Thursday, July 20, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - VC begs Nigerian govt for relocation of herdsmen, cattle from UNIABUJA campus [ Fulani Colonization Crisis in Nigeria ]


Gloria:

May your tribe increase!   Sometimes, some of my compatriots write and talk like racists, as they epithetically "adjectivize" people carrying out normal business that they are known with their ethnicity:  "Fulani herdsmen", "Igbo traders", "Ijaw fishermen",  "Niger-Delta militants", "Awusa beggars", etcheram, adnauseum, 

And these "Fulani herdsmen":  Who would buy their cows and beef afterwards if they really KILLED off all the people along their paths?  I have asked whether they carry guns  (1) for protection while traveling and intimidating land owners in order to graze  (2)  for revenge and/or  (3) for permanent land grabbing?  Should it not just be easy for affected states to BAN all purchase of grazed cows?

And so on......

Finally, really the racism masquerading as ethnicism and masquerading as some kind of social concern must stop.  In solving one problem, we are simply creating others.

And there you have it.


Bolaji Aluko

On Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 11:47 AM, Emeagwali, Gloria (History) <emeagwali@ccsu.edu> wrote:

This is not about Fulani colonization.

This is simply about the realities of  nomadic pastoralism in the past and present.

Work on converting nomadic pastoralists to sedentary ones. That is the challenge. 


What do you have against the Fulanis, Toyin. 

It's Fulani this and Fulani that. .......





Professor Gloria Emeagwali
Chief Editor- "Africa Update"
Gloria Emeagwali's Documentaries on
Africa and the African Diaspora
8608322815  Phone



From: usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju <toyin.adepoju@gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, July 20, 2017 6:18 AM
To: usaafricadialogue
Subject: USA Africa Dialogue Series - VC begs Nigerian govt for relocation of herdsmen, cattle from UNIABUJA campus [ Fulani Colonization Crisis in Nigeria ]
 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Alukoro Agbaye lukoroagba@gmail.com [talkhard] <talkhard@yahoogroups.com>
Date: 20 July 2017 at 05:14
Subject: [talkhard] VC begs Nigerian govt for relocation of herdsmen, cattle from UNIABUJA campus



 
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Posted by: Alukoro Agbaye <lukoroagba@gmail.com>
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Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - How Jesus was Born in Yorubaland

This is complicate d
 I'd prefer to say, as in your last option, of course they are human creations, with all the limits you suggested. But that you don't take that far enough. Maybe my favorite speculation on the crossing of the believer's view and the secular is Allen Roberts's inedible study of mouridism The Saint and the City. The spaces for belief constructing meaning could t encompass the reader more than you credit it. The binary belief unbelief is framed inadequately. Another ideal author who tackled this question brilliantly was hampate Ba
Ken

Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 20, 2017, at 1:44 PM, Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju <toyin.adepoju@gmail.com> wrote:

The ontological status of the story, its identity as fact or fiction, has come in for much recent scrutiny among scholars.

Is it an example of brilliant word play, playing on sonic similarities between Yoruba and Hebrew words or an attempt to present what the composer believes to be factual? After all, some claims exist about Jesus' birth and history that are not part of conventional opinion received from the Bible.

At the centre of these  debates is the question of the character of ese ifa, Ifa literature. Is it inspired by the Ifa oracle, as some believers hold, a more liberal version of the spectrum of views at the climax of which is the position held by some that ese ifa are creations of the deity Orunmila from when he incarnated in Yorubaland at the beginning of the world? Are they purely human creations, as demonstrated by their often playful and whimsical character, as one view holds this story exemplifies? If they are purely human creations, projecting various agenda defined by individual and social dynamics, at what points do oracular insight and individual creativity intersect, if at all?

While some might be sceptical about the story inspiring such questions, the questions throw light on actual issues  at the intersection of views of Ifa devotees and scholarly inquiry, issues indicating the meeting points of  of Ifa hermeneutics and scriptural hermeneutics globally.

thanks

toyin




On 20 July 2017 at 19:18, Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju <toyin.adepoju@gmail.com> wrote:
Thanks, Kenneth.



On 20 July 2017 at 19:04, Kenneth Harrow <harrow@msu.edu> wrote:
Most enjoyable story
Thanks toyin
ken

Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824

517-803-8839

harrow@msu.edu

http://www.english.msu.edu/people/faculty/kenneth-harrow/


From: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju <toyin.adepoju@gmail.com>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com>
Date: Thursday, 20 July 2017 at 12:37
To: Talkhard <talkhard@yahoogroups.com>, Nigerian Writers ANA <nigerianauthors@yahoogroups.com>, usaafricadialogue <USAAfricaDialogue@googlegroups.com>, Esan Community <Esan_Community@yahoogroups.com>, Afenmai <afenmai@yahoogroups.com>
Subject: USA Africa Dialogue Series - How Jesus was Born in Yorubaland





A pregnant woman in Yorubaland needed the attention of a herbalist to help ease her pains at night. The herbal expert, however, urged her to let the herbs sleep, 'je kewe sun', in Yoruba, so the plants could be rejuvenated, their powers revived and adequately consolidated for use in the morning.

When the child was eventually born, he was named 'Jewesun', a contraction of 'je kewe sun', in commemoration of that incident before he was born, a practice of naming employed by Southern Nigerian cultures.

Eventually, he travelled to the Middle East in search of further spiritual knowledge beyond Yorubaland, and in Palestine, where he settled to study conjunctions between Jewish Kabbalah and Ifa, those who could not pronounce his name properly  transformed 'Jewesun' to 'Jesus'.

Retelling of an ese ifa, the literature of the Yoruba origin Ifa system of knowledge and divination. 

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USA Africa Dialogue Series - NIGERIAN CHILD AND SCIENCE EDUCATION

Please, let us take a moment off politics and talk about a very important and vexing issue.

The mind, a famous American said, is a terrible thing to waste. Please do not ask me what the name of this famous person is. However, he must have had a perception that a mind can be wasted. I guess, that by waste, he meant the lack of nourishment to the mind and its consequent development to its absolute potential; its ability to be creative; to discern what is good from what is bad; what is real from absolute fantasy; what is practicable from nonsense; to imagine the exent of the universe and the possibilities that that universe has presented to him.

Let me make a small change to this famous American's statement and say 'A Nigerian child's mind is a terrile thing to pollute.'

Now the difference between wasting something and polluting it is vast. A thing wasted may mean that whatever is left after the wastage is still good, but is not enough to do what it is meant to do. However, polluting something is a different ballgame. This means that no matter how much is there, the mind, having been polluted, is not useful for anything. Its ability to perform the aforementioned tasks is forever compromised. The mind will not be capable of being developed once it is polluted. It confuses good with bad, and its universe is of a distorted and hazy kind. And it man never regain the ability to function properly. That is pollution for you!!

I hereby contend that what we are feeding or not feeding our children's mind is capable of polluting it.

As I have said for many years, we teachers of science, educators in general, and parents in particular are derelict in our responsibilities of giving our wards, a sound science and technology education. Our universities simply do not put this area of research on the front burner. Yes, many of these do tremendous research in the area of education of the child, just for them to get promotion and become professors. However, the impact of their academic endeavour is not much felt by the outside world. There are no significant children's programs developed in our universities and colleges of education targeted towards science and technology education for our children; and no children's books and eduation materials targetet to make the children enjoy science. Whatever happened to research in propagating science and technology in our own languages to our own children? Are we saying this area of knowledge is not worth pursuing? Cannot you become a professor if you should make the science education of the Nigerian child your research interest? Cannot you become a successful academician if you should present science education in Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Edo, Ibibio etc. to our own children on Saturday mornings? Is there no possibility of a university – just one – to direct its academic endeavours into translating science into the indigenous languages? If not, why not? How come the Americans, Europeans,  Chinese are doing these things and we are not able to do them? Aren't we, by our own laziness, omission and admission telling our children that we are indeed inferior to others whose languages we are using to propagate knowledge? Won't this idea stay with the child for ever?

By the time a child is ready to attend primary scool, he has probably watched hundreds of Africa Magic television movies where he is taught – emphasis on taught – that a person can go to a native doctor who can use some parts of a human female to conjur money for him. Of course this idea is etched into the child's consciousness, thereby polluting it. Of course, a child who may have been pummeled with this idea this early in his life may grow to an adult who may want to practise it. He may also have seen on television, hundreds of programs from many G.O's who have predicted into his life that he will be the head and not the tail - miraculously. The project of miaculous enrichment is our number one industry in Nigeria. Of course, at that age, he may never have seen a science oriented show on television that he can comprehend and in his own language that can explain the universe to him. Of course, he may never have had the oppotunity to 'build' toy cars, automobiles, buildings etc. The objective facts of science and many laws that guide the universe are alien to him and may be that way for ever. How then does he begin to differentiate between fact and fiction if he is not afforded a different perspective of life from a scientific standpoint?

Our universities and colleges of education have to begin to make science and technology education of the child, from the kindegarten their primary responsibility.

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Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Mazi Moses Ochonu:

With all due respect, Yinka, this is an offensive and condescending question. I expect better from you. Did you actually think that I had not read Kanu's many statements about the geography of his proposed Biafra?  I find it laughable that you opened an entirely new thread to announce this "news" of Kanu's inclusion of Benue in his Biafra to me, a "news" that is several years old and which has been discussed in the Nigerian cyberspace for as long as Radio Biafra and IPOB have been active. You should know that I support Kanu and his supporters' peaceful advocacy of Biafra despite my having known about his Benue and Kogi and South South inclusion in Biafra for years. I disapprove of his rhetoric and antics but he and his supporters have a right to imagine and advocate Biafra. Don't mistake the man and his antics for the struggle, for the agitation.

I have been following Kanu's career from his Radio Biafra days. I even gave a paper on Biafra that focused on him and his youthful followers at a Simon Gikandi-organized conference on memory at Princeton University two years ago, so I am probably more familiar with his utterances and rhetoric than you are. Kanu says a lot of things, most of them plain crazy. The mischievous rhetorical move from people like you, however, is to generalize Kanu to the Igbo, use him as avatar for the Igbo's agitations and aspirations. You'd protest if someone where to advance OPC's Ganiyu Adams as a spokesperson for the Yoruba's political aspirations, but you have no problem doing the equivalent for the Igbo. This is not a joke. Nigeria is cratering before our eyes. Some people, concluding crazy ones like Kanu, are at least articulating alternatives to this doomed status quo and all you can do is to deride and mock their agitations and aspirations?

By the way, why personalize the question about Benue to me? What has this got to do with me or my position on self-determination? This is the kind of majoritarian arrogance and condescension that infuriates minority rights activists. Do I constitute Benue all by myself? Benue is an entire state for crying out loud. I do not and cannot speak for an entire state. The people of Benue, Kogi, and the South South States have stated clearly that they want no part in Biafra.  That too is in the spirit of their own self-determination. Does that mean that they don't support the Igbo's right to self determination, that they are opposed to Biafra? Or that they support the dysfunctional Nigerian status quo? No! 

What about showing some respect and humility and asking the Benue people what they want for themselves, what kind of political configuration they want from one extreme of the spectrum (retaining the status quo) to the other (outright secession)? Some of you want to preempt the process of reimagining and reconstructing the nation in a more equitable, workable paradigm. Unless you have the gift of clairvoyance, you cannot predict how things will shake out in such a process. No one knows for sure what the so-called minorities will do if the process of national reconstruction gets underway, or even how a referendum on Biafra would go. The activists of Quebec and Scotland thought they had independence in the bag, but the vote shocked them. Allow Benue people and other minorities space to consult and come up with their own autonomous positions on what they want. Do not preempt them. DO not try to scare them with the boogeyman of Biafra. Do not assume that anyone outside their zone speaks for them. Even among them, there is at present little unanimity, but if the process of a referendum or the much talked about restructuring starts, you'll start seeing regional and state level meetings to develop positions. That's how democratic consensus building works. It will be entirely up to the Benue, Kogi, or Cross Rivers people to develop their own agenda. Do not worry about them; they will be fine. It is condescending to think that you can see danger for them that they themselves cannot see, or that you know what is best for them.

My commitment to right of self-determination is total, so total that I believe that even if a small village wants to be its own country, it has a right to aspire to that and that that right is protected and sacred. The only thing I say is that appearances can be deceiving, hence the need for a referendum, an internationally recognized democratic and legally binding instrument of determining these questions and gauging the depth of support for separatist and secessionist movements. You don't seem to believe in the right to self-determination and somehow see the current borders of nation-states, including Nigeria's, as settled, fossilized, and final. For you secession and the quest for autonomy and alternative nations is a crime to be severely punished, to be crushed. I do not. We differ here. You can't convince me, and obviously I've failed to convince you.

When Ganiyu Adams and others were shouting all over the place about Oduduwa Republic, did they not include Ilorin and the Itsekiri people of Delta State in their Oduduwa Republic? Was this not immediately rejected by these peoples concerned? How many Ilorin or Itsekiri intellectuals were asked if they wanted to be citizens of Oduduwa Republic? I believe that most reasonable people simply respected the wishes of these peoples without using those wishes to attack the legitimacy of the Oduduwa Republic struggle. I mean no offense but I'm afraid that, despite my painstaking explanations to you, you don't seem to understand that my position is founded on philosophical and moral convictions, not some provincial or primordial considerations. 

The people of Benue will decide what to do for themselves and determine their political future under a liberal constitution that does not criminalize self-determination and referendum. So will the people of Osun and Ondo and Kebbi and Borno and Akwa Ibom and Abia. Instead of critiquing the current tyrannical constitutional order that forces people to remain in a dysfunctional union without giving them an out or the freedom to imagine an alternative arrangement, you're obsessing over what Kanu is doing. Even among the Igbo, is Kanu regarded as a respectable spokesperson? Does Kanu not have many Igbo critics? Have you been listening to the man on Radio Biafra? The man says a lot of stupid things. He does not represent the Biafra struggle; the struggle predated him. He is in fact a usurper of the struggle, hence the conflict between him and MASSOB and between him and the founders of IPOB. He is a rascal that actually undermines the legitimate struggle for Biafra, a rascal that Buhari turned into a hero with his thoughtless, paranoid way of dealing with him, no doubt ruled by his Igbo-phobia. Buhari took him from the fringe of Igbo agitation and made him a receptacle of undeserved sympathy. Today, he is the grassroots face of the struggle but that is Buhari's doing, and that does not mean that you should use his utterances to judge the legitimate struggle of self-determination of the Igbo people. That would be disingenuous and mischievous.

On Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 6:05 PM, Olayinka Agbetuyi <yagbetuyi@hotmail.com> wrote:
Kanu said he wanted a 7 state Biafra including Benue.

Do you support this view?
Are you willing to be a Biafran?



Sent from my Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

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Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - VC begs Nigerian govt for relocation of herdsmen, cattle from UNIABUJA campus [ Fulani Colonization Crisis in Nigeria ]

Placing History in Perspective

 Punch editorial on herdsmen centred   Fulani terrorism

           Herdsmen Attacks

 Benue Law Offers Sensible Model

WEARIED by the continued Fulani herdsmen carnage, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has moved to sign the Anti-Open Grazing Bill into law. It is chiefly aimed at curbing killings and destruction of farmlands associated with open grazing in the state. He has also given an ultimatum to herdsmen to either ranch their livestock or leave the state. The law is an improvement on an earlier version promulgated in Ekiti State, where activities of nomadic Fulani herdsmen have also provoked ethnic suspicions, tension, devastation and reprisals.

Assenting to the bill, the Benue governor chillingly noted, "Between 2013 and 2016 alone, Fulani herdsmen killed more than 1,878 men, women and children in cold blood from 12 local government areas." In addition, 750 people were critically injured, 200 still missing and over 99,427 households destroyed. This toll is mindboggling. During the gory invasion between February and March 2016, they massacred over 500 persons in the Agatu community, according to former Senate President, David Mark.

Mike Inalegwu, the sole administrator of the Agatu LGA, estimated that herdsmen slaughtered 3,920 persons from 2013 to 2017. At the weekend, herdsmen reportedly abducted Zakari Sada, the external auditor of the National Health Insurance Scheme on the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway. The crisis has produced thousands of internally displaced persons across the state. The Global Index of Terrorism prepared by a global think tank, the Institute for Economic and Peace, ranked Fulani nomads as the fourth deadliest terror group in the world in 2014/15, after their killing spree in several parts of Nigeria.

Emboldened by the apathy of the Federal Government, Fulani herdsmen have become notorious for rape, trespass, mass murders and destruction of crops of agrarian communities. Their cruel imprints are pronounced in (Southern) Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba, Delta, Nasarawa and Benue states. In April 2016, they slaughtered 40 persons in Ukpabi Nimbo, Enugu State.

In truth, this law is long overdue. By making ranching mandatory, it elevates animal husbandry to a big, modern business, which has been the preferred model the world over for centuries. The five-month moratorium for herdsmen ensnared by age-old open grazing practices to leave Benue by November is in no way harsh.

The law to ranch livestock is a courageous move by the state parliament and the governor. It is argued that ranching eliminates the friction over land between farming communities and nomadic livestock owners. Conflict arises principally as Nigeria's 20 million strong cattle stock, according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, are seeking fodder because of the advancing desertification in the North, which has encouraged the Fulani to expand their sphere of influence with impunity to the Middle Belt and the southern states.

 In comparison, the FAO credits Brazil with 211.7 million heads of cattle (the world's largest stock), the United States with 89.2 million and Argentina with 51 million. In these climes, ranching is the standard practice. It eliminates the outdated roaming of cattle across the length and breadth of the country in search of fodder.

 Open grazing endangers food production. On the other hand, ranching protects against livestock rustling because the animals are properly enclosed. A research by the US National Wildlife and Refugee System warns that open grazing also disturbs soil surfaces. "Trampling, pawing, and wallowing by ungulates disturb the soil and in some cases, completely destroy soil crusts," the study said.

 But in its favour, ranching is a very lucrative business. This ought to persuade the cattle herders to cotton on to it. While farmers in Benue State lost N95 billion to Fulani herdsmen invasion in 2014 alone, according to Ortom, Australia's 117-year-old Anna Creek Station, the biggest cattle ranch in Australia, was worth $370.7 million in 2016. It covers 100,000 square kilometres. In total, Australia exported fresh beef valued at $2.5 billion and frozen beef of $4.5 billion in 2015, says a 2016 report by Geneva-based research outfit, International Trade Centre. Brazil's total beef export in 2015 was calculated at $4.69 billion, while Nigeria is missing out because of unsustainable age-old grazing practices.

With the Federal Government offering only platitudes, Benue, just like Ekiti in 2016, has started on the right path to ending Fulani herdsmen's atrocities. But it should not just make the law and go to sleep. The political will to enforce it after the five-month grace is crucial. Other states being tormented by herdsmen should take the sensible legal route being charted by Ekiti and Benue.

In the end, it is the Nigerian state that will benefit from decreased violence, improvements in crop production and increased cattle stock for domestic consumption and export income. The states in the North should stop paying lip service to animal husbandry; they should educate and engineer Fulani cattle owners to commit to ranching. Just like in Brazil, the Federal Government could encourage investments in ranching by easing access to affordable loans for livestock farmers, instead of just burying its head in the sand like the ostrich while Fulani herdsmen wreak unmitigated havoc on defenceless citizens, nationwide.

  Copyright PUNCH.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.

Contact: editor@punchng.com






On 20 July 2017 at 20:19, Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju <toyin.adepoju@gmail.com> wrote:
Gloria,

Are you following the role of Hausa-Fulani politicians and the Fulani national leader Buhari in the terrorist drive across the nation, with Fulani herdsmen as the arrowhead, a terrorist drive that has decimated the Middle Belt, inspiring a recent call for averting war by Middle Belt elders, including second 1966 coup and civil war veteran Yakubu Danjuma, a crisis reinforced by the collusion of the Fulani led DSS, and the invulnerability of the Fulani terrorists across the nation, from the recurrent and recent massacres in Southern Kaduna, to the Agatu Middle Belt and Enugu state Nimbo massacres, crimes often openly admitted to and justified by the Fulani terrorists  without any reprisal ,  to the efforts of the Fulani led govt to appropriate lands of other Nigerians to accommodate the private business represented by Fulani herdsmen to the announcement that the Nigerian army will now run cattle ranches, these being moves various state governors have had to publicly oppose, some developing their own military systems and laws to tackle this scourge in the face of the govt's open support for this terrorist colonization drive?

Even if you dont agree with my analysis of the ultimate direction of a development in which Fulani herdsmen are now in control of Nigeria's roadways and educational institutions, occupying land and classrooms in Edo state with the governor  helpless to occupying land in the University of Abuja, with the VC crying for help, please share with us your views on the historical facts presented unless you dispute those facts?

Fulani terrorism is worse than Boko Haram bcs of its nationwide spread and longer persistence, along with tacit and open support from Hausa Fulani politicians, becoming Nigeria's greatest security challenge and one of the world's deadliest terrorist groups, according to the Global Terrorist Watch, which keeps data on attacks and numbers of  deaths from this terrorist organization.

Your trivialization "What do you have against the Fulanis, Toyin It's Fulani this and Fulani that. .......", makes me wonder if you aware of at least the  factual aspects of these developments, as different from my interpretations,  or if you have been carried away by a cocooning within USAAfrica Dialogues Series, where this evil is excused by vocal voices blinded by or protecting investments in the current govt.

I would be pleased if you address my questions frontally, summed up by- do you believe the Fulani herdsmen militia wing are a terrorist group? If not, why, given the scale of attacks, scope of killings and systematic character of their attacks across the nation and their use of sophisticated military grade weapons?

Do you believe they have protection from the Fulani led govt? If not, how do you explain the virtual invincibility they have enjoyed in spite of openly justifying massacres of other Nigerians as well as the govt's efforts to appropriate  Nigerians' land in sustaining their private businesses?

Do you believe the crisis has gone beyond a simple issue of pastoralists? If not why have state governors had to develop private military and new legal methods to tackle them? Why are they now so bold they compete with traffic on Nigerian city streets as in Abuja, and occupy school land and classrooms in Edo and university land in Abuja?

Thanks

toyin




thanks

toyin

On 20 July 2017 at 18:47, Emeagwali, Gloria (History) <emeagwali@ccsu.edu> wrote:

This is not about Fulani colonization.

This is simply about the realities of  nomadic pastoralism in the past and present.

Work on converting nomadic pastoralists to sedentary ones. That is the challenge. 


What do you have against the Fulanis, Toyin. 

It's Fulani this and Fulani that. .......





Professor Gloria Emeagwali
Chief Editor- "Africa Update"
Gloria Emeagwali's Documentaries on
Africa and the African Diaspora
8608322815  Phone
8608322804 Fax



From: usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com <usaafricadialogue@googlegroups.com> on behalf of Oluwatoyin Vincent Adepoju <toyin.adepoju@gmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, July 20, 2017 6:18 AM
To: usaafricadialogue
Subject: USA Africa Dialogue Series - VC begs Nigerian govt for relocation of herdsmen, cattle from UNIABUJA campus [ Fulani Colonization Crisis in Nigeria ]
 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Alukoro Agbaye lukoroagba@gmail.com [talkhard] <talkhard@yahoogroups.com>
Date: 20 July 2017 at 05:14
Subject: [talkhard] VC begs Nigerian govt for relocation of herdsmen, cattle from UNIABUJA campus



 
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Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Professor Ali A. Mazrui Lives Again!!!

We should do the same for Abiola Irele.

toyin

On 19 July 2017 at 19:45, Okey Iheduru <okeyiheduru@gmail.com> wrote:


Giant of letters: When Ali Mazrui died in 2014 after a 50-year career as a political philosopher and public intellectual, tributes poured in from across the continent. These have been collected and edited in A Giant Tree Has Fallen. Picture: YOUTUBE
Giant of letters: When Ali Mazrui died in 2014 after a 50-year career as a political philosopher and public intellectual, tributes poured in from across the continent. These have been collected and edited in A Giant Tree Has Fallen. Picture: YOUTUBE

A Giant Tree Has Fallen

Edited by Seifudein Adem, Jideofor Adibe, Abdul Karim Bangura, Abdul Samed Bemath

African Perspectives Publishing

When one of Africa's most prolific public intellectuals died in 2014, there was an avalanche of appreciation. Globally, renowned professor Ali Mazrui was indeed a gigantic tree.

Glowing tributes came from people who had known him; those who had not met the top academic but had been profoundly touched by his work; those he had helped financially; former colleagues from secretaries to top academics; adversaries and admirers.

His body of work comprised more than 35 books that he authored or co-wrote and more than 100 academic papers. This repository of knowledge was produced in the 50 years that Mazrui worked as an academic at institutions in Africa, the US, Europe and Asia.

He was a true public intellectual who connected easily with the ordinary and the elite — including presidents and royalty — and yet he remained humble and grounded as an African scholar of superior knowledge.

Now, through a coup of sorts in local publishing, African Perspectives owned by Rose Francis negotiated the rights with Mazrui's family and the authors of the tributes, to produce a book that reads like a complete biography of this giant of letters.

The book's 500 pages leave one with a sense that you too had all along been part of the professor's life, even if you had not read a single word he had written in his lifetime.

Mazrui gifted the world with his immense intellectual insights on issues as widespread as the African condition, its problems and potential, north-south relations, global politics, culture, slavery and the need for reparations, and Islam and its uncomfortable relationships with other civilisations.

SOYINKA ACCUSED MAZRUI OF AN ISLAMOPHILE SLANT, BERATING HIM FOR UNDERPLAYING THE ARAB SLAVE TRADE.

The tributes paint a picture of a cool head facing the complex issues afflicting the world. Mazrui mixed sometimes confusing and contradictory dogmas and ideologies, like the excellent academic that he was, and was able to clinically analyse issues — even using television documentaries and film to get his message across.

He attracted admirers and critics. Some were irritated by his fearlessness on issues the world did not universally accept, as in his take on Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, the need for reparations for African slavery, the Palestine-Israel conflict, capitalism, socialism, and almost every subject.

His scholarship was interdisciplinary, a point made by Burjor Avari, a fellow Kenyan who met Mazrui at Manchester University, where they were undergraduate students from 1957 to 1960.

Mazrui graduated with a BA degree before proceeding to Columbia University, where he completed an MA in political studies in 1961. He then got a doctorate in political studies at Oxford University in 1965.

"Ali is essentially a political philosopher, and his scholarly books and articles engage with a variety of theoretical perspectives in the field of political philosophy," writes Avari.

"In his works, he deals with issues concerning political leadership, violence and warfare, resolution of conflict, ethnic and linguistic differences, institutions of world order, human rights, the role of culture in politics, and many other themes in line with the works of many other political philosophers."

Mazrui was born in Mombasa, Kenya in 1933 to a prominent Muslim family, part Arab and part African. His father was chief justice of Kenya's Islamic Court. His grandfather was a prominent Muslim scholar.

Committed to Islam but progressive, the young Mazrui had other ideas when his family wanted him to become a Muslim scholar. He loved the arts, and first dabbled in journalism in Mombasa when he failed to gain entrance to study at Makerere University in Uganda.

He worked at a technical college, where the governor of colonial Kenya noticed his command of English and offered him a scholarship to the UK, where he completed his A-levels and proceeded to Manchester University.

After completing his doctorate, he became the youngest professor of politics in Africa when he joined Makerere University at the age of 32.

Mazrui excelled at Makerere for 10 years. His lectures attracted crowds from outside the university. This did not sit well with the authorities. Former Ugandan president Milton Obote reportedly summoned the young professor to his office and asked him: "Do you know the difference between a professor of politics and a politician?"

When Obote was deposed in a coup by Idi Amin, there was initially a curiously cosy relationship between the professor and the dictator before it soured, forcing Mazrui into exile in the US, where he taught at prestigious universities including the University of Michigan. He had just retired from Binghamton University when he died.

Mazrui's only work of fiction, The Trial of Christopher Okigbo, published in 1971, is an allegorical tale about the Nigerian poet. The friend of Mazrui was slain for his defence of the quest for Biafran independence.

His seminal book, Towards a Pax Africana, was a critique of postindependence Africa in which he famously asked: "Now that the Imperial Order is coming to an end, who is coming to keep the peace in Africa?"

It is perhaps the television series The Africans: A Triple Heritage, financed by the BBC and the Public Broadcast Service in the US, that made Mazrui's work known worldwide. A book with the same title was published in 1986.

The series was lauded, but also criticised by fellow academics, notably Nobel literature laureate Wole Soyinka, who argued that Mazrui's series tended to elevate Arabic culture above indigenous cultures. The acrimony between the two professors degenerated into an ugly public spat in 1991.

"Soyinka effectively accused Mazrui of an Islamophile slant, berating him for underplaying the damage of the Arab slave trade and for trivialising and misrepresenting African indigenous culture, shockingly questioning the authenticity of the author as an Arab to make an authentic documentary about Africa and parochially asking that the story be retold from a black African perspective," writes Adekeye Adebayo in his tribute in the book.

However, in line with the African culture of respecting the dead, Soyinka wrote a glowing tribute to his former academic adversary on his death.

"The ranks keep thinning, bringing sadness both for the individual loss and for the inevitable receding of an era whose seizure owed so much to the intellectual industry of scholars such as Ali Mazrui," Soyinka reflects poetically in A Giant Tree Has Fallen, a compelling read for those seeking intellectual nourishment.







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