Much Ado About Arabic on Naira Notes and Nigerian Army Flag - THISDAY
With Reno Omokri
Recently, a lawyer sued the Federal Government on the issue of Arabic inscriptions on our currency and on the Nigerian Army’s logo. The fellow, Malcolm Omirhobo, wants the Federal High Court to declare as “illegal, unlawful, and unconstitutional to allow the Nigerian Army logo to be adorned, and inscribed in Arabic language, instead of the official English language or Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo which are the three main languages or ethnic groups in Nigeria.”
I see this as a function of ignorance, and I will explain. Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo are all spoken languages. None of them are written languages, although there does exist some limited form of writing among a few Nigerian tribes.
The Hausa people adapted Arabic into the ajami script, and the Igbo have an ancient pictogram writing style called Nsibidi that is entirely indigenous to them and was developed without any outside influence. But both these scripts are insufficient for modern writing, except they are developed, and we have yet to develop them.
Now, both Arabic and Roman scripts are foreign to Nigeria. We must understand that Arabic does not mean Muslim, and Roman does not mean Christian. To, therefore, go to court to seek an order rejecting Arabic on our Naira notes and on any of our national emblems is actually silly. You might as well ask the courts also to outlaw Roman script.
There are Arabian Christians who have used the Arabic script since before Islam even existed. Waraka ibn Nawfal, the man that prophet Mohammed went to after he had his revelation, was a Christian priest, and he taught and wrote Scripture in Arabic.
Mr. Omirhobo’s case would only make sense if the inscriptions were an Arabic script conveying an Islamic message, but thank God that that is certainly not the case. The Arabic Script on Naira notes has nothing to do with Islam. They only indicate the denomination of the Naira note in question. And the Arabic script on the Nigerian Army’s logo represents their motto. It does not carry an Islamic message.
So, why do we have Arabic scripts on our currency and on the emblems of some of our national institutions? There is a very simple reason for this and it is not sinister. ßThere are people in Northern Nigeria (my father worked almost all his life in the Northwest) who we in the South call illiterate, but who are actually very learned in Arabic or Ajami. They cannot read and write English, but they can read and write Arabic or Ajami. Some of them do not even reckon with the Gregorian Calendar. They are fully detached from English and other vestiges of colonialism.
Has Mr. Omirhobo ever sat down to consider the great advantage Christians have over Muslims in everyday life in Nigeria? The five day work week that starts on Monday and ends on Friday favours Christians. In Muslim nations, their five day week starts from Sunday and ends on Thursday, so that Muslims can go to the Mosque on Friday. Should Muslims now go to court to compel the Federal Government to make Friday a work-free day? Let us be considerate. We do not want the North to dominate the South, but we should also not obfuscate the North. What Nigeria needs is equality, as well as equity.
Yes, I agree that General Buhari is Northernising the Federal Government by contravening the Federal Character Principle, which is enshrined in our constitution. The heads of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, are Northern Muslim men, as are the heads of the NPF, NSA, DSS, NIA, DMI, DIA, NPS, NCS, NIS, and EFCC.
The heads of parastatals, departments and agencies are also overwhelmingly from the North, and specifically from the Northwest, and even more specifically, from the Kano-Katsina axis. It makes much more sense for Mr. Omirhobo to sue the Federal Government for breaching the Federal Character provisions, than for allowing Arabic on our currency and other national emblems. The use of European alphabets in Nigeria is less than 200 years old. The use of Arabic is almost 500 years old (starting with the Kanem Bornu empire). If any of these scripts is closer to our culture, it would be ajami.
The funny thing, however, is that the origin of all alphabets is from Ancient Egypt, or Kemet (the real name for Egypt). Hieroglyphics are the fountain of origin of all written script. And it is a historical fact that the ancient Pharaohs were Black! Semitic people (Jews and Arabs), learnt the alphabets from their days as slave labourers in Ancient Egypt. They then dispersed from Kemet and evolved their different scripts.
It is these Semitic scripts that became the basis for the European script that the Greeks, Romans and modern-day Europeans evolved. Not only is this historical, it fits very neatly into scripture accounts found in Genesis chapters 10 and 11 which show that the whole world was then under one government in Babel and that government was headed by a Black man named Nimrod, whose father, Cush (Genesis 10:8) was the father of the Black race. The word Cush is simply Hebrew for Black.
As a matter of fact, Scripture was translated into Ge’ez in the 5th Century, 1000 years BEFORE it was translated into English and German. For those who do not know, Ge’ez is the liturgical language of Ethiopia and is believed by many scholars to be the language Adam and Eve spoke in the Garden of Eden.
Genesis 2:7, says “God formed man from the dust of the ground.” There is only one race of humans whose colour matches the “dust of the ground”, and that race is the Black Race. Every depiction of Adam and Eve as White or Semitic is not accurate. If you read Scripture, at every strategic time in the life of early man, a Black man was involved. Nimrod, the first man to rule the whole world, was Black. We know that because Genesis 10:8 says “Cush was the father of Nimrod”. For those who don’t know, Cush is the Hebrew word for Black. Moreover, the first woman to perform a circumcision was Moses’s wife Zipporah, in Exodus 4:25, and we know from Numbers 12:1 that she was Black “Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite.”
So nobody should deceive you as a Black man that Christianity is a White man’s religion. Far from it. The very first geographical location mentioned in Scripture is Africa, “The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush.”-Genesis 2:13.
The conclusion of the matter is that no civilisation can single-handedly take credit for today’s writing scripts and alphabets. We already have more than enough trouble and division in Nigeria with the problem called Buhari that we heaped on our heads. We do not need to add more problems. I appeal to Mr. Omirhobo and his supporters to objectively consider my words and tread with caution because Nigeria is a relatively volatile country and little things like this could ignite the type of trouble we do not need as a nation.
What we should instead do, is look for legal avenues by which we can force General Muhammadu Buhari to behave like the President of Nigeria rather than the Grand Khadi of Northern Nigeria. And while we are at it, we could perhaps want to use the same instrumentality of the law to prevent the ‘technical’ Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko, from his sharia ambitions, which he recently spoke of, with such glee, that he could have been mistaken for an almajiri that had been left all alone in a kuli kuli store. We have enough real challenges. We should not use our own hands to create artificial problems for ourselves, especially when the rest of the world is building artificial intelligence to bring about progress to the human race.
Reno’s Nuggets The sea has much water, but you can’t drink it because it is salty. A stream has little water, but you can drink its water because it is fresh. Be content. Don’t compare yourself to others. Your life is not as bad as you think. Their prosperity that you envy may be a mirage that is as useless as seawater to a thirsty man. Do you know that if you have flown in an aeroplane, and have ever had 3 square meals on any day, and have more than one pair of shoes, and own a TV, you are richer than 80% of the world? Don’t let discontentment make you feel poor #FreeLeahSharibu #RenosNuggets.