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then began to combine classic rock and blues, mixing them with the mystical music and poetry of Islamic Sufism, to form a blend of what he calls “Sufi rock”. Under threats from the military regime of General
Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, Ahmad went underground. To
for his “de-secularisation efforts and stern opposition to Western culture.” To the world out there, however, Zia-ul-Haq was authoritarian, especially in his press censorship, religious intolerance and weakening of Pakistani democracy. Ahmad subsequently became a celebrated rock star and his songs, a
representation of a progressive Pakistan. As he wrote in his biography, Rock and Roll Jihad, it became a life struggle for him
Popular Nigerian-American singer, David Adeleke, last week had a brush with his own ‘Pakistani’ fanatics as he provoked the intolerance of Muslim youths. For his temerity at sharing the musical video of an act on his label for the song titled “Jaye lo” on his social media handles, received an almost instant upbraiding of his person and music. A Muslim group even set his posters ablaze in show its anger. Davido had misrepresented Islam as the preoccupation of sybarites, they alleged. The “Jaye lo” video had backup singers dressed as Muslim faithful, in white flowing apparel and cap. All of a sudden, the group transmuted into hip-hop music dancers. Davido’s protege who sang the song, Logos Olori sat on top of a building that looked like the roof of a mosque, complete with a loudspeaker, in the manner of a muezzin making a prayer call.
The video immediately sparked outrage and divided opinions.
How dare Davido and his record label drag the holy religion into such mundane, pleasure-seeking, profane ritual? For those outraged, by such representation, Davido seemed to be painting Islam with
a pagan imagery of carnality.
The same week, at the
Brisbane Stadium in Australia,
while Nigerians momentarily forgot the harrowing pain inflicted on them by their new rulers and were wrapped up in celebration of the country’s win in the women’s World Cup football event, the “prompting of the Devil” debate returned at full throttle. Apparently overtly animated by her
maverick shot that
netted a third goal for Nigeria against Australia,
Super Falcons’ Asisat Oshoala pulled off her shirt, leaving almost her lingerie.
The Oshoala celebratory pull of shirt has since provoked a huge hoopla.
Social media went abuzz with back-and-forth conversations around the act. Photos of Oshoala, a Muslim, praying and wrapped in the Islamic Hijab sprung up. She was not only exposed to sexualising diatribes, Muslims weaponised the demands of their religion to cast her in the mould of an infidel.
the music’s Arabic ancestry manifested in its traditional percussion instruments, which were very implicit. Abibu Oluwa, who pioneered
in the 1930s; Jibowu Barrister of
Haruna Ishola of Apala and all who came immediately after them faced critics who claimed that they were polluting the Islamic faith with their songs. This necessitated a defence made into a track in the early career song of Ayinla Omowura that alcohol, and not music, is what pollutes Islam, because even Arabs who lived in Mecca, Ayinla sang, are involved in music. He sang: “
Gaye’s career in music and was more resentful that Gaye was closer to his mother Alberta, especially when the musician became the breadwinner of the family. Marvin’s highly successful but sexually explicit “Sexual Healing” track, from the album, Midnight Love, further drove a wedge between father and son. How could the son of a Minister sing such song?
Over the centuries, Islamic scholars have debated the propriety of music in religion.
the burning of the Qu’ran and, in a lesser degree of bile, reactions to the burning of the Bible. When far-right politician, Islamphobic Rasmus Paludan, burnt the Qu’ran in Sweden on 21 January, a floodgate of reactions was opened. About two weeks before this in
Stockholm, police claimed they authorised a protest by a man who wanted to burn the Torah and the Bible outside the Israeli Embassy. He said it was a response to the Quran-burning outside a Stockholm mosque earlier by an Iraqi immigrant.
Were these two Qu’ran and Bible-burning exercises of freedom of expression? Did the culprits, in the process, infringe on the harm principle? The
harm principle holds that actions of individuals should be limited only to preventing harm to other individuals. So, what harm is inflicted on a Christian or Muslim if the Qu’ran or the Bible is burnt?
Why are they bothered by outward appearances that do not endure, at the expense of the more enduring subject of the soul and humanity?
The defence by religionists is that burning those religious texts is deeply offensive and incites violence or hatred against some individuals or groups. Why can’t the Bible and Quran burning incidents be seen as freedom of expression? Why must religionists go violent because a non-living object has been burnt but, in the same vein, see it as the wish of God when a human being is murdered? Does burning of a religious text, in any way, de-masculinise the religion? It has often been said that Muslims see the Qu’ran as not just a book, but a sacred text which holds great spiritual and religious significance and a symbol of the Islamic faith. Its burning is then seen as a visceral attack and insult on Allah, as well as a desecration of Islam. If that is the case, why don’t we leave the all-powerful God to avenge infidels who desecrate the text? Is the God/god of a religion worthy of being worshipped if we have to fight for him?
In Nigeria, so many people have been killed by fanatics on the pretext of fighting for God. Gideon Akaluka was beheaded in Kano
in 1995 by a group of nine Wahabists
. A man who eventually rose to the zenith of Nigerian banking was even alleged to be part of the conspiracy. In May last year,
Deborah Yakubu, a Home Economics sophomore at the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto, was gruesomely murdered for having “blasphemed” against Islam and Prophet Muhammed through a voice note on a WhatsApp group she left in response to another student’s post on Islam. She was forcibly pulled out of a room and her student colleagues repeatedly bayoneted her with stones and clubs. They then set her lifeless body on fire as they shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great). Till today, Nigerian government’s connivance in this horror is manifest in that, no one has since been brought to book.
There is no difference between the intolerance of those who killed Deborah, those who beheaded Akaluka, the ones calling for Davido’s head over the song of his protege, Logos Olori, and those heaping invectives on Oshoala. They are all united in pristine ignorance and Stone Age sheepish abidance to religious exegeses. One of such was a fellow called
an aide to ex
-President Muhammad Buhari who labeled the video “hurtful” and “disrespectful.” To who? Must he watch the video? Why not concentrate on listening to the usual Quranic recitation rhymes and leave those who wanted to enjoy Logos Olori’s songs to bother about it? Why should it bother me that someone is tearing the Bible? Those religious texts are not in any way different from Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Says Zarathustra. They only assume greater importance in the way we deploy them for the betterment of our lives. The problem is tyranny of the mind, a war that the two religions – Christianity and Islam – inflict on the other person. Why not be content with what you believe in and go to heaven and give others the freedom to go to hell if they so wish? Why play God?
The Niger coup, Emefiele and the president’s friend, Asari
Africa slumped again last week into the hands of its traditional enemies. The continent has not been the same since
midnight of January 13, 1963. On this day, a band of military putschists, led by Etienne Gnasingbe Eyadema and Emmanuel Bodjolle, shot and killed the civilian president of Togo, Sylvanus Olympio and his wife. Togo then became the first of such violent takeover of men in Khaki in the French and British colonies of Africa, thus breaking the symbolic hymen of the innocence of Africa. The wave of democratization in those erstwhile colonies in the 1990s and 2000s had however made many believe that coups d’etat had become unfashionable and otiose. However, Africa’s turbulent Sahel region,
since 2020, has been confronted with a rampaging jihadist insurgency that birthed and nurtured coups in Mali and Burkina Faso.
rupture is Niger. Right now, President Mohamed Bazoum is being confined to his residence by his presidential guard, commanded by 10 coup leaders led by Colonel Amadou Abdramane.
A lot has been written about why the Nigerien coupists struck.
International organisations and allies, France, Germany and the United States have also condemned the coup. Nigerian president, Bola Tinubu, Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS) convoked an emergency meeting in Abuja on Friday. Earlier on Thursday, ECOWAS had “demanded the immediate release of President Mohamed Bazoum who remains the legitimate and legal President of Niger.” Tinubu also sent the president of neighbouring Benin, Patrice Talon, to Niamey to seek restoration to status quo. Apparently heeding the menacing threat from Colonel Abdramane to any nation not to interfere, Talon has tarried.
From the pattern of coups in Africa, Tinubu and his African leadership can only huff and puff as there is little in form of remedy that can be offered Bazoum. Already, general acceptance of the coup is at a frightening and dizzying point. Youths in Niamey were shown on global television ransacking the headquarters of Bazoum’s PNDS party and setting fire to vehicles kept in it. Youngsters numbering about 1,000 had matched towards the country’s National Assembly, as well as several hundred others who matched out to Dosso town to show solidarity for the coup plotters. The super-power angle to the coup is reflected in Russian flags that were being flung by pro-Abdramane Nigeriens and anti-French, pro-Russian slogans being sung by the protesters.
Aside the probable super-powers angling for the soul of Niger, Bazoum was reported to have run a very fragile government. Several attempts were also made to de-legitimise his government due to contestations over his election outcome. Since taking over power two years ago in what was said to be Niger’s first-ever peaceful transition since independence, Bazoum had been encumbered by legitimacy crises, with some top echelon of the military displeased with him. Niger is also torn apart by dual jihadist onslaughts.
Why African leaders must be bothered about the coup in Niger is the widespread public support it is getting from Nigeriens. While many parts of Africa have realized that coup plotting is evil and the putschists not necessarily as Messianic as they profess, it will be difficult to canvass this in an Africa suffering from the high-handedness of its leadership and the absence of apt mental component in the administration of Africa that can stem descent into hunger by the populace. Rather than flexing muscles in post-coup scenarios, African leaders must run inclusive, people-oriented and developmental governments that will make life livable for their people.
In today’s Nigeria, phenomenal hunger is wracking the bellies of the populace while government keeps on urging the people to salivate an ayangbe aja – grilled dog meat – that they claim awaits the populace at the end of its harrowing economic policies. Meanwhile, principal elements of the government are growing rotund cheeks and wriggling in alleged corruption bazaar in the last two months or so.
In Nigeria last week, for example, the country presented a perfect effigy of Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colours. Colour red however dominated the rainbow picturesque.
The treatment given to Godwin Emefiele and Abdulbashir Bawa, erstwhile heads of CBN and EFCC, appears principally vendetta driven. Some say it is indicative of the fact that Nigeria may be going gradually down River Road – apologies to Kenyan writer, Meja Nwangi. At the Federal High Court in Abuja last week, raw brunt of crude power was hoisted for all to see and probably a feel of the governmental engagements to come. Not only was the pronouncement of the court granting Emefiele bail not heeded by a so-called democratic government, but government has also since kept mute as the DSS and the prisons engaged in a show of shame to the chagrin of the whole world. No matter how execrable Emefiele may have behaved as the CBN governor, we owe ourselves the duty of calling for the protection of his human rights. The same man that the DSS, a few months ago, charged for terrorism and terrorism-financing is being charged for possessing a sparrow-hunting dane gun!
The quotation ascribed to the famous Lutherian pastor, Martin Niemollar, should be our national guiding principle. We must not abet high-handed vindictiveness in any guise. After being in Nazi prisons and concentration camp for eight years, Niemolla had made the poetic statement, “first, they came for the socialists and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist… then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew; then they came for me and there was not one left to speak for me.”
Up there in the creeks is an infamous terror-baiting, octopus-statured militant by the name of Asari Dokubo. He has openly wielded AK-47 Assault rifles and has flaunted a rag-tag militia he is training. Right there in Nigeria’s hallowed seat of power, where president of the republic seats, this barrel-chested individual, smarting from an openly advertised visit to the president, insulted Nigeria’s military, claiming that they were not only responsible for stealing the nation’s crude oil, but that he is the one providing security for Nigerians. Our President is still enjoying this raw, dry joke.
Rather than their huff and puff over military hijacks of democracy, African leaders need to be told that the only antidote against coups is good governance. We have had Baby and Papa tyrants in Africa and regimes of massive corruption that have denied the continent of its flourish. We cannot afford to continue on that route. Military adventurers have blighted the vine of Africa. They are responsible for why Nigeria and Africa are this anemic.
Festus Adedayo is an Ibadan-based journalist.
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