Monday, May 2, 2011
A Life of Dirt
Jigawa Dirt Sentence
I have lived in this new world now for close to 9months, visited a whole lot of places within and sometimes without , i have learned a lot of new things about the people’s culture and tradition and experienced the northern end of Nigeria from a whole new angle from what i have always been made to believe, my experience as changed my perspectives, informed my assumptions and filled me with a whole new knowledge base about the people and way things really are out here in northern Nigeria so to say. I have seen a lot of things happen upside down out here, unimaginable situations, beliefs, orientations and perspectives that has created the most inundated, upturned minds I have ever seen, isolating the people from realities of life, crooking there personality and worst of all leaving them with a baffling and demeaning “dirt culture” that as left me mouth agape since I stepped into Jigawa state. I could never have imagined that there are a people living in so much dirt, caused by self and cursed by attitude to dwell in it with pride, a people so bordered by nothing, lying around in awkward laziness while disease and dirt eat out there destiny, rejecting help on the ground of religion that has eaten up their culture, leaving them with tattered cloths and begging bowls, MP’s with round face and belly and politicians in flowing guinea regalia.
Oh! You think my Lagos is or was dirty? At no point or any level was Lagos like this before, any comparison at all will put over populated Lagos in the place of paradise while this Jigawa will be a part of hell where there is no fire (just imagine that kind of place), and a place like Kaduna will be heaven itself (that spot is tight oh!). KD is a northern state, central for all I care but it’s cleaner than you think, and Jigawa state is just dirt ridden. No wonder they have all kind of diseases as an obvious part of their everyday life. Blindness, leprosy, high mortality rate, cholera, polio and even a recent outbreak of meningitis and polio in Biriniwa was being covered up by some crazy politicians obviously because they were supposed to have spent millions of naira on vaccinations, but the problem is not the vaccination but the people that are being vaccinated, their minds have been nurtured to stay low and down in dirt. What do you make of a man that cannot think for himself or a woman who probably does not know beyond the first name of his husband? The Jigawa society breeds a people that are not capable of thinking at any level at all, and they are proud about it. Thinking is the business of the chief Imam, politicians and emirs, their duty is to lounge in dirt and wait for instruction and that is dirt. JG is just a dump of every kind of dirt you can imagine, no dumpster, dump truck, or incinerator to haul or burn it down; maybe they need the Sumerian “Dumuzi” to help cleanse the land.
Everywhere you turn to is filled with dirt, nylons, paper, stagnant water, living and dead dirts. From Gummel to Ringim, Hadejia to Dutse, I am not sure about Kazaure but wherever this is obvious human presence in this arid Sudan savannah vegetation, there is an unimaginable, disproportional level of dirt. I live in Hadejia where there are so many people, the residential and most populated part of the state, the soil does not absorb water and there is no visible drainage in the anywhere except the areas surrounding the Emir’s palace and some part of GRA. Where gutters exist in the GRA they are blocked with dirt and even at some points turned to dumps for burning refused. A good example of such dumb is the frontage of the SSG’s house in the GRA, the gutters are totally blocked out and still he sits there most evening with his older versions of Almajeris, gisting and chating away into the night.
So you think there are mosquitoes in Ebute-Meta? Thank God I am immune to malaria, but for those that are not, it’s been war unending. Mosquitoes breed here not just in stagnant but in dirt too, since there are no real outlets for water to flow, mosquitoes breed easily and reign supreme. Nettings are nothing compared to the might of the contenders we deal with. Sometimes I feel like closing my eyes when I ride through town because it’s filled with lazy ass blokes lying around on mats wasting in tattered clothes, they just lie there like trash in a garbage can, watching the sun rise and set with bowls of food trading places like players on a chess board. Imagine that all a man does every day is watch life unfold without adding a single flip to it on the excuse that it is destiny that has kept him on a mat, just like a sick, abandoned dog waiting to die; very funny you would say.
This is definitely more like a curse because to be neat here is like carrying a false identity. It takes being a politician or elites in the society to bath and adorn you in neat clothes; to look presentable is to either be a VIP or a stranger. It is very easy for you to identify a non-indigene, most especially among the male folks because they always look neat and different even when clad in local attires. With the exception of a large chunk of females, especially in the urban areas, neatness is a crime they hardly commit. Sometimes you see them in full dashiki or agbada mode and you go wow, this is nice, please go a step closer and you will discover that the big regalia is heavy with such dirt that you will want to strip it of the owner and burn it up because of the risk involved putting on such a dirty attire. Sometimes i wonder how they breathe in this dirty gabs, I just keep wondering how they live so comfortably in such great dirt in, out and all around. I have never imagined a people could live so gloriously in dirt before in my life and my crazy assumption is that it is a Jigawa thing.
It’s not just here in Hadejia, the dirt syndrome is the same everywhere have visited in Jigawa state, even in Dutse that is the heart of the matter, and dirt thrive at the most unbelievable level. Apart from the main section of town that carries the state presence, it’s either living or dead dirt in all direction, except areas populated by youth corpers with a mix of non-indigenes in it. I just wonder how this people developed such an outrageous dirt culture, who gave the verdict for such a life of dirt. My three weeks sojourn in Fandum, a ward under Kiri Kasama local government during the INEC voters registration process gave me a wow experience of “living in dirt”. Imagine a whole village without a single broom in it, a place where people just kick the dirt to the corner with bare foot. By virtue of the cold harmattan during my time of visit, people don’t even bother to bath or change their clothing. It takes divine intervention to breathe when work starts everyday with the men and even gets worst when the women start coming out with their kids for the registration thing, the flies double and the atmosphere become so odious from their great body dirt. They are more like zombies with different shades of eye pencil and at least two colours of lipstick on their lips, smelling like carcasses and corps that had been abandoned to putrefaction without burial. Even when they bath because some of the women do for reasons i can’t remember the stench is still not driven away, and for the men, it’s just a change of gab from one dirty old to a filthy new one with a cap that defines a new day, with the exception of Fridays or probably wedding ceremonies that happens every week, wallowing in dirt is just super cool here.
Did I hear you say its poverty? Nah, this is more like a culture that has been given full embrace edged out of profound laziness that I dubbed “Mumu Virus” and passed down from one generation to the next. How do you define the life of a man that wakes up in the morning and transfer is sleeping mat from inside the house to outside, standing up to pray when it’s time or eat or a bowl of food arrives from one of his many wives hidden inside the mud walls of his quarters? His source is the politician next door and the other one down the street, and he’s not the only one, even his neighbour next door is surviving on the benevolence of one Alhaji or the other. When called to work, they tell you sadaka (alms) will be good enough and even for those that are farmers, it’s an excuse for living in abject dirt. For those that engage in other works of life beyond farming, there is always an excuse for a dirty life style and the very selected few, the elites so to say are bags of dirt going around in fine guinea brocades, feeding the mind of their people with demeaning information that take them down, give them no value and leave them all down in the dirt. Believe me, everywhere in Jigawa is like the Iwaya, Oyingbo and Ajegunle of old in Lagos, something must be done to give it a new identity.
It looks beyond repair but I know God will, we fast and pray and we know heaven will someday send a redeemer in the form of a leader that will awaken the people of this end of Nigeria called Jigawa from this slumber of dirt and death. Chikena! Ina Sonku jama’ar Jigawa.
They must find it difficult....
Those who have taken authority as the truth
Rather than truth as authority
The only people you see moving around with the will to see the next moon are the almajeris, in their glorious rags they cuddle their precious begging bowl, stopping at every door post to beg for alms with a hoarse song on their lips. They have parents but they’ve been donated to an Alfa for keeps in the name of Islamic studies, they beg from morning till late at night in tattered clothes, only to return to home, deliver to the master, screaming on the top of their voices, eating only when there is bread to be broken and sleep half naked inside and outside the Alfa’s mosque, encamping around lighted hays for heat only to wake up in the morning to continue with the routine like slaves without shackles or masters whip behind their back, but grave fetters and trammel on their mind soul and being. Trained and tamed to live in dirt and feed like rug rats with the mind of slaves. Their clothes are tattered, hair filled with lice and ring worms, legs are never without a sore with bodies bearing nothing but dirt and scars of their daily life. Hands in hands they go around, with nothing but crumbs and love to share, living a life ridden in dirt.
They are like jinn’s in lamps with no Aladdin to rub their souls to freedom, and like Aladdin with a lamp to rub but no jinni coming out because the lamp as already been robbed off its jinni by princes of the land.
All around you see them, men in their prime wasting in wait for what the instructions to roll down from the top, men devoid of the ability to think on their own because they’ve been thought before conception that it’s not their duty to think at all, right from their fathers loin. Denied of self value even before they knew the sun, and yet they gather to sing the praise of the man that has through cunning device from generation before, made them less than human, living them in existence and consciously denying them the right to live but rather leaving them in the planes of breathing and locomoting without self defined reason for their next breathe but agility to reserve the next word from the breathe of the master. The kings (Emirs), the king makers, the elites and chiefs, and more recently the politicians, a minuscule decimal the masters of the north, all driving the people like drones with horse whips and religion, in the valley of power, heavily laden with denial and yet these people live with no desires of their own but the will of the master to live and die for, they die in pain, penury and abject denial of the things they labour for while the master grows round and round in unimaginable pleasure on the lots of the people. No hope for a messiah because their intellectual domain is not capable of brewing a single thought beyond what the master says must be done. No liberty in sight because to them, their minds of slave and living denied is the right pattern of life. To them the world is wrong and their world is right, the master must live in luxury from their spoils while they must continue to live in poverty, diseases, death, dearth and decay.
Religion is the tool of denial in the hand of the master; with it he has eaten the culture and tradition of the people away, using their desire for a touch of the supreme as a mantra for making them a perfect mind slave. His demesne increase while their misery increases, but still they see no reason because their minds has been shackled beyond the bangles they wear in obeisance of this master they revere.
The women have been forged for generations to believe that they are worth less than a bag of corn, like scum, the only place they see life is in the loins of a man. Their life starts from 13 years old and ends at thirty, the prime of their sexual age. So brightly painted in indigo, red and black, layers of pancake and heavily reddened lips on torque, led and pencils in place of eye lid and lashes, they go around heavily laden in veils, with just one thought in their head “to be the wife of one man, irrespective of the number of wives he has already”, to live behind the clay walls of his dwelling as burdens, and moan under the breathe of his manliness with many children to show for it. Whether they live or die is not her deal, almajeri’s or others a choice she’s less concerned about as long as her womanhood as been proven, her task is done and life is not worth more. To her, life is worth even less than a dragon’s breathe, if it is not spent under the breathe of a man.
I thought the joy of a mother should be in the child come to something in life; here it is different because it is just about giving the child a life. Hardly a woman in puberty here that is without a child, hardly a man who’s house is in draught of women but the children are just made and not moulded, they are ejected to create space for another and eschewed from the time they know their names. Only the slave master as a child to carry on the plantation and nurture them in their old age, here in the north, where men live in the joy of slavery, with women as baby factories valued only in the days of their prowess in pleasure quest, each child is a potential prince of the Almajeri kingdom, given away in the name of religion, in bidding to the instruction of the master that as clearly stated that “destiny is life, it’s all about living and dying and nothing beyond the gates of existence“. He lives in glamour, savouring the pleasure and sweet taste of every moment of life that is borne from the sweat and blood of the people (his people so to say) while he doles out instruction and dictates that mar them, leaving the without the ability to think or reason, through the hands religion, the very soul of the people.
A Life of Dirt