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Opinions of Friday, 12 February 2021

Columnist: Sunday Adole Jonah

Soyinka on Kukah’s epistle

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, in his “The Kukah Offence and Ongoing Offensives” epistle expressed exasperation that religion could be used to cripple free speech, as it was by the Kano State Hisbah. This is with regard to the preposterous reaction of this religious police unit to a discount-promotional marketing cliché known as “Black Friday.”

The professor rightly retorted that if “Friday” was such a “holy” day that it couldn’t be called “black” in any context, how come faith-based terror outfits like ISWAP, Boko Haram, and their ilk also kill on Fridays thereby effectively “desecrating” that day? Soyinka was worried that such push-backs against the realm of freedom of speech have frightening domino effects whose net result is to stifle the human mind’s capacity for original and imaginative thoughts, if you will.

Really, this religious bunch of fellows are truly comical because, how would they have reacted if the fellow named “al-Duri” had won the premiership of Iraq (sure, there was a strong contender for the post of the Prime Minister of Iraq some time ago whose last name was al-Duri)? Would the Hisbah corps recommend that female newscasters of the NTA or those of the Hausa Service of the BBC not report in any format a news item of the type, “PM al-Duri pays a state visit to the US to discuss troop drawdown?” Would it be a venial or a mortal “sin” if a female news reporter mentions the Arabic name “al-Duri” because, well, the sound of that name is haram in the Hausa language and “bad” for the ears of kids? Truly comical, uh? Now, Nigeria’s former army head honcho is of the Bura tribe of Borno State and his last name is Buratai. Yes, Buratai.

I wonder if the “pious” and “prim-proper” Hisbah corps of Kano State has considered it a matter of zero-ethics for female news reporters to say this name in the course of their routine news broadcast.

What is even more worrying here is that a posse of black men will consider the associative term “black” as demeaning. What’s wrong with the word “black?” My first name is Sunday and what’s wrong if I say “Black Sunday?” Of course, my skin is black! Now, let no one demonise “black” because “religion” says the virgins in paradise are fair-skinned, long-haired houris, veritable cyborg sex dolls, not for the consumption of the zanj who are unworthy because of their skin colour, their heightened emotional states, and their mass of untidy crinkly clump of hair.

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