Monday, 29 August 2016

(75): On the Proliferation of English Learning Centres in Kano

Muhsin Ibrahim

The trending entrepreneurial business in Kano used to be the so-called Computer Learning Centres a few years back. There is, nonetheless, a remarkable shift today to the so-called English Academy, English Learning Centre or other variant names. I am not against the idea in its entirety, but I am not happy with the vogue for some solid reasons.

If you can remember, at the noontime of computer centres in the state, many a times a student would obtain a certificate, a diploma or even an advanced diploma on computer without knowing, or knowing very little on, how to use as simple as the Microsoft Word, Excel and other elementary computer applications, for the business was hijacked and stalled by quacks. They plunged and polluted it for their desire was just to make one thing: quick money. In no time, many people realised that they were indirectly being largely duped. They stopped their patronage. Nowadays, several people are self-taught computer literates. Computer Centre business is significantly dead and buried.

The English centre business, too, faces a similar existential threat. I am neither an owner of, nor a teacher at, any such centres. But I have been actively involved in learning and teaching of the language for approximately a decade. That's why most, if not all, proprietors of the earliest centres around Kano are my teachers, relatives, friends or students. That is why I have been, for long, following what is going on with regards to the centres. It is a commonplace fact that their number is rapidly on the increase – typical way Kano people do business as I will explain later. 

Saturday, 16 July 2016

(74): Terrorism: A Deadly, Doomed Battle

Muhsin Ibrahim

The world has consistently, for the past few weeks, seen carnage. The yesterday’s one in Nice, France has particularly left me very appalled, for it engulfed the lives of small children. The earlier one in Saudi Arabia, especially the one near the Prophet’s mosque in Medina, has had effect on the collective consciousness of the Muslim faithful more than whatever words can describe. Baghdad’s deadliest attack since the American invasion a day or two before was no less devastating, for more than 250 innocent souls were summarily murdered by a lone suicide bomber. Dhaka’s, too, deadened minds and shattered dreams, for it was unprecedented in the country that has already been going through a lot with the rise of the filthy, nihilistic doctrine of “kill whosoever professes different ideology”. Syria’s genocide shows no sign of ending. Libya has long become a den. OMG!

I am not here to defend Islam again. I have done that one hundred and one more times already. Although I am not tired, it is of little or no relevance here, for some ignorant, prejudiced individuals will never stop aligning the religion with every single act of terrorism. I wrote thus in one of such litanies in 2014 after the Kano Grand Mosque attack:

Is terrorism part of Islam? No. Yes. The religion is wholly against terrorism; Jihad, the concept always attached to this wanton, aimless war on all, is not altogether about murdering innocent people, abducting and enslaving children, robbing, plundering and the like. And yes; hundreds of thousands of Muslims are today engaged in those acts and they think they will be rewarded by so doing. I know this is a heavy fact to admit. But so it is. Islam today has largely been hijacked by terrorists and is thus becoming synonymous with terrorism. This happens in almost all corners of the world from Kano to Kabul, Benghazi to Baghdad, and London to Lahore. Whatever the causes, motivation, name it, Muslims, often, remains an integral part of it.

I have one expression to tell those lunatics: Allah ya isa! (Allah is sufficient for us!). This we say in Hausa, my mother tongue, when we are extremely helpless. There is nothing one can say, for the largest victims of this scourge are Muslims, yet we are every so often blamed for that. Imagine! One of the Muslims’ sacred places of worship was dastardly attacked by one of those people. Our mosques, schools, houses, markets, etc are also bombed. Nowhere is safe for us, and for all. They were hitherto found only in a few places, but they are now everywhere, and expanding. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

(73): June 1 Musings

Muhsin Ibrahim


In accordance with a pseudoscience called Astrology practiced and believed by many people, I should consider June 1 as a lucky day in my life. I don’t. I won’t. I don’t believe in superstition. But no doubt, the day stands unique in my life for at least two life-shaping, life-changing events: both my dream job and my dearest wife came to my life on this day in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Thus, I think the day, annually, deserves a particular remembrance and commemoration, even though in, strictly speaking, a non-ritualistic style. That is why I write to, among other things, thank the Almighty Allah. I generally have a lot to thank Him for, not only these days. Alhamdulillah.

This year is unforgettable, though quite tough. I and my wife returned to Nigeria from India after a two-year postgraduate study on June 24, 2015, less than a month into the new government of President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB).  We couldn’t believe what we met here, for the prices of several basic food stuffs, even then, were higher than we were used to there. For instance, a crate of egg cost between Rs. 90 to 100 (i.e. N280 to N300) there, but it cost N800 in Nigeria! A kilogram of the Irish potato cost Rs. 10 (i.e. N30) in India, but it cost nothing less than N200 in Nigeria, etc. If we had our way, we would have gone back to India.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

(72): The Rise of Rape Cases in Kano

Muhsin Ibrahim

The recent infamous sodomy case of Hassan Ibrahim Gwarzo Secondary School, Kano did not happen in a vacuum. Numerous similar other cases occurred and continue to but they are unfortunately seldom reported, for they did not affect the children of the affluents. For instance, about a week or so ago, I heard on Rahama Radio program that a young man had sexually defiled about 5 boys in their neighborhoods. While interviewed by Fagge Hisbah Command, the amateur homo said that nobody had ever taught, or had a similar contact with him. He, I learned, wanted to say that that was something inborn to him. This is a lie. Homosexuality is nothing innate; sex attraction is physiologically between opposite sexes.

Another horrendous, even more horrible, happening is the spate of rape cases of underage girls in the state. A doctor at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital disclosed that in the hospital alone they, on almost daily basis, get more than ten rape cases of either boys or girls. I didn't believe her story until when I heard that a boy in our neighbourhoods was sexually assaulted last night. And then the stories of similar cases emerged from here and there. I say: Innaa lillahi wa innaa ilaihi raaji'uun! What is our community turning into?

I have chronicled the following on my Facebook page. I think I should repost it on my blog for more publicity and awareness.

As reported on the Freedom Radio “Inda Ranka” program on 7th February 2016, a man raped his friend's daughter after fetching her from their primary school. On another instance, a 65-year-old pedophile raped a 12-year-old girl. Again, a few days later, this time at Gwammaja quarters, a girl, 6, was raped, decapitated and dumped on the street. I was devastated, wallahi. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

(71): My Cogitations on the Nigerian Fuel Subsidy Removal Saga

Muhsin Ibrahim

I persevere but I don’t pretend; I deride double standard and declare the truth as I see it. I wholeheartedly believe that nobody is infallible, thus humans, including myself, can be right or wrong. I also believe that nobody can do anything to satisfy everyone. An old saw on politics however states that “majority carry the vote”. A politician wins or loses election by the sole decision of the majority, the masses. I practically believe that whatever a government does should be pro-masses, for they duly deserve the reward. It is not a privilege; it is their right.

For nearly a year now, Nigerian masses have been seeing things contrary to their expectations. They are simply suffering, though their lives are, largely, more secured now than before the President Muhammdu Buhari’s government. The Buhari they knew is no longer the Buhari that rules this country. That one was an agile and sturdy soldier who was pro and for them. Today’s Buhari is a politician, seemingly confused and succumbs to the IMF’s, World Bank’s, western, governors’ and senators’ pressure, while the masses come second. The suffering, if not tackled soon, is about to reach a crescendo and could be as disastrous as the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency. While the latter cuts life shorter, the former shatters optimism, troubles minds and leads people to total despair and self-loath.

And yes, nothing good comes easy, the clichĂ© says. But the timing of this deregulation, fuel subsidy removal, whatever it’s called, is pretty bad. Nigerians have already been going through a lot, and for the Muslims, the month of Ramadan is around the corner. We all know what usually happens to the prices of food, vegetables and fruits during that period. This year’s might be lame and dry, for it’s survival the faithful are more after than any luxury. 

Thursday, 5 May 2016

(70): On Fate, Test and Taste of Life

Muhsin Ibrahim

So many things are happening around as a result of which so many people are missing their track by i) questioning their beliefs, though indirectly or subconsciously; or ii) by taking things for granted. I am not here to offer a solution to that effect nor am I here to solve the mystery. I nevertheless still feel it appropriate, if not necessary, to contribute in the discourse. And the discourse is the inevitability or otherwise of destiny, and the test and taste of life. Two reasons, sincerely, bluntly speaking, goaded me to (re)write and develop this piece to a full-length article. It was initially posted on Facebook with little elaboration and vague contextualisation.

First; I have been married for almost three years – our third anniversary is on June, 1 – but we are not yet blessed with a child. I and my wife are happy, very happy in fact, for we are certain that The Creator of Everything does not forget or abandon us for anything. Only that He does what nobody can ask him why, or can force Him to do otherwise. We are, again, very happy only because we are blessed with the patience and the resilience to withstand, excuse or ignore those who misperceive that it is one’s cleverness, capability, position, faith, etc that gives one a child. We have been asked several though foolish, stupid and embarrassing questions by many people. While we understand and forgive others, for they supposedly ask us out of sheer concern, it is a downright ignorance and apathy of others. So, what can you do? Pass and persevere.  

Second; some young, brilliant and diligent students from Kano state were involved in a fatal car accident on their way back from Lagos after a quiz competition. Seven students, their driver and the coordinator for the quiz, died, while others sustained injuries. The Kano State government promptly ordered for their remains to be airlifted back to the state. As soon as this happened, some ‘critics’ started pouncing table that the accident could have been avoided had the government sent the kids to Lagos on aircraft from the beginning. How incredible! Why would politics foray into everything we do?

That hypothesis is very wrong in two ways: i) nobody escapes or avoids destiny. This is a universal truth. The children could have still died even if they were transported via flight, ship or submarine as long as they were destined to die on that day, at that time and in that spot; ii) travelling via roads by school students for such a trip or excursion, etc is very common if not the norm in Nigeria and elsewhere. We, for instance, toured Himachal Pradesh, a highly hilly boarder state in India, on the bus, while other students were in smaller cars. And here I am composing this article! Thus, it’s not about the bus, the ‘Hiace’, etc. but it’s more about the road, if at all we have to point out the cause of the accident. Nigerian roads have been death-traps for many years. In this year alone, they engulfed many people, including a state minister of Labour.

God gives; God takes. Humans ought to know this; we are endowed with SENSE to differentiate us from other creatures – animals. It is, however, sad and unfortunate that some of us barely deploy that even when the need arises. I, for once, have a total conviction that it is only God and He alone that can give me a child, though that does not mean I have surrendered by doing nothing. I do look for ways to realize my dream. Should they not work out, I give up. Again, if one of the deceased children was my child, I would accept his death and pray for his repose. It is far better than quarrelling on the radio, or writing twaddle on Facebook or any other social media. All that cannot bring him back to life, while the prayer may bring to him more mercy of the God.

One doesn't have to be a believer to know that life is a test. For Muslims, the raison d'ĂȘtre of life is primarily to worship Allah, the Exalted, and secondarily to do other lawful worldly undertakings. For others, it is for various, varying other reasons. I know that both Christians and Jews believe in resurrection, an afterlife, while it's reincarnation for many faithful such as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc.

The test of life could be very tough; and its taste extremely bitter. For instance, if you are destined to be and remain poor, no rich person, organization or institution could enrich you. Or, if you are fated to have one or another illness, no doctor can cure you. Or this, or that. Man is often more helpless than he realises. A Supreme Being, the unseen power, controls more – all, in fact – of our affairs than you can ever think.

The Power does what it feels deem to. You must not please or displease Him to be blessed or cursed – some do not even worship Him, and yet they are ‘blessed’. It's just that things are predestined - and Man must accept his destiny or be destroyed by it, so says an actor. Thus, don't think that I am blessed because I am richer or more knowledgeable than you; or that I am a son of my parents; or that I am cleverer than others, etc. One's effort doesn't, at times, guarantee one's success or failure.

The wealth (of money, children, health, knowledge, etc) could be a snare of a sort. God may endow you with all or some of the aforementioned just to see how/what you can/will do. Should you think it’s your doing, you may be left to do it, which you cannot. Should you be mindful that it's a blessing, something which your efforts couldn’t bring forth, God may, yes may, assist you in doing it.

I thank God for my life. But I know the sweet and the bitter taste of life. I know how unsolvable the test could sometimes be. It's only by a sheer reflection, consideration and observation that I am able to forge ahead. I know you may say: what a lie! Hmm. Do not forget that it's said that "the rich also cry". Yes, they do. I am not rich, but I also do.

May we pass this test of living; may our lives in the hereafter taste more delicious; may Allah rest the souls of those kids and support their loved ones to bear the loss, amin.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

(69): We are all jealous

Muhsin Ibrahim

Jealousy is, to an extent, encouraged in marriage in Islam, and so it is in many religions and cultures around the world. While some are born jealous, others are made so. Yet, some defy the religious, cultural, even commonsensical precept and choose to be unenvious. They care not for their wives, daughters, wards, sisters, etc.

I was told a story of a man, an ardent fan of Bollywood, the Indian films. He everyday tells his wife, while watching the films that the most beautiful and sexiest women are in India. The wife doesn't like that, yet she keeps mum. It disturbs her a lot for obvious reasons.

One day, the wife told the husband that even the handsomest men are in India. He was quickly aghast. He though repressed his infuriation but decided to never watch any Indian film henceforth. That's to avoid what he could have done to the wife should she repeat what she's just said.

A professor at Bayero University, Kano (BUK) once told us a similar, however far more upsetting story of one of his friends and his wife. She praised an Indian actor in his presence. He instantly slapped her, and that was the genesis of their eventual breakup. How unfortunate!

My word of caution here is: husbands should equally understand that their wives are also humans with feelings and all that. Don't only think that you are allowed to add another wife (for Muslims), and that's a licence to extol other women in front of your wife. You can do that but in discretion and, preferably, in her absence. Doing otherwise is sincerely speaking insensitive and inconsiderate.

It's said that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. So, let's be human, careful and considerate.

A personal experience

As newcomers in India, my wife purchased Indian traditional, unstitched attire. We went looking for a tailor and found one unisex male tailor in our neighbourhoods in Jalandhar. The tailor's shop is attached to his house; one can see the inner part of the house from the shop.

The tailor wanted to take the measurements of my wife, but I said no. That could either be taken by me or his wife who we saw peeping to see the "foreigners" her husband was speaking English with.

Surprised, socked and saddened, he called the wife. She came holding a baby, while he's still on the sewing machine. I thus attempted to collect the baby while he, in a husky voice, asked me to stop. Astonished, I halted. He stood up, came out, collected the baby and handed it to me. In a rather friendly manner, he said that he wouldn't allow me have a slightest body (i.e. hands) contact with his wife either.

There are thousands and one more similar stories to tell. I think all humans have tendency to feel jealous, especially of their spouses.

Jealousy in other places, or better, endeavours in life is strongly discouraged in Islam. It mounts to “hassada”, unbound/undue envy. This consumes one's good deeds as does fire to thatch.

We should therefore refrain from the latter, and do the former. Should you die in the protection of the virtues of your wife, Allah, the Exalted, promises you Heaven.

Let's be empathetic humans. Do unto others what you would want others do unto you.