By Festus Adedayo
On sighting the headline of her piece entitled Nigerian Media: Let’s Stop Ethnic Profiling!, I initially thought well-respected media mogul, Kadaria Ahmed, was set to confront a media orthodoxy. Though it was plain, unambiguous and self-explanatory, in a moment, I imagined that piece was about to collapse ancient established theses about Nigerian media dominance and vain hold on power. This is because I love anyone who audaciously perforates the majesty of principalities and powers, persons, objects or places. It was what carved a special place of regards in my heart for late Egba-born bard, Sakara music exponent and poet, Kelani Yesufu. Before his very unorthodox thinking, packaged into a line of poetry in his album entitled Atosi, at least among the Yoruba-speaking people of the then Western State, gonorrhea was an ailment that was believed to afflict only society’s greats. It was why the euphemistic acronym for it was arun gbajumo, translated: disease of the notable.
But Kelani, in these very dense Egba dialect lyrics of his which sounded like an ululation, reversed that existing, very ancient perception. Atosi (gonorrhea) could not have been a disease of the notable, he vehemently argued in that vinyl. Why? And Kelani began his narrative. He chanted the disease’s long cognomen – atosi atogbe – and many other attributes of its, paying unmatchable tribute to the destructive prowess of the then pestilence of this venereal disease. Men are afflicted by it due to their multiple dalliances and careless libido, he said. Gonorrhea had killed so many people in those dark days of its affliction before the advent of the white man who readily provided a remedy for it. Kelani also dramatized how this venereal disease perforated the mouth of the sufferer’s midriff member, necessitating the victim regularly swallowing inscrutable potions like potassium called kanhun bilala as its remedy. For an affliction that takes its victim on such painful merry-go-rounds and the inconveniences it brings, asked Kelani, was it then right for gonorrhea to be labeled a disease of the notable?
This Kelani thesis momentarily unsettled existing narrative of the clubbing society and notables of the 1970s. Society apparently didn’t look at gonorrhea from that perspective before then. Those who labeled it a social disease ostensibly did that, placing it side by side the affliction of impotency, with the shame and societal ridicule which the afflicted victim went through. For a chauvinistic and charismatic African society like ours, the strength of manhood carried with it a conceit that men wore on their garments like a lapel. So, when comparatively estimated, the African society believed that the man who had multiple women liaisons and who, in the process, was afflicted by gonorrhea, was more desirable than an impotent man.
Such challenge of existing order and narrative was what I thought Kadaria was about. By the way, Ahmed is a Nigerian journalist, media entrepreneur and television host who began her career in London BBC. Her media forays span print, radio, television, online and social media platforms. I was damn wrong on what I thought Kadaria was about after all. In the piece, she shared a sense of foreboding, of doom and war which she said the Nigerian media was spearheading. She offered it as a rhetorical interrogation of what she said was the media’s guilt in this grisly drum of war.
Kadaria then lapsed into the ready-made typology of media complicity in war in Africa – Rwandan. The Nigerian media had failed woefully to learn a lifelong experience from media involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide and yielded its platform as “a tool that enables hate” Kadaria alleged.
And then, the well-known journalist, who anchored that notorious interview with President Muhammadu Buhari, shortly before the 2019 election, where the president physically and clearly confirmed President Donald Trump’s alleged claim of his being lifeless, chose to bring out scary imageries of war.
In the piece under review, Kadaria exhibited a very uncritical mind that is everything but the hallmark of good journalism. If you remove her byline from it, you would imagine that a Federal Government demagogue had penned that piece. It brimmed with cants, assumptions, sophistries and ill-logics that can only be provoked by a poisoned mind. Throughout the piece, Kadaria never apportioned any blame to the man her 2019 interview irritatingly buoyed into presidential office for a second term, in spite of his manifest mental and governmental failings. Not for a minute in that interview did Kadaria communicate, either via innuendo or literally, that Nigeria was, with the Buhari she saw in that interview, going to be burdened by an impaired president.
Now, to the gravamen of Kadaria’s claim. I have been to Rwanda, where, between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were murdered within the space of 100 days, after the death on April 6, 1994 of President Juvenal Habyarimana. Habyarimana, a Hutu, had his plane shot down while about to land at the Kigali airport. I was at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Park; saw the mangled bones, tombs of reburied carcasses assembled from all parts of Rwanda and the eerie atmosphere of bloodletting in the park. I spoke with victims and victimizers of the genocide. Yes, the narrative of “mosquito” constantly used by Hutu Power, a private radio station which was established by extremists surrounding Habyarimana and echoing their tribe’s extremist narratives, contributed to the genocide, but Habyarimana, as well as men and women of both Hutu and Tutsi tribes had taken the hatred narrative to the cusp, merely having it amplified by the radio.
But let me ask, did Kadaria anticipate a media that should blind its eyes to the ethnic-driven perfidy of the Buhari government or one that should not communicate the different queer narratives of what is happening under Buhari today? Further interrogation of Kadaria is apposite at this juncture. One: does she think the media is making up claims of Fulani herdsmen’s notorious criminal activities or that the media should have blurted out such reports? Second: Perhaps because Kadaria can conveniently be said to have medially helped to brew this Buhari broth, the government was then doing the right thing by looking the other way while the killing, maiming and raping of southerners is going on?
Again, does she think that those who are recipients of this violence should have kept quiet? If they are narrating their gory experiences in the hands of Fulani herdsmen, does Kadaria think that the media should have turned its back on the victims? The honest truth is that, if you conduct a comparative analysis of Habyarimana’s guilt in the Rwandan genocide, it may only be a little higher than the war that Buhari is silently provoking by his inexplicable governmental cronyism and silence at the killing of innocent Southerners by Fulani herdsmen.
Those who Kadaria wanted to impress with that piece, or those she intended the piece to earn their kudos or her further retainership, are Nigeria’s jailers. They are those who she ought to have concentrated her expletives and condemnation on. When Kadaria took to penning that piece which she said was borne of her distaste for her media constituency’s alleged recently acquired penchant for baiting blood and beating saber-rattling gongs of war, Bukola Elemide’s Jailer crept up my mind. Elemide, better known as Asa, is a Nigerian-French singer, songwriter and recording artist whose hit, Jailer holds a lot of refreshing narrative of both the current Nigerian situation and Kadaria’s misdirected bayonet.
In Jailer, Asa levels every hill of suffering separating both the oppressed and their oppressors and removes all boundaries hitherto celebrated. Unbeknown to those who believed they occupied some level of ascriptions which insulate them from the Nigerian problems, Jailer tells them that the calamities are layered. According to her, the man who holds the fire-brimming burner to the bum of the oppressed and the oppressed are operating on the same wavelength.
Unfortunately, there is a raging pestilence of minds which think uncritically like Kadaria’s in present day Nigeria. They afflict the rest of us with the impurity of their infectiously dangerous thoughts, in the name of defending the Kingdom of Cow that Nigeria is furiously turning into. Kadaria and her fellow travelers should know that, like the Jailer, we are all in this together and the earlier we got a resolution, the better for all of us.
Last week, we examined the vacuous claim of the Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, that since southerners who had been living in the north for decades were not expelled by their states of domicile, it was unconscionable for northern Fulani herdsmen living in the south to be expelled. Mohammed also justified Fulani herdsmen carrying that deadly weapon, the AK-47. Now, Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, has joined this race of impure thoughts.
After meeting Buhari in the Villa last Thursday, Matawalle told the press that, not all bandits who terrorize some parts of Zamfara and other neighbouring states were criminals. First is that, that statement is a violent attack on language and logical semantics. A la semantics, banditry is “a type of organized crime committed by outlaws typically involving the threat or use of violence.” So, in the name of the twelve angels, how can tigers be described outside of their tigritude, or outlaws, outside of outlawry? And this was a governor who is faced with a violent affliction of hundreds of Zamfara people being killed or kidnapped by bandits, as well as in neighbouring Kaduna, Zamfara, Nasarawa, Katsina, Niger and Sokoto, for many years now.
Earlier, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who has recently begun a weird forest evangelism, harvesting bandits whose hands are brimming with blood of innocent souls, had joined in the chorus as well. These deadly criminals and bloodthirsty hounds who make the forest their hibernation were offended by the Nigerian state and deserve not only federal armistice but amnesty, said Gumi. “The Federal government should give them blanket amnesty,” he said last week. Gumi belonged to the same set of people who canvassed that Boko Haram insurgents, who have killed thousands of Nigerians and on account of whom the federal budget, earmarked for procurement of armament, is yearly depleted by billions of Naira, be granted amnesty, rehabilitated and given sumptuous financial grants.
If we trace the filament that links all these tendentious statements, from Kadaria’s to Muhammed, Matawalle, Gumi and the likes, you will find an identifier, to wit a campaign for a world for the tyranny of Fulani herdsmen and bandits. The campaigners’ ultimate goal is to get carved out for them a Ministry of Banditry or Cattle Matters and a generous state negotiation, in the mould of Niger Delta militants’. If one may ask, why would anyone in their right senses compare the criminality of militants to that of bandits? As said last week, while the former is criminality buoyed by ethnic nationalism, the latter is engendered by undiluted criminality. It is no hidden fact that banditry in the Northwest is fallout of illegal and criminal artisanal mining of lead, gold, as well as other mineral resources. Does Kadaria know all these?
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