The Semantics Of 'the Baboon And The Dog Will Be Soaked In Blood'

The press once more appears to be in frenzy over a commentary purported to be made by Buhari. Buhari as usual is news. What so ever he does or does not do is a scoop to be splashed by the press. His commentary at the meeting with the Niger state CPC was rushed to the press without proper investigation. No sooner had the news reached the stand than the presidency, represented by Dr. Abati, furiously shot an unfortunate riposte building on the sketchy over-sensationalized opinions of Buhari.

altOne cannot help but be shocked with the descent of the country to pedestrian (mis)interpretation of issues with the sole purpose of impugning the sterling qualities of a person. All efforts are made to make this otherwise upright leader, who suffers phonies gladly and who has no regards for divisions, a violent regionalist. That is the way his Sokoto commentary has landed him a forced characteristic which has since then come to be his absolute definition in the Nigerian press trumping all his history of discipline and patriotism. It is a clear case of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it, and remember this is not about a feline animal and a metal hook!

In this current situation, another deliberate fuss is caused to further hang this man by intensifying an already established stereotype. I just wonder; when have simple proverbs or political metaphors become literal representations of the objects they depict? Have we forgotten the ‘figuratively’ colorful first and second republics? When the late Mbadiwe (alias ‘a man of timber and caliber’) called himself ‘a political juggernaut’, I believe, nobody then thought of a monster caterpillar crushing all his political opponents to literal death. The Zik’s NPP was one time the ‘bride’ to be courted by other parties, did we at all think of a woman! What of Obasanjo’s ‘do or die’ declaration? Even if deaths had occurred at the election no one has related Obasanjo’s idiom to any casualties? Likewise, nobody has taken the late Bola Ige’s mentioning of the Northern ‘cows’ and ‘goats as part of the population census figures anything like livestock calculation more than the political slur it was meant to be.

Why is Buhari’s ‘kare jini, biri jini’ any different? Shorn of all the literal and decontexualized misrepresentations, it simply means ‘a serious contest’ i.e. the attitude of not giving up by the parties involved. ‘Kare jini, biri jini’, in a corpus checking on the contexts and collocates of the proverb on google, is mostly used where fierce competitions occur especially in sports and politics. Literal translation of this saying is mischievous crude and banal for even if we don’t understanding Hausa, are Nigerians actually ‘baboons’ (literal not figurative!)? One is disappointed that a person of Dr Abati’s intellectual caliber has taken this philistine ‘joke’ to higher planes to impute the calling of Nigerian voters as ‘baboons’ and ‘dogs’ to Buhari. This is to further estrange and alienate him from the people for their 2015’s political success. If someone, for example, told me that ‘it rained cats and dogs yesterday’, then my translation into, say, Hausa, will not only be that literal cats and dogs have fallen from the sky but that the people in the area have become cats and dogs also. Abati (PhD Dramatic Arts), this is the abysmal descent of that your unfortunate response and this analogy captures how yours may read to discerning minds. For the price of lucre, many great intellectuals have committed intellectual suicide and fallen prey to the wiles and machinations of politicians only to come seeking for that hard earned reputation when it is too late and when the orgy is over.

And probably that is why that irrevocable incorruptibility of Buhari has remained a great threat since it cannot be Ghana-must-goed. His views are misinterpreted for his daring to be different and not being part of the corrupt gravy train. But by every effort that is made to besmirch him, he emerges cleaner to his massive unbought constituency. And, as the Hausa saying goes, when the sky is out, it can’t not be covered by our palms. Buhari is the sky and the PDP gang is the palms.

Umar writes this piece from Jubail, KSA, and can be reached at