Saturday, August 27, 2016

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Naming a Dog and Buhari’s Emerging Democratic Tyranny

My column in today's Daily Trust:

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.


Buhari's administration is shaping up to be perhaps the most intolerant and petulant civilian administration in Nigeria. But it isn't the intolerance and petulance in and of themselves that are disquieting; it is the crying incompetence of this government's handling of dissent, which often ends up popularizing and lionizing nonentities.


It started with Indigenous People of Biafra's Nnamdi Kanu. He was spewing his rib-tickling inanities on the fringes of the Internet and on a barely known radio station. Then, suddenly, when he started attacking President Buhari, Nigerian authorities moved in swiftly to contain him. They announced that they had successfully jammed his radio station, but came back a few days later to refute an alleged libelous falsehood the station made against Buhari!


Of course, news of the "jamming" of the radio and the press release refuting what the station reportedly said against Buhari (after it was supposed to have been jammed!) caused the station—and the ideology it espouses—to make national and international headlines. And there was an enormous spike in the number of searches for "Radio Biafra" and "Nnamdi Kanu" on Google and other search engines.


This, combined with Buhari's unambiguous antipathy toward the southeast, has sparked a resurgence of Biafran and neo-Biafran movements and periodic sanguinary communal upheavals. This was completely avoidable. If the government had ignored (or quietly diluted)  Kanu and his Radio Biafra and demonstrated even token large-heartedness toward the southeast (and the deep south) in the immediate aftermath of Buhari's epochal electoral triumph in spite of opposition from the region, we wouldn't know of Kanu and IPOB. But Nigerian authorities couldn't stomach an insult at Buhari.


Now another man by the name of Joe Fortemose Chinakwe has become an international celebrity. He has been arrested, detained, imprisoned, and charged to court just because he named his dog Buhari. This is the height of petty intolerance.


Worse bile was directed at previous civilian presidents in the country. Tafawa Balewa, Shagari, Obasanjo, Yar'adua, and Jonathan were often at the receiving end of so much thoroughgoing hate, but the world didn't know about this because no one was arrested and imprisoned. (Comedian Ali Baba said he named one of his dogs "Obasanjo" during Obasanjo's administration and publicized it. In northern Nigeria, Jonathan and Attahiru Jega were called some of the vilest names I have ever heard—and in songs, too.) Public office is not for huffy crybabies.



I have read many Muslim commenters point out that giving a dog a Muslim name was offensive in and of itself. I agree. The problem is that the name wasn't given to the dog to spite Muslims; it was given to make a political statement. If Buhari's name was Smith Punapuna, the dog would be named precisely that.


But Buhari isn't even a Muslim name in the strict sense of the term.  As I pointed in previous articles, the name Bukhari (which we render as Buhari in Nigeria because many Nigerian languages don't have the guttural consonant that the phoneme "kh" represents), is derived from Bukhara, which is the name of a town in what is now Uzbekistan in the former USSR.


The person who popularized the name is a 9th-century author of hadith collections known as Abū 'Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Ismā'īl ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mughīrah ibn Bardizbah al-Ju'fī al-Bukhārī.


In Hebrew, Arabic, and Farsi, "i" is added to the name of a town to indicate descent from the town. So "Bukhari" simply means someone from (the town of) Bukhara, what Hausa speakers would call "Dan Buhara." It's like someone taking offense because someone named his dog Dan Kano, Dan Daura, Dan Hadejia, etc., which, though names of towns, are borne by some northerners as last names (without the "dan").


But that's not even the most important point. How many people will the Buhari administration arrest for getting under the president's skin? In other words, how many people will this administration make undeservedly popular because of its intolerance and incompetence? Many frustrated people who feel they have nothing to live for in light of the present economic crunch in the country are going to name their dogs after Buhari. Watch out. It's now the surest way to cheap popularity, and the intolerance and incompetence of this government will ensure that they get all the attention, and possibly financial benefits, they crave. 


But it isn't only after Buhari that dogs will be named; dogs will also be named after key ministers of the government.


As I am writing this column, I read that a woman by the name of Ada Ogbonna has named her dog after the comically loudmouthed Lai Mohammed. "Meet my dog, Lai Mohammed," she wrote on Facebook. "I named it after someone I admired."


There will be several such publicity baits. A competent government with some clue won't swallow such easy baits. This is all part of democracy. I live in America where the president of the country is called all sorts of dreadful names without consequences.  For instance, many racists named their dogs Obama, but Obama disarmed them by naming his dog Bo, which is short for Barack Obama.


We can't pretend to be practicing democracy and clamp down on people for merely saying hurtful things that get on our frail nerves.


This is particularly telling coming from a government that is caught flatfooted in almost everything, a government that daily inflicts misery on its poor citizens while its power structure feeds fat on the misery of the poor. It's troubling when a government that took six months to appoint a predictable cast of characters as ministers wastes no time to arrest a person for naming his dog Buhari. It is concerning when a government that is mute in the face of the horrendous mass murder of hundreds of Shiites in Zaria arrests inconsequential people because they got under the skin of the president.


Maybe Buhari is not even aware that someone has been imprisoned because he named his dog after him.  Maybe. But people who are close to and love the president should tell him that the emerging pettiness and intolerance of his administration are becoming intolerably embarrassing.


You can't be paying over-sized attention to minor, inconsequential irritants while the country burns under your watch.


Related Articles:


Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Journalism & Emerging Media
School of Communication & Media
Social Science Building 
Room 5092 MD 2207
402 Bartow Avenue
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw, Georgia, USA 30144
Cell: (+1) 404-573-9697
Personal website: www.farooqkperogi.com
Twitter: @farooqkperog
Author of Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World

"The nice thing about pessimism is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." G. F. Will

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USA Africa Dialogue Series - Fw: What the black cat fears: Donald Trump


USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: The man who named his dog, Buhari, By Reuben Abati

A very indignant aside :

Ken Asagwara,

It's time for some homiletics. Freedom of speech is okay, but don't forget : Respect begets respect and you must do unto others as you would like others to do unto you. It's known as the golden rule

I have read the uncle tom hack piece by your ace journalist Dr. Reuben Abati "for education and enlightenment" about the awful disrespect committed by some dog owner by the name of Joe Fortemose Chinakwe.

Abati is being palpably dishonest and transparently hypocritical and malicious in an underhand sort of way : "Joe Fortemose Chinakwe, the man who named his dog after President Muhammadu Buhari is right now probably regretting his decision to honour his dog with the name of a man he considers his hero"

It's sickening to read all the Western referents that he summons to bolster the rest his argument/ justification/ explanation, for the simple fact that we are talking about Nigeria. Should we ape the West in all things, including their lack of respect in certain areas? I challenge you, him and Chinakwe to go and try that kind of dog-naming nonsense in Saudi Arabia or Iran. Go there and name your dog after any of their heads of state  or Supreme Leader that you consider your hero and see if you will only "rot" in prison...

Instead of going out of his way, looking for trouble, why doesn't Chinakwe name his dog " Joe" after himself (self-love) or perpetuate any of the great family names, names of his heroes, icons, tribal leaders, tribal gods, and goddesses of which there must be many, chief of whom I could recommend, Achebe, Achidie (I guess for a female dog) Ojukwu (for an attack dog) and then you have a special name for the kind of dog who runs away with his tail between his legs.

But he had better be extra careful about naming any of his dogs after any of the religious personalities that are greatly respected by religious folks in general and as a matter of common decency. If Cameron named his dog after any African president you know that the whole continent would be up in arms - it could even lead to the dis-integration of the Commonwealth. And no , baptising you British bulldog " Sir Winston" or " Thatcher" wouldn't make matters worse.

Chinakwe has found the trouble that he was looking for and for all his pains, hopefull,  also finds himself rotting in jail in Nigeria, for not knowing better. He did perhaps once muse philosophically, like Shakespeare, " What's in a name?" - but by now, full of remorse and less disdain, regrets his earlier indiscretion. He could enter a simple plea for mercy, even rename his dog Cornelius Agrippa . That would be much better for him.

For your edification, here is another approach to education and enlightenment about the matter: Whereas the dog is "man's best friend" in the West (and don't forget that pork is also the Best of the West) in this case, the first thing that you have to know is the status of the dog in al-Islam – and armed with that kind of knowledge you are less likely to cause offence to those for whom the dog - and indeed the cow too is not sacred.

Over here in Sweden a controversy has raged over unholy Lars Vilks who has attracted the opprobrium of all decent folks. I think that he is still in hiding and or under police protection, twenty four hours a day, because there are some holy Muslim Warriors who believe that it is halal to make kebab out of him.

On a lighter note about dogs : Dogs from a Sufi point of View by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh

Song poet asks : If dogs run free, then why not we?



On Friday, 26 August 2016 22:07:21 UTC+2, Bolaji Aluko wrote:


Ken Asagwara:

You, Reuben Abati, and a whole bunch of others writing the way you are are completely dishonest blokes, almost anarchists, I would say.  You may think that you write in defence of individuals, but in fact, you are writing in an anarchic fashion.

For example, I, Mobolaji Aluko, have NEVER - repeat NEVER - indicated that naming a dog Buhari - or Mobolaji Aluko for that matter - is a CRIME.  In fact, in one of my first contributions on this matter, I have indicated that there might have to be a proof that it was not "Buhari" who named himself after the dog.

But I - and a hundred, thousand or million others - state and re-state that naming a dog "Buhari", and stamping the name on both sides of the dog, and parading it in a neighborhood in which there is a local or popular "Buhari", incensed by you publicly parading a dog called Buhari,  is an invitation to a "breach of peace" if there is a complaint as such, and that it is INCUMBENT on the Police, after a prima facie investigation in which there is agreement that there is a possible "breach of peace", to press the charge.  It will then be up to the courts to determine positively or negatively whether the evidence points in that direction or not.

For all of you taking the position of Ken Asagwara or Reuben Abati, etc., to have this moral claim that out of 180 million Nigerians, NO ONE should have the feeling that naming a dog Buhari is a "CRIME" (even if I, Mobolaji does not agree with that), or that out of 180 million Nigerians, NO ONE (not to talk of 20 or more peopel) will be sufficiently aggrieved to complain that such a naming could cause a "breach of the peace" among them, or, out of 1 million police stations, there will NOT be one book Police-man who will agree with them, is just simply preposterous.

You - Ken Asagwara, Reuben Abati and the rest of you - are the ones who feel so SELF-RIGHTEOUS that NO ONE in the world should have a different opinon different from you.  You want to talk about individual rights, but all of those INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS must be the ones that YOU - and only YOU - express, and ANYBODY who has a different feeling about the same thing is less than human.

You are the anarchists, who do not seem to  know - or temporarily forget -  that in SOCIETY, every human being has both RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES, and that every RESPONSIBILTY - that you "must" do this or you "must not" do that, whether you really like to do it or not do it  - is a necessary dimininution of INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS.   Hence there are LIMITS OF FREE SPEECH, because you have RESPONSIBILITIES to those around you about their sensibilities.

Those sensibilities and sensitivities may change in time and space, but it is the RESPONSIBILITY of everyone to gauge those sensibilities and sensitivities, and then use each occasion to FASHION the society to BOTH greater TOLERANCE - which is a two-edged (s)word for the aggrieved and the griever, because those two groups MUST tolerate each other.

One thing is sure from this episode:  Chinakwe will not name a new dog that he gets Buhari (the old dog is dead, I read.)  If he names the dog Buhari, he will confine it to his home, and call him Buhari more quietly.  Certainly, he will not imprint the name Buhari on both sides of the dog, and then let him stray in the neighborhood.  In short, he will have learnt more tolerance of the society around him.

And there you have it.  You, Ken Asagwara, and your ilk (Reuben Abati and co), should learn that it is NOT only you that have INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, and that as human beings, and not animals, you have RESPONSIBILITIES in society too.



Bolaji Aluko



On Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 7:50 PM, Asagwara, Ken (MET) <Ken.As...@gov.mb.ca> wrote:

Folks:

 

Those of you that argued Joachim Chinakwe committed a "crime" and deserve to rot in prison, you may want to read the below from Dr. Reuben Abati, the ace Journalist for you education and enlightenment.

 

Like I have kept saying on this issue, it is Nigeria in question where ethnic hate trumps everything else. And I said it prior that those calling for Joachim Chinakwe's head are wallowing in ethnic hate. Frankly, Nigeria cannot survive this way as One United country except by force of arms and savagery as presently is, the case.

 

Cheers.

 

Mazi KC Prince Asagwara

 

 

The man who named his dog, Buhari, By Reuben Abati

Posted on August 26, 2016 by Bode Dolu

Image result for reuben abati

Joe Fortemose Chinakwe, the man who named his dog after President Muhammadu Buhari is right now probably regretting his decision to honour his dog with the name of a man he considers his hero. He has been accused of trying to incite hate and breach the public peace. He has been arrested and re-arrested by the police and taken to a magistrate court, which promptly remanded him in prison until he is able to meet the conditions of his bail.

He has spent days in prison custody unable to raise the N50, 000 that he has been asked to pay. His family members have only so far managed to raise N20, 000.  Even if he succeeds in putting that sum together, his life is still in danger because aggrieved persons in his neighbourhood, including a man who says he was trying to ridicule his father, have threatened to kill him, if he shows up. The police are not investigating this threat, but they seem so excited about dealing with the poor trader called Joe, for having the effrontery to name his dog, Buhari.

To protect himself, Joseph has allegedly put the dog to sleep, or thrown it away or whatever, in the hope that once the evidence is destroyed there will be no case against him.  It is all so pitiable. Public opinion appears to be divided as to the nature and seriousness of Joseph Chinakwe's alleged felony, with some people arguing that it is definitely an act of provocation and incitement for him to label his dog, Buhari so boldly and to parade the same dog in a neighbourhood where there are many residents of Northern extraction, whose feelings may be injured or who may perceive that he is trying to make a political statement.

Those who want him punished have therefore dismissed Chinakwe's protestation that he is an admirer of the President, or that he means well. His defenders insist that he is entitled to free speech and there is nowhere in the statutes where a man can be punished on the basis of the perception that some people's feelings may be injured, and hence, be prompted to commit murder. The law is not structured that way.

We are dealing, therefore with ethnic hate at the lunatic fringe. Nigerians have become so suspicious of one another, and inter-ethnic relationship is so poisonous that even the littlest innocent gesture could result in mayhem. This is why many have been killed for allegedly committing blasphemy or for insulting the religious sensibilities of some people. Remember the woman who was killed by her students for allegedly desecrating the Quoran. Remember Gideon Akaluka. Remember the woman who was recently beheaded in Abuja for daring to preach the Christian gospel. We are also dealing with disregard for human freedom, and Nigeria's slip into a tragic season of intolerance. Why shouldn't Chinakwe call his dog whatever name catches his fancy?  Well, may be he should have chosen an Igbo name? But if we want national unity, why shouldn't he take a name he admires from another part of the country?

Ali Baba, the ace comedian, like many others, has come out strongly in defence of Chinakwe saying he actually has a dog in his house named OBJ, and that is quite direct because only one man bears that sobriquet in this country, and neither OBJ nor his kinsmen have asked Atuyota to leave Yorubaland. One of the most famous pictures online is that of a goat named Goodluck Jonathan, with the name written on both flanks of it.  President Jonathan's wife was also once (July 2013) referred to as "shepopotamus" by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, and before our very eyes, President Olusegun Obasanjo, donated, to a conservation sanctuary, a chimpanzee, which he named Patience to make a point obviously.

The parody at the time was unmistakable. We all drew humour from all of that. What we seem to be dealing with right now, however, is the absurd deification of a name on ethnic and partisan grounds. It is curious that the Nigeria Police is devoting to the trial of Chinakwe, a feverish amount of energy that we have not witnessed with regard to more statutorily relevant offences. This hullaballoo over the giving of a dog a name that has led to its hanging and the likely punishment of its owner is one distraction too many. We are above all else, dealing with a storm in a tea cup, occasioned by a culture shock, and our underdeveloped understanding of the relationship between man and animals.

Chinakwe says he chose the name Buhari out of admiration. And he may well be right, and he would have been right, and there would have been no problem if he was living in Europe or North America. But he lives in a country where animals have no rights and no recognition other than as victims of human predators, and a dog in our culture is to be treated as an instrument or as meat for the soup pot. Elsewhere, a dog has earned its reputation in mythology and actuality, as a man's best friend. The root of this is that a dog is considered the most beloved, the most loyal and the most dependable of all animals. People use dogs to guard their homes, to keep away intruders, even to play with children and as companions in the home. There are many stories and legends about the loyalty of dogs. Hawkeye is the name of a famous dog who lay next to the casket of its owner who died in active service as a US Navy SEAL.

There is a film, "Hachi, a dog's tale," starring Richard Gere, about Hachiko, a dog who greeted his owner at the train station everyday and after the owner died, the dog went to the same station for nine years. Recently, I posted on instagram the picture of a dog in Santa Catarina, Brazil, Negao the dog, whose owner died eight months earlier and the dog remained outside the hospital awaiting his owner's return.  In the United States, a police dog has been given a state burial, draped with national colours in appreciation of its loyal and meritorious service to the nation. Many centuries ago, Homer wrote inOdyssey, about a loyal dog, Argos who waited for Odysseus until he returned.

The established normal is that a dog can be trusted more than a human being.  And this is why in other parts of the world, when people name their dogs after celebrities, they are actually paying compliments and showing respect.  World figures like Elvis Presley, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Louis Vuitton, Mandela, Clinton, J. F. Kennedy and others have had their names given to either cats or dogs, and it is no big deal. Admirers transpose their feelings from man to animal. Joseph Chinakwe may actually be saying that President Buhari is a loyal, trustworthy, supportive, dependable and companionable Guardian of the Nigerian estate. It would have been a different thing perhaps if he had given that name to a tortoise, a rat, cat, a fox, or a chimpanzee. But in a country where every animal is considered a prey or a lower, spiteful creature, using the metaphor of a dog could be risky as the Chinakwe case has shown. In Nigeria, we treat animals badly, and we don't consider anyone a friend, man or animal. We are vengeful, mean and suspicious. We are so scared we are even afraid of domestic and domesticated animals.

In other societies, animals are treated with greater respect and in the United States for example, the life of a dog is far superior to that of a human being in Nigeria.  I have written about this twice: In "A Dog's Life" (1996), I reflected on the life of a dog owned by Stanley Meisler (God bless his soul) and his wife, Elizabeth Fox, my hosts during my journalism programme at the University of Maryland, College Park, United States (1996 -97). I was shocked that the dog had a room of its own, a proper room, not a kernel, and whenever that dog fell ill, we took him to a dog hospital and Stanley bought drugs.  I saw that dog living the life of a king, better catered for than many Africans.

I wrote another piece titled "A Hotel for Dogs" (July 23, 2006) about a five-star hotel in Bethesda, Washington, which attends to dogs as customers, and where dogs enjoy a life of luxury. Established in 2003, by PetSmart Inc., by 2006, there were 32 hotels of its type in the United States and the then spokesman of the group, Bruce Richardson, had boasted that by 2010, the plan was to have 240 such hotels across the United States. We are talking luxury, 23 USD per night, 33USD for a dog suite, as at that time, all pre-tax, plus provisions for pooch ice cream.  In general, Americans spend about $40 billion dollars a year on household pets. I guess that is more than Nigeria's annual budget even by today's relative standards.

And so, what are we talking about? An American dog is a big man in Nigeria by all standards. But because we eat dogs and treat all animals badly in this country, in fact we have no regard for human beings (consider the hundreds that get killed, raped, kidnapped daily and nobody cares), we are bound to be incensed that anyone would name a dog after a deified political figure.  Joe Chinakwe's sins should be forgiven, albeit there is no morality in law, but the Nigerian judiciary should not expose itself to further ridicule by lending the weight of the law to such partisan trash that makes no sense. There are far more important issues requiring serious attention in this country today.

But in case nobody understands that and Mr Chinakwe and his counsel find themselves in a tight corner, they should put out a disclaimer and say their dog, living or dead, is filing for a change of name. That is perfectly within their rights to do. And should they find themselves in any other difficult situation, they have my full permission to rename the dog, Reuben Abati. But should you, dear reader consider this a bad name you wish to hang, you also have my full support, partnership and friendship to offer your own name.

If that will put an end to this circus over the name of a dog, and set Joseph Chinakwe free, and also remind us that we are in a democracy, please, help and so be it. By the way, I hear Chinakwe and his sympathisers finally managed, after a fund-raising appeal, to raise a sum of N90, 000 to perfect his bail bond and that he is now out of detention. Would somebody in a responsible position just put an end to this joke and let us focus on serious issues?

Credit: Reuben Abati

- See more at: http://www.bodedolu.com/man-named-dog-buhari-reuben-abati/#sthash.xv4SNh4M.dpuf


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