a government does should be pro-masses, for they duly deserve the reward. It is not a privilege; it is their right.

For nearly a year now, Nigerian masses have been seeing things contrary to their expectations. They are simply suffering, though their lives are, largely, more secured now than before the President Muhammdu Buhari’s government. The Buhari they knew is no longer the Buhari that rules this country. That one was an agile and sturdy soldier who was pro and for them. Today’s Buhari is a politician, seemingly confused and succumbs to the IMF’s, World Bank’s, western, governors’ and senators’ pressure, while the masses come second. The suffering, if not tackled soon, is about to reach a crescendo and could be as disastrous as the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency. While the latter cuts life shorter, the former shatters optimism, troubles minds and leads people to total despair and self-loath.

And yes, nothing good comes easy, the cliché says. But the timing of this deregulation, fuel subsidy removal, whatever it’s called, is pretty bad. Nigerians have already been going through a lot, and for the Muslims, the month of Ramadan is around the corner. We all know what usually happens to the prices of food, vegetables and fruits during that period. This year’s might be lame and dry, for it’s survival the faithful are more after than any luxury.

A few days back, a local government chairman in Kano swore by Allah to us that he had not received a kobo as a grant for the past six months! Wallahi many people live by begging. Students cannot pay for their school fees. Prices have multiplied. People are dying in the hospitals – and resident doctors have just begun an indefinite strike! Oh my God.

Defending the Indefensible

I have overheard and heard, read and reread so much funny, incredible, if not ridiculous, narratives regarding this fuel subsidy removal. How so many people take the President doesn’t deserve any mentioning. But PMB is human like us, though we have so much hope and confidence that he will deliver, and so he will by the grace of Allah.

Since the announcement of the subsidy removal, so much effort has been made to downplay its effects and to rationalize the government’s action by the untiring, never apologetic Buharists. I am sorry to say, but the more I read/hear about those desperate ‘explanations’ the more wrong I see it. The ‘rationalization’ is often a bunch of gobbledygook. Only a few make sense, and none has yet convinced me fully.

There was, initially, a viral message on Facebook and other social media that the federal government did not actually increase the pump price, thus only the independent marketers could and would be selling it at N145 per litre. That false story was soon discredited when it appeared clearly that even the NNPC mega stations sell it at that price or a little lower (N143).

The following day, another folktale emerged that in Kano, a major independent marketer, AA Rano sells it at N107 per litre. I quickly went to his new filling station at my workplace, Bayero University, Kano (New Campus) to verify the claim. I was disappointed for the price was and still is N140. Some zealots still doggedly denied it. AA Rano was later on interviewed by the Radio France Hausa, and he disavowed the rumour. So, what’s left? We are waiting, for they may still doctor yet another or other narrative(s) to defend their (our) ever-right president.

With due respect, the unrepentant Buharists should not be too apathetic, please. We all feel the heat, and the hardship is excruciating. So, be careful and don’t exacerbate our condition by gagging us, or insulting us for expressing our opinions. We are not anti-PMB. Most of us also love him, but we know and believe that he could be wrong as he is now. And please, as I often say it, self-respect matters a lot. Don’t, thus, spread false news. It’s not healthy and it quickly demeans ones seriousness and credibility.

Where I Stand

I agree that the subsidy may have to go to save the country’s economy from crumbling, but don’t forget that governments, especially Nigerian, have other ways to source money other than from its citizens. Nigeria can cut expenses, borrow or even use its foreign reserve, etc. at least for a year or more until the completion of the refineries under refurbishment/construction. Poor Nigerians are literally living “hand to mouth”, without any surplus. Even the palliative the government is willing and preparing to start paying will not help any matter. We need a lasting solution, not temporal.

If we #OccupyNigeria in 2012 for the same reason, why should we be silent now? I know for sure that this government is better than its predecessor, but the living condition and the financial status of both the country and its people was not as acute as now, and yet we protested. If we cannot do the same now, I believe that the least we can do is to criticise the government as it deserves that. Let us express our disappointment and disapproval in a diplomatic way, and without abusing or calling anyone names, to purge our annoyance. PMB too has mentioned it that his government welcomes constructive criticism.

Finally, I don’t support the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) planned strike and protest. Let us not give room for some jobless, hopeless hoodlums, who are now numerous because of the economic situation in the country, to attack non-indigenes homes and business places, public property, politician houses, etc. What peace gives, hostility takes away. These pressure groups and others should find better ways to dialogue with the government. May the government sympathise and empathise with us, amin.

Allah ya kyauta, amin.

chit-chat / We are all jealous II
« on: April 21, 2016, 12:27:10 PM »
As newcomers in India, my wife purchased an Indian traditional, unstitched attire. We went looking for a tailor and found one unisex male tailor in our neighbourhoods in Jalandhar. The tailor's shop is attached to his house; one can see the inner part of the house from the shop.

The tailor wanted to take the measurements of my wife, but I said no. That could either be taken by me or his wife who we saw peeping to see the "foreigners" her husband was speaking English with.

Surprised, socked and saddened, he called the wife. She came holding a baby, while he's still on the sewing machine. I thus attempted to collect the baby while he, in a husky voice, asked me to stop. Astonished, I halted. He stood up, came out, collected the baby and handed it to me. In a rather friendly manner, he said that he wouldn't allow me have a slightest body (i.e hands) contact with his wife either.

There are thousands and one more similar stories to tell. I think all humans have tendency to feel jealous, especially of their spouses.

Jealousy in other places, or better, endeavours in life is strongly discouraged in Islam. It mounts to "hassada", unbound/undue envy. This consumes one's good deeds as does fire to thatch.

We should therefore refrain from the latter, and do the former. Should you die in the protection of the virtues of your wife, Allah, the Exalted, promises you Heaven.

Let's be empathetic humans. Do unto others what you would want others do unto you.

chit-chat / We are all jealous
« on: April 20, 2016, 06:05:57 PM »
Jealousy is, to an extent, encouraged in marriage in Islam, and so it is in many religions and cultures around the world. While some are born jealous, others are made so. Yet, some defy the religious, cultural, even commonsensical precept and choose to be unenvious. They care not for their wives, daughters, wards, sisters, etc.

I was told a story of a man, an ardent fan of Indian films. He everyday tells his wife, while watching the films, that the most beautiful women are in India. The wife doesn't like that, yet she keeps mum. It disturbs her a lot for obvious reasons.

One day, the wife told the husband that even the handsomest men are in India. He was quickly aghast. He though repressed his infuriation but decided to never watch any Indian film henceforth. That's to avoid what he could have done to the wife should she repeat what she's just said.

A professor at BUK once told us a similar, however far more upsetting story of one of his friends and his wife. She praised an Indian actor in his presence. That became the genesis of their eventual breakup. How unfortunate!

My word of caution here is: husbands should equally understand that their wives are also humans with feelings and all that. Don't only think that you are allowed to add another wife (for Muslims), and that's a licence to extol other women in front of your wife. You can do that but in discretion and, preferably, in her absence. Doing otherwise is sincerely speaking insensitive and inconsiderate.

It's said that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. So, let's be human, careful and considerate.

General Board / Baba Ganduje, "Aika-Aika" and "Aiki"
« on: April 17, 2016, 07:11:16 AM »
Following the Governor's unjustified action ("aika-aika") to buy exquisite, expensive cars worth over N600m for the State House of Assembly representatives, the ace and fearless investigative journalist of Freedom Radio, Kano, Nasiru Salisu Zango exposed how priority was misplaced, for the government had stopped the rebuilding work of the kidney dialysis room of Abdullahi Wase General Hospital called Asibitin Nassarawa. The room was gutted by fire some 2 years ago.

Zango aired the report a couple of days ago, though he has already had over 30 other reports on the same issue but the government was as silent as a rock. The hospital has always been inundated with patients. They have only been improvising, using a smaller room with fewer machines to treat the patients. Some patients might have died while waiting for their turn.

That was "aika-aika". No doubt about that. But the "aiki", a real project, has also (re) commenced yesterday, apparently following the exposition and comparison made by Zango.

I am impressed by both Zango and the government. I like a leader who listens. It's unfortunate that often the people around him, some of whom are employed to advise him, would rather kowtow to the boss, as it's said in the Nigerian parlance, in order to put food on their table to the detriment of the masses.

Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje is unquestionably very well educated, a vastly experienced civil servant and elderly. It's a huge contradiction, even incongruous that he's sometimes found wanting, or executing some weird projects in Kano. I just can't fathom it, wallahi.

I hope the Governor listens again and again and attentively to the masses who voted him in. He ought to listen to us for both earthly and heavenly gains. May Allah guide him and all our other leaders deliver, amin.

General Board / PMB and the Parable of a Homeboy
« on: April 03, 2016, 04:37:25 PM »
The cliché says that if you want to find out how hard a guy really is, go see his shelter/residence/room. This is so said for many a time, you will see a city (and now even a village) boy walking majestically, dressed in the vogue attire, sometimes spending the little money he has conspicuously, etc while his room is in a mess.

For those who don't know about the city boy very well, they wrongly think that he lives in El Dorado and has no problem whatsoever. But that's not true. That's in fact a stark contrast of the reality on the ground.

Oftentimes the homeboy acknowledges this fact when confronted and is willing, seldom trying, to fix things up, to live up to what's believed of him to be true. But he doesn't give a damn in other instances about what everyone says. He's just trending, the subject matter for the ladies' chitchat and that's all. He feels on top of the world.

And now:

Our dear President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) is globetrotting. He dresses in elegance and splendour. He is passionately and fashionably mingling among the world leaders who, in a similar homeboy scenario, praise him.

Back at home, some people, out of sheer admiration or (is it?) hero worshipping, think what's said of PMB by those leaders can bring food to their table, is enough to fuel their motorcycles and cars, can reduce the prices of basic commodities, etc. are incredibly jubilating. How interesting! I sense inferiority complex. No apology.

All that is said about PMB by Obama, Cameron, Putin, Holland, Erdogan, everyone else cuts no ice whatsoever with me. I am sure you equally feel the wrath of the current situation in the country, perhaps more than I do. So, stop pretending.

I personally, firmly believe that PMB is the right man to patch things up in Nigeria, but not by going in the direction he's heading at the moment. Things need to be given a far more pragmatic approach. We may not survive this excruciating hardship, wallahi. People are languishing in pain, anger and despair.

Please and please, bring back our able PMB. We are fed up with this homeboy-esque leadership. End fuel scarcity, assist in stopping this inflation, improve power production, sign the 2016 budget, empower the judiciary, provide more jobs, improve the security as kidnapping is becoming a trade even in the North, etc, etc, etc. Oh Allah, forgive and deliver us, amin. 😢😢😢


Islam / ISLAM: A Faith Full of Prohibitions?
« on: June 09, 2015, 07:35:13 PM »
Islam: A Faith Full of Prohibitions?

Muhammad Muhsin Ibrahim
@muhsin234 (Twitter)

Islam and its about 2 billions adherents suffer an acute ad hominem criticism in various places in the world today. The condemnations are wide and wild. While the notorious one centres on terrorism carried out by some Muslims, dubbed extremists; a salient other one is on the many prohibitions embedded in the religion. A non-Muslim friend of mine once told me, “I can’t practice Islam. There are more ‘Noes’ than there are ‘Yeses’ in it”. I didn’t quickly affirm or snub her allegation. I rather felt the need to study the whole thing thoroughly, and so I did.

There are of course many “noes”, which are, nonetheless, for the wellness of humankind. For instance, Islam bans all intoxicants (cigarette and alcohol deserve particular mention), pork meat, interest and usury, any sexual immodesty (adultery, fornication, incest, phonograph, etc); gay marriage, among others. Religion is religion. It must not always seem reasonable to a faithful before he (generic) abide by all its rules and regulations. Needless to say, though, is the simple fact that scores of medical, social, financial, etc discoveries confirm the rationale of these proscriptions. I will discuss this later after a brief digression.

Often, a Muslim, especially living in non-Muslim majority places, chooses to ‘belong’, hence disregards the ethics of Islam and ignores to uphold its core values. In the same vain, he might seldom be found observing some inconsequential religious duties, as a Muslim at least by identity. In this effort to be present in two places at once, he ends up pleasing no one; both Allah and the people he wants to be part of. Bollywood Muslim actors are a typical example. A few months ago, an influential BJP leader called on Hindus to boycott films of Khans. And it’s very apparent that they neither please Allah by their films.

So many scholars, both Muslims and non-Muslims such as Thomas Cleary in The Essential Koran (2011), have attested to the fact that Islam does not demand unreasoned belief. Rather, it invites intelligent faith, growing from observation, reflection and contemplation, beginning with nature and what’s around us. That, and not “Holy war”, as Jihad is wrongly translated, aided the widespread of the religion across the globe. That, too, made the religion to champion in the courses of human (social, moral, financial, political, technological, medical, etc) development. This was also what “nursed Europe out of Dark Ages” (Ibid: vii). As discussed, there’s nothing good for mankind in the aforementioned banned things and acts.

A few years ago in Nigeria, the ex-governor of the Central Bank and the current emir of Kano, Malam Sanusi L. Sanusi spearheaded the introduction of a Shari’ah-compliant, non-interest banking system. Although the same has been practiced in many countries, including the UK, some Christian groups stubbornly opposed it. He, or another person – I can’t recall exactly – advised them to bring forward a Christian-compatible system and it would be incorporated in the system the same way Islamic banking is. They couldn’t and still can’t.

There have been discoveries on the health risk and danger of eating pork meat. The hazard of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption need no mention, for they are ubiquitous. That’s why a number of warnings and restrictions always accompany their adverts and selling everywhere. Islam, being a divine religion, already prohibits us from taking those poisonous substances.

On the polygyny issue, which often transcends to women rights, Islam champions this course as well. For over a thousand years, Islam gives women right to own property and to inherit, trade, work, etc. No religious book limits a man to marry one wife (two, three or four, max. on unequivocal conditions and guidelines) except the Qur’an. If women are not allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia, for instance, that’s their law, not Islamic.

There’s also a huge health risk in same-sex marriage. In fact no religion approves of it. Even the Vatican declares that the recent referendum result that gives nod to gay marriage in Ireland is a defeat for humanity. It’s only Muslims’ rejection that’s a thorn in the flesh but for obvious reasons, I suppose.

What is more? Islam is a religion for humanity that contains a well-nourished, befitting message to meet the contingencies of all time: past, present and future. The media, which are largely controlled by non-Muslims who mostly have an entrenched hatred for Islam, largely concentrate only on the wrongdoings of Muslims. ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and the like are contravention of Islam. We barely hear about the plight of Muslims in many places such as Myanmar/Burma, Sri Lanka, Central African Republic, etc. Muslims are portrayed only as the bad guys. This is why people think there are more negativities than there are positivities in the religion. Wrong. I urge you to research on Islam from authentic sources.

Buhari’s Handshake Uproar: It’s all about Politics, Nothing Islamic

Let me be categorically clear from the onset that I am not here to legitimize the president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari’s handshake with any non-maharam woman. The often cited instances of other Muslim leaders of, among others, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia doing the same is, at best, extraneous and at worst, clumsy. No amount of words, logic, wisdom, etc can make what’s already haram (forbidden) such as an unconditional body contact with a non-maharam woman by another man halal (legit). That is my understanding, firm belief and sturdy stand.

Buhari’s action is, however, purely personal between him and his Creator, Allah. I am very sure that Buhari, being a Hausa-Fulani and Muslim, knows that. He would, if he at all allows it, definitely frown at anybody shaking the hands of his wife, his daughter or his female wards. He did not grow up seeing the same being done in their house nor in his immediate environment. And yes, we didn’t elect him because he’s versed in Islamic knowledge and to establish Shari’ah – and if you did so, you are very wrong. Christian, Muslim, etc Nigerians voted for Buhari to salvage the country from the shackles of the PDP-led government under Jonathan. His sins have nothing whatsoever to do with the development and growth, security, corrupt-free public servants and employment for the youths Nigerians zealously anticipate to witness under his leadership.

Enough of that, I believe. The annual birthday celebration (i.e. Maulud) of ‘Sheikh’ Ibrahim Nyass took place in Kano a few days ago (in the same week Buhari shook the hand of Mrs. Oshiomole). A so-called Malam (scholar) among the invitees openly blasphemed against the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) in the crudest and unheard of language. That was a sacrilege worth a downright condemnation by the Nigerian Muslims and the entire Ummah. It’s, to me and to many others, far worse than the caricatures of the Prophet done by the infamous Denmark magazine, the Charlie Hebdo’s and anybody else that I know of in all my living days.

As a netizen, I expected to see a far more fuss and fume from among the Muslim brethrens who just a few days ago expressed their angst towards the President-Elect for going against the Prophet’s teaching. There’s however a loud silence. I wondered why? I then recalled that Buhari is a politician and who has a cult-like followers especially in the north. Thus, disparaging him especially by a fellow northerner and in these days while the adoration and admiration is still afresh stands you a good chance to become popular. It’s almost certain that that would attract attention, for the critic displays ‘brevity’, ‘dispassion’ and ‘candor’.

The criticism might be more political than seeking for a cheap popularity, I further discovered. Many among those detractors have once or twice doggedly defended their fave politicians (for example former and the current governors of Kano State, Malam Shekarau and Engr. Kwankwaso, respectively) for committing exactly the same sin (handshake with a woman). But due to a double standard, they now nitpicked on Buhari. I think we shouldn’t be selective in telling the truth. Say the truth even on your own self, Islam teaches us.

It’s apparently clear that but for dirty politics and holier-than-thou attitude of many of us, where the Prophet’s virtue and personality were dented is the best place to deploy our big grammar, to exhaust our Internet megabytes and spend our time in his defense. We should take it as a duty to inform and enlighten as many people as we can out there about what happened. And we should be not afraid to unreservedly slam those mystic bastards calling themselves ‘Yan Haqiqah (‘Realists’), under the umbrella of Tijjaniyya sect.

To say I am disappointed is an understatement. I feel an excruciating pain circulating in my nerves at present. What would be our reaction when the same or similar desecration of the Prophet is carried out by a non-Muslim? I think you would remain nonplus as you are now, for it’s not Buhari who errs, and any (peaceful) protest will not make you popular. Politics shouldn’t foray into everything such as religious issues.

May Allah guide us to the right path and protect the virtue of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W), amin.

General Board / Pidgin English: A Bridge for our Cleavage
« on: May 16, 2015, 10:27:02 AM »
Pidgin English: A Bridge for our Cleavage

Muhammad Muhsin Ibrahim

Wait, the Pidgin I know? That’s for the uneducated folks only. Did you just say that? Then you are wrong. The importance of this debased language is far beyond what you think. This is not a new discovery. It’s a fact. That’s why many people campaigned for the pidgin (or, better, the Creole) spoken in their countries to be formalized, standardized and even officialised. But that was barely achieved in a few nations like Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Sierra Leon.

Although India is far more diverse than Nigeria, many Indians are often amazed that we speak English among ourselves, and not ‘Nigerian’. They think there is a popular language used in the country by that name the same way Hindi is in India. We only have Nigerian Pidgin English (NPE) spoken by a healthy minority, I would say, and scores of other languages. A detour: India’s other names are Hindustan (the root word of Hindi, a popular language, and Hinduism, a major religion) and Bharat.

Sometime ago, a Nigerian student from Edo state came hunting for an apartment in our neighbourhoods. While bargaining for the rent, she and her friends requested my intercession as I have a good rapport with the landlady. I couldn’t speak the Pidgin, or “broken” English they wanted us to use for discretion. Thus, while the Indians spoke Hindi, an incomprehensible language to us, among themselves, we couldn’t communicate in a similar coded way as a people from the same country. We had to speak English. This incident drew me into thinking why can’t I speak Pidgin, apparently a single language that would have uniquely identified me as their fellow Nigerians?

I envy many Africans here the majority of whom from the East. They have their language of unity: Kiswahili. Other students from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, etc also have their own distinct languages. And we, Nigerians have only English for inter-ethnic communication. The southerners, however, use Pidgin/broken English, and only a fewer others from the north can speak it fluently.

There have been calls by linguists, scholars and other conservative cum nationalists in Nigeria to kick English out as a national language, or to, at least, ebb its hegemony. All that failed, and more efforts will ultimately, surely fail. Thus, I am not advocating for the same failure-prone cause. But there’s every need for more Nigerians to learn NPE (and to learn the Standard English the more). It’s the only language that can assist in bridging our ever-widening cleavage. It also belongs to none. So, nobody will feel superior that his or her language is being learned; nobody will also feel inferior that he’s learning other’s language.

I love my language, Hausa a lot. I similarly admire the linguistic heterogeneity of Nigeria. But our overdependence on and overvaluing of English is way too much. We often idiotically align positivity with the comprehension of the language such as intellect, education, prospects in job or marriage, and so on. For instance, no doubt the utterances of the outgoing President’s wife, Patience, are largely silly, or worse, but the downright condescending remarks trailing them are too much. Ditto, the way some detractors poke fun at the English of the president-elect, Gen. Buhari. The latter is all the more uncalled for, I have to admit.

Nigeria’s indigenous languages equally suffer a lot from the tsunamic onslaught of English and other major languages like Hausa (in the North, for instance). Hence many are slowly dying including Igbo, one of its largest three. Some have already died and others extinct. Sociolinguists, anthropologists and others concerned should come for a rescue mission, please.

Being my wife was raised in a non-Hausa dominated area of Brigade in Kano, she acquired NPE since her childhood. She’s able to integrate more with our southern counterparts here than I. I wish it were the other way. I really envy her. She’ll soon start teaching me this awesome language. Would you join the class? Apply now for admission while there are still available slots.

General Board / Nigeria: Search for Union beyond Amalgamation
« on: April 17, 2015, 06:36:31 PM »
Nigeria: Search for Union beyond Amalgamation

The elections were over. The winners (and losers, too) are known, and Nigerians await their inaugurations on May 29th. However, the repercussion of the elections is far from over. Igbos, whose undaunted, though paranoiac, doubt of Hausa-Fulani leadership forbade them to vote for Gen. Buhari, are still being brazenly abused, esp. on cyberspace. And they respond in crudest kind by calling their attackers with unprintable names. This is but one case out of many that are raping Nigeria along ethnic lines.

It’s sadder that the indigene-settler dichotomy is still existent even within our constitution; mobility freedom of citizens seldom crippled by arrests of northerners in the south; the so-called quarter system truncating chances of getting job. I don’t forget the far more horrible, countless ethno-religious crises in many cities and villages like Jos, Zankuwa, etc that claimed lives of thousands. It tears me up inside. I am often left asking: are we truly amalgamated yet? Or at least, when can we get over this nauseating disunity and move on?

I was born and raised in Hausa populated vicinity in Kano. But since my childhood, I know we have neighbours who do not speak our language, or practice our religion, or share our culture, etc. I didn’t know all this by instinct. I learned about it from my parents and school. All Nigerians should have this 001 Cosmopolitanism basic education.

I was actually moved to compose this piece by a fresh experience I observed here in Punjab, India. As customary as it almost is, people from the same places abandon all the differences they have back at home and unite whenever in the abroad. But it’s largely not the same to Nigerian students here and, perhaps, elsewhere. Often, a Yoruba would befriend only his fellow Yoruba, ditto Hausa, Igbo and the rest. A few others are nonetheless detribalized. They have recently formed a Nigeria Students Union.
One World, Divided Country
Our university organizes a yearly festival called One World. As the name suggests, it aims to show our world as it is: ONE. Students from different countries exhibit their music and dance, arts, culture and cuisine. Moreover, paintings, sculptures, artefacts, maps, architectural designs, etc. are displayed in various stalls within the university for two days. Whereas several, if not all, countries have a common symbol appreciated by all of them, Nigeria has virtually nothing of the sort.

The snag arises when choosing what should be put on view and whatnot. The Hausas, for instance, would prefer their music to be played and not Yorubas or Igbos. As the theme of this year’s festival is women’s empowerment, Nigeria’s stall is stalled with a lot of women’s pictures including Chimamanda Adieche, Stella Obasanjo, Queen Amina, among others hanged atop. Needless to say, you can see the reflection of our ethnic consciousness in the select women. This, to my perception, kills the vitality of the festival. Tribalism is certainly one of the albatross of Nigeria at home and abroad.

We ought to find a common ground for a truly amalgamated Nigeria. This is what I call “union beyond amalgamation”. The sadistic and corrupt politicians and other top-ranking government officials fuel the ambers as we have seen in the campaigns of the just concluded elections, while they don’t care a bit about their ethnic or religious affiliation when it comes to thieving and sharing our wealth as ‘spoils’ among themselves. I think Nigeria Police Force pension scam is a clear-cut example.

Therefore, it is up to us, ordinary Nigerians to get over playing religious and ethnic cards. We know we can’t bury that as it is embedded in our psyche. But we can forget and forge ahead, especially in the foreign lands. We shouldn’t flash our nudity everywhere. Heterogeneity is intriguing and diversity is interesting. But for our differences, life would have been mundane. Nigeria is one and it belongs to us all. The country would love to see us belong to her (as sons and daughters from the same womb). We shouldn’t thus deny it the right.

The government has to intervene. Nigerians have a whole lot of hope for the incoming government of Gen. Buhari. Therefore, we expect it to do everything possible for the reconciliation of the all Nigerian citizens and for a genuine (re)unification of the country.

Long live Nigeria!

General Board / Now Nigerians Need Patience; Good Luck to Buhari
« on: April 03, 2015, 08:12:00 PM »
Nigerians Need Patience; Good Luck to Buhari

Muhammad Muhsin Ibrahim

I read and heard that no fewer than 100 souls were lost and dozens others injured in celebrations over General Buhari’s victory in the 28th March Nigeria’s presidential election. How sad and unfortunate! While telling my wife that people were euphoric to that extent, she rather inadvertently told me that when we returned to Nigeria in the middle of the year, there would be no more electricity outage, no more terror attacks by Boko Haram, and no more any other unpleasantness. That unrealistic wish left me transfixed, for I have heard and read many others expressing the same or similar expectations, as, to them, the ‘Messiah’ has attained power.

So much has been written on the election and on the way and manner the President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat. I have, however, yet to see any piece on that hankering of the 15 million plus electorates, most of whom are masses, who voted for Buhari. People yearn for Change—the slogan of his party, APC—in the country. They want a transformed Nigeria where lives and property of its populace are secured, its economy blossomed, its military might restored, its public office holders corrupt-free, and, as a whole, its worth and esteem revived. But I think, in fact believe that, only a miracle can do that within the four-year-tenure provided for Buhari by the constitution.

The destruction done to Nigeria by the outgoing government and the previous ones under the Peoples Democracy Party (PDP) is a well known phenomenon. Imagine the country as a house. It will take only a minute or less to demolish it with, for instance, a bomb; but rebuilding the same house will take no less than a week, no matter the technology. This is the condition of Nigeria today.

The President-Elect should carefully and conscientiously use the two-month period of the transition to organise his government; to focus and ponder; and do everything in no time, for he’s simply returning to the office he was once in. We have seen how the current governor of Kano state, Engr. Rabiu Kwankwaso did when he came back to power in 2011 after his defeat in 2003. The second tenure was by all parameters far more systematized, focused and purposed. That’s why he’s able to perform well and achieve remarkably.

Evidently enough, most of us were only endeared to Buhari after hearing how well he led Nigeria as a military Head of State in the 1980s. A few knew him as head of Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) during General Abacha regime, and saw how astutely and effectively he ran the office. But the Nigeria of today is not of those days. Likewise, the people he governed and with whom he governed are not the same. Although we cherish to see similar, if not surpassing, achievements, seeing the contrary is possible for many reasons.

General Buhari now lacks the power he had then, and the country is very, though regrettably, largely divided along regional and religious lines. Thus, executing many projects and policies are going to be tougher, if at all possible.

Moreover, the economy of the country is in a bad shape, though it’s said to be the biggest in Africa. Where, for instance, the US dollar was reportedly equivalent to naira during his leadership in 1984/85, a dollar is now worth more than 200 naira. Worse still, the price of petrol is at its lowest level in the world market, and our foreign reserve is depleted because billions of dollars, as exposed by the former apex bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, are, literally speaking, missing. Needless to say, nothing moves without money. Thus, Buhari needs a gigantic good luck to satiate the hunger of Nigerians, while Nigerians require an enduring patience to give him space and time to govern.

As Nigerians are people who believe and trust in God, we shouldn’t, therefore, forget to regularly wish and pray for the success of this incoming government. And prepare for the change we called for. General Buhari’s success is ours, for, after all, the country is ours now and always. I believe we would be happier if he records more success than the previous governments. That will set a pace for any other subsequent governments to see that they out-perform his, therefore putting themselves in the annals of history and in good light.

Long live the General! Long live Nigeria!

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