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Chinakwe, cultural diversity and nomenclature

In Kano, there’s Yan Awaki (awaki is the plural of “akuya”, the Hausa version of goat). In Kaduna, there’s Unguwar Shanu- “shanu” means cattles in…

In Kano, there’s Yan Awaki (awaki is the plural of “akuya”, the Hausa version of goat). In Kaduna, there’s Unguwar Shanu- “shanu” means cattles in Hausa, the singular form of which is “saniya”.
In many Hausa traditional states, there exists the traditional office and title of “Sarkin Shanu” – I don’t know what precisely the functions of such title holders are, but a quick check with any traditional title holder or those of royal blood would answer that question.
Many Hausa traditional musicians like Alhaji Mamman Shata Katsina, Dan Kwairo, Narambada, Audu Wazirin Danduna etc have employed the use of one of the figures of speech, metaphor, in their works, describing our monarchs and warriors as “zaki” – lion, “dan toron giwa”- giwa is elephant in Hausa, “bajimi”- the bull. Another good one is “damo”- I don’t know what the English name of that animal is, but it’s said to be a spectacularly patient animal. Each of these animals possesses a unique quality, making it a force to reckon with. When used metaphorically, it’s intended to bring out and portray the virtues and unique qualities of the person upon whom that comparison was made using the animal. 
In the case of a dog- “kare” in Hausa, it’s not the same story as with other animals mentioned earlier. Yes of course, Hausa people, traditions and customs have a place for dog but not a too special one. Many households keep it for the purpose of policing, and that’s about the single most important reason in especially many Hausa Muslim households. Others keep it as a pet, not necessarily for security reasons.
But even then, the dog is an animal treated unlike others by a Hausa man. If a dog eats or drinks from a container/plate, it’s to be washed seven (7) times before re-use. Despite its uncommon loyalty to its master, it’s very strange, offensive and disdainful to call anyone “kare” in typical Hausa setting. In the very many occasions it’s used in Hausa literature and proverbs, kare or dog is used with derision, sarcasm and uncool humour. Let me quickly add that Hausa people, especially Hausa Muslims, don’t eat dog meat based on their culture and religion.
This is what informed my opinion that Mr Chinakwe, who recently named his dog Buhari, was very wrong, in the spirit of cultural diversity, tolerance and peaceful coexistence. If it might be okay in his or any other tribe to name a dog after a human being, it is offensive to a Hausa man. It was even careless that he took along the dog with a tag bearing “Buhari” through a Hausa community of traders. Respect is and ought to be reciprocal, more so when it involves beliefs, customs and traditions. Mr Chinakwe and his pool of unhired lawyers and supporters should have known and acknowledged that fact long before now. There is no greater hypocrisy, intolerance and anarchy than trying to compel someone to accept your own definition of life, values and standards without recourse to his own value system at all.
I decided to highlight this issue to the public in the interest of social order and security. Many people in some parts of both Northern and Southern Nigeria keep pets and rear such animals like pig, another unfriendly, unlawful and dirty animal to the Hausas. Assuming Mr Chinakwe had a field day naming his dog “Buhari” freely; it could have created a ripple effect, allowing many people to name their pigs Buhari.
Knowing the cult-like followership President Muhammadu Buhari enjoys across both Northern and Southern Nigeria and in especially the former, such actions will definitely create chaos and rancour among and between otherwise peaceful people and communities.
It is my prayer that we have learned a lesson out of the dog naming saga and the potential breaches in social trust and public peace that could arise due to such actions.
Zahraddin Abdullahi, Kafin Hausa, Jigawa State.

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