Friday Column by Olayinka Ajila
I have since childhood studied my environment as if I knew what today would be. Aside that, I was born and raised in the North.But for the purpose of this piece I will limit the word ‘North’ and the suffix that may come with it to the major, most populous, and most influential ethnic group in this geographical area. I speak of no other people but the ever indigenous Bayajidda descendants. I doff my velvet cap for the Hausa man.
I did not come with a praise song and I will not polish anything for no cause. But I will not for the sake of what others would say, think, assume, and imagine, play novice to what I know. Call him whatever, the Hausa man I know is a loving Nigerian. He is a simple and reliable man with utmost fear of the name Allah. He is one man who detests oppression and this feeling anytime makes him a die-hard fighter. An average Hausa man is religious but not fanatical. Although one fanatic anywhere could command to himself a thousand ignorant religious members, and this is happening everywhere around the world due to inefficiency in the transmission of moral and socio-religious education. In Nigeria we have basically witnessed many from the North but all are objectively unequal to the present Boko Haram insurgency. I have said it before and I will say it again that Boko Haram is not just a wolf among the sheep, but the obvious reality of Nostradamus’ pre-postulations.
For the little time I have stayed on earth, I think I still remember when and how a lot of Nigerians migrated from the East and West to settle in the North. If not for Lagos and perhaps Delta on the other side, I think the Northern part of Nigeria records the highest percentage of immigrants. People travel from different parts of the country to find a greener pasture in the North and a lot of them actually did well in places like Kano, Kaduna and the Borno that is now a blood arena. The same applies to places like Jos, Bauchi and almost all parts of the North to which people were accepted with arms wide open. Now the question is, can a man who is not loving be so accommodating?
In the book of history I have read about cultures where strangers, immigrants, and wanderers are being used as sacrifices to appease the gods of the land. The Yorubas in the West practice this even as we speak. In the East we have witnessed the crime of money rituals and societies of full fledged cannibals. Victims of these inhumane traditions are mostly sons of other soils who the winds of destiny had blown into travails. However, time has changed yesterday that virtually all the dark sides of East and West are not again peculiar to what is now available all over Nigeria. Barbarism, animalistic communism, and the rise of the mummies are no longer exclusive to a particular setting. This is how successful the devil has become on our sacred land and even the North, I do not grease their flesh.
We must be particular about one thing. How does the average Nigerian perceive a stranger? The Hausa man sees his land as a place for everyone. He sees the stranger around him as a man that should be loved to make him feel safe, that should be helped if help is demanded, that should be free because freedom with direction is subject to peace and development, and most importantly, he sees the stranger as a blessing to himself. In the light of this generosity, people came in not just from other parts of Nigeria but from other countries like Mali, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Togo, and many others that I can’t keep mentioning. On the other hand, the man from the East and West are not so welcoming. This could be raw of me but it is the sharp fact. Both of them see a stranger as an oppression to their living, a threat to their community, and a figure for discrimination. The Yoruba man wants to plant, harvest, and sell, all by himself, just as the Igbo man wants to tap wine, go gaming, and set relaxation exclusively for his own people. This is not love even though insecurity in the North has today given them a chance to claim vigilance.
I was sometimes confronted with a question: what is the love in a Hausa man when all he could do is set off a crisis, kill, and destroy people’s properties? In the first minute I laughed and the next I said to the man, what is conflict? His definition was perhaps the shortest I have ever heard. “Conflict is a battle”. Again I asked, “What do you do in a battle?”and then his tongue ceased. Among the primary things we must understand is that conflict is a normal part of life and must be accepted as such. Two, conflict is a subject of attack and defence and both in their ‘true forms’ cannot exist without bloodshed and destruction of properties. We have witnessed it in Ife-Modakeke, Ofa-Erinle, and even international communities like Israel, South Sudan, Afghanistan and a host of others. I therefore wonder how the Hausa man is so accused. After all, a battle is a battle.
Every man has a weakness because he has been created as an imperfect entity. America is the world’s greatest but a lot about it is still not good enough. Therefore, it is true that the Hausa man can be arrogant and difficult to control. But then, he is one strong pillar upon which the unity of Nigeria rests. His craving for togetherness has made him exhibit in quantum a state of carelessness, fearlessness, and unconsciousness about who he lives with. The consequence is what he faces today which has generally battered his loving, caring, and super-appreciable role in the promotion of unity. His strangers suddenly turned monsters because he was too weak to project surveillance even as he donates freedom. Perhaps he has forgotten that absolute freedom is not available even in Free Town.
Olayinka Ajila’s professional profile is on linkedIn