The Daunting Task Of Searching ‘Educated Hausas’ – By Malam Naini Musa
Yesterday, I had an interesting interaction with some youth in Calabar. This interaction is not unfamiliar, it has been perhaps the most consistent trait I have endured when in contact with some of my southern compatriots. I must admit that it does not happen in every encounter and perhaps in my state of emotion I have exaggerated its occurrence and frequency. It does happen though, and I can sense it miles away as it creeps into a conversation. It always leaves me with much curiosity and a glimpse of what it is like to judge without really knowing. On self-reflection, I fear that I am ignorant of the true reality of what and who I judge; that things may be far from how I see them and in my limited knowledge and capacity, I let my arrogance convince me of truly knowing things when in reality I am as ignorant as a rock.
I have always had the belief that out of all the people that answer the title “Nigerians”, perhaps the only people that practice true integration without sentiment are the South-southerners. This conclusion I arrived at after living within their midst and experiencing their hospitality and love. This does not mean that they are perfect in their embrace, no, I will not argue that, but I can argue that they are willing to concede many things to others, things that if situations were reversed, they would not be reciprocated. On sharing this conviction with some young men under a shoe stall in Watts market, Calabar, I got a familiar answer that I long learned not to dread. The trader looked as his friend and responded “See, I told you that educated Hausa’s are the best people to be around. They are hard to find, but when you find them, they are the best”.
Educated Hausa’s are hard to find? Like a gem or a diamond stone which has its existence buried in a rubble of earth, which demands for digging through mother earth and after intensive mining, come about a few. They are valuable and uncommon. I myself have no right to get offended at this patronizing degradation, for I am a Fulani man to the hilt except that in this conversation I am the “educated Hausa man”. This compliment directed at me was meant to flatter me as the “special one” out of a sea of ignorant cap wearing, jihad believing zealots whom after centuries of modernization in the world refuse to abandon their backward ways for a place in the 21st century. However, if you consider its implication, it is not flattery, it is condescension of the highest order.
The mere mention of me being one of those “educated Hausa’s” is an insult for I have not exhibited any virtue that guarantees my spot on that table except for a remark which I made that happens to resonate with his opinion. Are we to assume that the benchmark for achieving the moniker of “educated man” for Hausawa rest solely on how much the Hausa individual’s opinion merges with that of a shoe hawker in a Calabar market? Surely that would be preposterous even for tribal supremacists who think less of the Hausas.
Another amazing implication of that statement was how difficult we are to find. Our scholars and students numbering millions since the creation of the federation of Nigeria and even before that have no right to call themselves educated. The many Universities, Colleges of Education, Polytechnics, Secondary schools, Primary schools, collectively numbering thousands are but folly. Consequences of which is that, many of the products of these institutions after years of training do not qualify to be called “educated”.
We surely must have some knowledge. We cannot be empty. Any sort of knowledge would do. I guess the gentleman would have us a blank space because in his remark he did not specify what kind of knowledge we lack, so we would have to assume we lack no knowledge. We are largely devoid of western knowledge, Islamic knowledge, how to cook, morality and all its disciplines, everything. We are reduced to a state of unknowing, our brain clear as it could be. May be not that harsh but where can the solace be found in the assumption that our whole society can only muster a few men fit to be called “educated”.
I would argue with this man but I have long reach the conclusion that men who profess superiority of knowledge are arrogant and supremacists by their nature. And all supremacists are by their nature ignorant. Men who reduce millions of people to a “term” or assign them a default nature are exhibiting signs of ignorance that cannot be remedied easily. I would have attempted to educate the individual on this matter except for his earlier revelation that he had lived in kaduna and Jos. For an individual that had lived in two of the most advanced cities in the North to reduce Hausawa as largely ignorant is perhaps unforgiving.
It is interesting that after four 2 years of pre-primary, 6 years of primary school, 6 years of secondary school, 4 years of University, haven crossed the Nile many times to acquire that knowledge and then eventually finding employment in one of the most respected agencies in the country, I have finally earned the right to be recognized as “educated” by a man plying his thread under an illegal structure in the parking lot of a Calabar market. What a road travelled! What a road!! My Fulani ancestors who fought side by side with the Sheikh bn Fodio and established a state with Institutions of Learning, governance, Judiciary then sat in awe of an empire that covered at least more than 50% of the land mass of Nigeria almost two centuries ago would weep for my new found status.
Mallam Naini Musa
Mallam Naini Musa is a writer and a social critic.
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