Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
Tribalism And Nationalism
Fellow Nigerians, we have been looking at the many dimensions of the sad circumstances of our country. We have discovered that there are indeed more serious problems than most of us are prepared to acknowledge. However, having come this far this writer shall be up-front with you. We shall leave no stone unturned and we shall be truthful to the best of our ability and convictions.
In this section, we shall start by looking at two words that have assumed veritable measuring standards for the testing and the identification of what or who is a true Nigerian. The two terms/concepts/ideology are Tribalism and Nationalism. While the first carries a negative capital mark, the second is rated at par with, if not more than, any of the local religions.
Every ambitious and clever politician knows that the quickest way to be accepted into the fold of patriots is to declare and to demonstrate, by all means available, a spotless credential of a staunch nationalist. Anything short of an open nationalist declaration is a sure bet that the person will not succeed in his or her career as a political gangster in Nigeria.
First of all, this writer wishes to declare that he is a tribalist since he is not interested in the art of elective politics or at least in the type being played in Nigeria. I am a tribalist because I know my father’s house or in order words I know my root. I know it is politically suicidal in Nigeria to be known or seen as a tribalist. It is not cool. It is non-progressive. It is backward. A tribalist is definitely, by the conventional wisdom of the day, an enemy of nationalism.
Following closely behind this belief is also the assumption that a tribalist will be a partisan of some narrow tribal causes. This could be true to some extent but it needs to be qualified. Am I a partisan to a narrow tribal interest? Yes of course but not in the sense you are thinking.
I am a partisan of truth. I believe truth is the only virtue that cannot be bent to suit any colour or creed. A person can be either true or false to one self it is impossible to be both at the same time. Of course, it is quite possible to present a false front to the world but every person knows when he/she is true or false. The world can be deceived but the soul of every person will always be true regardless of the silly ambition of the body.
So, if being a partisan means choosing to be truthful to myself then I have no qualm about being so. I am therefore prepared to stand out, even if alone, and to declare that I am a partisan of truth. My tribalistic tendency is therefore solely based on some fundamental truth that we shall look at under this section.
As we said earlier nationalism has attained a halo glow of reverence and worship in Nigeria. Every Nigerian strives to be seen as a nationalist even if he thinks and acts tribal. It is acceptable, as long as he/she is not caught using the T-word in public. This is falsehood.
Every Nigerian knows that to qualify and to robe one persona in the nationalist garb is the first step to political common sense and wisdom; it does not necessarily make it right. As it is the only criterion by which the power-that-be can trust and do business with any upstart in politics is an open declaration as a nationalist. Since no lover of power or politician wants to be confined to the bottom heap of the political ladder it is therefore of great importance for every politician to dress himself or herself in the nationalist robe as early as possible. This is one of the myths that have assumed the status of reality in the up-side down world of Nigeria.
How does anyone become a nationalist without being a tribalist? How do you become a tribalist without being bred in a community? How do you become a community person without being born into a family? Now, the deceitful people of the political class of Nigeria have all chosen to jump the gun and to land from heaven or wherever they are coming from, to become nationalists. Or does it mean being a true (or false, it looks to me) nationalist implies denying ones root, tribe, and community? This is the most serious perversion of reality in Nigeria today among the ambitious fools.
Nigerians ought to realise that you cannot be a true nationalist without first being a true tribalist. Similarly, you cannot be a true tribalist without first being a true community person, the true son and daughter of the soil. It also follows that you cannot be a true community son or daughter of the soil without first and foremost being a true family person.
Every Nigerian ought to realise or be told that the first social and political level of development as a living person is the family. It is only when a person has built his/her family on a sound foundation, then and only then, if the person is being truthful to the divine law, can he/she moves up to participate in the affairs of the community. Again it follows that it is after the community has been established on a sound structure, then and only then can a person moves to the tribal level to participate and help to build this larger community. It is only after the tribal community is built and performing very well should any politician have the moral right to participate at the national assembly.
Unfortunately, what do we have in Nigeria so far? Here we have a group of nationalist with a dysfunctional family, who are not known in their community of birth or place of origin and who jumped all the levels of natural developments to suddenly become or claim to be nationalists.
Can we not see where the problems of Nigeria are coming from? As it is now, it seems we have a group of foreigners, in every respect, without a stable family or any root in the community or country and yet are in charge of national affairs. These dysfunctional foreigners, without knowledge of who the mother of this country is, are determining the direction the Nigeria State should or should not follow. This is falsehood and it is wrong. It is against all moral and ethical principles and laws.
Wait a minute; are we talking tales or gibberish here? No. This writer has promised to be up-front and will leave no stone unturned as we search for answers to the problems of Nigeria.
If you recollect, earlier under the ‘Untraditional Rulers’ in To Your Tents O! Nigerians, we mentioned that two foreign supremacists entered Nigeria before the turn of the twentieth century. These were the Fulani and the British colonialists. These two different super powers had one thing and one thing only on their minds when they came. This was to capture a land and to turn the peoples of the land into servile subjects serving the pleasure of the superior powers. We said while one used religion as its entry point, the other used trade.
However the value on which they based their actions was the belief that they were superior to any of the people they met in the geographical space of Nigeria. They both used various tactics and strategies to warm up to the natives. As soon as the natives lost concentration or became too trusting without establishing the longer-term aim of these two foreign powers, the agents of the super powers swung into action.
The foreigners overthrew all the established traditional institutions and captured the political powers for themselves. While one blended into the occupied communities through marriage and language acquisition, the other was too standoffish to its final undoing. The one that blended became what is known today as the Hausa-Fulani. The other, which could have been Yoruba-English or Igbo-English or Ijaw-English or even Hausa-English but because of its over-rated supremacist belief that forbade it from blending completely, was eventually kicked out by the nationalist movement of 1940s and 1950s.
This short story is no fantasy. It is a condensed version of the history of Nigeria. The Fulanis who were quasi-agents of the Ottoman Empire were the first to arrive on the scene at least in the northern part of Nigeria around the Kingdom of Gobir. They had established a thriving extensive feudal administrative empire over the so-called pagan and idol worshippers or infidels before Lord Lugard military expedition over-ran this part of the country for the English Crown or British Empire.
The Fulani Kingdom/Empire stretched from Sokoto in the Northwest to Ilorin in the Southwest to the boundary of the Bornu Empire in the Northeast and much of the savannah regions of the central part of the present Nigeria. From the political administrative arrangements set up by the Fulanis, it was quite obvious that they were never saints, as they wanted people to believe. They are indeed great lovers of power and all the privileges that political power can bring. Any people that establishes dynasty on planet earth do not seem to be in a hurry to go to al-Jannah or paradise – that is for sure. The establishment of a dynastic empire is the purpose of the adventure of the Fulanis into Nigeria and this is what informed every political moves they make today and since 1960.
What we are trying to draw out is to establish in all truthfulness the great local enemies of the people of Nigeria. It is convenient for most analysts to refer to the North as a block while identifying who dominates and bestrides the political edifice of Nigeria. There is nothing like the anonymous North to whom people refer while discussing political hegemony in Nigeria. The people manipulating power in Nigeria are not the Zurus or Gwaris or Biroms or Idomas or Jukuns or Kanuris or Katafs; they are the Fulanis. There is nothing like the Hausa-Fulani. It is another superb camouflage to hide the fact of the matter from any prying outsiders. There is no Hausa as a tribe of people.
There are Hausa-speaking people. All Hausa speakers know what tribe they belong. Hausa means the people of the east. It is a Shongai word used as a descriptive term for their neighbours who reside at the eastern part of the Shongai Empire.2 Hausa finally evolved as a name for the common language of trade among the eastern people. The evolution of the Hausa language is similar to the English language that evolved from several European languages. Hausa language was perfected for trade among the various tribes and other foreign traders before the Fulanis came on the scene and captured power through a supremacist religious crusade. This is the truth of the matter and it has to be told if Nigeria is really serious about total deliverance and liberation from the enemy within the fold.
We have come this far in order to establish that the nationalist struggle of the 1940s and 1950s was an incomplete project. The facts of the matter are these, that two foreign supremacist powers entered the geographical land space now called Nigeria before 1914; that one which was more visible, more powerful and more dominant before 1960 was driven out during the nationalist struggle; and that the second power which was more cunning and more pragmatic but less visible has remained intact and has refused to allow this beautiful land to prosper, progress and develop. This simple insight has remained hidden from the people of this country. As a result we have been fighting an imaginary battle with an imaginary enemy leaving the real enemy intact to operate unchecked and to cause more harm and ruin to our land and to our persons.
The Fulanis have remained a colossus at the centre of political underdevelopment of Nigeria. They are ruthless and unforgiving and that is why the indigenous people of the North who had historical vivid experience of their cruelty have kept their mouth shut for so long. The history of their religious conquest of the north is marred in bloodshed and brutal high-handedness.
In my search for true knowledge this writer has come to realise that God or Allah, The Creator of heaven and earth, is not a supporter of bloodletting wars on peaceful, loving and innocent people as a method of establishing God’s will on earth. If God is love, if God is merciful, if God is faithful, if God is great, if God is beneficent, God will never command the killing of anyone to demand love and worship.
The God of the universe will forever continue to admonish and to show mercy to all erring people on earth until they change their ways. The God of the universe can never and have never supported warfare and the pillaging of the wealth of others as a strategy for proselytising the message of peace to the world. This is the Middle-East version of the concept of God. And this is the interpretation of God given by all those who use religion as a means to an end. This bloody and puerile meaning of God cannot be of the God of the universe.
This type of concept for the divine can only be of the God of the religionists that leads men to battles over and over and wins battles for an exclusive selected or chosen people. This interpretation of the Will and Power of God is satanic. It is wicked, ungodly and unforgivable. It is profanity similar to calling the name of God in vain. It is a ploy used by ambitious earthly men who associate God with empire building, economic power acquisition and political power hoarding.
The God, this writer knows, is The Creator of heaven and earth and of every mankind on this planet. This Creator has no favourites among the Homo sapiens. God loves everybody on earth equally. And since The Creator is Omniscience, Omnipotent and Omnipresence, every condition of mankind is known by/to God. Also since every true knowledge on earth came to man intuitively because it emanates from God, therefore the idea of calling other forms of worship that is different from ones own derogatory names like paganism speaks of a conceited heart. This is a very serious sin called self-pride, and it is the only sin that has the capacity to kill a soul forever.
It is important at this stage to clear the air of any misinformation. In writing all the foregoing statements, we are not trying to cast any unfounded aspersion at the Fulanis of Nigeria. Although most people outside the tribe cannot identify them but they know themselves. No matter how many marriages they have concocted with the Hausa-speaking pagans or infidels of the north, each of them never forgets his roots.
This exercise is aimed at taking the veil off the faces of the true suffering people of Nigeria in order to help them to understand what the real problems are and the people behind the problems. In knowing the truth, it is my belief that the first psychological battle has been won. Knowledge has the divine capacity to imbue a person with courage, power and freedom in that order. With knowledge you can stand face to face with your age-long enemy and slave master to demand your inalienable right to freedom.
This writer sincerely believes that every Nigerian should be free to determine how he or she wants to run his/her life. God, the Creator of heaven and earth does not give power to any man or woman to rule over another man. God created all persons equal and our relationship on planet earth is designed, as every other divine creation is, to be of partnership among equals. No king and no subject, we are supposed to be allies and friends in the journey of life.
Any system that smells of ruler-ship, of empire, of kingdom, and of emirate with emperors or kings or sultans are of man and are not of God. This writer is yet to see an empire or kingdom on this earth that was built without the spillage of innocent bloods or the raping and pillaging of the properties and wealth of others. Empires are the creation that flows from the spring of evil in the nature of some sad and stupid power-grabbing and power-loving earthlings that called themselves rulers.
This short treatise is intended as the announcement to every Nigerian that the second nationalist struggle against the enemies within our fold is about to begin. Nigerians must be ready to free themselves from the internal colonisation and domination.
The domination of the last one hundred years, yes a century, if the period of the Anglo-Saxon racial supremacist colonialist was added, must be brought to an end. It should be remembered that the colonialist period was merely a front for this same group under the Indirect Rule system. If Nigerians are willing to look critically at the unwritten script of the last 38 years, they will definitely see the hands of the Anglo-Saxons in it.
The name Hausa-Fulani is definitely a mediocre copy of the Anglo-Saxon version. The Fulani hates the religion of the Anglo-Saxon but they love their monarchical system. The Sokoto caliphate had tried successfully, until now anyway, to adopt wholesale the complete philosophy of the British Monarchy. Their stranglehold on the people of this land was total and was deadly. Thank God, the cry and the wailing of the long-suffering indigenous people of this land have reached the throne of The Almighty Creator.
This political and psychological domination has not done any of us any good. It has killed our sense of proportion, virtues and every norms and values in our culture that set us apart from beasts. Many of us have turned into barbaric vampires hunting down fellow citizens labelled political opponents, all in the name of national unity. A good number of the opportunist class among us have become irredeemably gluttonous, rampaging and pillaging the national treasury to cart away millions and millions of scarce fund that they can never use in 100 lifetimes.
The cases of Sani Abacha and his family as well as Ismaila Gwarzo, the National Security Adviser are some of the recent examples. The amount recovered from the Abacha’s family was quoted as 64.6billion Naira and from Gwarzo’s residence, not in the bank, was put at about 200 million dollars or 8.6billion Naira.
What are they going to do with that kind of money? These are the type of sick souls running the affairs of the blessed country. This is a typical behaviour found among all the enemies of this land. This is the price of ignorance, which we are forced to pay this last 38 years and more painfully this last 13 years for the ungodly presence of the power-loving and manipulating Fulanis in our midst. The acts of the Fulanis are of those who have come to pillage and to steal and who believe that when the party is over they will depart into the desert hither where they came.
Shall the descendants of this marauding group be allowed to continue with this brazen insults and atrocities? We have become bedraggled. We made billions and billions of dollars from oil sales this last 30 years but we have nothing to show for it. The debt burden is mounting every year and there is no solace or respite in sight.
How long shall this rape of the innocent continue? What has the indigenous people of this land done wrong to warrant this punishment? This is not a punishment from God; it is the wickedness and inhumanity of man to man. This is the unjust act of a cruel and godless people who use religion to disguise their wicked and savage acts.
The indigenous people of this land, from the North to the South, from the East to the West have a long established culture of love, freedom, fair play, respect for tradition and peoples, honesty and sincerity of purpose and actions. The indigenous people of this land were civilised in every respect of the word. There were governments that ran perfectly well. These governments were unique to each nation but they were all built on fairness, equality and liberty for all. All these traditional institutions were destroyed, first by the Fulanis and later by the British and the people of this land has never been the same again since then.
We wish to make it clear that when we say the British or the Fulani we are not referring to the common people of these empires or kingdoms but to the establishment, the Power That Be (PTB) in the empire/kingdom. The common man of every nation is a mere fodder that serves the base needs of the powers that be. It is therefore important to make this distinction. The mass of the people of this world are footstool of the rich and powerful. They are sent to die in wars they know not the covert reason why it is being fought. They are brainwashed to donate their children for military service on the whims of the Powers That Be without knowledge and understanding that these wars have nothing to do with their welfare or security. The children and loved ones of the common man die in their thousands and millions while the PTB hide their own children from military or militant service.
Each Nigerian must devote some time to the history of his/her community and nation. In cases where no book has been written on the history of your community, talk to your elders and ask pertinent question on how and what informed the establishment of the various traditions, customs and institutions found in your local area. This exercise will serve as a tool for self discovery. Some of us are kept as slaves in our ancestral lands and are yet to be redeemed from the local colonialist. But for lack of knowledge about the history of our forefathers, we carry on behaving as free men and women. Unless you know who you are in the socio-political scheme of Nigeria, the overwhelming desire to fight for liberty, justice and equal rights with your life would not occur to you. And unless you possess this insight about your slave status in Nigeria, the desire to seek for true freedom will never become the dominant issue of your life.
SAM ABBD ISRAEL
27 JULY 1999.
2. Elizabeth Isichei, A History of Nigeria. London: Longman. 1983.