Wednesday, April 17, 2013

KARE JINI BIRI JINI: The Buhari Apocalypse

The words of Buhari were misinterpreted, perhaps deliberately, to entertain the Nigerian public with a sensational story that will keep the presently near-static mill of public opinion running A fight between the dog and the baboon must be one of those very rare encounters in the Animal Kingdom. Animals fight over territory, food, mates, and in defence of their lives, or of their young. It is very hard to foresee the two animals fighting over any of the above because on most of items, the paths of the two animals hardly cross.

In Africa and particularly in Hausaland where this near impossible idea was contrived as a proverb, such a fight can only happen under the influence of man when in hunting he sets the dog to catch the baboon or its baby. In that case, that fight would surely be one to witness. The dog uses its power of speed and strong canine teeth, the baboon his powerful shoulders, limbs, claws, hands, and under extreme conditions, his teeth. And this condition is extreme – a fight for his life or that of his baby. So we better assume that the baboon will deploy his entire arsenal.

The camera of kare jini biri jini Hausa proverb often pictures a very fierce and inconclusive fight between two contenders. We can picture the dog first barking incessantly, with its jaws wide open hoping to scare the baboon into submission. The well-built baboon, on the other hand, is not a coward. He would not jump up the trees to escape the attacking dog; he would not fly. He turns wild too, flexing his muscles, beating his wide chest and destroying the surrounding shrubs to intimidate the dog. He jumps at a branch, breaks it and hurls it at the dog, but the carnivore remains recalcitrant under the command of his master, barking,  … and now ready to charge. And the fight ensues and continues for several minutes and, perhaps, hours…

As the proverb depicts, the fierce fight ends inconclusively with both parties sustaining deeps cuts and innumerable bruises. Each contender was lucky to survive it and returns to its shelter licking its wounds. The only conclusion reached was that the dog learned to avoid the baboon henceforth, while the baboon learned to include the dog among its dangerous enemies in the Kingdom. In the above, I have tried to capture the proper context and scenario of the proverb. It simply connotes a situation where the fight for something is fierce, where you give your challenger a good run for his money, but where despite the ferocity of the contest, its outcome was not conclusive. In short, when you tell your contender that za a yi kare jini biri jinni, it simply means the battle will be fierce. In the case of Buhari, he was promising his supporters from Niger State that 2015 elections will be fierce; or put in another way, the PDP will not have it easy. Simple.

How this simple statement translated into a political missile that says Buhari is promising a bloodbath come 2015 remains one of those sad stories in our practice of journalism. Let us have a re-read of the mistranslation: "If what happened in 2011 (alleged rigging) should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.”

Does this reflect the proper context and meaning of the Hausa proverb kare jini biri jinni that we explained above? No. That is because, among other things, if by the time both the dog and the baboon are soaked in blood, both would have been dead, a picture which the proverb never envisaged. It would have been better for the reporter to say, “Come 2015, I promise you, the fight will be fierce.” It is proper for politicians to inject hope in their supporters. Telling a delegation of such supporters that his party will put up a fierce fight next time is just one of those confidence preserving measures. As for the 2011 post-election violence, try and lay your hands on the Lemu probe panel report (google) to have a full grasp on the source and purpose of the organised chaos, the direction of security votes released before the election and the cold-complicity of security agencies.

It is indeed a pity that everything in our nation, including some commentaries, is soaked in the blood of ethnicity, religion or political correctness. If GEJ releases his usual gaffes or takes a funny step, many will come to his defence based on the fact that he is allegedly a Christian or he is from the South. Just the other day, some people felt the acceptance of church gift from that is in a business relationship with the govt was one of the noblest acts of the Jonathan presidency just because they are Christians. On the other hand, some feel that any outburst coming from Muslim northern figures best represent their interests hence their support and defence flow ceaselessly. The earlier we tear down the walls of division that seek to decapitate public reasoning through the prisms of religion, ethnicity and politics, the better for us as a country!


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