By Yusuf Anka
The African maxim that wonders shall never end wore a surprise countenance when a video surfaced on Twitter of an Almajiri who knows the names of all world’s leaders offhand. As if he attended same institutions with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle – the Smart People of Athens, the native of northern Nigeria seemed to have journeyed far and wide across the globe, intellectually. The way he logically mentioned the names of Presidents, Prime Ministers and Heads of States, would make one stunned if he had not visited them one after the other.
There has been a resurgence of insinuations against the north by other regions lately. The insinuations which revolve around massive illiteracy and poverty in the north surged with the reelection of President Muhammadu Buhari. This has caused heated arguments and counter arguments online among a people whose resourcefulness in shaping Africa’s future cannot be overemphasized.
It is an open secret that northern Nigeria like every other region has its peculiar challenges which is evident, for instance, in insurgent attacks, kidnapping, to mention a few. However, despite these challenges, the northern region is also blessed with abundant human and material resources which could be harmonized with other regions’ for the progress of Nigeria and Africa.
Unlike some people who see literacy as just the ability to read and write in English language, there abound a lot of individuals are literate in other languages and also educated. This was proven by the Almajiri who featured in the video as he seemed informed about the world and its leadership personalities. The man was mentioning different countries and their presidents, prime ministers or head of states; including countries whose governments have changed recently.
In the video which lasted for about 2 minutes 15 seconds, the Almajiri mentioned leaders of about 45 countries with ease; including unpopular countries and unpopular presidents like Albania, Andorra, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belgium, Gambia, Greece, Gabon, India, Jordan, Norway, Somalia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Finland and so on.
His source of knowledge was not stated in the video but it is believed to be research of interest or listening to international radio stations like BBC Hausa, VOA or RFI, over the years. Listening to morning and evening radio programmes, including up-to-date news, has long become a culture in Hausa land; thereby making many Hausas and or Fulanis sophisticated in political and global issues. Every Hausa-Fulani household is believed to have at least a radio; which could be a chief reason most northerners, regardless of the level of education are interested in politics and governance. At the end of the video (NEME) was heard demanding a clean shirt and a cap but the interviewer promised to take him to the state governor.
This Almajiri’s level of acquaintance with global personalities and possibly, issues, is an indication of the capacities of Nigerians; hence, the need for mutual intelligibility, shared respect for our differences and collective harmony. Knowledge, education and enlightenment are not the monopolies of any geopolitical region. Therefore, while everyone needs to sheaths his or her sword, it is high time we began to see ourselves as a people who look at the same direction with common goals rather than looking at one another through ethnocentric lens of chauvinism.