Feb 4, 2018

Baba Paul Gindiri, Gofo Gunen (1935-1996)

Paul Gindiri. Source: ECWA Gist Nation Wide

Paul Gindiri, as he was popularly known in northern Nigeria, was a confrontational preacher from his conversion to his death in 1996. He saw himself as an Apostle Paul to his generation. As such, he hardly used his surname, Gindiri, the name of his hometown, or his native name, Gofo, given to him by a Fulani neighbour.

He was not given to diplomacy in his preaching and attacked both Muslims and bad political leaders in Nigeria, a country he saw as a battleground between Christians and Muslims. When a Muslim governor gave Muslims a space in the public motor park along Bauchi Road in Jos, Paul Gindiri demanded that Christians also be given a piece of land in the same area to build a church. The governor gave a comparable piece of land to the Christians who built a church there. Even though no one worships in the building (2004), Paul Gindiri had made his point: what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Continue here

Dec 29, 2017

Photography with a Touch of Sophistication

Meet a photographer who travelled from Jos to Germany to cover a wedding. 
A photo taken by Ditomatics
Plateau people often berate themselves when a foreigner comes to the state to start something that grows to become big. This is because it places a question on the seriousness of the people, something like, see the opportunities in your backyard that you have failed to take advantage of.

When I stepped into the photo studio, Ditomatics, at Zarmaganda Junction in Jos, I saw clearly that it was either the biggest or one of the biggest in the city.  Immediately, there was the question, in my mind, of who owns this? Where did he get the inspiration? What challenges did he face? And, how was business going after all the effort? I swore that I was going to find the owner so he could provide answers to these questions. 

When I did, I found out he is a Plateau man, after all. Datok Yakubu is a native of Jos-South, from Du end. He was, albeit, born and raised, in part, in the neighbouring Nassarawa State.

As to how he chose photography, Mr Yakubu said he guess that art seems to run in the veins of his family members –his dad, who is now a retired civil servant, had been a fine artist, drawing and painting. “When I was little, I used to see what he ‘is’ doing,” Yakubu said. At a time when he, the son, was without a job, a friend suggested he join photography. “My friend introduced me to photography. He ‘is’ feeling I can do better.”  He reluctantly went into it, but then discovered the boundless beauty there is in photography. Since then, he swore that he was going to pursue photography.
Since most of the photographers around often don’t dream big, only wanting to own and run something that provides money to make ends meet, it was the reason why I was curious, wanting to know who put the idea of a big photographic studio with highly sophisticated equipment in his mind. Yakubu said that when he started, there wasn’t digital photography. You had to buy a reel of film and follow the long process leading to the final photograph. However, what made his career big was digital photography. Yakubu said he was spurred largely by the desire for quality. Since there was no one at the level of the standard he was aiming at, it was the reason why most of the things he learned were self-taught. “When I left that place (places he worked before starting his own studio), ‘I am’ better than the person there.” He studied pictures he had taken to see flaws. Then he trains himself to avoid such defects. There were times he worked free for some people just to use the opportunity to hone his skill. It was how he got to where he is today. Now, the high qualities of his photos come from the sophisticated equipment, the experience and the software like Photoshop, which his studio also uses to improve the quality further. 

His other challenge was how to acquire the equipment to be able to achieve the standard he desired. There was no one around to help him. So, he resorted to self-restraint and grit, working and saving the little he made. Currently, the camera he uses costs about N1.3 and pays N650, 000 as rent annually. He said that for maximum efficiency he needed studio space. It was why moving to the current studio was necessary. 

Yakubu makes money through pictures taken in the studio, but also through pictures taken outdoors when he is hired to cover an event. It is where the bulk of the money comes. Just in the outgoing month (November), he covered the traditional wedding of a German man and a Nigerian woman. When the couple saw the quality of the pictures, they contracted him to cover the formal wedding in Germany. Traveling from Jos to Germany to cover a wedding proved to him that the effort he put in to raise the standard of his trade was not in vain. As a matter of fact, it has taken him to reaches he never envisaged.  

In addition to the commercial face of his business, there is the purely artistic face that gets him traveling to different parts of Nigeria, where there are cultural events. For this, he has traveled to Calabar to cover the Calabar Annual Cultural Carnival.

Aug 28, 2017

Marriage in Mada Society

The Mada tribe is found in central Nigeria, predominantly in the state of Nassarawa.
In Mada land, marriage is an acceptable union of a man and a woman, contracted after traditional and religious obligations have been satisfied. There are five types of marriages, which are acceptable traditionally. These are: marriage through parental betrothal, marriage by elopement, marriage by exchange, marriage by inheritance and marriage by force (also known as capture marriage).  

Betrothal by Parents
This was the most acceptable form of marriage in Mada traditional land. It is initiated by the parents of the intending couple. A newly born female child would have her forehead marked by a man who wishes his son to get married to her. The mark is a sign that the girl is already engaged. He follows this with gifts to the mother of the infant girl. The presents to the parents of the girl continue as a way of showing that the family of the boy have not changed their minds. When the girl is about ten, a formal introduction is then made. 

At about the age of sixteen, bride price is paid. The bride price consists of twelve goats. It is followed by fried termites (begbin), which is garnished with beniseed (be-shishi). There is also beans that have been cooked with large amounts of palm oil. Once these are done, the next thing is to announce the date of handing over of the bride and celebration of the wedding. The event is marked by dances and other cultural performances. Of these performances is the nneginte (raft zither performance)
Preparation is very cumbersome. The groom’s family sends guinea corn (be-kpur) to be used in making wine (mea ler kpan). This is in addition to twelve fowls to be used for the ceremony.
On the day of the traditional dance, the bride and her friends take two pots of wine to the family of the groom. Elders (men and women) from the groom’s family set out to the bride’s home. They spend the day drinking and returning at sunset. The bride and her friends have their bodies (except the face) decorated with white beniseed (be-nja). The two pots of wine they had brought are consumed by the elders who did not travel to the bride’s village. Drinking continues until late the night when they now move to the bride’s village to start the dance. 

Prior to the dance, the groom and his friends travel to the venue of the wedding (often the bride’s village). The groom’s family also sends two pots of wine to their in-laws-to-be. One is treated with honey. Accompanying these is a meal (mbuar) of black beniseed, also treated with honey. This presentation to the bride’s family marks the end of the wedding preparation and a final farewell of the bride to her parents. She leaves to her husband’s home, where she is handed over to the eldest member of her in-laws or middle man (chukpu). The groom takes his wife later in the evening.
Two days later, aunties of the bride (migiri) travel to the groom’s village to sing poems and dance till sunset, when they are sent off with a fowl each. Uneasily, they get proof of marriage consummation, which they take to the bride’s mother. A blood stain on a white cloth signifies the bride is a virgin. This gives a reason for jubilation, as the girl did not bring dishonour to her family. The bride’s mum is now able to walk with her shoulders held high as her detractors have been put to shame. 

In marriage by elopement, the couple simply absconds. It usually happens when the parents of the girl refuse to give consent for the marriage despite love between the girl and her boyfriend. It could also be because the man is without a job and cannot shoulder the cost of an elaborate wedding, or the girl becomes pregnant out of marriage. The man does not take the girl to his home straight away. Instead, he takes her to a trusted middleman. The boy’s relations travel to the girl’s home the next day to inform them about their stealing. The girl’s parents will request that the girl is returned for proof. She remains with her parents for days before her final release. Within these days, the boy pays the bride price, without the necessity of an elaborate wedding ceremony. 

Marriage by Exchange
This involves the exchange of sisters or relations as wives. It excludes the payment of a bride price. There is a remarkable bright side to this form of marriage. It prevents domestic violence or neglect of matrimonial responsibility on the side of the man. Also, a woman married this way cannot be killed by witchcraft except where there is a consensus between her in-laws and her relations. The dark side of this marriage is that where there is a divorce on one side, a bride price from the other end must be paid or the wife must be equally divorced. If one of the women is barren, there is sadness on the other end. 

Marriage by Inheritance
In this, a man marries the wife of an elder brother that dies. Sometimes, a son marries the youngest wife of his father, following the death of the father. However, the woman involved must consent to it. There is no bride price involved. If, however, a woman refuses to marry the relation of a dead husband and eventually goes on to marry someone outside of her in-laws, the new husband must pay a bride price to the family of her late husband. Where the bride price is not paid, any child resulting from the marriage actually belongs to the family of her late husband. 

Forced or Captured Marriage
This type of marriage was responsible for inter-communal conflicts in Mada society. A woman is ambushed and taken by force to become a wife. If she happens to be married, that is when conflict ensues. If, however, she is a girl, the bitterness may not lead to a conflict. If she detests the marriage, she finds an opportunity to escape, eventually. This, however, was often after a child or two. Back home, she will never enjoy the status of a girl. Rather, she will be considered a divorcee, as she has been defiled. 

Except for Forced Marriage and Marriage by Inheritance, which are not celebrated, due to the circumstance surrounding their contraction, the other three involve festive performances. The dance performance is meant to show manhood and valour.  For instance, on the wedding day, two teams of able-bodied men from the bride and groom’s sides gather for a contest. The men from the side of the bride carry whips. The most courageous from the other side crosses over to the other side, as the dance continues. He reaches and seizes the bride, the whips lashing at him while doing so. He is expected not to show any sign of weakness. Neither is he expected to retaliate. After he succeeds in dragging her to his side, the two teams join in a jubilant dance, celebrating the success of the event. She becomes a wife after a test of virginity

Aug 12, 2017

How Grilled Meat Became Suya


In Nigerian Pidgin English, suya is meat that has been cut into thin sheets, spiced and roasted on a grill. The word crossed from Hausa, a tongue predominantly spoken in the north of the country, to Pidgin English. 

Pidgin English is a medley of English words (wrung until they have a Nigerian feel) and words from the three super languages in Nigeria: Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. 

Each time a word crosses from Hausa to Pidgin English, its actual meaning is often lost. For instance, the pidgin word, “wahala”, is a migrant from Hausa. In Hausa, it means suffering. In Pidgin English, however, it means a problem. So, when we say, “no wahala,” we mean, “no problem.”  It is the same with the word, “suya.” In Hausa, suya means frying.  It could also mean something that has been fried. But, from the way it is used in pidgin today, it takes the form of a metaphor. This is because the meat it refers to is actually grilled not fried. 

In the 1980s, there used to be a TV show that was known as the New Masquerade. It was aired once in a week, on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA). The main characters were Chief Zeburdaya, who invented a distorted English style that formed the basis of his comedy. On the show, he had two house boys, Clarus (now blind) and Gregory.  In one of the episodes, Chief sent the two house servants on an errand. They returned with a wrap of grilled meat and were eating it when he realized it.  He was surprised, as he didn’t expect them to have the money to buy the roasted meat. So, he sat them down and started asking them questions. The question he kept repeating was, “Gregory and Clarus, who are give you money to go to be purchase suya?”It was the first time grilled meat was referred to as suya. Before then, it was just roasted meat. And since the TV show was aired nationally, the whole nation heard it. Since then, grilled meat has come to be referred to as suya.

Radio Stations in Plateau State

There is no doubt that progress in technology is helping matters in the area of broadcast equipment, by bringing down the cost of starting an FM radio station. It is the reason why there is a proliferation of FM radio stations across the country. In Jos, Plateau State, we now have up to ten FM transmitting stations in the city.

A lot of people are overjoyed, as the chance gives them a lot of options for their education, enlightenment and entertainment.  

These are the radio stations, all of which are actually located in Jos-south, with the exception of Ice FM and Unity FM, that are located in Jos North.
  • 90.5 - Peace FM, owned by the Plateau State Government.
  • 100.5 – Ray Power FM, owned by DAAR Communications.
  • 93.7 - Rhythm FM, owned by Silver Bird Communications
  • 101.5 - Highland FM owned by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN)
  • 96.1 - Ice FM, owned by the University of Jos.
  • 98.9 - Rock FM, owned by the Plateau State Polytechnic.
  • 93.3- Unity FM, owned by Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande, ex-senator from Plateau North.
  • 104.3 - Tin City FM (ownership unclear)
  • 101.9 - Jay FM, owned by the Jonah Jang Family
  • 103.9 - KT FM (ownership unclear)
A lot of folks I spoke to are happy about the development. A few others are, however, sad that, despite the increasing number of these stations, they all seem to replicate the plans of the older stations. But they also expressed the feelings that, given the fact that the stations are new, they will build up experiences and improve on their contents for diversity and variety to serve the people better. 
A view of Jos from Hill Station Hotel
A retired broadcast veteran spoke of what he thinks the radio stations need to do to improve to serve people better. He said that Nigeria is a diverse nation. So, the best way to serve the people is to fashion the radio stations to reflect this diversity. The radio stations need to create niches for themselves. What that means is that there should be specializations. Some niches the stations can take advantage of include:

A radio station can decide to broadcast only religious matters and play gospel music. It will attract a lot of listeners, especially with Nigerians being very religious. 

Our diversity is also in the area of language. A radio station can decide to transmit only in a single language. This ensures that everyone is carried along, particularly the rural folks, a lot of whom don’t understand English, the major language of transmission of most of the stations. This ensures that role of radios in the education of people is effective.  In Plateau State, we have tribes with large populations that radio stations can take advantage of. The big tribes in Plateau State are Mwaghavul, Berom, Taroh and Goemai. Some of the radio station can be located in other local governments to reach the populations effectively. 

Music Genres
A radio station can decide to play only music, with a bias on genres. For instance, a radio station can decide to play just reggae music. Others can decide to play old school records to educate the young ones about music that reigned before they were born. That could be Jazz-specific, Soul-specific radio stations.  Some radio stations can decide to play only Nigerian music, if they think they will be able to attract enough audience. Others could play Nigerian music, focusing on the contemporaries and the old genres like Juju, Fuji and Highlife, genres that helped to earn respect for the country around the world. 

Politics and Current Affairs
Such a radio station will centre on news, political discussions and analysis. That doesn’t stop it from playing music. But, when there is a discussion or issues of current affairs, the radio station sticks to its niche. I see such a radio station attracting the educated and matured at heart. 

Of course, there should be one or two radio station(s) that combine(s) everything. That would be their niche, Medley. When Peace FM 90.5 started in 1988, it was the only FM radio station and was expected to embrace all to avoid others getting left out. Such are the stations that should stick to that very role, which has already shaped its identity over a long period.
In all cases, the radio stations would survive from the commercials they air. Creating a niche ensures that you attract people who love that niche. They understand it is for them and would want it to survive. Hence, they would ensure their monies go to it to ensure endures.

Baba Paul Gindiri, Gofo Gunen (1935-1996)

Paul Gindiri. Source: ECWA Gist Nation Wide Paul Gindiri, as he was popularly known in northern Nigeria, was a confrontational prea...