Thank you for your kind rejoinder to my response to your take on Mark Zuckerberg’s comment on the Hausa language. Here is my response.
That Mark Zuckerberg called Hausa a unique language is not born out of any conspiracy against the Yoruba, Igbo or any Southern Nigerian ethnic nationality. The Hausa language is not an invention of the Hausa people. The language was invented by God and so whenever anyone praises it, they are not praising the Hausa people, they are praising God.
You say I am naive for accepting, as Zuckerberg does, that the Hausa language is unique. Really? Hausa language is the only indigenous African language that is officially spoken in five African nations including Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Cameroun and Sudan. If your argument is true and I am indeed naive then you would have to agree with me that BBC News, Radio France Internationale, Voice of America – VOA, Deutsche Welle, China Radio International and Voice of Russia ,to mention a few, are equally naive because, like Facebook, they all have a Hausa language service.
You may be right about the British/American conspiracy. I never delved into that and I defer to your superior knowledge of history and statecraft. Your father, Remilekun Fani-Kayode, QC, was a first class statesman and the apple did not fall far from the tree. My point of departure from you was strictly and solely as touching your insinuation against Mark Zuckerberg.
By including Hausa as an official Facebook language, Zuckerberg recognizes the fact that while there are literally tens of millions of Yoruba, Igbo and other Nigerian language speakers who can communicate in both their native language and English, the same cannot be said about Hausa speakers. In Benin, Togo, Brazil and other nations where you have a large concentration of Yoruba speakers, these omo oduduwas can express themselves in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese.
There are literally tens of millions of Hausa speakers who can only communicate in Hausa. This does not make them illiterate. Indeed, long before we in the South could read and write, these Hausa speakers have been reading and writing Hausa in the centuries old Ajami script.
It is to accommodate these particular class of Hausa speakers that, in my opinion, Facebook added Hausa as an official language, and not as part of some conspiracy of Britain and America to undermine the Southern parts of Nigeria. You may recall that Zuckerberg and his wife recently endowed Andela with a $25 million grant. That would be a most strange way to undermine the South given that all of Andela’s founders and most of their fellows are from the South. Talk is cheap but money makes things happen. Zuckerberg talked about Hausa, but he put his money in a Lagos tech hub. Does that not say something to you?
The mistake we in the South often make is to see ordinary Hausas as our enemies. Not true. The Hausas as a people are some of the most decent Nigerians and are to be differentiated from the feudalists who have retarded their progress as an ethnic nationality. What they need from progressive and freedom loving Nigerians is solidarity not hostility. This was the point of view that the late Aminu Kano tried to pass across to us down South.
What Facebook has done deserves commendation and not condemnation. Again, having said this, I must maintain that I have a high regard for your intellect and this intervention should not be interpreted as a confrontation.
God bless you.
Aide to Nigeria ex president Goodluck Jonathan