- Posted March 2, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Student voices in journalism
the nigerian longuage
I have been touring some West African countries. I am still at the Nigerian border waiting for office hours on Monday.
Wherever I went, Hausa language was there before me. Fulani contagion has "infested" all countries in the region except the swampy coastal areas which they avoid during the rainy season. No quarrels anyway, unlike in Nigeria. Their language, Fulfulde, doesn't have the epidemiological power of the Hausa virus. Though Fulani are everywhere (but nowhere, said the Berom) from Senegal across West Africa to Chad and Gabon, Fulfulde hardly transcends its owners except in the Guineas, Gambia, Southeastern Senegal, Mali and Adamawas in Nigeria and northern Cameroon.
Yesterday, I met a distasteful scene of Fulani women begging in Niamey, the capital of Niger Republic. In Nigeria we don't beg, I told them. Though I gave them my penny, I reminded them that begging, especially for a Fulani woman, is distasteful. That light skin, that beautiful face, that flowing hair, that long nose, that slim structure, all must never be allowed to stoop in chasing passersby for money. They should return to their three pillars of living which Danfodio enunciated: Rearing, farming and learning. So went my sermon. They thanked me and continued with their shameful business. Don't blame my people. Blame desertification. It did it to the Tuareg before us.
In Togo, I met Igbo traders that speak Hausa so fluent like "a Kano donkey". It is good that in the context of ECOWAS, locals are finding common languages to use better than the expensive colonial ones that have to be paid for.
As for the universality of Hausa dialects, the Sokoto dialect is unquestionably the most prevalent. But there is no difficulty in understanding one another. For Fulfulde, I was very glad to see that from Togo, Burkina, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Central Africa and Gabon, the differences between the dialects are small and people can comfortably communicate without any serious breakdown. But In some parts of Mali and westwards to Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Gambia and Senegal - the home zone of the Fulani language - kai, the differences in dialects between ours and theirs make understanding many times very strenuous, if not difficult.
I am proud of my African identity, features and brothers of different tribes and places. I enjoyed looking at the different faces, listening to different languages and speaking to different people. The sub-region is developing rapidly. Togo is especially growing fast economically. Good schools are built in virtually every major settlement in Burkina Faso. With education, the site of every woman riding a bike and donkeys carting woods will soon disappear from the country.
The roads are getting better by the day. From Nigeria all the way to Ouagadougou is a smooth drive, so also from Accra through Lome to Niamey the road is smooth except for the 30 kilometers or so between Cinkance and Bitou in Burkina. Benin is also reconstructing the road between Cotonou and its Togo Border. There is every hope that the future will be better. The roads are well secured. Few accidents and hardly any case of armed robbery. You can travel at night in most parts of the region without any fear.
And guess what? In Niamey I offered a 15 mins interview to BBC Hausa service. Hausa, Hausa, Hausa...
I am really enjoying my sojourn