Monday, 8 July 2013

Hard View (My Ramadan Journey)


It’s that time of year again that I find to have so much meaning and beauty. To me Ramadan is so much more than fasting from dusk till dawn or feasting during Iftar. Not only is it a time when I endeavour to increase my Taqwa/Iman, become more charitable and strengthen my knowledge of the Holy Qur'an, it is also a time that I become closer to Allah and have a closer relationship with the Qur'an.
Many of us who celebrate Ramadan take journeys at this time of the year and this Ramadan I want to take a journey on how I can get the most benefit from the opportunity Ramadan affords me and I want to encourage anyone who wishes to come along on this journey in making this Ramadan one of great triumph and blessings.
In my Ramadan journey this year, I wish to, first and foremost, give top priority to knowing and understanding the true contents and message of the Qur'an. And also, I wish to take a moment to reflect on which aspects of my life; my routine, attitude, personality or behaviour I need to improve on and what my plans are for changing for the better and bringing myself closer to the Islamic standard.
An important part of this journey for me is to be as charitable as I can possibly be. When possible, every time I see people in anguish and poverty, every time my eyes fill with tears at the sight of senseless killings, blown up bodies, devastation and displacement of innocent people, I will open my purse and give charity. I will remember to forego some of my necessities in order for provide for those who are in more need than me. I will also opt not to spend money on frivolous things and luxuries so that those who are in more need than me and my family can be helped through my charity.
Insha Allah, in my journey, I will sleep early after praying Ishaa and Taraweeh and go to bed with a clear and conscious intention of fasting the next day. Then, I will get up well before Suhoor time, thanking Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala for giving me life and then I hope to make special Du'aa for the mercy of Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala on our Ummah. From the start and right to the end of Ramadan, I will try not to sleep after Fajr, but instead study the Qur'an. In the last ten days of the Ramadan, I will go to bed with the intention of getting up early for Tahajjud prayers.
Throughout the day, for the duration of the Ramadan, I will find time to revise and re-learn the Soorahs and Aayaat I already know. Once that is completed, I will learn at least one Aayah a day from a Soorah that I do not already know.
Insha Allah, I will be extra kind, understanding, accepting, considerate and supportive to my non-Muslims friends and neighbours. I will listen to them, carry them along and find ways to have them participate in the blessings of Ramadan by sharing my food and gifts with them. I will counsel myself on my temperamental nature and strive to become calmer. I will try very hard to be forgiving to all those who have offended me, my family or my community. I will clear my heart from anger, suspicion and grudges.
For the full duration of the Ramadan, I will kick at least one of my bad habits and make a special effort to speak only to add value and to say only what is meaningful and useful. When I do not have anything useful to talk about, I will remember Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala through the beautiful and peaceful words taught by the Rasul (SAW), while paying attention to their meanings and feeling the impact of the words on my heart, my mind, my thoughts and my attitude.
Ramadan is a spiritual cleansing month not only for the soul but also for the body. It is said in a Hadith that the Prophet (SAW) said we should leave 1/3 of our stomach for water, 1/3 for air, and 1/3 for food.

Therefore, this Ramadan, in addition to my spiritual journey, I will be going on a health and weight loss one as well. While I embrace Ramadan for its spiritual benefits and all the positives that it represents, it really is an excellent opportunity to shed some extra weight. It can be very tempting to devour anything and everything edible during Iftar, but the tendency of this is putting on more weight than one had to begin with and becoming unhealthier.
When we fast, we are already resetting our metabolism by the protracted, long overnight fast, as well as the daily fasting. Our metabolism resets and our body begins to change the way it operates. There is no need to consume excess food at Iftar, dinner or Suhoor, but we usually do. And when we do that, our body thinks it is in a state of famine and will store everything we eat as fat, because it is worried about food supply.
Furthermore, eating once a day scares our body and our body starts to shut down and slow down our metabolism. A diet that is less than a normal amount of food intake but balanced is sufficient enough to keep us healthy and active during the month of Ramadan.
I know for me personally, each Ramadan in the past, I have always had a tendency to over-eat during Iftar. But this year, I want to be disciplined, eat healthy, eat slowly, avoid binge eating at night, listen to my stomach when it is comfortably full and practice constraint. I know Ramadan is not about losing weight, but I would like to use this opportunity, to address my issue of gluttony and use control and constraint on what I eat.
It is nice to have support and encouragement whilst we fast during Ramadan and as part of my Ramadan Plan, I will be sharing my plan of improving myself, my spirituality and my health and diet, which I hope to follow during Ramadan, on my Facebook, my Twitter, and my website (In the Blog section under Hanneyz Honneyz), should anyone wish to follow along with me.
On these threads and forums, I hope we can share advise, Dua’s, thoughts on how we are coping, share things we want to improve on and share the things we are grateful for in our lives.
Furthermore, on these sites, for the duration of the Ramadan, I will post the balanced diet plan and menu for the low fat, high energy healthy meals I hope to eat in order to avoid the Ramadan extra weight gain.
If anybody wishes to follow this diet plan and come on this health and weight loss journey with me, you are welcome to do so. I will try to make the menu detailed and provide alternatives and recipes where necessary on the forums. However, while Ramadan is an excellent opportunity for overweight people to lose weight, please note that underweight or marginally normal weight people are discouraged from losing weight during Ramadan.
If, like me, you have decided to make this a meaningful and triumphant Ramadan by moving closer to Allah and identifying areas requiring improvement in your life, may Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala assist you and bless you for taking this step in your life.
If one can succeed this Ramadan in living as planned by the true tenants of the Quran, one will be able to look back and rejoice and feel inner joy and true happiness knowing that their Eid day will be the day of celebrating rewards from Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'aala.
As we begin this journey for Ramadan, I wish each and every person welcoming this Ramadan a Blessed, fruitful, safe and peaceful month. Ramadan Kareem and Ramadan Mubarak!
Written By Hannatu Musawa
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 I daresay nothing in my opinion symbolises the speed at which time flies more than Ramadan. It seems to me like only yesterday we were celebrating the last Ramadan when the thirty days of fasting, reflection, feasting ...and prayer went by so swiftly. But here we are again at the commencement of this most beautiful period in the life of all Muslims. As we wake up today to the start of this blessed time of abstention, permit me to reiterate to every Muslim and those of other faiths who are our neighbours, brothers, sisters and countrymen what the ideal of Ramadan is and its significance in the lives of we who submit to it.

In this day and age of transgression, sacrilegious entertainment, profane pop culture, venal individualism and the attractiveness of non-conformity, it is easy for the ideal and message of Ramadan to get shrouded by the lurid articulation of an alternative value. This also happens during Christmas, Easter or Lent when Christians all over the world are expected to continue embracing the message of love, peace, patience and honour that Christianity represents.

While the ideal of Ramadan is one and the same for every Muslim and almost identical to the ideals of the fasting rituals of Christianity and Judaism, the meaning and lessons one derives from it is, in the main, unique to each individual. Apart from the fact that it is the most important month in the Islamic calendar, it is also a most remarkable bequest from the Almighty. A gift that signifies the dawn of the day in the landscape of Islam when the morning breaks, sun rises, cocks crow and God’s creatures emerge bright and refreshed.

Ramadan, together with every other form of fasting in other religions empowers us as human beings because it teaches us that life is about both the body and especially the soul. What establishes man’s worth lies within the soul, not the body. The fact that we deny our body food in the spirit of faith only means that we are enriching and fortifying our souls. A person can enrich their souls not only by being tolerant and determined in the face of struggles but by being resolute in steering clear of sin despite the enticements. Being able to withstand hunger and thirst during fasting and being able to keep the hands, ears, eyes and minds away from sin provides a training ground for the important quality of patience and perseverance that Ramadan also stands for. One can understand the importance of restating the message of Ramadan if one keeps in mind that the avaricious and epicurean ideals of the times we are living in are in direct conflict with the ideals of fasting in any faith.

Almost everything in this life and in this world navigates us towards the satisfaction of our bodies. Day in, day out we seek ways of fulfilling the unappeasable desires we feel, be it through the consumption of food or adorning ourselves with trinkets of beauty in a quest for perfection. Such worldly aspirations, generates limitless desires which subsequently lead to limitless conflicts. In a bid to meet up with those unbounded desires, all manners of intrigue are put into play. Such infinite aspirations create vast dissatisfactions because it is impossible for any living soul to completely fill the gap between their desires and achievements. In effect, the lack of fulfilment gives way to a plethora of pandemonium, unhappiness and repression. The gift that Ramadan and other forms of fasting gives us is that it allows us to let go of all those worldly pleasures that are so addictive and, in effect, this helps us to distinguish and focus on worldly responsibilities as opposed to the pleasures.

Fasting allows us to take a break from the material things we enjoy in life to reflect on what truly is important in our existence. By depriving ourselves in the name of our spiritual beliefs, we are voluntarily bidding farewell to the vain quest of happiness in all forms of corporeal hedonisms and reflecting on the direction of our lives and the hereafter.

I have come to learn and appreciate the beauty of what this holy month means to me as an individual. From the beginning to the end of Ramadan, I see it as a complete overhaul of my life; I feel inspired, encouraged and have faith that any situation can be resolved with the strength of the prayers offered during this period. That is a far cry from my perception as a very young girl when I used to think of Ramadan as a period of pure starvation and a small alteration in meal times. Now, apart from Ramadan symbolising spiritual empowerment to me, it is a time of enhanced charity and kindness. We are told that whosoever feeds people of lesser means or gives another person food to break his fast shall be blessed and rewarded by God. With the level of suffering, poverty and hunger in Nigeria and all over the world, this ideal of fasting to embrace and perform charity cannot be overemphasized.

Muslims all over the country should use this Ramadan period as a route to rediscover their inner beings while dedicating themselves and time to the Creator. Apart from reading the Holy Scriptures, voluntary worship, engaging in prayer and conversing to God, Muslims must remember that every action we take as representatives of the Deen reflects on the perception of Islam. With accounts of people in the country killing each other in the name of religion, personalities supporting inept political candidates on the basis of religion and much older men marrying 13 year old minor girls young enough to be their grand-daughters in the, so called, fulfilment of religion, it is a blessing that a period of reflection is upon us. This period of Ramadan, without doubt, is the perfect time for such Muslims to reflect and ask themselves whether their actions were truly done in the interest of Islam and what effect it is to have on the Deen. If they truly care about Islam and put the best interest of Islam above their personal whims, then they need to earnestly ask themselves that question.

In a sermon to prepare people mentally for the sacred month of Ramadan, The Rasul (PBUH) once said; “Oh people! A great month is coming to you. A blessed month. A month in which there is one night that is better than a thousand months. A month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. Whoever draws nearer to Allah by performing any of the voluntary good deeds in this month shall receive the same reward as is there for performing an obligatory deed at any other time. And whoever discharges an obligatory deed in this month shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time. It is the month of patience and the reward for patience is Heaven. It is the month of kindness and charity. It is a month in which sustenance is increased...”
One hopes that throughout the month of Ramadan and long after its conclusion, people will do whatever they can to imbibe the essence of such a sermon and the spirit of the season so that their actions and ideals can be informed by the ideal of Ramadan. An ideal, that preaches peace, sharing, love, patience, respect and understanding towards us and our Christian and other faith based brothers and sisters. May all the religions in Nigeria live together in mutual harmony, understanding and appreciation.

Whether one is embarking on ‘itikaf’ or seclusion in a Mosque to devote their full month of Ramadan to remembering the Creator, devoting the last ten days of the fasting to worship or taking it within their stride to meet the basic obligation of fasting, I take this opportunity to wish everybody that is participating in the Ramadan a very blessed, fulfilling, and rewarding worship; Ramadan Kareem.

Written By Hannatu Musawa
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 Nelson Mandela is ageing and his ‘spirit and sparkle’ is fading, his wife has said, as it is disclosed that South Africa’s former president is hospitalized on life support, suffering from a recurring lung infection. Mill...ions all over the world yet again hold their breath at the news that the Madiba, one of the greatest moral and political international heroes of our time, is ill and fighting for his life.

Nelson Mandela feels more like a father than a famous figure to the likes of myself, who throughout our lives recognize him as the central persona in one of the most gripping and moving political dramas in the world. His story has been one of strife, great effort, obstacle, new hope, and the ultimate achievement. And even in the midst of his darkest days, he demonstrated with vigor the task of a great leader, by leading his country from the shallow hole it was in, to the elevated heights of freedom. He did this with the spirit of a saint and a perception of strength, bravery, generosity, courage and forgiveness. Nelson Mandela is a true freedom fighter whose love for his people has no end and whose life and personal success will be remembered long after the world has forgotten the evils of the oppression that once engulfed his people. He is a star who has brightened the lives of many and set the ultimate example for all leaders in Africa, because he is one who will not compromise his people’s cause for self-interest. The radiance of his personality has touched the lives of many over the years and we hope to continue drinking from his river of humanity as we pray he pulls through.

In a role seldom witnessed in Africa, he selflessly dedicated his life to fight against one of the most powerful systems of oppression ever conceived, and today he stands as a decisive testimony to the victory of nobility and hope over desolation and odium, of forgiveness and love over revenge and hate. His life personifies what a true patriot should do and how they should behave under the most trying of circumstances. The spirits of all the revolutionaries and freedom fighters of this world, past and present, surely would smile blessings upon him because he always stood fair against all kinds of domination and was willing to give his life for it. In his own words, Nelson Mandela once said, “I have fought against white domination and against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a free society in which all live together in harmony, with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”.

Growing up in South Africa as a young black boy in the first half of the last century must have been a real ordeal as a result of apartheid. Blacks were segregated, abused, persecuted and treated little better than animals. The apartheid regime enacted laws that regarded them accordingly. But despite such adversity, Nelson Mandela was always a fighter from a young age. Instead of accepting this unreasonable system of government, he made the decision to resist and began his lifelong journey to free South Africa from the shackles of repression. Little did he know that his resolve back then would lead to the demise of apartheid, pave the road to the presidency and the ultimate honor of a Nobel Peace Award. Today, thanks to the personal effort and sacrifice of men such as Mandela, South Africa is a free state with equal opportunities for all its citizens and the pride of Africa.

Of all his sacrifices, the most heart-wrenching is without a doubt the sacrifice of his private life and youth for his people. I once read an interview with one of his daughters in which she described the solitude of growing up with a father that was incarcerated and branded terrorist by the government, and the loneliness of having to share him with the whole of South Africa upon his release. But even before his incarceration, Mandela was forced to live apart from his family. In an attempt to survive and evade the authorities, Mandela moved from place to place and adopted a number of camouflages. He became so good at avoiding the authorities that were stationed in every nook and cranny that at a point he was labeled the ‘black pimpernel’.

His childhood and upbringing could not have been more apt for the life-role he was to play. He was born in the South African town of Qunu, Transkei in 1918. His father, Henry Mandela, was chief councillor to the acting paramount chief in his town. When his father died, Mandela became the chief's ward and was groomed for the chieftainship. From a young age he and his lifelong friend and fellow freedom fighter Oliver Tambo were driven to participate in the fight to free their people. As a student he was said to both be extremely studious and ambitious and eventually ended up starting a BA degree. However in 1940, during the course of his degree, he was expelled from University for actively participating in a student strike. He went on to complete his degree by doing a correspondence course after which he enrolled to become a lawyer. After joining the ANC, he helped found the youth league of the party in 1944. He put in many years of dedication to his cause and eventually became head of the defiance-campaign of the party. This empowered him to travel across the country to organize a resistance to discriminatory legislation campaign. During this period he was arrested and confined a couple of times but that didn’t stop him from forming individual underground cells of the ANC upon his release.

In addition, he and Oliver Tambo proceeded to open the first black legal firm in the country and even though the Law Society was petitioned to strike Mandela off the roll of barristers, his law firm and career survived. In 1960, after the Sharpeville massacre and after his release from yet another detention, Mandela as leader of the military wing of the ANC went underground to lead a campaign for a new national convention. By 1962 he went to Algeria for military training and to build a militia but upon his return he was arrested. On a charge of leaving the country illegally and incitement to strike Mandela conducted his own defence but lost and was convicted for five years in November 1962. It was during the service of that sentence he and seven others, Walter Sisulu, Dennis Goldberg, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Elias Mosoaledi, Andrew Mlangeni and Ahmed Kathrada, were charged with sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment.

During this trial Mandela’s resolve never faulted and he continuously told the court; “I do not deny that I planned sabotage. I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness nor for the love of violence but as a result of a sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation and oppression of my people by the whites.” But despite their defence the judge remained convinced that their behaviour was not borne out of a need for the attainment of equal rights for the African people but out of a warped desire for revolution and personal ambition. Luckily for the world he stopped short of imposing the supreme penalty of death and instead opted for life imprisonment. While in prison, Mandela never compromised his political principles and was always a source of strength for the other prisoners.

The apartheid government numerously offered Mandela the reduction of his sentence as long as he abided by certain conditions, but every time they offered, Mandela would refuse on the notion that “prisoners were not able to enter into contracts, only free men could negotiate”.

Decades into his struggle for the liberation of black and colored people in South Africa, Mandela, together with Walter Sisulu, Dennis Goldberg, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Elias Mosoaledi, Andrew Mlangeni and Ahmed Kathrada, was charged with sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment. While in prison, Mandela never compromised his political principles. The apartheid government numerously offered Mandela the reduction of his sentence as long as he abided by certain conditions, but every time they offered, Mandela would refuse on the notion that ‘…only free men could negotiate.’

After decades of prison labor, Nelson Mandela and his colleagues were eventually released on February 11, 1990. On that bright day, at 4:14pm, almost an hour late, a jubilant Mandela, dressed in a light brown suit and tie and holding Winnie’s hand, appeared at the gates of his prison, smiled at the ecstatic crowds and punched the air in a victory salute before taking a silver BMW Sedan to freedom. With his tenacity unblemished, he went back to his life’s work, determined to end the struggle he and others had set out to do almost four decades earlier. In 1991, at the first national conference of the ANC held inside South Africa, Mandela was elected president of the party. On May 10, 1994, he won and became the first democratically elected president of South Africa. And, unlike most other African leaders, even though he was at the apex, he retired in June 1999 and relinquished power with no fuss after only one term in office.

Before being admitted to hospital, he was known to peacefully reside in his birth place with his third wife, Graca, where his most private moments were filled by his greatest pleasure: watching the sun set while listening to classical music and reading to his grandchildren. Accounts suggest he usually got up by 4:30am, exercised by 5am and took breakfast of plain porridge, fresh fruit and fresh milk by 6:30am while reading the days newspapers.

Despite severe provocation, Mandela never answered racism with racism but symbolized the triumph of the human spirit over man’s inhumanity to man. His life has been an inspiration to all who are oppressed and deprived and to all who are opposed to oppression and deprivation. He has never wavered in his devotion to democracy, equality and justice.

Words cannot describe how blessed this generation is to have lived during the times of a man like Mandela. I and millions of people around the world who love him dearly have learned so much from him and will continue to cherish him. If the world can have more people like him, it, indeed, would be a much better place to live in. He reminds me of a late woman named Hajia Wowo that I loved so much. But more than that, when I think of him, I do not see a person; I see an institution of goodness and a beacon of strength…I see my conscience!

In his autobiography, ‘Long Walk to Freedom,’ Mandela describes his struggle as a journey, and of that journey he says, “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”

And indeed, as we pray for his fast recovery or peaceful passing, for the great Madiba it has been, for the last nine decades, a walk well walked!

Written By Hannatu Musawa
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 Today, Tuesday, the 25th June 2013, the world witnesses the fourth year anniversary of the death of the greatest, most successful and influential entertainer of all time. This time four years ago when news broke that Mich...ael Jackson had passed away after suffering from a cardiac arrest, an unprecedented outpouring of grief barraged every corner of the globe. Four years on since that tragic day, his life, achievements and legacies has been the subject of much focus. Apart from his achievements as a great father and philanthropist, Michael left behind the sound of great music. With his intrinsically spectacular story and sensational genius, he taught people what real music was and spread the message of love patience and peace through his work.

In my annual tribute to the King of Pop, I would like to consider one of the most powerful and beautiful messages he left in that work. In the song, Man in the Mirror, Michael advises each of us to make an individual change if we want to make the world a better place. In the lyrics of the song, Michael sings:


This song is indeed about suffering and the cruelty of life, but it goes way deeper than that by saying that the only way we can change the world is by changing ourselves. Essentially, the message that each and every individual has the responsibility of changing themselves in the interest of the greater good is one that would benefit any society. In societies such as ours in Nigeria, the scepter of individual and petty interest has totally infiltrated and completely submerged our way of life and our mindset, invariably characterizing the crux of our tribulations.

As we toil from day to day, wobble through this uncertain democracy and union, Nigeria’s future continues to loom on the precipice as a result of the fact that the majority of our people do not give priority to the highest interest of the nation over their own. But what is even worse than our vice of self-serving interest is the transferred aggression we harbor and lurch at each other.

With so much finger pointing and vilification being hurled across to each other on just about everything in Nigeria, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: No one wants to accept responsibility for the state that we, as Nigerians, are in or the pains that we go through daily as a nation. Whether it’s about sectarian violence, ineptitude, marginalization, extremism, crime, bad leadership or Nigeria’s tattered international image as a scamming and 419 hub, no one wants to take responsibility or admit that each and every one of us has contributed to the state that we find ourselves.
In essence, everyone is pointing the finger at everyone else. No one wants to declare: the buck stops here. No one seems ready to imbibe the message given in Man in the Mirror, which also happens to be the same as the advice of inspiration that was so eloquently quoted by Mahatma Gandhi when he said, “be the change we want to see in the world.”

When I first came across this great quote by Mahatma Gandhi, I knew it held a great deep meaning but I don’t think I fully grasped the real meaning behind it. But over time, I have come to appreciate that, whether through outlook or behavior, it is important for us to change ourselves first before we can expect and see the change we want to see in the world. If we desire non-violence, peace, love and unity, then we ourselves have to reject violence, and embrace peace, love and unity. Putting enormous stakes on the notion of personal responsibility and by extension using that self-responsibility to change ourselves in the interest of our nation is, if I’m not mistaken, one of the things we desperately need in this country.

Whatever change we want to see in our motherland, instead of laying blame on everybody else’s doorstep, first we have to be that change ourselves before we can expect others to be. Each and every one of us has a role to play in that respect. And if each and every one of us imbibes this, we will have a totally reinvigorated society.

There is no reason why the advice given by Mahatma Ghandi or the message in a song like the Man in the Mirror should not be a starting point for all Nigerians to scrutinize their different options and the responsibilities we each have in building a change into a nation that is very much in need of change. If, as a society, we were more sympathetic to others around us and the future generations to come after us, a positive change will occur in the interest of the greater good.

Michael Jackson was my favorite singer. His inspirational songs and strong lyrics are still very powerful and he is still greatly missed. As I analyze some of the greatest songs that MJ has bequeathed to us, I see the instinctive kindness of being the person he was. He cared for people and yearned to be the catalyst to initiate change in the world. He was willing to look through the mirror and be an instrument for recreating positive changes.

One wishes the people in this country, especially our leaders and politicians would imbibe such perspective. If Nigerian politicians make themselves the motivators of change and stopped presenting scenarios that tend to be in their benefit as opposed to that of the nation as a whole, they would have given this country the greatest gift of all; The gift of positive change.

Without a doubt, realizing the true meaning of and embracing the message in the Man in the Mirror is highly liberating and a vital concept for Nigerians to adopt. It is a fair evaluation of simply getting young and old Nigerians to look at the possible things we can each offer in making Nigeria a better place. At this stage, it should not really matter whose turn it is to rule Nigeria or what the gentleman’s agreement the ruling party put in place a decade ago says. What does matter to the vast majority of us is the sincerity of ‘we’ the people and our desire to help make this country better. As long as all the rhetoric and political negotiations taking place at present comes with a proviso that suggests the advocates are purely working towards their personal gains in the 2015 elections and the cabinet that will be constituted thereafter, then Nigeria will forever remain in the doldrums that it is in now. If we want this country to be a better place than it is at present, then, in the great words of Michael, we have to; “TAKE A LOOK AT OURSELVES AND MAKE A CHANGE.”

Written By Hannatu Musawa
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“HERE I AM” at the fourth anniversary of your death. It is hard to believe that June 25th will mark four years since you left us. Whenever I “REMEMBER THE TIME” I heard the “NEWSFLASH” on the “NITE-LINE” that ...your life was “ON THE LINE,” I prayed for your soul not to “FLY AWAY.” It was a “HEARTBREAKER” because by the “BREAK OF DAWN” when I learnt that you weren’t “GOING BACK TO INDIANA” but that you were no more with us “IN THE FLESH,” I felt as if I was “EATEN ALIVE.” I felt that “THERE MUST BE MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS” pain of losing you. Your death made me “SPEECHLESS” and made me “CRY;” I had to “STOP” and ask friends to “TELL ME I’M NOT DREAMING;” for Michael at the prime age of 50, you had “GONE TOO SOON.”

There just “AIN’T NO SUNSHINE” without you, there’s just no one else that could “BOOGIE ON DOWN” and gives us “BUTTERFLIES” the way you do. As sure as “ABC,” for any Tom, Dick, Harry, “BEN” or “JOHNNY RAVEN” who grew up anytime between 1970 and 2000, you were part of our “CHILDHOOD,” even if it was just for “ONE DAY IN YOUR LIFE.” Whether we liked you or not, whether we saw the man “BEHIND THE MASK,” in life as in death, you remain an object of fascination, you remain “INVINCIBLE” not only for the “SUPERFLY SISTER,” “CIRCUS GIRL,” “ROCKING ROBIN,” “TABLOID JUNKIE” or even the “STREET WALKER.” From your “HAPPY” contributions to the “HOT STREET” of entertainment, to your “UNCONVENTIONAL” private life, most of us have our memory of you made palpable every time one becomes a “DANCING MACHINE” to “GET ON THE FLOOR” to “JAM” to your music till the “BREAK OF DAWN.”

“WHATEVER HAPPENS,” the world of entertainment will never “COME TOGETHER” and “SHOO-BE-DOO-BE-DOO-DA-DAY” the way you made it. Never “AGAIN” will we have the kind of “SPEED DEMON” that could “BURN THE DISCO OUT” on the dance floor like you did; never again will there “BE A LION” of the ineradicable and “MORPHINE” talent that you were. They say some “PEOPLE MAKE THE WORLD GO ROUND;” you certainly did Michael because yours was the “GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH.” When we hear your beat, we don’t need to ask “WHO IS IT?” When you sing, it’s as if “WE’VE GOT FOREVER.”

Your “HISTORY” began when your “MOTHER” gave birth to nine children in a family of talented and creative artists. From the very beginning there was “SOMETHING ABOUT YOU ‘BABY” Michael’ and your star shone brightly with “MONEY” and fame beckoning. You undoubtedly took all “THE LOVE YOU SAVE” because by the age of five, you were belting out a string of No.1 hits and everybody was wanting to “ROCK WITH YOU.” As you “EASE ON DOWN THE ROAD” to stardom you proceeded to “ROCK MY WORLD.” Your voice was the “MORNING GLOW;” your lyrics made us believe in “A BRAND NEW DAY,” your “MELODIE” gave us “THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF OUR LIVES” and your dance moves were just literally “OFF THE WALL.” You were phenomenal, electrifying and marvellous. The talent you exhibited was so epic that it was only “HUMAN NATURE” for you to be “COMFORTABLY NUMB” and unable to thrive as normal men do. Your controversies were a far “CRY” from the days when you were a “P.Y.T (PRETTY YOUNG THING),” who made millions “SHOUT,” “SCREAM” and jump “UP AGAIN” with joy.

You gave us hits that could have easily been regarded as the ultimate “EARTH SONG.” “2 BAD” you lost your “PRIVACY” to “THE THIN ICE” of the media but your personal life also took a strange turn. Never mind the fact that you jilted “BILLIE JEAN,” your face and your lifestyle spelt “TROUBLE” and “THREATENED” your popularity. You appeared to be “STRANGER IN MOSCOW” than a conventional pop star when you traveled there to have a few face lifts. At that point I didn’t “GET IT” Michael, I thought “WHATZUPWITU” man? I no longer knew if you were “BLACK OR WHITE” when you transformed yourself from big Mike to “LITTLE SUZIE”. You looked like you “WERE ALMOST THERE”, but not quite; because you resembled “SOMEONE IN THE DARK”; like “ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL” of weirdness. To honestly “SAY, SAY, SAY” that before your death you looked like a voodoo-death-god “WAITING FOR THE WORMS” on the “CAROUSEL” is implying the subtlest of innuendos to someone rather thick; somewhat like saying Charles Taylor fought his war like a “LIBERIAN GIRL.”

Before your “FAREWELL, MY SUMMER LOVE,” you didn’t look like the man who urged us to “HEAL THE WORLD,” you looked gaunt and ashen, much like the “GHOSTS” in the thriller video. You looked like a man that was “SCARED OF THE MOON” or one who had been electrocuted by “2000 WATTS.” Your eccentric conduct made me confused; and yet despite this, my admiration for you was “UNBREAKABLE.” Even now that you are gone, even now that “YOU ARE THERE” and not here, “I CAN’T HELP IT,” every time I hear you sing, you “TAKE ME BACK” to “THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL” when I first heard the Jackson 5 album.

No longer looking like a “MAN IN THE MIRROR,” you hoped to “KEEP THE FAITH” in your Never-land Ranch because it kept you in touch with the child within. After you said “SHE’S OUT OF MY LIFE” to your first wife Lisa Marie and said “THE GIRL IS MINE” to your nurse Debbie Rowe, you went on to say “BABY BE MINE” when you had three beautiful babies. If I thought that the saga in your life was “OUTSIDE THE WALL” of normality or that your problem was that you were still “IN THE CLOSET,” I hadn’t seen anything till the 2003 documentary that featured you as “THE WIZARD” who did “MONKEY BUSINESS” with young boys like they were your “GIRLFRIEND.” Like a perverted “SUNSET DRIVER” or your proverbial “DIRTY DIANA,” you saw nothing wrong with sleeping in the same bed with underage boys. Unfortunately for you, many thought this incongruity was “LOVE GONE BAD” for the poor “LOST CHILDREN.” You were prosecuted for preying on vulnerable young boys, “TOO YOUNG” for you to urge them to “GIVE INTO ME”. You demanded for your adversaries to tell you, “WHY YOU WANNA TRIP ON ME?” You asked all your fans; “WILL YOU BE THERE” for me?” I know that you wondered, “IS THERE ANYBODY OUT THERE;” please “DON’T LEAVE ME NOW,” “DON’T WALK AWAY” and abandon me”.

However, just when I thought “YOU CAN’T WIN” Michael, at “THE TRIAL,” your exceptional defence team insisted that all the people that “WANNA BE STARTIN’ SOMETHING” by accusing you of being a “DANGEROUS,” child-raping “SMOOTH CRIMINAL” should “BEAT IT” and be ready to “RUN LIKE HELL.” After you saw the child molestation cases “FLY AWAY” when the judge ruled the boys were “JUST GOOD FRIENDS” to you, you pleaded with the public to “LEAVE ME ALONE” since your kindness was treated like “BLOOD ON THE DANCEFLOOR.” Was it scary then, “IS IT SCARY” now?

The one thing I knew about the people who wrongly accused you was that “THEY DON’T REALLY CARE ABOUT US” fans the world over. They said you were a “CHEATER” and you were “BAD,” they wanted you to “FALL AGAIN” but in “OUR SMALL WAY” and “IN THE BACK” of our minds, we knew you struggled to make the world a better place by reaching one person at a time with your music. We knew you were kind, gracious, generous, compassionate and burdened. We knew you felt like you had “GOT TO BE THERE” for those who were downtrodden and “YOU WERE THERE” for them. You must have had “LONELY TEARDROPS” at their false accusations and lies before you said “GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD.” But “HEY YOU;” don’t worry because “WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND.” There is a saying that “EVERYBODY’S SOMEBODY’S FOOL;” you certainly were nobody’s fool Michael.

“THIS TIME AROUND” everyone will agree that despite your battered reputation, amidst all the things you were and “ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE,” your gift was unparalleled. “THE FEELING THAT WE HAVE” when we hear you sing is rich enough to “TOUCH THE ONE YOU LOVE,” which was almost everyone. Your “MIND IS THE MAGIC,” you were a genius; “THE MAN” with the Midas touch. No scandal can torpedo your legacy now; “THE SHOW MUST GO ON” for the King of Pop. The “THRILLER” may be gone, but the thrill will always remain…“CAN YOU FEEL IT?”
Michael you make me “SMILE” when I see your videos, when I hear your voice, your lyrics make me see “ANOTHER PART OF ME” and you make me believe that, as people, “WE ARE THE WORLD” and that “WE ARE HERE TO CHANGE THE WORLD.” You said that “PEOPLE MAKE THE WORLD GO ROUND” if only they could “COME TOGETHER.” You were “WORKING DAY AND NIGHT” to represent all this and I believe “THAT’S WHAT LOVE IS MADE OF.” I sing your songs to tell my “BEAUTIFUL GIRL,” my daughter, “YOU ARE MY LIFE”, I mimic your words “TO MAKE MY FATHER PROUD,” I belt out your melody to let my mother know that “YOU’RE MY BEST FRIEND, MY LOVE,” I repeat your songs to tell my friends that “YOU CAN CRY ON MY SHOULDER”, I chant your lyrics so my sisters can know that “YOU ARE NOT ALONE” and they can “CALL ON ME” whenever and I use your vision to write to my fellow countrymen weekly that “WE’VE GOT A GOOD THING GOING” if we “DON’T WALK AWAY” from Nigeria.

“I CAN’T HELP IT” Michael but your “MUSIC AND ME” are a match made in heaven. Through your music your “LOVE IS HERE AND YOU ARE GONE.” Whenever I hear your songs “I HEAR A SYMPHONY,” then “IT’S THE FALLING IN LOVE” and ‘whoosh,’ “I’M IN LOVE AGAIN.” “I JUST CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU” on my CD player. Your songs “ROCK MY WORLD,” have a “SERIOUS EFFECT” on me, “GIVE ME HALF A CHANCE” to “XSCAPE” and “SAVE ME” from boredom especially when there’s “NOBODY HOME.” “I WANT YOU BACK” for “ONE MORE CHANCE” to sing again and despite your troubled life, “I LIKE THE WAY YOU ARE” and “I’LL BE THERE” to listen to your music for as long as I live…I only wish “HEAVEN CAN WAIT!”

“THIS IS IT,” I loved your music Michael, I remain your number one fan and I still believe in your ability to bring together people, cultures and kinds through it. I could walk more than “25 MILES” to celebrate your life and all your accomplishments and I know “I’LL COME HOME TO YOU” on my record player. You brought joy and entertainment to my life. Although I don’t “WANNA BE WHERE YOU ARE,” I still miss you. “MAYBE TOMORROW” or as “SOON AS I GET HOME,” I’ll put on your music and dance and when I “DON’T STOP TILL YOU GET ENOUGH,” I won’t blame it on you Michael; I’ll “BLAME IT ON THE BOOGIE.” …And “THE BEAT GOES ON;” Thank you. Peace to you brother…“FOR ALL TIME!”

From your number one fan, Hanney

Written By Hannatu Musawa
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This true story of a young, mysterious stranger, who was rescued to have great opportunity in life, but lost it due to his mendacity, has always been one to capture the imagination of mystery lovers all over the world. Kasper Hauser was an enigma of sorts, a man whose one step forward was tantamount to ten steps back. As one looks at the assortment of Kasper Hauser’s in the Nigerian polity, time has come for the congregation to have a word with one of them…!

If only Governor Isa Yuguda didn't have a hissy fit and thrown his toys out of the pram over what he perceived as a betrayal of the Northern Governors to their ludicrous gentleman’s agreement that adopted Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang as the consensus Northern candidate for the Chairmanship of the Nigerian Governors Forum, his sheer duplicity could have stayed under wraps for a tad bit longer.

Although he'd, of recent, not been seen as a particularly upright and reliable politician, Governor Yuguda’s gung-ho outburst where “he didn’t see any reason why he should attend the Northern Governors meeting for the next two years until one of the Northern Governors owned up to breeching their earlier agreement,” moved him, whether he liked it or not, from the ‘Special School of Hypocrites Anonymous’ into the realm of the ‘Kasper Hauser Institute for the Extremely Advanced Hypocrite.’

And it was a pretty reckless move because, unless one is mistaken, hasn’t the same Governor Yuguda, who is now crying bloody murder over the breech of a political gentleman’s agreement, been part and parcel to the breech of other more critical gentleman’s agreements?
When the PDP came up with their ineffectual, insulated agreement which demanded for power to shift from North to South, Governor Yuguda was very much aware of that gentleman’s agreement. When fate crashed the PDP shindig to hoist President Jonathan on a presidency that the PDP had prepped for the North only two years after an eight year stint by President Obasanjo, not a whimper came from Governor Yuguda’s mouth on that gentleman’s agreement. Not that anyone would blame him on that account since that was fate’s doing.

However, in the run up to the 2011 race when President Jonathan denied being part of any gentleman’s agreement for power rotation between the North and South, despite the fact that he was the biggest beneficiary to the agreement, could it be that a big black cat got a hold of Governor Yuguda’s tongue since he didn’t murmur a peep about that agreement? But the real cracker comes when one considers the alleged gentleman’s agreement that Northern Governors, of which Governor Yuguda happens to be one, had with President Jonathan in 2011, when they all agreed that the president would serve for one term and allow the presidency to be zoned back to the North in 2015, in line with the initial PDP arrangement. Now that it is quite abundantly clear that President Jonathan is gunning to run for the presidency uncontested, allegedly, on the PDP ticket, many had begun to wonder whether Governor Yuguda’s larynx was not adjusting to his articulators in a manner able to filter the sound needed for him to belt out his swan song.

But “Alas”, we can all rest easy; for Governor Yuguda did not lose his voice, he just lost the righteousness of knowing when to use it. When this self-described aficionado of honor used his own words to say, “By my own culture, background and religion, I strongly believe that whatever is agreed upon, we must stand by it unless it is illegal,” unless we are missing something, the star student of “The Kasper Hauser Institute for the Extremely Advanced Hypocrite” plunged a stake straight into the heart of what was left of his honor.

Governor Yuguda seems smart, and brilliantly quick, and in the past, often served as an interesting, opposing figure, especially in the lead to the 2007 elections when he was persecuted and unjustly denied the PDP ticket, prompting him to move to the ANPP. Back then, traces of the righteous politician he once was somehow still defined him and his people fought tooth and nail to ensure that he reclaimed what was rightfully his. Back then, he was a peoples leader struggling for more accountability of government, against too much power held by the governor; he symbolized the downtrodden and became hope itself, he stood for transparency and the democratic tenant of ‘one man one vote.’

However, having barely warmed his governorship seat, he decided to show his supporters the finger by leapfrogging back to the PDP from the ANPP. But that wasn’t his real crime. The real crime came when he decided to do what was done onto him; to bulldoze and persecute the ANPP faithful who refused to decamp to the PDP with him, including his deputy, Alhaji Mohammed Garba Gadi.

It seems that when it comes to hypocrisy, Governor Yuguda believes the old adage, "in for a penny, in for a pound!" And in his quest to overzealously prove loyalty to his faction of colleagues, his hypocrisy has been exposed at the greatest of price to him; for the incisiveness of his words and actions reveals all. His tenacious desires to save face for the blustering defeat his troupe suffered at the election of the Nigerian Governors Forum and publicly retain faith in whatever sordid plan President Jonathan allegedly has up his sleeve, makes him a poor reader of the daily satire being hurled at his very persona from every corner of the North. By the end of it all, this exposure will have cost Governor Yuguda his remaining straw of dignity in the eyes of his people.

But if only he hadn't had that hissy fit, he may not have totally exposed his sheer hypocrisy. Or to put it another way: if only he hadn't overreacted and publicly try to throw the other governors under the bus, he may not have shown himself as the proverbially despised tell-tale stoolpigeon. Because this is, of course, what he did by challenging the other governors to come out and confess as to why they reneged on supporting Governor Jang. Of course Governor Yuguda had a right to be frustrated at his colleagues who had defaulted on their earlier agreement. And when it comes to the moral side of such things, promise is key of course.

But were the governors, who refused to vote for Governor Jang, behaving immorally because they refused to be used as pawns on the Chess Board of President Jonathan or simply being canny? Did the fact that some of the governors decided to change their minds, after the meeting and before the election, warrant for Governor Yuguda to imply that they had no common sense, rationality, fear of God or honor when he said, “I expected common sense, rationality and fear of God to prevail?” How about whether the accusation that the Northern Governors did the North a disservice because they refused to support a Northerner and instead supported Governor Amaechi for the Chairmanship seat which was slated for the North? “Really Governor Yuguda… Really…?”

These are legitimate questions that should be put to Governor Yuguda. And he could argue them till the cows come home, but if he really wants to see what immoral political behavior looks like, if he wants to glare at lack of common sense, irrationality and dishonor in government, if he’s desperate to stare at the archetypal Northern leader that continues to do the North a disservice; then he should grab the nearest mirror and gaze squarely into it… Therein he will see the answer to his conundrum!

How does one remind politicians like Governor Yuguda of their own humanity; that they once believed in something else, something important and valuable... something called honour and democracy? Like Kasper Hauser, Governor Yuguda was a man who had the world at his feet but through his actions, his initial good relationship with his people seems to have soured amidst complains about his exorbitant vanity, and hypocrisy; this one in particular.

Perhaps the sharpest judgment passed on Kasper Hauser was when he was described as a person with “horrendous mendacity" and "art of dissimulation." Governor Yuguda still has a chance to redeem him-self and one hopes that he re-evaluates his actions in office before he well and truly completely embodies that, “Enigma of Kasper Hauser!”

Written By Hannatu Musawa

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 This Sunday the 16th, as the world honours fathers and celebrates fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society, I would like to use this forum to honor and recognize all the father...s in Nigeria who work and toil hard to put food on the table irrespective of the harsh economic conditions we find ourselves today. Sometimes our fathers are overlooked for mothers who appear to be more nurturing and involved in our everyday lives. This is a tribute to all those fathers and one in particular that I would simply describe as, “the greatest Dad in the world.”
Alhaji Musa Musawa is not only my father; he is my greatest role model, my inspiration and my rock. Even though every day I communicate to my Dad how grateful and lucky I am to have him as a father, every year I look forward to father’s day because it is a time that I can further express my appreciation to him for everything he has represented in my life.

Often tributes are paid to people in the aftermath of their lives. But
I want to tell my dad, while he still has so much life in him, just how much his struggles and hard-work have been appreciated by his “little girl.” I would want the example of how much of a good father he is and the bond that is so strong between him and me to serve as an inspiration this father’s day. And I don't mean to make a tribute to him in any kind of simple, celebratory way. Rather, this is a tribute worthy of him, one that brings together the good and the bad.

In the real world, where domination, bigotry, oppression, dishonesty and corruption intertwine with all aspects of our lives, there are no easy, uncomplicated sources of inspiration. But there are lessons. I have always looked to my dad for those lessons about how to struggle against immorality and dishonesty, as well as for lessons about the structures of prejudice and chauvinism that I was confronted with in a highly dogmatic and sexist atmosphere. In his example and lessons, I have been able to find both inspiration and warning, inseparably tied.

When I think of my Dads story, at first glance, it looks deceptively like a bootstraps tale of hard-won success and class mobility. But I think his resolve, opportunities and identity were shaped by much more than that. My dad was born in Bichi, Kano state on April 1st 1937. His mother was a religious young lady from Musawa, Katsina state, who passed away when my father was just a baby. His father never remarried after the loss of his mother and he was sent to his mother’s village in Musawa to live with his aunty, a true woman of substance who instilled a sense of independence, confidence and focus in him. He grew up in a very hard, rural environment, the youngest of three children in a family constantly struggling to make ends meet. He was sent back to Bichi to attend school and along the way inherited a healthy distrust of the autocratic and feudalistic actions of both the Colonial and the Native Northern Governments. He has always told me that, even as far back as then, he felt a driving and throbbing need to stand up for the downtrodden and poor in the society. It was also then he realized that he had what I like to call, ‘the gift of the gab.’

Though my dad came of age during the transition for independence of Nigeria, he never lost his gut sense of egalitarian ethics. He strongly believed in democratization, women empowerment and freedom of speech. Decades later as I was becoming politicized, he would confess that, he would forever remain a socialist; convinced that the staggering inequalities of our society were fundamentally wrong and we each had a duty to speak out against it and change it. I suspect that this core ethic contributed to his acceptance of so many things, amongst which, surprisingly, is feminism. All my life, I have watched him try to break down the rigid Arewa gender boundaries for his daughters with mixed success, in his relationship with my mother and his relationship with our husbands. And in the process, I learned a lot about patriarchy, not the least of which is its frustrating resilience.

Struggle and hard work framed my father's young adulthood. Attending Kano Secondary School was never really a priority for a young man of his humble background, but with the encouragement of his aunty/mother forever playing on his psyche, my dad was determined to pull himself and his family out of the dearth in which he had seen his family toil in and he was determined to put himself in a position where he could speak up for the millions whom he felt did not have a voice. He knew that education as the only way he could achieve that. So he put himself through school and fought to remain and excel there and he skimmed through while also working. Around about the same time, Mallam Aminu Kano, the son of a noble Islamic scholar had begun a movement of young radicals eager to fight for change known as the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU). It was an incontestably natural progression for my dad to join NEPU. He became Youth Chairman of NEPU in Bichi and together with the likes of Alh Ali Abdallah, Alh. Sobo Bakin Zuwo, Alh. Abubakar Rimi, Alh. Balarabe Musa, Alh. Sule Lamido, Alh Adamu Garkuwa, Alh Wada Abubakar, Alh Sadi Gabari, Alh Abba Musa Rimi and many others, they challenged the ruling elite in the north.

He went to the University of Ife, Ibadan to study Public Administration, after which he got a job with the BBC African Service. He stayed at the BBC for 5 years before proceeding to Cambridge to study Chinese. My dad then joined the Foreign Service and was posted to Uganda and then India.

Apart from when he speaks about his late aunty/mother and his late friend Alhaji Lawal Baloni, the only time I see my father speak in an emotional manner with tears welling up in his eyes is when he speaks about Mallam Aminu Kano. My father adored and looked up to Mallam Aminu Kano and was one of the closest people to the late hero. When Mallam formed the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Dad was elected as the treasurer at the national convention and later contested for the governorship of Kaduna State in 1983 under the party.

I never miss an opportunity to speak of what a great Dad I have and he never misses and opportunity to speak about how his greatest pride and joy are his children. He has always been a supportive Dad in our personal, professional and educational lives. And he has always made himself available to watch television, eat, play games, listen and have regular family picnics with his children. He struggled to make sure he gave us the very best education. And in the late seventies that effort led him to the UK where he enrolled us in the very best schools in England. I will forever be grateful to him for that priceless foundation.

Only those who truly know him realize that my father has the greatest sense of humor. And I can categorically say that I have never met anyone as funny, sarcastic and with a penchant to wittily-exaggerate the funny side of life like Dad. Many of my most inspirational moments with him are during our daily experiences when he uses humor to try to make a point.

My Dad is a great “silent” philanthropist who never publicizes the deeds he does for people. Over the decades, I have seen him educate countless of youths to further themselves in school, build houses for people, sponsor the sick for medical treatment at home and abroad, build mosques, build schools, feed families and employ hundreds of people in his ‘beloved’ Manema farm. My father was the first put the name of our village, Musawa, Katsina on the map and sponsored a number of successful people from that village to better opportunities.

But there is a flip side to my dad. That is, he is far from untouched by tenaciousness, temperament and an over heightened state of self-esteem. In fact, some of the more poignant lessons I take from him have to do with his imperfections. Mostly, they center on his worst demons, inextricably linked to the workings of our social order and the lack of acknowledgement for his struggles and his potential; the struggles and potential that Mallam Aminu Kano, more than anyone else, recognized in him.

I acknowledge his defects and successes but most of all, the inspirational role he has played in my life and the lives of so many others. Simply put, I would not be the person that I am today without him. He helped equip me with some essential reflective tools for challenging systems of oppression. He embodied a, not entirely, different way for me to look at myself as an independent Hausa/Fulani woman. And he taught me basic things, to confront my own struggles, to not let criticism or obstacles deter me, always stand up for what I think is right, to never forget how to cry and to never put myself in a position where anyone would undermine my integrity. These are lessons I religiously carry with me every day of my life.

I love my dad very much, even during the times he used to make us watch snooker and horse riding, and the most sincere way I know of expressing my love is never to compromise the ethics he strived so hard to instill in me, to learn from the mistakes he confided in me and to never ignore the privilege he has given me. To forget any of this would be the greatest disrespect to him. In this sense, I will continue to carry him with me and use him as a yard stick for honor and integrity. I pray for Dad’s speedy recovery as he bravely battles diabetes.

As we mark international father’s day, I would like to thank Alhaji Musa Musawa, General T.Y Danjuma, Alh Isiyaku Ibrahim, General Garba Duba, Alh Aminu Dantata, Alh Mamooda Zayyan, Alhaji Umaru Mutalab, Bishop Mathew Kukah, Alhaji Abdullahi Imam, Alhaji Nura Imam, Alh Lamis Dicco all my fathers in Rafindadi, Unguwan-Alkali, Kaduna and Musawa for their support, guidance and inspiration. I wish them all a very fulfilling father’s day.

Written By Hannatu Musawa

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Alhaji Ado Bayero’s appearance at the Durbar in Kano this weekend will cap a triumphant Golden Jubilee for a Monarch who is secure in his subject’s’ hearts and has emerged as one of the most successful and res...pected royal figures in the country.

50 years ago, when the young Mallam Ado Bayero was summoned back to Nigeria while on a French course in France, little did he know the mammoth role that destiny would bestow on him. Upon the passing of Emir Muhammadu Inuwa, his uncle, Alhaji Ado Bayero was appointed the new Emir of Kano.

Mallam Ado Bayero was born on the 15th June 1930, when his father, Abdullahi Bayero, had been on the throne for four years. Mallam Ado was the eleventh child of his father and the second of three born to his mother, Hajiya Hasiya.
He trained vigorously in religious studies and latter enrolled in contemporary school. After graduating in 1947, he then took up employment with the British Bank for West Africa, now the First Bank of Nigeria.

“Alhaji Ado Bayero left the bank to begin his career with the Kano Native Authority in 1949. While working for the Native Authority, he attended a number of clerical and administrative courses in Nigeria and abroad. In 1952 he attended the Clerical Training College, Zaria. He then took a course on Local Government in the United Kingdom. In 1953 he became the Chief Clerk of the Kano Town Council. He contested and won the election to the Northern Regional House of Assembly in Kaduna on the ticket of the Northern Peoples' Congress (NPC) in 1954, and he made his inaugural speech in the House on 3rd. March 1955. In April 1957 Ado Bayero resigned his seat in the House to take up an appointment as the Police Chief of the Kano Native Administration Police. He was appointed Nigeria's Ambassador to Senegal in late 1962.” With such a glittering career in his past, the Emir was well poised for the role in which his popularity is unassailable, the role that he has upheld for 50 strong years.

Over the years, the Emir has widely been recognized as a true patriot and a man of great humility and justice. In reflection of these qualities, the Emir of Kano Ado Bayero, has often been called to play numerous mediating roles all over the country. This Golden Jubilee should not only be seen as a celebration of the Emir’s throne, but as an affirmation of his place as a national leader. People of different tribes all over Nigeria are this weekend showing their admiration for the Emir and their respect for the job that he has done.

As the good people of Kano celebrate 50 years of a leader who has truly proven himself, many, all over the world will be overjoyed with the response to the jubilee, which has brought a natural expression of popular feeling to the people of Kano.
Reservations over the security challenges that have plagued the north and even targeted the Emir himself seem drowned out by the Kano people’s enthusiasm in celebrating such a deserving leader. In the lead up to the Jubilee weekend, enormous crowds headed towards Kano, residents began packing the streets in order to book a place where they could get a glimpse of their Monarch. Witnesses to the emerging crowds speak of well-wishers of all ages who seem genuinely moved by this milestone in their history.

And a milestone it really is because, once upon a time, the complete administration of Kano was under rule of the aristocracy before the conquest of the land by the Colonial Masters. With the arrival of the British, the power of the Aristocracy was taken away but the role of the Emir of Kano was maintained. In maintaining that part of their history, the people Kano remained loyal to the Emirate Council in accepting and obeying orders from the Emir.

To rule over the exceptional and complex people of Kano for 50 years, given the cocktail of challenges and turbulence this country has gone through, while still maintaining the respect and love of his subjects, is a great testimony to the Emir. The people of Kano have, from time, proven themselves to be a resilient, independent, entrepreneurial, creative, hardworking and ingenious people. They have never opted for second best and have never been ones to suffer fools gladly. I know because I see it in my daughter, nieces and nephews who are all from Kano. With the likes of the late, great Mallam Aminu Kano, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Alhaji Bala Mohammed, Alhaji Maitama Yusuf, amongst others, Kano people have always been ready to stand up for what they believe in and reject what they don’t. And even though, their hospitality, warmth and sense of tradition has always provided a balance to their spunk in nature, had the Emir not ruled over them with the honour and grace he has, they would not be celebrating him in the way they are doing at this golden jubilee. Through this and by any accounting, his reign had been successful.

As we head into an uncertain future as a nation, the qualities and legacies of leaders such as the Emir of Kano should be imbibed by all. May we, as citizens, learn from people like the Emir, behave in the manner of the Emir and lead in the way of the Emir. His leadership and the leadership of others like him revive hope.

This weekend I will be celebrating along with my daughter, nieces, nephews, cousins, uncles, aunties, in-laws, friends, members of the Kano Royal family and all people of Kano on this great landmark in their history. I especially congratulate my step mother, Hajia Asiya Musawa (Nee Ado Bayero), my little brother Mohammed and my cousin Zainab Sanusi on the Golden Jubilee of their father, grandfather and uncle, respectively. May the next 50 years of this great Monarchy bring them the blessings, unity, forgiveness, strength, understanding and faith that the last 50 years have.

I was not born at the time that the Emir of Kano ascended his throne, but I have heard great and wonderful stories from my father on what a glorious time it was then. As he sits down now to reflect on where all those years went, Dad tells me that, “the coronation of the Emir of Kano to the throne was just like yesterday”… Then after a moment he looks up again and says, “JUBILEE’VE it’s been 50 years already?”

Written By Hannatu Musawa
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 The unprecedented, horrific events of the Woolwich killings of a British soldier, James Rigby, in broad daylight on a London street last week forced a massive shock, not only in Britain but the rest of the worl...d. The straw that broke the camel’s back (if you will) is the fact that both the suspects are of Nigerian descent and the dimension of the revelation further revealed that they are Nigerians from the southern part of the country. The fact that they are not Muslims from the northern part of Nigeria gives a more complex perspective to a phenomenon that would otherwise have been labelled by Nigerians especially as a Boko Haram terrorist activity. The overzealous and fascinatingly diverse conspiracy theories spun by Nigerians in the media, especially of southern descent, on dissipating the forensic evidence on the scene of the crime have been gigantean in nature. This is not the first of such unfortunate activity on an international platform of which a Nigerian has been involved. But in the first of such case, the media, especially those of southern descent, never expressed or entertained the possibility that the first case, which involved a northerner, could also lend itself to a conspiracy theory.

Similarly, the recent preposterous outburst by the ridiculous Asari Dokubo, where he threatened fire and brimstone primarily targeting northerners drew anger from a wide spectrum of Northern leaders. While it goes without saying that Dokubo is nothing better than an ignorant and mad bumbling fool, who has directed his personal frustrations towards bigotry, the outrage of many northerners to the utterances of the ‘rabid dog’ has been as revealing as the complacency southerners treated the onslaught. But the truth is, even though the manner and approach adopted by Dokubo was, to say the least, crass and uncouth, several northerners have, in the not so distant past, made statements not so dissimilar to Dokubo’s. But when they did, northerners didn’t see fault in it and didn’t articulate outrage in the same way southerners haven’t reacted to Dokubo’s statements. The theory all the time, in each instance is that there is a conspiracy where all regions adopt the posture of victims whose existence and wellbeing is threatened by some tribal covert grand design. And that in itself makes a conspiracy of the theory.

The reactions to the Woolwich killings and Dokubos statements may not seem connected, but they are; in the most crucial manner. Assessing these diverse events and the reactions that have followed them, one can’t help but conclude the navigation of ethnic sensibilities. When such conspiracy theories came into the fold in Nigeria, one can bet that there is an assessment of tribe and our natural denial of anything that reflects negativity of anyone that comes from the same tribe as us. Instead of universally labelling inciting statements of both northerners and southerners wrong, instead of accepting that murdering extremists are nothing less than murdering extremists, we make excuses when our tribes are concerned; use conspiracy theories to rationalise bad behaviour.

When it comes to conspiracy theories, we here in Nigeria are the sharers out of nations. So dependent we are on story telling for our survival, especially in connection with tribal issues, we have lost the codes of rational reasoning and to properly and reasonably articulate our outrage.

Don Delera, one of the most outstanding contemporary American writers, once said of conspiracy theories, “If we are on the outside, we assume a conspiracy is the perfect working of a scheme; silent nameless men with unadorned hearts. A conspiracy is everything that ordinary life is not. It's the inside game, cold, sure, undistracted, forever closed off to us. We are the flawed ones, the innocents, trying to make some rough sense of the daily jostle. Conspirators have logic and a daring beyond our reach. All conspiracies are the same taut story of men who find coherence in some criminal act.”

We do this to an art form in Nigeria. So easy is it to take refuge in the shadowy world of maybe or maybe nots. To blame all our failings on bogey men, on the ‘other’ tribes, on anyone except ourselves. It saves us the trouble of confronting reality. It saves us the trouble of having to take responsibility, of conserving our identity and our country; which we destroy so quickly and so shamelessly. It saves us from taking accountability for our actions and decisions and in the long run, we assassinate the potential of our young Nigeria in the span of one short lifetime. And it saves us from demanding better from our feckless rulers and depriving them of their overbearing and overwhelming power over us.

It is becoming harder and harder to escape the sense that the narrow-minded idiosyncrasy we apply to the issue of tribe is the core threat to our development and existence. Being unable to assess issues objectively without giving it a tribal and ethnic dimension is disturbing and a further reinforcement that what we have got in Nigeria is a most disunited and leery order. As a people, our way of reasoning requires a stronger focus on inconvenient truths which are much too often swept under the carpet in exchange for an optical illusion that exonerates what we consider to be ‘our own kind.’

It honestly is a woeful decree in the assessment of Nigeria that, a century since our formation; we are still unable to shed the garb of suspicion, intolerance and disparity. Still, unable to see beyond ethnicity, religion and regional origin. We; the black race, the people of Africa, Nigerians far and wide want to be accepted and seen as equals by the Europeans, the Americans, by the Caucasians all over the world. We complain when the Westerners make documentaries depicting our nations decline. We curse and cry bias when they refuse to grant us visas to their countries and when fellow Africans label us parasites, criminals and 419ers. Who are we to accuse anybody else of prejudice against us? We have no right to claim discrimination when we fail to exhibit the equality and understanding that we yearn from outsiders to our own people and in our own home. Through actions and words, all ethnic and religious groups in Nigeria are equally as guilty as each other of promoting the disharmony that is now drowning us.

There is no doubt that we are a different people with different cultures, religions, languages and traditions. We eat different foods, wear different clothes and look different. It is true that we have had to cope with the colonial legacy that lumped incompatible ethnic groups into one. But even amidst our differences, we are a people with the same story, with the same history, with the same plight. And even within each ethnic group, each village, each community, dichotomy and odium still thrive. The treasure of any nation is formed from the union of the people within its territory and its worth is characterised from its variety. The diversity and range of our different cultures and beliefs is where our strength lies and our weakness comes from our non-recognition of this fact.

In any society, ideological face-offs are encouraged, pride in identity is essential, but the ethno-regionalism and ethnic fundamentalism that is so rife in this atmosphere is just so darn unhealthy. In any forward-thinking society that adopts fitting ideals, zonal and religious sentiments and emotions are not abused in the way they are in Nigeria. In a cultured setting, individuals, not the tribes they originate from, would be responsible for their actions and Nigerians would cease from viewing every challenge through jaundiced eyes. The vast majority of us seem to have massive blind spots when it comes to our ability to tame prejudice and subjectivity when tribe and ethnicity is involved. And the vast majority of us find it hard to castigate a fellow tribe member from wrongdoing, preferring instead to find coherence in the irresponsible or criminal act by believing in a conspiracy theory, thus exonerating the fellow tribesman.

To be honest, I did the same in the early days of the Boko Haram offensive. I found it very difficult to believe that people who had the same identity as me would commit the type of atrocious crimes that Boko Haram did against fellow human beings, instead preferring to believe that there were a group of tribal covert men in grey suits who sat in some sort of a secret society to design these events in order to achieve some end result. And while, there are other dimensions to the Boko Haram phenomenon to be discussed for another day, I have had to come to terms with the reality and call a spade what it actually is.

This primordial and regressive ethnic thinking that we all seem to be slightly guilty of has no place in any future, even if we don’t remain as one nation. But since, at this present time, we are one nation, we must recognize that before the need for a good leader or the need for electricity, what Nigeria needs first and foremost is a united atmosphere that will improve our sense of belonging and give each of us the opportunity to flourish. In order to have that, each of us has to stop forming part of the chain that preys on ethnic and religious identities and sentiments.

It’s time to get our acts together so that diverse groups can develop a cohesive and genuine democracy fostered by federalism. A democracy where our differences will be split along ideological lines not ethnic insularities. It is by Gods’ will that Nigeria came to be made up of a variety of religions and 250 ethnic groups. It is up to us to be grateful for this gift and make this country work.

The downfall of any multi ethnic country is usually enhanced through the flaw of reasoning, social dogma or ignorance. Unless we are able to overcome our flaw in reasoning and ignorance that accentuates our ethnic distinctions, then we will remain unable to address our troubles, because even though we clearly see the truth, as Don Delera says, it will “forever be closed off to us since we can only see ourselves as the innocents trying to find coherence in some criminal act.” Let’s wake up and recognise that; “the real theory of the conspiracies lies in the conspiracy of the theory,” and it has nothing to do with a real rationale but everything to do with our prejudiced tribal sensibilities and denials.

So as we come to terms with the emergence of a converted Muslim extremist of southern descent, as we enrage about comparable inciting tribal statements from northern personalities and Niger-delta militants alike, we might just need to take a minute and look for fault from within, give the conspiracies a break, put tribal sensibilities aside and lay blame where blame is due…, even if it is on our doorstep.

Written By Hannatu Musawa
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 So after much deliberation and rigmarole, after much dissent by leading sectors of Nigerians, after the massacres and nauseating murders of men, women and children, the government has finally decl...ared a state of emergency in three states. The unexpected declaration of the state of emergency to deal with the high rate of violence and spate of deadly attacks by militant groups has taken many by surprise. Yesterday evening, 14th May 2013, President Jonathan delivered an address in which he gave the military powers to take over security in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. This step, which affects a broad range of civil rights, has already triggered widespread debate about the implications of the government's latest strategy, from the opposition, to religious groups, civil society and even the governor’s forum.

The state of emergency requires a presidential proclamation under conditions specified in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended under the provisions of Section 305 (1). It gives the authorities special temporary legal powers to arrest and search citizens without a warrant. It also imposes a curfew on the specified states, restricting residents to their homes between the times of a curfew. Other emergency powers regulations affect ‘habeas corpus’ and citizens’ rights to freedom of movement, assembly, association, speech, and privacy.

Over the past two years, the rate of violence in several states has increased dramatically, fuelled by the rise of militancy, extremism and the widespread availability of illegal weapons. Successive clamp down by authorities, an apparent trigger-happy task force, mismanaged deliverance of information on behalf of the government and a leadership that seems totally confused and not in control have had the utmost regressive effect, almost to the point of providing sympathy and understanding for the plight of the insurgents. In recent weeks, the country has been horrified by the series of violent murders. The situation became a lot worse, with the massacres in Baga and Bama town. Announcing the state of emergency, President Jonathan said, “The country is facing, not just militancy or criminality, but a rebellion and insurgency by terrorist groups which pose a very serious threat to national unity and territorial integrity”.

While I am often at variance with the utterances and policies of President Jonathan, it is not so difficult for me to understand why the president felt the need to take such an aggressive reaction, especially along his reasoning that no terrorist group, religious or tribal has a right to pose a threat to national unity and territorial integrity. Not Boko Haram or tramps and vagrants like Asari Dokubo or any other ignorant yobs who fancies themselves as the new Scarface and who happen to all be the same kind of bigoted criminals disguised in different garbs. The country cannot go to war because of some criminal elements have been threatening to overrun the Nigerian state under the guise of religious extremism, resource control, militancy or insurgency.

If reports that over a dozen local government areas in Borno State have been taken over by insurgents are true, if reports that in those local governments there is no semblance of authority are factual, then a state of emergency in those hotspots was absolutely and unquestionably necessary. Why should a whole nation be held to ransom by plundering and rancorous groups of brutes bent on creating havoc on a society, no matter how candid their grievance or cause? Why should a group of people organize themselves in guerrilla warfare and carry out the kind of offensive that is claiming the lives of innocent men, women and children? For goodness sake, when did our society sink to the depths of darkness we are in now; where we are forced to discuss the destruction of people’s lives and death of fellow human beings in such a blasé manner? That is what we have been reduced to. Every single morning, the minute one listens to the news or reads a paper, the first thing one is confronted with is stories of death, destruction and murder. I mean it is just so absolutely unbelievable for us to wake up every morning with news of the kind of senseless violence we have been witnessing. It is simply unacceptable. As a civilized society which has evolved from the dark ages, our current situation has got to be intolerable by every standard, even for those criminal Nigerians who are hell-bent on declaring a ridiculously, unnecessary and unfair war against innocent Nigerians.

It may be easy enough for those of us who are not directly affected by the violence to sit and judge this draconian declaration by the government, but even those of us that have not been directly affected by the violence and unwarranted massacres in the affected states have been shaken to the core by it and shudder at its domino effect. The situation of the murders and total disregard for human life has reached epic proportions; proportions which call for the authorities to respond in the most decisive manner possible.

There is no doubt that this measure which the government has taken will have an impact on the daily lives of innocent, law-abiding citizens in these areas and provide inconveniencies for them. It will limit people’s movements and give the regiment powers to arrest; it will even infringe on the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens, but, unless someone in authority takes the bull by the horn and affects this kind of stringent system, the situation in those areas will not be brought under control and it will come to a point when the violence cannot be contained. Those affected by the state of emergency should look at the bigger picture and recognize the need to protect them and bring the current violence surge affecting them under control. Many people have lost their loved ones to unnecessary violence in the past three years and unless something is done to restore normalcy in those areas, it will likely get worse.

Of course, there are other manners of dialogue and solutions that need to be adopted in order to bring this impasse totally under control; solutions that focus on long-term results to the problem and the fundamental issues that gave birth to the crisis itself has to be tackled. A state of emergency has a time-limit and therefore has a short-term effect and short term gain.
Therefore, in addition to placing the state of emergency, the government must immediately sit down and identify what is driving this upsurge of violence in these respective areas and address the best way to bring an end to it, otherwise when the emergency is eventually lifted, it will be ‘violence’ business as usual.

To show sincerity in its wish to end the violence, the government should immediately make an undertaking to release the innocent women and children that have been detained without cause in the quest to clampdown on the guerrillas. Government should further undertake to rebuild and relinquish the Mosques and properties that belonged to the Jamā'a Ahl al-sunnah li-da'wa wa al-jihād movement before the Borno state government under the leadership of Ali Modu Sheriff launched its offensive against them, before the murder of their leader Imam Mohammed Yusuf. And most importantly, the on-going trial of the security operatives who murdered Imam Mohammed Yusuf and Alhaji Buji Foi should be intensified, together with the arrest and prosecution of the government officials who allegedly ordered their execution. Those actions would show the sincerity and commitment of government to tackle the root of this problem and bring it to an end.

Now that the presidency has expressed determination to root out the insurgents in the affected areas, the good people of those states should endeavor to cooperate with the authorities in order to bring an end to the horror that surrounds them every day. To restore law and order to the states, people should be able to give accurate and dependable information as well as advice to all seekers of peace. It is expected that if the society as a whole resolves to end the crisis today, there will be no more killing or kidnapping of our people tomorrow. If the communities do not provide a safe haven for those who are out to disrupt peace, there will be no place for any criminals to hide. Our brothers that have turned renegades should also be persuaded to embrace peace and end the killings of innocent people.

The security officials deployed in the three states ought to understand that democracy is still in place in Nigeria as a whole and even though a state of emergency has been declared in those states, we are still a democracy and overzealousness of any kind should by no means be exercised or tolerated. The authorities themselves cannot use lawlessness to fight lawlessness because violence begets and encourages more violence.

One prays that we will soon see an end to the violence and hopes that the government, in enacting this state of emergency can tackle the mayhem in the troubled areas in the most responsible manner and be committed to placing every resource at their disposal towards winning this war in a way that is in the best interest of the collective.

The current rate of violence dictated for more to be done and stronger action to be employed. The situation, especially in Borno State, could not have been expected to continue the way it was going without a response commensurate with the wanton acts of violence and lawlessness; it is a response that is necessary to halt the current spike in the hostile activity of insurgents in the shortest possible time. Desperate acts require desperate measures.
So, even though the method is not ideal under our democracy, I can appreciate the current declaration of government to be more than a panic response. I do not see it through the lens of opposition, creed or tribe; I see it simply as a “state of emergency to slate the insurgency.”

Written By Hannatu Musawa
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