Tag Archives: Hausa

Stigmatization of “Western” medicine

It is only when the sufferer becomes impatient after several unsuccessful trials of different practitioners, or when childbirth becomes complicated and dangerous, that the patient would go to a hospital.  […] Thus hospitals generally receive chronic or terminal cases which do not respond to the normal treatment of the Hausa practitioner, and which hospitals often also fail to cure.  Hospitals are stigmatized in public opinion because they are usually blamed for the death of those patients who go there as a last resort.

From Islam, Medicine and Practitioners in Northern Nigeria, by Ismail H. Abdalla.

This seems related to critiques of US hospital rankings that consider success rates of surgical procedures.  Good hospitals often get the most difficult cases.


My Hausa class music video

Here’s a music video my Hausa class made this semester to “Black and Yellow.”  Our song is called “Ciwon Ciki,” which means stomach pain.  I think I just have an upset stomach, but it turns out to be much more than that…

I co-star with my classmate Daniel Majchrowicz.  The video was edited by our fantastic instructor, Lori De Lucia.  Enjoy!

You can see the live version of this rap, and more videos my Hausa class made last year, here.


Fun Hausa phrases

As I study for my Hausa final, I’m reminded of some fun Hausa phrases I learned this semester:

  • Developed countries: Kasashe masu ci gaban masana’antu (the countries that developed the factories)
  • To betray: ci amana (to eat trust)
  • Democratic: Mai adalci (owner of justice)

“I’m like a luxury car, you’re a wheelbarrow.”

I’ve never been ahead of the curve when it comes to music–until now.  Pryse is a Nigerian female rapper.  She might not even have a record deal yet, but she is going to be a rockstar.  No question.  Here’s her latest, “Da Illest,” including lyrics.  My favorite:

I’m like a luxury car, you’re a wheelbarrow, that’s never gonna carry you far.

Hat tip, as always, to Kay.

Speaking of awesome Naija music, my Hausa classmate and I did a Hausa rap last night to “Black and Yellow” for Harvard’s Africa Language Night.  We’re going to turn this into an actual music video, but for now you’ll have to settle for our live performance (starts at 40 seconds).


International Crisis Group report on Northern Nigeria

“There goes my morning.”  This was my thought upon seeing Crisis Group’s first-ever report on Northern Nigeria in my inbox this morning.  The report looks at pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial causes of violence in the far north of Nigeria.

Some highlights are below.  This is not a summary, but rather some things I found interesting.  At several points I copy text directly from the report.

  • When the British made Kaduna the capital of Northern Nigeria, this detracted power from the Sokoto Caliphate and made it harder for the north to unify itself.  The British further sowed the seeds for intra-north divisions by introducing a Roman script for Hausa, which diminished the status of many clerics who did not know English.
  • By discouraging southern migration into core Muslim areas of northern cities, the British contributed to the creation of strangers’ quarters (i.e. enclaves of southerners).
  • Human rights abuses committed by hisbah, the Islamic law enforcement agency, have reduced in recent years. 
  • Some complain that Sharia’s punitive provisions are applied only to the poor.
  • Many social mechanisms exist to defuse or manage conflicts between different groups in the north.  When they are ineffective, it is often because the meetings of community groups focus on religious doctrine debates, rather than questions of violence, or because the government marginalizes these groups.
  • Sometimes violence erupts after months of divisive discourse, other times it is more carefully planned by political sponsors.
  • External support to local religious organizations, seeking the allegiance of Africa’s largest Muslim and Christian communities, has intensified Christian-Muslim rivalries.
  • Nation-building strategies like the National Youth Service (which sends young people to work in far-flung aras of the country) have had limited succes not because of the programs themselves, but because they are undermined by corrupt governance and unequal distribution of resources.

Interview with my Hausa teach in Kano

I studied Hausa this summer at the Centre for the Study of Nigerian Languages at Bayero University, Kano.  I had two fantastic language instructors.  One of them, Tijani Almajir, allowed me to interview him about the Centre, his own background, and learning Hausa.  Here’s the edited interview.  (The quality is not as high as it could be because I wanted it to load somewhat quickly in places with slow internet.)


Former Hausa radio cleric tied to Iranian arms shipment, and Iranian thinks Abuja is a port

As you might have heard, Nigeria intercepted an arms transport from Iran last month.  It’s not clear who the shipment was for, as Nigeria has not yet reported the incident to the UN Security Council committee that monitors the ban that (mostly) prohibits Iran from exporting weapons.

Here’s an interesting detail of the story: It appears that a Nigerian cleric who worked for the Hausa language service of Radio Tehran supported one of the involved Iranian’s Nigeria visa application.  (Hat tip to the Hausa listserv.) This raises a number of questions in my mind, though of course it could just be that the cleric was doing a favor for a friend of a friend, and is not tied in a more meaningful way to the shipment.  Also: Radio Tehran has a Hausa language service?  Is this for Nigeria?

And here’s my favorite excerpt from an AP article:

Displaying a lack of knowledge about Nigeria’s geography, Agajany initially wanted the consignments shipped to Abuja, the documents said. When Agajany was told there is no port in Abuja, which lies hundreds of miles (kilometers) from the coast, he came up with Lagos as the destination.

And here’s my least-favorite excerpt from the article:

AP journalists who went to the port after the raid saw 107mm artillery rockets, rifle rounds and other items labeled in English. The rockets can accurately hit targets more than 5 miles (8.5 kilometers) away with a 40-foot (12-meter) killing radius. Insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq have used similar rockets against U.S. troops. China, the United States, and Russia manufacture versions of the rocket, as does Iran.