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)

#EndSARS: THE FALLEN UNARMED PEACEFUL NIGERIAN PROTESTER

By Taiwo Sanni

Tell my mother I was unarmed.

Tell my father I had the flag in my hands when I was shot.

Tell the unborn Generation that I died singing the national anthem.

Tell the cowards who shot me that my spirit lives on in the life of every good Nigerian youth.

Tell the government that they shot my body but not my spirit.

Tell the world I died for freedom like many good people before me.

I regret nothing, for I have done what my father’s, mother’s, uncle’s and aunt’s couldn’t do out of fear. Let God judge me, I am only sorry for the pain of leaving you this early.

My prints will forever remain in the sands of history for I have done my time based on the path I chose freely & willingly.

Now that my torment in Nigeria is over, please lay me to rest on mother earth where you all will join me in due time, take my voice and hand it over to the next good youth whom I hope by Gods Almighty grace will benefit a better Nation.

For I know that freedom is coming, yes freedom will come tomorrow.

Good bye…

The Perfect Story for Kaduna

With the recent crisis in Kaduna State, Northern Nigerian, which broke out on Thursday 18th October, 2018, the almost immediate spill over on Sunday 21st October, 2018, and then the Friday 26th October, 2019; this latest one following this breaking news:

“KIDNAPPED AGOM ADARA MURDERED

The king of Adara, Kachia LGA, Southern Kaduna, His Highness, Dr Maiwada Galadima, Agom Adara, who was kidnapped on the Oct 19, on his way back from a meeting with Gov El-Rufai has been murdered after the payment ₦5 million ransom.”

The criticism has been centered on this being a political killing….

Some want it to be known that the State Government under the leadership of Mal. El- Rufai has shown it’s clear disdain for southern sections of the State because of the incessant problem in these areas.

The Fulani herdsmen tagged conflict in these southern most part of the state has not fully abated & a majority of these sections had voted against the ruling party in previous elections, regardless of the official results announced after the last LG elections.

Governor El-Rufai’s utterances & actions, since assuming office has been said by some critics to have breeded the current crisis and killings going on in Kaduna state. To these persons El-Rufia’s utterances have always been laddened with hate for these particular section of the state.

Watch this video https://t.co/oyxtG897V5

video of elrufai

But though El-Rufai is not known for moderation & tact in his blunt utterances, but he is not entirely wrong.

It is true that the narrative on BOTH sides has been lace with more exclusive undertones than unconditional peaceful overtures.

The Story of Kaduna’s reoccurring ethnic-religious crisis is that of endless reprisals.

I read the perfect most story recently that all the people in Kaduna must read.

A delightful cousin of mine had put it up on whassap.

“At the time of Obatala The King in Yoruba land,
Three people came to him dragging a young man with them and said to him:
Kabiyesi!!! (Your highness) This man has murdered our father.

Obatala: Why did you kill their father?

Young man: I’m a goatherd. My goat ate from their father’s farm, and he threw a stone at my goat and it died; so I also took the stone and threw it at their father and he also died.

Obatala: Because of this, I pass judgment on your charge of murder by sentencing you to death.

The Young man said:
I ask for 3 days before you execute the judgment. My late father left me some wealth and I have a sister to take care of. If you kill me now, the wealth and my sister will have no guardian.

Obatala: Who will stand for your bail?

Young man: Looking into the crowd, he pointed at Lamurudu.

Obatala asked: Do you agree to stand for him, Lamurudu?

Lamurudu answered, Beeni (yes).

Obatala enquired further: You agree to stand for someone you don’t know, and if he doesn’t return you’ll receive his penalty.

Lamurudu answered: I accept.

The young man left but after two days, and into the third day there was still no sign of him.

Everyone was very afraid for Lamurudu who had accepted to receive the penalty of death if the man failed to return.

Just before it was time for dinner, the Goat Herdsman appeared looking very exhausted and he stood before Obatala.

The Young man spoke up: I have handed the wealth and the welfare of my sister to my uncle and I am back to receive the penalty.

You may execute the penalty now.

In great shock and surprise, Obatala said: And why did you return after having a chance to escape the death penalty?

Young man:

I was afraid, it will appear that humanity has lost integrity and the ability to fulfill promises kept”.

Obatala turned and looked at Lamurudu and asked him: And why did you stand for him?

Lamurudu responded:

I was afraid, it might appear that humanity have lost the will to do good to others.”

These words and events moved the brothers who had wanted justice for their father’s death very deeply and they decided to forgive the young goat herdsman.

In furious anger, Obatala asked “Why?!!!”

They said:

We are afraid, it will appear as though forgiveness has lost place in the heart of humanity.

I have also share this beautiful message and passed it on with the hope that it might be a reminder of how forgiveness is an integral aspect of peace. Such that doing good may not be ever lost to us.

I encourage all the sides in Kaduna to embrace peace, forgive & forget all the ills supposedly done to them in the past or present. Let it pass on, or else I fear that…. Our humanity is slowly being lost.

Be safe & God bless you always.