Aug. 5, 2013
Ibraheem A. Waziri
In today’s Nigeria, the Hausa Fulani are held at the boot of every unfair joke. They are blamed for all that is wrong about Nigeria’s past and present. In fact in many quarters, the future of Nigeria will never be right as long as the Hausa Fulani are in it. Yet in his Friday Column, Daily Trust Newspaper, 26 July, 2013, Adamu Adamu compliments and complicates the whole equation by making an outline that pins down the long etching problems of Northern Nigeria on the shoulders of the same Hausa Fulani.
This is not saying the North and its people have no peculiar self inflicted problems, but within fair boundaries, the situation as it involves the Hausa Fulani requires deep analysis, not on the hangers that will excavate their already deteriorating condition, but on the ark that will salvage them.
The Hausa Fulani are a people who until early 20th century have had their own norms and values—controlling their destinies; mapping out their political and social progress. Their prior contacts with foreign nations and powers did not seek to impose on them alien norms and values in that regard. In fact the introduction of Islam along with Arab scholarship saw the domestication of Arabic letters to what is called Ajami that is most cultural and environment friendly.
It was the conquests of the British that heralded the setting of an alien order which forced itself on their socio-political processes. After independence and during the times of Sir Ahmadu Bello there was an attempt to affect a reverse to where the norms and values of the Hausa-Fulani call the shot. The then acclaimed vision of Ahmadu Bello dubbed not only Northern region but Nigeria: “Babbar Kasar Shehu Danfodio”, that is, “the bigger Nation of Shehu Danfodio”, giving the nation a cultural link to the past in the ideals of the Hausa Fulani. This at least, until the 1966 coup that killed him and extinguished the last glimmers of the vision.
The coming years were worst for this socio cultural group as Nigeria was turned to a unitary state, on what the people who came under the influence of the group see as alien norms and traditions. As time passed, it became very difficult for the return of their own old socio political continuum in a political and supervisory capacity as they transit into the modern world with all the promises and the opportunities it offers. As it happened to other groups that reached an advanced stage of social evolution in China or Japan, the Hausa Fulani like Persians, Malays or Turks who successfully converted even the image of the Holy Prophet of Islam to that of their cultured gentlemen, and the Europeans who did the same to Jesus, actually needed their own order to help them obtain a meaningful navigation through the turbulent waters of modernity.
In the absence of that, the results became of unpleasant realities ranging from social stagnation, intellectual confusion, withdrawal and total resignation. At last it failed to any significance that the people are addressed as a group. When it is said Hausa Fulani need to do something about anything, then there is nobody being addressed since there is no single source of authority that guides their hopes or disposition. This is why the charge directed at them of being haughty by Adamu Adamu falls flat for there is no group in the real sense, but a set of confused individuals. The Hausa Fulani are in truth helpless and wandering in the most uncooperative wilderness of history. They are an object of pity and in need of most help.
In this it has always been the duty of Nigeria to manage and effectively supervise the transition and assimilation of this important group into its new set of norms and orders but it did not. None of its leaders, past or present showed close appreciation of the complexities involved in new nation building. Perhaps we can blame the few Hausa Fulani who rose to the capacity of leadership for this failure also as even the closest scholarship towards addressing these multi-dimensional issues came only in the last decade via the mighty pens of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, an effective public intellectual and now the CBN Governor.
It is my hope that Nigeria will one day wake up to its responsibilities and invest in efforts at producing its own kind of public intellectualism that will be sensitive to its peculiarities. Failure to do this was what allowed many from among the Hausa Fulani to be claimed by fringe ideologies like what Adamu Adamu disliked in late Sheik Abubakar Gumi’s Wahabism from Saudi Arabia, which is certainly in conflict with Shi’ism of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a sentiment which Adamu Adamu is rumoured to be identifying with. If nothing is done, apparently much confusion seems to be coming the Hausa Fulani way with Boko Haram and those others we are yet to know!