Sunday, May 27, 2012

Idioms, Mistranslation, and Abati’s Double Standards

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

The controversy over General Muhammadu Buhari’s recent “kare jini, biri jini” [Hausa for “the dog and the baboon will be soaked in blood”] comment has called attention to not only the time-honored tension between idiomaticity and literalness but also to the problems of equivalence in interlingual translation, i.e., translation between two mutually unintelligible languages.

As I’ve pointed out many times on this blog, an idiom is “an expression whose meaning cannot be inferred from the meanings of the words that make it up.” A grammar reference book also defined it as “an expression which is not meant literally and whose meaning cannot be deduced from knowledge of the individual words.”

 For instance, the expressions “spill the beans” (which means to give away secret information to people who are not supposed to know it), “kick the bucket” (which means to die) are English idioms that will not convey their widely understood meanings if we merely isolate the meanings of the individual words that make them up.  

An entry in Wikipedia, the collaborative online encyclopedia, underscored the tension between literalness and idiomaticity this way: “In the English expression to kick the bucket, a listener knowing only the meanings of kick and bucket would be unable to deduce the expression`s true meaning: to die. Although this idiomatic phrase can, in fact, actually refer to kicking a bucket, native speakers of English rarely use it so. Cases like this are ‘opaque idioms’.”

Idiomatic appreciation requires an intimate familiarity with not only the semantic conventions of a language but also with the cultural peculiarities of the speakers of the language. The expression “kare jini, biri jini,” as many commentators have pointed out, is a fossilized idiomatic expression in Hausa to denote “fierce competition.”

 If you deduce the meaning of that expression by merely looking at the meanings of “dog,” “baboon,” and “blood” in isolation, you will end up with a tragic interlingual mistranslation—sort of like an English speaker who attempts to make sense of the expression “kill two birds with one stone” by looking at the individual meanings of “kill,” “birds,” and “stone.” Of course, as even minimally proficient speakers of English know, the expression “to kill two birds with one stone” has no relationship with violence, although there is “kill” in the words that make it up; it simply means to be successful at doing two things simultaneously. 

Because of the cultural specificity of idioms, especially “opaque idioms” such as “kick the bucket,” “kill two birds with one stone,” “kare jini, biri jini,” etc., language teachers often advise learners of a new language to understand an idiom not as a group of independent words but as a vocabulary. That way, learners can avoid potentially costly cultural and semantic miscues. 

For instance, had the non-Hausa speaking spin doctors of the presidency understood “kare jini, biri jini” as the lexical substitute for “fierce competition” (the same way, for instance, that English speakers are taught to understand the expression “break the back of the beast” not as a call to violence against wild animals or humans but as the lexical substitute for “overcome a difficulty”) this pointless controversy wouldn’t have emerged.

As most linguists know only too well, translating idioms from one language to another is a notoriously risky exercise. Dr. Richard Lederer, a far-famed American grammarian and author, captured this brilliantly in an article he published in The Vocabula Review, a monthly journal about the state of the English language. He recounted the semantic disasters that United Nations translation machines caused when they tried to translate English idiomatic expressions into the Chinese language.

 He wrote that when the English idiom “out of sight, out of mind” was entered into the translation machine, it was (mis)translated into Chinese as “invisible, insane.”  (Other people reported that the idiom was mistranslated into other languages as “invisible idiot” and “blind and insane”). In everyday English, “out of sight” does indeed mean “invisible” or “blind,” and to be “out of one’s mind” means to be “insane.” Insane people can be, and often are, idiots. However, as an idiomatic expression, “out of sight, out of mind” expresses the “idea that something is easily forgotten or dismissed as unimportant if it is not in our direct view.”  That meaning was lost in translation.

 Lederer also recalled the semantic miscue that resulted from the attempt to translate the English idiom “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” into Chinese. The idiom was translated as “the wine is good but the meat is off” in Chinese. When it was translated into Russian, according to other sources, it came out as: “The vodka is good, but the meat is rotten”! 

 Those are of course grotesque distortions of the real meaning of the expression. This English idiom, which has origins in the Bible, is used to indicate that the weakness of the body, or a lack of strong resolve, has made the best of intentions impossible to execute. 

Rueben Abati’s interpretation of General Buhari’s “kare jini, biri jini” comment as a call to violence and an animalization of the Nigerian electorate is the most bizarre example of idiomatic mistranslation I’ve read, especially coming from someone who only a few months ago defended President Jonathan’s literal (perhaps unintended) endorsement of violence as a “metaphorical” expression.

 “Finally, we wish to make it known to Buhari that given his reference to ‘dogs and baboons’, perhaps his best course of action would be to travel to the zoo of his imagination because President Goodluck Jonathan was elected by human beings to preside over human beings and it is human beings who will determine what happens in Nigeria at any material time not ‘dogs and baboons’,” Abati wrote. This mistranslation of an age-old Hausa idiom is laughable in its ignorance and cluelessness.  

Translation, especially idiomatic translation, entails more than the substitution of lexical and grammatical items between languages. To be successful, it repudiates linguistic equivalence and embraces what professional linguists call stylistic or translational equivalence in order to achieve what translation scholar Anton Popović calls “expressive identity.”

Related Articles:
1. A Comparison of Nigerian, American and British English
2. Why is "Sentiment" Such a Bad Word in Nigeria?
3. Ambassador Aminchi's Impossible Grammatical Logic
4. 10 Most Annoying Nigerian Media English Expressions
5. Sambawa and "Peasant Attitude to Governance"
6. Adverbial and Adjectival Abuse in Nigerian English
7. In Defense of "Flashing" and Other Nigerianisms
8. Weird Words We're Wedded to in Nigerian English
9. American English or British English?
10. Hypercorrection in Nigerian English
11. Nigerianisms, Americanisms, Briticisms and Communication Breakdown
12. Top 10 Irritating Errors in American English
13. Nigerian Editors Killing Macebuh Twice with Bad Grammar
14. On "Metaphors" and "Puns" in Nigerian English
15. Common Errors of Pluralization in Nigerian English
16. Q & A About Common Grammatical Problems
17. Semantic Change and the Politics of English Pronunciation
55. The Arabic Origins of Common Yoruba Words

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Print-on-demand Book Scams and Nigerian Universities

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

The other day, a friend of mine on Facebook proudly announced that his master’s thesis had been published into a book by a German publishing company called Lambert Academic Publishing. Several people congratulated him. But I didn’t. I knew he had been scammed—and that he would in turn unwittingly scam the Nigerian university system where he works as a lecturer.

Since reading his self-congratulatory post, I have heard of scores of other Nigerian university teachers who have published “academic books” through Lambert and other such Euro-American publishing companies. Before this trend becomes an epidemic, I thought I should call attention to an emerging, borderline fraudulent publishing model called “print on demand.”

This is the way the model works. Author mills (that is, deceptive publishing houses that publish ANY work submitted to them) based in Europe and America use software to crawl the Internet (sometimes real people do the Web prowling) for any mention of “thesis” or “dissertation” on the Internet. The web crawler will identify the email addresses associated with the authors of the theses or dissertations and then send them an email using a standard email template that goes something like this:

“I am writing on behalf of an international publishing house, Lambert Academic Publishing.
In the course of a research on the … I came across a reference to your thesis on "...". We are an international publisher whose aim is to make academic research available to a wider audience.
LAP would be especially interested in publishing your dissertation in the form of a printed book.
Your reply including an e-mail address to which I can send an e-mail with further information in an attachment will be greatly appreciated. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,
Acquisition Editor
LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing AG & Co. KG
Dudweiler Landstraße 99, 66123 Saarbrücken Germany.”
I have received many variations of this email template at least five times in the past few years. If a person agrees to publish his/her dissertation or thesis with the company, the company will request that the manuscript be sent to them via email. Within six weeks, the book will be “out.” Of course, it will neither be peer-reviewed by experts in the field nor will it be proofread by a copy editor. So it comes out embarrassingly error-ridden. It’s garbage in, garbage out. As an American who submitted his manuscript to Lambert put it in a blog post, “it is very evident that no one at the publication house bothered to do any editing. There are multiple grammatical errors.”

In reality, the publishing house merely prepares a camera-ready copy of the manuscript, prints and mails a free author’s copy of the book, and waits for orders. The company makes money when the author’s friends and relations place an order for the book--or when the author purchases extra copies of the book to share with friends and family. Since they print only when an order is placed (thus the name “print on demand”), they lose nothing. I am told that authors from the Third World are required to pay for their author’s copy. 

The front- and back-page prototype of the book will be displayed on the publishing company’s website and on—and that’s it. You will never find the book in any bookstore or library. There is no media publicity for the book by the publisher, no advertising, no marketing, no distribution, and no critical reviews in academic or popular journals.

The author is promised royalties if the book sells a certain number of copies. Of course, no print-on-demand book sells enough copies for the author to earn any royalties.

Here is why Nigerian university administrators should be concerned about print-on-demand books. One, they do not go through any kind of review before they are published. In fact, many people have experimented with sending a farrago of mumbo jumbo to these publishing companies to see if they will be published. And, sure enough, they often get published. No manuscript sent to print-on-demand publishers is ever returned as unpublishable, however awfully it may have been written. As most people know, only peer-reviewed books can count toward promotion in academia. 

Two, they have limited or no materiality. By this I mean that there are usually no more than a few copies of the “books” in circulation. That means they add nothing to the disciplinary conversations of their areas since they can’t be found in libraries and bookstores. In other words, they are basically worthless.

Third, our people have been brainwashed into thinking that anything published in the West must be of high quality. People may innocently think Lambert is a legitimate academic press because it has a German address. Before you know it, many people will be promoted to professors based purely on fraudulent books they publish with the company, which American writer Victoria Strauss aptly called "an academic author mill". That would be unfair to people who struggle against all odds to produce high-quality scholarship. 

Many countries are waking up to the academic fraud that print-on-demand books are. The Australian Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC), for instance, has blacklisted books published by Lambert Academic Publishing. The Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) has a responsibility to do the same.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Boko Haram, Privatized Governance, and Poverty

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

A few people who read my column two weeks ago thought that, in condemning the emerging tendency in the north to inadvertently shield Boko Haram from responsibility for its senseless mass murder of innocents, I failed to appreciate the increasing complexity of Boko Haram’s identity. 

They point out that instances of the arrest of non-Muslims who attempted to blow up churches or who sent threatening text messages to embassies in Nigeria were sufficient proofs that the suspicion that Boko Haram isn’t all that it has been cracked up to be isn’t groundless.

People who made this argument clearly didn’t read my January 7, 2012 article titled “Boko Haram as an Empty Signifier.” In that article, I wrote: “But it can’t be denied that the current popular conceptions of Boko Haram are not exactly consistent with the original identity of the group. Boko Haram has now transmogrified into a catch-all devil term for any and every violent deed in (northern) Nigeria. When robbers dress in stereotypical northern Nigerian Muslim robes and utter “Allahu Akbar!” before dispossessing their victims, they are ‘Boko Haram’ members. Any church that goes up in flames in any part of Nigeria is invariably attributed to Boko Haram. The Christian man who was caught attempting to burn a church in President Jonathan’s home state of Bayelsa while dressed in traditional northern Nigerian attires would have been dubbed a Boko Haram member had he succeeded.”
Abubakar Shekau, Boko Hara, leader
So I am not unmindful of the fact that Boko Haram has now become a franchise, or that it has been indiscriminately invoked to account for many acts of violence it has no knowledge of.  But what I was cautioning against is the growing inclination to get caught up in conspiracy theories to the point of (unwittingly) exculpating the actual, provable mass murders of people by Boko Haram in the name of Islam.

These people grant interviews and even videotape their murders. They recite Quranic verses to justify their reprehensible acts, and sometimes even give warnings of their attacks, etc. Yet some people ignore all that and fixate on instances of non-Muslims caught trying to impersonate Boko Haram. 

In my article, I was inviting us to acknowledge the common threat that faces us all and to strategize on how to contain it. I recognize that it's way cheaper and more convenient to spurn conspiracy theories than to confront uncomfortable truths. But if people can’t, for safety or whatever reasons, condemn Boko Haram, they should at least not give them undeserved comfort by exonerating them when they are clearly the authors of naked violence against innocents.

Again, while I do not have any evidence to absolve the Jonathan government of complicity in Boko Haram’s rising sophistication, I think the government is more incompetent than complicit. It is my deep frustration with the government’s crying ineptitude that compelled me to advocate the privatization of the governance of the Nigerian state.

Of course, my suggestion was made tongue-in-cheek. I know enough to know to that that isn’t even in the realm of possibilities. However, anybody who cherishes the illusion that Nigeria has any sovereignty should read the WikiLeaks cables on Nigerian leaders. They literally take directives on state policies from Western embassies. The only thing they do without consulting their “masters” is the looting of our national treasury. 

The World Bank and the IMF, in fact, have offices in the Presidential Villa. What more is left of our so-called sovereignty? So my point was: if it were really possible to truly privatize governance, we might as well explore that option and stop this mass self-deception that we are independent. 

Democracy has failed us miserably because it can’t even guarantee something as basic as the right to vote out bad leadership; “elections” in Nigeria are routinely won even before they have a chance to take place. And a revolutionary overhaul of the country, while attractive, isn’t practicable. It is the seeming lack of options to get us out of our present morass that compelled me to say in frustration that we should probably hand over governance of our country to whoever in the world can get the country to work. Some people understood me as advocating the re-colonization of Nigeria. No, that was not what I had in mind, although I know it makes no difference to many Nigerians who is ruling them so long as the country WORKS, so long as they can go to sleep every day with their eyes closed.

Some people also thought I minimized the primacy of poverty as an explanatory framework to understand Boko Haram’s violence. My point, however, was that while poverty does indeed contribute to extremism, it alone doesn’t render people vulnerable to manipulation if they weren't predisposed to violence in the first place. A lot of us grew up in poverty, but we would never go kill other people because someone gave us money to do so. Economic status isn't a predictor of predisposition to violence. Boko Haram's original members, after all, were children of big shots in the northeast. A lot of them were undergraduates who terminated their studentship to join Boko Haram. 

I think blaming poverty for violence in the north is so well-worn. It is also bourgeois condescension. It assumes that poor people are unthinking automatons who can be made to go kill people against their wishes. No, poverty doesn’t make people brainless homicidal thugs; indoctrination does. There is no intrinsic relationship between poverty and murderous violence. If poverty alone were the driving force of violence, the world would be extinct by now because the great majority of the world’s population is poor, desperately poor.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Arabic Origins of Common Yoruba Words

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

I am taking a break from English grammar this week to discuss a fascinating 22-page article I read on the Arabic roots of many contemporary Yoruba words. Titled “On Arabic Loans in Yoruba,” it was written by Professor Sergio Baldi, a well-regarded Italian linguist, who presented it at the Annual Conference on African Linguistics in California, USA, in March 1995.

The article lists scores of common Yoruba words that are derived from Arabic sometimes by way of Hausa, at other times by way of Songhai (Zarma and Dendi languages in present-day Niger, Mali, and Benin republics are examples of Songhai languages), and occasionally directly from Arabic. (To read the full article, click here).  

In this essay, I isolate only words that, from my modest knowledge of Yoruba, enjoy widespread usage and that are not limited to the vernacular of Yoruba Muslims. It is noteworthy that different versions of many of the words below are also used widely in Hausa, Kanuri, Igala, Ebira, Batonu, Nupe, and many Niger-Congo languages in northern and central Nigeria. In fact, “wahala,” a common Nigerian Pidgin English word, has Arabic origins, as you will see shortly.

1. Abere. This Yoruba word for “needle” traces its etymology to the Arabic “ai-bra,” which also means needle.

2. Adura. This is the Yoruba word for prayers. In fact, there is a popular syncretic Christian sect in Yorubaland that goes by the name “aladura,” meaning “people who pray” or “praying people.” Many other northern and central Nigerian languages have some version of this word to denote prayers. It is derived from the Arabic “du’a,” which also means prayers.

3. Alubosa. This Yoruba word for “onion” was borrowed from the Hausa “albasa,” which in turn borrowed it from the Arabic “al-basal.”

4. Alufa/Alfa. This is a widely used word for a Muslim scholar (and occasionally any Muslim) not just in Yorubaland but in Nupeland, Borgu, Igalaland, Ebiraland, etc. It is now increasingly used by Yoruba Muslim women as a term of respect for their husbands. 

Surprisingly, the word is absent in the Hausa language. It came as no surprise therefore when Professor Baldi suggested that the word came to the Yoruba language—and many other central Nigerian languages—through the Songhai. It is derived from the Arabic “khalifah,” which means a “successor” or a “representative” (of the prophet of Islam). It was first corrupted to “Alfa” by the Songhai who later exported their version of the word to western and central Nigeria—and to other parts of West Africa. Many Songhai were itinerant Islamic preachers who traveled all over West Africa.

5. Atele/itele.  It means “following” in Yoruba, and it is derived from “at-talin,” which also means “following” in Arabic.

6. Amodi. It means “disease” in Yoruba and is derived from “al-marad,” the Arabic word for disease.

7. “Amo.” It is a conjunction in Yoruba, which performs the same function that the word “but” performs in English; it introduces contrast. It is rendered as “amma” in Hausa, which is the way it is rendered in its original Arabic form.

8. Anfani. This Yoruba word for “utility” or “importance” also occurs in Hausa, Batonu, and many northern and central Nigerian languages. It is derived from the Arabic “naf,” which means “advantage, profit.”

9. Ara/ apaara. The word means "thunder" in Yoruba, and is derived from the Arabic “ar-ra’d.”

10. Asiri. It means “secret” in Yoruba, Hausa, and in many other Nigerian languages. It is derived from the Arabic “as-sirr” where it also means “secret.”

11. Barika. This is the Yoruba word for “congratulations.” It is rendered as “barka” in Hausa. The word’s original Arabic form is “al-baraka,” which means “greetings.”

12. Borokinni. It means a “gentleman, respected man in a secure financial position.” The word is also found in many Borgu languages, such as Batonu and Bokobaru, where “boro” means a “friend.”  It is derived from the Arabic “rukn,” which means “support, corner, basic element.”

13. Faari. It means “showing off” or “boastfulness” or “ostentatious display” in Yoruba. It has the same meaning in many Borgu languages. It is derived from the Arabic “fakhr,” which means “glory, pride, honor.” (Note that “kh” is a guttural sound in Arabic, which is close to a hard “h” in English. That sound was dropped by Nigerian languages).

14. Fitila. It means any kind of lamp. Its roots are located in the Arabic word for lamp, which is “fatil.”

15. Ijamba. Professor Baldi defines this word as “bodily harm,” but the meaning of the word I’m familiar with is one that associates it with cunning, cheating, deceit. It is derived from the Arabic “danb,” or “danba,” which means “sin, crime.” (Note that Arabic frequently dispenses with end vowels (that is, a, e, i, o, and u) in words, whereas many Nigerian languages almost always end words with a vowel—and add them to words they borrow from other languages if such words lack an end vowel).

16. Imale. This is the Yoruba word for “Muslim.” I read previous interpretations of this word from Yoruba scholars who say it is Yoruba for “that which is difficult” to underscore the difficulty of Islamic practices like praying five times a day, fasting for 30 days during Ramadan, etc. Other Yoruba scholars said the word initially denoted “people from Mali” since the Songhai people who Islamized Yoruba land in the 15th century were from Mali. 

But Baldi argues that “imale” is the corruption of the Arabic “Mu’alim,” which means a teacher.  In the Hausa language, the word is rendered as Maalam. It’s interesting that “Mallam” has become the synonym for Hausa (or northern) Muslim in southern Nigeria.

17. Iwaju. It’s the Yoruba word for “front part.” I didn’t imagine that this word had an Arabic origin until I read Baldi’s article.  It is derived from the Arabic “al-wajh,” which means “front” or “face.”

18. Iwaasu. It is the Yoruba term for “preaching” or “sermon.” It is used by both Christians and Muslims in Yorubaland, and is derived from the Arabic “waz,” which means “admonition” or “sermon.” (The Yoruba language has no “z” sound, so it substitutes “z” with “s” when it borrows words from other languages with “z” sounds).

19. Suuru. It means “patience” not only in Yoruba but in many languages in central and northern Nigeria. It is derived from the Arabic “sabr,” which also means “patience.”

20. Talaka. It means the poor. It came to Yoruba by way of Hausa, which borrowed it from the Tuareg (where it is rendered as "taleqque" and where it means “a poor woman”).  It’s also used in Mandingo, Songhai languages, Kanuri, Teda, and many West African languages. Baldi says this word has no Arabic origins. On the surface, this may be true. After all, the Arabic word for a poor person is “fakir” (plural: “fuqura”).

 However, “talaq,” as most Muslims know, is the Arabic word for divorce. (The chapter of the Qur'an that deals with the subject of divorce is called Suratul Talaq). Talaq is derived from the verb “talaqa,” which means to “disown,” to “repudiate.” In times past (and it’s still the case today in many Muslim societies) if a woman was divorced, she was invariably thrown into poverty. Thus, Tuaregs used the term “taleqque” to denote a “poor woman.” But Hausa, Kanuri, Yoruba, Mandingo, and other West African languages expanded the original Tuareg meaning of the word to include every poor person. This is my theory.

21. Tobi. This Yoruba word for “women’s knickers” is derived from the Arabic “taub,” which means “garment,” “dress,” “cloth.” Another tonal variation of this word leads to a different Yoruba word, which means “big.”

22. Wahala. Well, this isn’t just a Yoruba word by way of Hausa; it’s made its way into most Nigerian languages—and into West African Pidgin English. It means “trouble,” and it’s derived from the Arabic “wahla,” which means “fright,” “terror.”

Someone called my attention to the fact that "alafia," which also appears in the greetings of many northern and central Nigerian languages (and which is rendered as "lafia" in Hausa) is also derived from the Arabic "afiya," which means "health."


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2. Why is "Sentiment" Such a Bad Word in Nigeria?
3. Ambassador Aminchi's Impossible Grammatical Logic
4. 10 Most Annoying Nigerian Media English Expressions
5. Sambawa and "Peasant Attitude to Governance"
6. Adverbial and Adjectival Abuse in Nigerian English
7. In Defense of "Flashing" and Other Nigerianisms
8. Weird Words We're Wedded to in Nigerian English
9. American English or British English?
10. Hypercorrection in Nigerian English
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13. Nigerian Editors Killing Macebuh Twice with Bad Grammar
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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Re: Somaliazation of Nigeria and Imperative of Privatized Governance

Last week’s article with the abovetitle elicited more responses than I have I have space to publish them in weeks. Below is a representative sample of the responses. Next week I will respond to some of the issues raised here.

"A Modest Proposal" for our times? I fear that BH is the logical culmination of the long-term process in which the boundaries between state and private violence have blurred, with religious fanaticism serving as an excuse for BH's evil. I may be too romantic, but my hope is in a civil society refreshed by the organizing power of social media. There's so much decency and vision for a hopeful future for Nigeria online. Instead of Occupy Nigeria, maybe phase 2 is Take Back Nigeria?
Steve Pierce, Manchester, UK

Very objective write up, Farooq! Interesting theory, but I am not certain if "privatized governance" is the answer though. Nigerian problems need to be tackled by Nigerians. We need to address the root causes of religious extremism in our northern communities - too many gullible uneducated kids on the street, lack of economic and educational opportunities and a leadership that is more interested in self-aggrandizement than in serving the citizenry.
Muktar Aliyu, Nashville, USA

Just read your column and honestly I agree with you 100%. We Muslims have been living in self-denial about the reality of the existence of some murderous extremists by the name of B.H. I just wonder why this same theory of conspiracy is not being used by these groups of northerners to exonerate MEND. Unfortunately, our Government at all levels has left us to our own fate while they spend millions on security.
Shehu Muhammad

The problem with many of you that are [members of the] intelligentsia is that you listen to yourself and yourself alone. Our experience with BH is not something to be explained by mere Islamic extremism. We have experienced religious violence in Nigeria as a result of religion extremism but none has been sophisticated, deepening, and articulated like BH's. If there is no direct conspiracy from Government it could be indirect. For instance, Kabiru Sokoto was arrested, he escaped and later re-arrested by the same government security agency. When he was re-arrested pressmen were not allowed to talk to him. When the Kaduna media houses were bombed the citizens, and not the security, arrested the would-be bomber and handed him over to police, yet the IGP says the fellow will not be paraded when the public wants him to be paraded in order to be educated on the outlook of a bomber so that we can make more arrest. Despite all the arrests made in connection with BH none has been successfully prosecuted. With all of these evidences and more you still want us to believe that the present government is not conspiring against us. 
Bello Kamal

I'd like to give you the benefit of the doubt as per your research on this thorny issue of BH. You may be reading some of the happenings online but we that are experiencing them first-hand have all agreed to the fact that the whole phenomenon is fuelled 80 to 90 percent by saboteurs.

Agreed the real BH could get training and expertise from AQIM, but it is inconceivable that the level of intelligence with which they strike and inflict damages on their targets and their sophistication of weaponry as well as the degree with which they elude our security personnel is independent from a strong support and finance from a sympathizer who has connections from the top of govt.

We also believe that no sane Muslim or northerner would inflict such pain on his brethren. You must have been aware of the accusations by the NSA, as well as the overtaking of our security intelligence outfit by the Israelis. No conspiracies make your analysis and deductive conclusions.
Please accept my condolences on your lecturers' demise.
Ali Baba

My feelings were reflected in your piece, and I must say you always have an intelligent way of explaining and hitting the nail on the head. Oh boy, did I cry when I heard of the BUK attack! I sat in the same class as Prof Ayodele for the best part of 2 years during my undergrad studies, as he would jokingly teach analytical chemistry to us in Hausa language! One of my best professors he was. Oh Nigeria, my Nigeria...I have three Hausa words for our leaders: ALLAH YA ISA!
Aisha Hassan,
Ajou University.
South Korea.

After reading the great piece, my first reaction was: if only every bloody northerner thinks like Farooq, Nigeria would be such a great place. Maybe, it could even realize the vision of the independence or emancipation generation. Then I became disappointed after the insertion of the newfangled notion of commercialization of governance, which is bringing colonialism by the back door to Nigeria. The disappointment is I thought it is only kolanut-chewing kindred like me who harbour such base primordial thinking. At least, that is what the nationalist generation taught me.... I rest my case sir,
Nasiru Suwaid

Nigeria has already been privatized with leaders and elite that cannot make decisions domestically. Have you forgotten that we are ruled by the White House and financial (western) institutions? Nigeria is moving to a failed state but time shall tell.
Sadiq Ibrahim, Jos

I prefer a more holistic theory developed via listening to both Boko Haram and our Commander In-chief (and Mr Azazi of course). The extremist religious ideology plus poverty may provide the willing suicide bombers. The funds and logistical support needed to sustain the insurgency may come from disgruntled politicians with an agenda of their own. While the religious component is undeniable, there are a lot of signs that the political component also plays significant role and it may even be the decisive factor in ending the menace.
Musa Bashir

I quite agree that the situation has been allowed to go out of hand. But generalizing every attack to BH group is erroneous going by incidences of attacks in Bauchi, Jalingo and of recent Potiskum, so we should be analyzing each of the attacks individually before making generalizations.
Mahmud Sani

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