2014 was really a major learning curve for me. It was the year it was destined for me to have my youth service. And indeed I fulfilled an objective of the NYSC. The scheme is such that many people have used to shed their toga of arrogance and ignorance. During my service, I learnt more about the Hausas than I had learnt throughout my 20-something years.
I had them as friends, neighbours, comrades, students (how I miss Akim Navy Barracks!), prayed in mosques where Hausa was used for sermons, ate in a Hausa-run restaurant (for the first time) So, it’s bound for conversations to follow the tribal route some times. And no, I didn’t serve in the north; it was in Calabar. An irony, right?
Being the most conservative of the major tribes in Nigeria, there is a high probability for misconceptions and misrepresentations to be rife. Now, I’m not saying the Hausas are the best thing to have happened since slice bread.
Heck no! Of the major tribes in the country, they are the ones with the lowest rate of getting educated. Does JAMB’s ELDS ring a bell? They are also prone to ethno-religious crises.
But there are some of their qualities I admire; qualities that distinguish them from other people. Cultural qualities. A cultural feature I love about them is their language. This is something an Hausa man doesn’t joke with. So important it is to him that he feels elated when a non-Hausa understands it. It’s rare for one to encounter two Hausa men conversing in English or even pidgin. In fact, they can discuss in the language for hours without any input from the English language. This one no possible in the south o! A southern man cannot even talk for 5 minutes without him borrowing a word from the English vocabulary. This quality of the Hausas isn’t limited to those born in the North. Most of my students in the tutorial I held in Akim Navy Barracks mosque were Hausa children who were born and bred in Calabar and there is none of them that can’t communicate in the Hausa language. Back in the south especially in Lagos, many parents don’t speak their language to their wards; it’s always English. Yoruba is seen as a vulgar language, one to be touched with a long pole. Numerous times have I encountered peeps who do not understand Yoruba and I just shake my head. I remember Aliyu , my friend from Sokoto telling me that no matter how educated an Hausa man is, if he sees a fellow Hausa man, their discussion would always be in their language. Down south, 3 Yoruba or Igbo friends would rather speak in English or pidgin. That’s a sign of poshness, no? Ladies would speak through their nose in one annoying accent.
Another feature of the Hausa is their sense of community. In Calabar, these folks have two major places where they live- Bogobiri and Nassarawa. In these places, you would not even know if you are in the South-South or up north. See ehn, throughout my stay in the peoples’ paradise city, I did not hear of gathering of Yoruba folks. An association of some sort. I don’t think there is a city in Nigeria where there isn’t Sabo. Is there?
The political life of the Hausa man is underrated. Especially with how many view them as illiterates. A popular saying is that no matter how poor an Hausa man is, he go still see money buy radio. In movies, they’re depicted as radio-clutching men. He’s not listening to the latest jam in town or celebrity gossips. Rather, he’s listening to the BBC or VOA.
Also, Charles Erukaa, a Channels TV correspondent, while reporting his experiences on campaign grounds all over Nigeria, said the most enthusiastic people about the election were Northerners. The campaign ground were usually busting at the seams. Even though, people on campaign grounds don’t guarantee victory at the polls, the region also recorded the highest rate of PVC collection.
Talk of putting your money where your mouth is, right? Even in the insurgency-ridden Maiduguri, the turnout for APC’s presidential campaign was huge. Sometimes ago, I read on a blog whose owner is prolly from the South, how she would not vote even though she has her voter’s card. This she disclosed with pride. Political apathy.
Conclusively, many southern folks see the north as a desert, arid land. A place crawling with cattle herders, with huts dotting the landscape. What a terrible stereotype! Was watching one Hausa movie with someone, when he saw a beautiful storey building & he mocked the north by saying ‘So Hausas sef get beautiful houses’. I just shook my head ni. The internet still can’t take the place of travelling in the scheme of cultural and anthropological knowledge.