Tag Archives: Nigeria

On So Aljanar Duniya

“Aure! Inna ni fa na gaya muku ba zan auri kowa ba sai wanda nake so. Kun san zamani ya sake. Kuma yanzu ban ga abin da zai hana ku ba ni shi ba. Yana da mutunchi da natsuwa. Ba abin da za mu nuna musu. Kuma daidai muke tun da yana da asali,ba za ku yarda in zabi na kasa da ni ba?”

(My translation.) “Marriage! I’ve told you all that I will only marry who I love. You know the world has changed. There is nothing to stop you from letting me have him. He is selfless and a gentleman. His family is as equal in honour as ours. We are alike in temperament, give me a reason why you would deny me someone who loves me?”

Hafsatu Abdulawheed’s So Aljanar Duniya (NNPC, 1980). Present reading.

Today I picked up a book by a much older friend of mine and caught the translation bug.

This is the opening paragraph (and my translation attempt) of Hajiya Hafsatu Abdulwaheed’s So Aljanar Duniya, one of the earliest Hausa language fictions by a woman. It was published in 1980 by NNPC, Zaria. Feedback on the translation is welcome.

Hajiya is my second mother, she’s mother to my law partner Asiya Ahmed. Also journalist Kadaria Ahmed’s mum.

It’s a delight to get to her story, this chronicle of love between a Fulani girl and an Arab she is in love with. The first paragraph draws me in.

Perhaps I will also natsu and work on a translation? The book is a novella really.

– Ra.

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On Intimate Partner Violence

I was just on NTA Network Service’s Good Morning Nigeria show, alongside a cop, Saidat Musa, from the Police Gender Unit, with a psychiatrist in Benin, a criminologist in Kaduna and an NGO activist in Lagos linked in. The subject was “intimate partner violence” and I tried to give a legal-oriented view of it, tying in the nature of crime and its constituents. However, because of the limited time and the full house of panelists, there are two things I wanted to say which I had no time to.

In northern Nigeria, we have this saying “wa za aura bazawara?” It’s meant to be a wisdom and also rhetorical–who marries the divorcee, who dares marry a divorcee, who is foolish enough to marry a divorcee, why would anyone marry a divorcee? All captured in one four-word fatwa. This leads to the stigmatization of divorced women in our society, and I’m told this is common in other cultures and regions, nationwide. To avoid this stigma, women have put up with a lot of abuse and internalized a lot of violence. This is changing as more women fight back in several ways, including violence and psychological counter-abuse. All lead to misery. Intimate partner violence. We should stop stigmatizing women, especially, but men also increasingly, who escape from toxic relationships.

Related to this. I favor an all-of-society approach to this issue of intimate partner violence. The educational curriculum, the latest learning from psychology and psychiatry and criminology and sociological sciences, as well as law and criminal justice, need to be scaled into a cocktail of interventions that will prevent intimate partner violence and at the same time change perceptions and punish perpetrators.

Can’t recap all I did say (because I wasn’t listening to myself 😌 ) but this is in addition to what I said on air, and I felt to put this out there as well.

Sorry I failed to give a heads up on the program.

– Ra.

To My African Friends Concerned About the News From Nigeria

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It is true have been having serious separatist issues, accompanied by hate speech, spearheaded by someone called Nnamdi Kanu who wishes to channel the nostalgia for the short lived Republic of Biafra. We fought a civil war over that in the 60’s. He is a charlatan who was coddled too long until he got out of hand. It was a serious issue, including ethnic hate speech and violent extremist violence too.
 
A few days ago, the Army submitted its analysis that his group is a terrorist group. The state governors from the southeast have proscribed the organization yesterday. We are waiting to see what happens after. There was some tension even in my hometown, which is in the north-central Nigeria, but it’s been contained.
 
So, don’t worry too much. Now you see a bit of why I laugh at you guys for your political impasses. Nigeria is far more complex, the crisis is as routine as the corruption is vast. This is a federation overheating, but this is also a federation that always manages to let off steam.
 
I’m okay. Thanks for the concern.
 
– Ra.
 
 

On the Rape Culture in Nigeria

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Reverse descent of Man

 

On the issue of the rise of rape in our societies and its current popularity on social media, I have chosen an engagement. There will be no emotive post about it from me. I have instead accepted to join the board of trustees of Karniel’s Next Generation of African Men’s Initiative (KNEGAM Initiative) based here in Abuja. Its stated objective is to “empower boys so they overcome challenges as they transition from boyhood to adulthood”.

I see no justification for rape at all except a disregard for the sanctity of a body that is not yours. Yet, everywhere I see various cop-outs that more of less justify this traversing of another’s body. Whether the victim is male or female, a child or an adult, there is only one implication. I believe that the point of 5000 years of civilization is the privileging of the human body as being above that of any other animal from which it is, in fact, indistinguishable. The implication of a rape culture is to turn us all back 5000 years and more, so we are no different from any “lower animal”. We thus become lower animals. This eventuality I will not accept.

So, I will do my little bit to work with kids so they have a balanced sense of self and know where they stand as inheritors of many centuries of advancement and civilization and thought. The initiative is targeted at male kids because they are most in danger of inheriting bad assumptions as a result of the current power relations in society.

KNEGAM Initiative is run by a friend of a friend, Uchenna Idoko, in the name of her son. I thank them for asking me on their board. I am certain it will be a platform to fight bad ideas that threaten to send us all back to the times of pre-history. I hope my contribution will be concrete.

 

– Ra.

Umar Sidi: Literary Quote of the Year [2014]

In this season of awards, dubious mostly, I feel a need to join in and make an award. Without the dubeity, of course. A little subjectivity is called for.

I have read scores of interviews by Nigerian Writers in the last year. I have always been fascinated by the more perceptive, the more memorable, answers. Where these go to the heart of the matter, I have noted them. In jot paper, in emails and sometimes by posting them on Facebook.

So, without much ado, my Literary Quote of the Year 2014 [Nigeria] goes to: Umar Sidi.

Umar Sidi is a Nigerian naval officer and poet. The quote chosen is from an interview by Uche Peter Umez which can be read HERE. Umar Sidi’s poetry has been published in a chapbook The Poet of Sand [Saraba Magazine] and he has a debut collection, Striking the Strings, due out from Origami Books, Nigeria.

Congratulations.

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“Poetry is not to be imprisoned within the cage of any tradition; it is not to be caged even in its own tradition, to do that is to do the sacrilegious, and the consequences, to say the least, are disastrous.”

[Disclosure: I co-own Parrésia Publishers Ltd, owner of the Origami Books imprint under which Umar Sidi’s poetry will be released.]

The Wonder of Mubi: Sankara’s Easter

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His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria [2nd R] in Burkina Faso Thursday this week; news that Mubi, an economic hub in northeastern Nigeria, had fallen to Boko Haram Islamist rebels came in a day before.

[i]
I want to know how His Excellency
Picked his suit today
To gardentend the absence
Of brother Beau Blaise

There’s wonder also how in a blink of laws
In a tipping of scales, minds of sheep reach and tap
God-veins, stand proud, draw diaphragms, roar a No
Send ageing guard dogs scurrying.

Tell me how faith blooms yet from out stilted petals
Of Ouagadougou’s rose

[ii]
There is no joy in Mubi
Where the speech of feet converse away
From a crescent set awry by mullahs His Excellency
Swore to tie up, to prison suite, to bring
To heel, who now raise flags, threaten all with order
In the shadow of their lies.

Mubi, where the black flag
Flies, where my green-and-white lies fallen
The soldiers of my country fled

[iii]
How did His Excellency pick this suit today
Amidst the tears of my people
To go vend statesmanese
At Sankara’s Easter?