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I choose to view Governor Yari’s statement that God is punishing his people for their sins – especially of fornication – by killing hordes of them (including children), with cerebrospinal meningitis, a little differently. I actually support him.
50% of the way. I support his admonition against fornication – and perhaps adultery and total moral decadence. But I know for a fact that many hot parts of Nigeria usually suffer series of cerebrospinal meningitis attacks at the tail end of the dry season especially when the rain delays.
I believe the disease is enhanced by heat, so imagine the millions of poor homes with no electricity, no fan and definitely no air-conditioning in his Zamfara State.
This is largely a poverty-related disease. It is also not a new phenomenon. Pfizer’s illegal experiments in Kano in 1996, was premised on finding a vaccine for this ailment.
Now let’s unpack the Yari statement. First, I was surprised. Yari is not an ordinary governor. He is the chairman of the Governors’ Forum. One may assume that the governors elevated to lead other governors must be somehow outstanding but maybe not. But his intelligence or lack of it is not my issue. I was more surprised that a problem such as ‘fornication’ is coming out of Nigeria’s shariah capital; Zamfara State.
Now Zamfara is one state many people I know dread to go. Those who travel to the north of Nigeria would, however, tell you that there is nothing to be afraid of. Northern Nigerians are some of the warmest people you could ever meet. Living among them could be a delight and most of the crisis there happen in the poorest places but for those who are affected, they have terrible stories to tell. Again, the religious and ethnic crisis in Nigeria is almost entirely poverty fuelled or induced.
There came a certain Governor Yerima in the Obasanjo days. The bearded fellow (I saw that he had cut the beards and is looking ‘modern’ these days, just when I started to grow some), saw a vision that all that was required to solve his people’s problems was for them to ‘move closer to God’.
And so he declared that the state will be governed by Islamic Law. People panicked. Obasanjo felt affronted but quickly decided that it was ‘political shariah’. The world press went into a frenzy. They would later tie that event with the commencement of our worst nightmare; Boko Haram, because somehow it is easy to link choosing to be strictly governed by Islamic laws and refusing to attend the oyibo man’s school or acquiring his ‘soul-contaminating’ knowledge.
This is despite the fact that almost everyone on planet earth today relies on this knowledge, or more importantly, that the Islamic Civilization which succeeded the Ottoman Empire around the 16th Century, is very instrumental to the intellectual renaissance of mankind which has transmuted today to what is called “the white man’s science”. In other words, there is nothing ‘haram’ about most of today’s science, and certainly very little if anything is anti-shariah or Islamic law about it because Muslims are right at the base of its development.
To get the story right, the Ottoman Empire succeeded the Byzantine Empire (otherwise called the Eastern Roman Empire) and headquartered in Constantinople (today’s Istanbul). The Byzantine era was one of waste and decadence, drawing the attention of the Crusaders who were Christians and who believed that man should be solely guided by the Holy Books (their own version), and the need to cleanse the earth by force by fire.
They captured the Byzantines and proceeded to install their own Empire which also fell under the same vices of wine, fornication (oops that word again), and the desire for gold, thereby completing another cycle of boom and bust. The Crusaders had however banished science and outlawed the intellectual achievements of the Greeks and Romans (remember Torquemada), which were only later restored in the Islamic Era, translated into Arabic and preserved in a way that the British Empire were able to build upon the bodies of knowledge.
Before then, as early as the 8th Century in today’s Baghdad, Iraq, a Khalifa, Abu Ja’far Al-Ma’mun, had taken great interest in science and studied the great works of the ancient kingdoms, causing a great scientific revolution. The international language of science was Arabic for more than 700 years, it could be argued. When the USA attacked Baghdad in search of non-existent weapons of mass destruction, I had a feeling they were after the history.