The Spy who “Loved” Nigeria

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

Sir Hanns Vischer

As they say; “An Englishman’s home is his castle.” Sir Hanns Vischer, was an agent of His Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service in Nigeria. He was referred to as “Dan Hausa” due to his mastery of the Hausa language which he helped in standardizing. He was also prolific in Arabic, Fulfulde and Kanuri in addition to Greek, French and German. Based in Kano from 1907 to 1919, his cover was head of the Education Department.

Gidan Dan Hausa, now a national monument was his official residence. The building had being in existence for about a hundred years before Kano was conquered by the British in 1903. It had previously served as the base of the overseer of the royal farming plantation outside the ancient city walls known as Rumada. Vischer rebuilt it from scratch making improvements in 1907.

The spymaster first came to Nigeria in 1901 and was based in Lokoja before he was reassigned to Maiduguri in 1903. By 1906, he crossed the Sahara Desert. He recounted his journey in a 1911 book entitled; “Across the Sahara from Tripoli to Borno” Another book he wrote is; “Rules for Hausa Spelling” printed in 1912.
Kano was crucial to the British in two aspects. First, in creating an elite that would oppose national independence. Second, it was a crucial cross roads in monitoring Francophone territories and the German colony of Kamerun.

According the historian, Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman;
“The Hausa-speaking people, not only do they have dialects, which were barely mutually intelligible, but they have no tradition of a common origin.” Hausa as spoken and written today was therefore a British project. Vischer was one of the arrow heads.

Vischer’s residence also served as a school for sons of emirs from all over the North. With his wife who joined him in 1912, the couple moulded the young aristocrats teaching them how to read and write in English and Ajami (Arabic in Roman script) The school started with 30 pupils in 1909. Their hostel was within the Nasarawa palace of Kano emirate nearby.

Enrollment increased to over 200 princes by 1913 from the 11 provinces of the Northern Protectorate. It produced the first Western educated elites in the North that eventually became the first members of the House of Chiefs and Assembly both in Kaduna. Vischer’s school relocated becoming Katsina College in 1921, which is now Barewa College in Zaria.

The Vischers had two children at Gidan Dan Hausa. Their photographs including that of their house maid still adorn the main living room of the historic house to date.

The British did not come to the colonial contours of what became Nigeria for sightseeing – they came to plunder.
To pull that off they needed to apply “divide et impera” – divide and rule. They ensured no level of national consciousness could develop eventually preparing us for national independence without economic freedom.

The likes of Sir Vischer were instrumental to Pax Britannica. Such people are described as “capax imperii” – capable of ruling an empire by understanding and study of languages;
“One had only to watch him in his daily avocations in those early days to realize how completely at home he was with every class of society—whether he was engaged in grave deliberations with emirs, viziers and other high personages of the ruling hierarchy, or whether he was chaffing the hucksters at the market stalls as he rode through Kano city. No less revealing was it to see him in his own home pick up a native drum and, squatting on the floor, croon local Hausa songs to his own accompaniment. So inimitably did he do it that, if he had been hidden behind a screen, one would have said that an African musician had been engaged to entertain his guests”

At Gidan Dan Hausa, Vischer reorganized traditional Hausa building materials of “Tubali” and “Azara” by creatively using “Chafe” for plaster and “Makuba” for relieve motifs retaining “Zankwaye” (the horns at the top) and “Dakali” (the horizontal platform at the base)
Vischer used local labor sourced within the ancient city of Kano from “Unguwan Gini”

The original inhabitants of Kano are the “Abagawa” of the Nok Civilization. The “Wangara” from present-day Mali conquered and incorporated Kano into the Songhai Empire. Eventually the Habe held sway before the Hausanization process that followed the formation of the Sokoto Caliphate.

It has been the southern entrepôt of the Trans Saharan trade for millennia. Arabs and Tuaregs have been part of Kano’s mosaic for centuries.

It provided the perfect cover for Sir Hanns Vischer, a spymaster par excellence according to Nigel West in; Historical Dictionary of World War I Intelligence (2014)

BOKO HARAM (western values are forbidden) IN PRINT

http://www.amazon.com/Boko-Haram-Western-Values-Forbidden/dp/1505336287 Boko Haram translates into Western education is forbidden, a clarion call that forbids Western values. It is the insurgency across northern Nigeria with political bombs in Islamic shells, establishing Islamic values by expunging Western ones. It likens this mysterious young vengeful quest to fight a perception of God’s war, deny itself the fair chance to live according to values it holds dearly. Every one is potentially a writer because they make up some sort of story in their minds. Respective stories vary from factual to fictional. People tell it or write it, share it or not, but everyone wants to be heard making sense of their deductions of the life they observe and live, trade or share. The most idealistic writers are quite assertive and would want to have the last word. They rebel against other assertive ideals that conflict with theirs and seek to establish their values by force. The most aggression comes off the most conservative extremists. Boko Haram became the identity of the Nigerian variation of militant Islam, long after it had taken root the world over. Their campaign of terror is construed to be barbaric idiocy to all who aspire civility. As the sect marked their brand of insurgency across most of northern Nigeria with emerging political bombs in Islamic shells, they sought to establish Islamic values in the country by forcibly expunging Western values. Boko Haram translates into Western education is forbidden, but in practice the clarion call has always been Western values are forbidden. Deservedly or not, each individual feels they have earned a say and it is usually just enough to voice it. But these extremists must have their say at all costs. Since it is in the nature of people to have more of what they most desire, these extremists naturally do not stop at just having their say, they must also impose it, regardless that every single person must have their own say too. In his quest to fight his perception of God’s war, a mysterious keeper of an elite community Mosque denies himself his own natural ability to live according to the values he holds dear. By embarking on crusades across humanity to end the excesses of cultures they abhors, Militants simultaneously deny their own values the opportunity to exhibit their laudable essence. In effect, they torture themselves without the decency of living even the simple sacred lives they deserve.

LET IT RAIN

frog-using-leaf-to-stay-out-of-rain
Clear as skies have ever been,
Then stirred a slight breeze.
Gently woke a dusty scene,
Helpless pedestrians sneeze.

A clouds’ parade is called;
Smoky pawns first appear.
From the horizon they strolled
With a breeze winded in despair.

Officers’ darker mien show,
As an angry thicken sky spread.
The world’s mood goes slow,
For a brief moment, in dread.

Suddenly the tempo is upped,
Like an adrenaline spiked heart.
The living world all robbed
Of all its plans as droplets pat.

The tar-less streets go empty,
As commerce pauses in pain.
Hawkers shelter all so hasty
As the clouds cry, let it rain.

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AA- THE POET IN THE POEM (Cover)
Collection of over 250 poems
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If you have questions about Nigerians, well this is your chance to have those questions answered.

This is a Nigerian story that seeks to handle its three major regional identities with forceful bluntness. The unfolding tale takes a detached, yet associated view of the three main characters. Narration lumps up the entire imagery of the three main Nigeria tribes and factions into these three characters. The nature of the intricate romance that plays out shows the appropriate immediate situation

The Whole Story

She talks about the single story being the stereotyped impression which is an offshoot of a one tracked creation. The impressionable nature of the mind is easily steered from the beginning and it there that the alterations should recommence. Not, of course in those long gone old starts, but in the new ones that are emerging all around us now and again. The beginning is always relative because those whose misfortune it is to discuss the beginning much later were never privileged to be present at its onset or privy to the nitty-gritty of its fundamentals and humble beginnings. That may be the reason why they discuss it and not disclose it.
To so many, the mystery does not seem to matter to the evolution of things, as it is subsequently revealed in their immediate present or indeed their theory of it. It is almost always shrouded in logic’s incomprehensible knowledge of basic facts and the reasons for them.
Some chanced existence and influence of luck or that of a supreme deity, does not elude simple imagination like it does appear to confuse the common sense of it.

The Penguin Project

“A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.” -Mark Twain

When I was young, I thought that everyone had to start their lives in the Bay Area. I couldn’t imagine what people did in other parts of the country if they weren’t taking day trips to Jack London State Park, spending summer nights watching the boys in black and orange light up the Bay, and driving through wine country to eat lunch at Mankas Corner. These were things that I took for granted and was shocked when people didn’t know that summers in San Francisco are more like winters. I was even more surprised when they assumed that I surfed every day and knew celebrities because I’m from California.

When I moved to South Carolina, I thought that I had a pretty good grasp on what life was like there; I thought that I knew…

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