Sunday, February 26, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Emir Sanusi on Polygamy, Procreation, and Poverty

Ogbeni Kadiri,

I'm sure we too "hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Only last month the unprecedented was announced : the Buhari government was handing out 5,000 naira to each of the poorest in society. But Nigeria is not a social welfare state.

Bear with me.

As our man Einstein once asked,

"A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?"

About this marriage business

" 1 to 1 is the Christian style, 4 to 1 is the Muslim style, 10 to 1 is grandpa's style" (Demba Conta : School Days ) As you know, some guys are still on "grandpa's style"

For sure, memory is sometimes a little hazy, but I seem to remember that during my time in Nigeria - or was it a little later, that a certain state government in Northern Nigeria issued an order that all single women of a marriageable age should either move home to their parents or get married within x number of days - or else! I remember thinking Lawd A Mercy, so all the ashawo man-hunters & toto-sellers should move home to their parents or get married immediately!

What if the parents are dead, what happens then? And what if the parents are divorced ? Maybe their parent/parents should also get married???? Can't remember if these single women - some with children - were threatened with long time imprisonment or paying with some lashes or some unpayable fines.

And these paradoxical line from the bard's cookbook:

"She's nobody's child
The Law can't touch her at all." (She belongs to me)

All said and done, it must have been a God-sent bonanza for some bachelors still shuffering and Shmiling in monkery (which is foreign to al-Islam) and some of the already married, to increase the number of their wives, "darling I'm arranging for some help in the kitchen". It must have generated a passionate social movement, I imagined a mass exodus of the locusts, up North, some of the prospective husbands converting to Islam en mass to get wedded in the same way that some of them converted in the 1980s, in order to get some foreign exchange to go to Riyadh...

Inevitably, the Emir of Kano's proposals are sure to generate some social upheavals. What's going to happen with the "surplus" women? Sadaqah?

Not so long ago : Kano State mass marriage program

Even more recently, somewhere this alternative was clear : Marry two wives or be jailed

It was St. Paul who said, " It's better to marry than to burn (with lust) or by " to burn" did he mean "to burn in the other fire (the hell fire) "?

Please be cognisant of this hard fact: The current Emir of Kano is both a traditionalist (the Sunnah) and a modernist, probably in tune with some of the reformists currents in Islam - to fit local exigencies. Na so a see am O!

You are particularly incensed that by that sort of law marriage should be only for the rich and not for the poor.

No doubt you are thinking about the fate of poor guys like myself who may be unmarried or who are already married, some to three, four, or more. Will such unions be disbanded by law, just because we are poor?

As Peter, Paul & Mary put it :

"If religion were a thing that money could buy,
The rich would live and the poor would die." (All my trials)

Joan Baez sings it a little differently:

"If living were a thing that money could buy
Then the rich would live and the poor would die"

Maybe a special fund should be set up to give financial assistance to young men and women who want to get married?

Personally I've always been somewhat distressed by the thesis that the current Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II putatively embraces, the thesis that poverty is a good breeding ground for terrorism , as he says in so many words here: "Those of us in the north have all seen the economic consequences of men who are not capable of maintaining one wife, marrying four. They end up producing 20 children, not educating them, leaving them on the streets, and they end up as thugs and terrorists."

Of course, he was speaking generally and he does know what he's talking about even if, as always there are exceptions to the rule as in the vase of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab , according to wikipedia : " Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is the youngest of 16 children[7] of Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, a wealthy Nigerian banker and businessman, and is a son of his second wife, Aisha.[8] The father was described by The Times in 2009 as being "one of the richest men in Africa."[9] He is a former Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and former Nigerian Federal Commissioner for Economic Development.[7][9][10]

The family comes from Funtua in Katsina State. Abdulmutallab was raised initially in an affluent neighbourhood of Kaduna,[11][12] in Nigeria's north,[7] and at the family home in Nairobi, Kenya.[13] He attended the Essence International School in Kaduna as a young child. He also took classes at the Rabiatu Mutallib Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, which had been named for his grandfather, at that time.[14] He also attended the The British School of Lomé, Togo.[15] Considered a gifted student, he also enjoyed playing PlayStation and basketball.[11] Abdulmutallab studied at University College London in September 2005, where he studied Engineering and Business Finance,[16] and earned a degree in mechanical engineering in June 2008.[17]

According to one of his cousins, as a teenager, Abdulmutallab became very pious as a Muslim, and detached himself from others of his age. He condemned his father's banking profession as "immoral" and "un-Islamic" for charging interest, urging him to quit. "That kind of detachment from others and singular focus on Islam was a common thread in Mr. Abdulmutallab's life, according to family members, friends and classmates."[11]

On Sunday, 26 February 2017 00:23:22 UTC+1, ogunlakaiye wrote:

Bubonic plague wiped out 33 per cent of European population in the 14th century and a century later Europe was overpopulated to the extent of exterminating the American, Australian and New Zealand aborigins and planting Europeans in those non-European territories. Yet, overpopulated Europe never practised polygamy. Thus polygamy has nothing to do with overpopulation. Family pattern in Europe of that time was not firmly established on a wife and a husband co-habiting as men challenged fellow men to duel on the right to copulate with available woman. The survivor of such duel was automatically embraced by the woman on whose duel was fought and after copulation and pregnancy, she was abandoned by the man who was out to look for another prey to copulate with.

In Africa, marriage between a man and woman was systematic and the practice of polygamy preceded the incursion of Islam in Africa. Marriage to more than one wife was not caused by a male's desire just to satisfy his sexual appetite but to procreate. In his racist tuned book titled : The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa, Lord Lugard could not help observing the following, "The custom, which seems fairly general among the negro tribes, of suckling a child for two or three years, during which a woman lives apart from her husband, tends to decrease population." The implication of what Lugard meant with 'during which a woman lives apart from her husband,' is that the man never had sexual intercourse for two or three years with the suckling mother. Polygamy, in reality, ensured that every female was mated. Even where a man was monogamous and the wife attained menopause, the wife would take initiative to get a wife that was still productive for the husband since she considered that continuous copulation of the husband with her at a menopause age constituted wasting of his sperm. In the culturally unpolluted Africa, sex was never considered a leisure time engagements but solely to procreate. There were no prostitutes in pre-colonial Africa. Sanusi probably fills his harem with 30 wives while advocating that other men should limit the number of their wives to one or two. What did he produce and sell in Nigeria to get the financial and economic power to marry more than a wife? He should love his neighbour as himself and in the absence of that, he should shut his mouth and keep a low profile.


Från: <> för Cornelius Hamelberg <>
Skickat: den 25 februari 2017 16:28
Till: USA Africa Dialogue Series
Ämne: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Emir Sanusi on Polygamy, Procreation, and Poverty

As the late great Cardinal Rex Lawson put it : Nah so a see am o!

Some obvious problems in the way

Re- Population control by not having so many wives and siring so many children - China is a practical example of population control by state legislation.

Should it be only the rich who should be permitted to have many children?

From the point of view of the Divine injunction to fill the earth, we are to suppose that on that score, the Almighty is happy with the sleeping giant, Nigeria and Nigerians. Despite decimation by the slave trade, war, famine, poverty and disease,Wallaahu rau'oofun bil ibaad - by the grace of our merciful God, the human race will not be extinguished in Nigeria. On the whole the statistics for population increase in Nigeria is encouraging: In 1960 Nigeria's population was about 33 million souls and in 2017 the challenge will be exceeding 185 million mouths to feed, clothe, provide potable water and electricity, shelter, educate , employ, as useful citizens etc.

In this forum there's often the good wishes extended from one person to another with these words :

"May your tribe increase"

Since Nigeria practices some form of representative democracy and governments are elected through the ballot box, one man one vote, every citizen over the age of eighteen eligible to cast their ballot - this means that given the fact that ethnicity, regionalism and religion are important factors, there must therefore be a conscious will for ethnic and religious groups in all the regions to want to increase their populations and thereby their influence through the ballot box. To tell Muslims that they must abandon the sunnah of polygamy/ being allowed a maximum of four wives if they can afford them - "and those that their right hand possess" should be counter-productive should they believe that this is a smart move by non-Muslims to severely curtail their potential for political power, even dominance - as indeed would be the case if Palestinians were told to please start having fewer babies (for whatever reason)

The solution of course is the evolution of the various part/ mansions of the federation into the consciousness of being one indivisible nation, i.e. that we are all in the same boat.

There's the catholic church and their laws and teaching about abortion, contraception etc., but since Catholics don't practice polygamy which is a main focus in this discussion it's worthwhile knowing a little about

Islam on contraception .

Prophet Muhammad on coitus interruptus .

A well known hadith is Rasulullah salallahu alaihi wa salaam being asked about contraception and replying that those souls that are destined to be born will be born, no matter what.

On Saturday, 25 February 2017 01:10:41 UTC+1, ogunlakaiye wrote:

A bat cannot be classified purely as a bird or as a mouse just like Nigeria cannot be classified purely as a Republic or as a Monarchy. That there are monarchs in the Federal Republic of Nigeria is just a demonstration of the political insanity reigning in the country. Emir Sanusi, the monarch of Kano is not entitled to talk on polygamy, procreation and poverty either in his emirate or in Nigeria as whole. He cannot undo us and be our sympathiser at the same time.

As late Chinua Achebe observed in his, Ant Hills of Savanah, the colonial master met two twins in Nigeria, and made one a president and the other a shit carrier. Expanding further on his observation, I would add that the one that was made President had seen to it that the families from the generation of his twin brother remain shit carriers while the President's families are prosperous. All Nigerians, from the beginning, were poor or rich but now Nigerians are divided into impoverished masses and a few minority rich.

Tradition or culture in any society is a function of industrial and economic development. That is why tradition and culture change with industrial and economic development. Despite large numbers of Western educated Nigerians, the traditional and cultural belief in rearing children as insurance towards old age that typified agrararian society still exist today. The more children you have, it is believed that, at least, one will succeed economically to take care of the family, both near and extended. Emphasis on procreation is even more pronounced in Nigeria today because pensioners from states and federal government do not get their pensions when due.

Family Planning Council of Nigeria (FPCN) was formed in 1964 and during the military era, the name was changed to Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN). Donor agencies to PPFN are United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), European Union, Department For International Development (DFID) of the British Council and Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC). PPFN has 75 clinics spread over 36 states in Nigeria. Under the pretext of combating invented soaring maternal mortality, the PPFN aggressively conduct abortion, sterilization of women and operation of contraceptives into women. The new name for family planning in Nigeria, as in many third-world countries, is Reproductive Health Care.

In 1987, General Ibrahim Babangida's led federal government, through his Minster of Health, Professor Olikoye Ransom Kuti, and the United States Agencies for International Development (USAID), spent N228 million on Babagida's government population policy of one-woman-four-children. Through his Minister of Health, Professor Eyitan Lambo, President Olusegun Obasanjo introduced a new population policy of one-man-four children. Neither Babangida nor Obasanjo's government population policy was obeyed by the educated elites not to talk of illiterates that make up majority of the population of the country. Nigeria, at moment, is not suffering from overpopulation but unjust distribution of our collective patrimony. In the Northern part of Nigeria, particularly, the Governors are used to collecting revenue allocations from the Federal government, but instead of investing the funds on education and welfare of their people, they steal the entire federal allocations. Most of them travel to Mecca every week for Friday's prayer. When their people complain of poverty, they respond : Allah Ta Rago, meaning God is the defender of the poor. Not less than 17 former Governors from Northern Nigeria, have been arraigned and charged to court for plundering their states of billions of naira. In fact, 12 of these Governors are from Sharia ruled States but they are not being tried in Sharia courts where they would have had their hands amputated long time ago.

Kenneth wrote, "When we refuse an inoculation for our child, thinking we are protecting it, we endanger all children." I read through the article of Moses, to which Kenneth is responding, and I could not find anything relating to refusal to inoculate our child. Can you please help me solve the riddle, "we refuse an inoculation for our child?"

S. Kadiri   

Från: <> för Kenneth Harrow <>
Skickat: den 22 februari 2017 18:58
Till: usaafricadialogue
Ämne: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Emir Sanusi on Polygamy, Procreation, and Poverty

It's very difficult for many people to see issues outside their own narrow cultural orbit.

It also takes a small amount of facts to determine how overpopulation impacts the larger community, the state, the continent, the world. We have a finite world, with far too many people in it, given our resources. We'll go own increasing demands for energy and food, demands on water, and  go on hearing meaningless responses, like, look how much land there is. that's like saying the earth is flat because it looks that way.

When we refuse an inoculation for our child, thinking we are protecting it, we endanger all children. We need to think in community terms on a planetary scale. Arguments in favor of ethnic or cultural exceptionalism only damage everyone.

Lastly, arguing to a muslim that they can't take more than one wife accords with the qur'an which states you can't marry more than one woman unless you can afford to pay all the necessary expenses. If people ignore that injunction, they violate a reasonable law, as if they are somehow exceptions.


If we think of ourselves as belonging to one large family, then we have to accept the demands of the whole family, not just our immediate family.

That means u.s. wealth and western wealth can't go just to our citizens; it also means what one member of the family decides to do impacts all of us.




Kenneth Harrow

Dept of English and Film Studies

Michigan State University

619 Red Cedar Rd

East Lansing, MI 48824



From: usaafricadialogue <> on behalf of "" <>
Reply-To: usaafricadialogue <>
Date: Wednesday 22 February 2017 at 11:51
To: usaafricadialogue <>
Subject: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Emir Sanusi on Polygamy, Procreation, and Poverty



Emir Muhammadu Sanusi of Kano recently caused controversy by proposing a new Islamic family law to regulate polygamy, which he linked to unregulated procreation, poverty, juvenile delinquency, and terrorism.

In principle, I agree with the emir of Kano's pronouncement on polygamy, procreation, and poverty. However, there is need to proceed with caution on the legislative intervention he is proposing. I am not Muslim or Hausa so I may not be able to speak to the theological and cultural issue at stake. However, I do know that our societies in Africa are driven by patriarchy and notions of masculine pride and dignity. This culture tends to mediate how people see these things.

Like the emir, I used to display an unqualified intolerance for people who want to bring many children into this world despite lacking the means to care for them. I used to preach vehemently and somewhat haughtily against unbridled procreation among my own poor extended family. 

Then I decided to scold this stubborn member of the family, a primary school teacher who insisted, as he put it, on having as many children as God would give him, despite clearly not having the means to care for them. Several people in our family had spoken to him to no avail.

Because I was occasionally supporting him financially I felt that I had some leverage and sway with him and could convince him to see what every other person was seeing and drop his policy of unrestrained procreation. The first time I talked to him, he listened to my long speech and politely promised to look into the matter.

A couple of years and another child later, I decided to confront him again on the issue. Everyone felt that he would only listen to me. This time he was ready for me, fuming while listening to me. Because he is much older than me, I took his fuming to be a response to my tone and decided to persuade him rather than scold him for his choice. 

When my sermon was over, he cleared his throat and declared that he too had something to say to me. He said essentially that as a man, a man of our ethnic group, there are two things that one aspires to possess in abundance: wealth and children. These two possessions or at least one of them, he said, made one a man. He said he didn't have money and could never be wealthy, having become too old for wealth to happen to him. All he had left to demonstrate his masculinity in order not to be considered a failure in life was to have as many children as he could have and to be remembered for being blessed with children when he is gone. He said people like me who "have money" would not understand, since we already had the ability to possess the two gold standards of manly success. He said if he had money like me, my advice would make sense and he would not need to have many children.

Folks like him, he said, will have lived unremarkable, vain lives if they did not procreate liberally when they were on this earth. With my wealth (he saw me as wealthy) I was already guaranteed respect as a man, and regardless of how many children I have, I was assured of maximum cultural capital as a man, as well as a legacy. He then tried to appeal to my clan pride. He said I was a small boy, that I didn't know that our lineage had been depleted by untimely deaths and needed to be repopulated, and that I should appreciate and support his effort to assure the lineage of continuity and human capital in the future. Finally, he asked if I didn't think it was mean and selfish of me, a successful man assured of recognition and respect, to stop him from fulfilling his manly destiny the only way he could still do so. He was accusing me of trying to stop him from getting to where I was--a place of masculine accomplishment as defined by our culture. He was accusing me of trying to kick away the proverbial ladder that got me to the place of respect he imagined me to occupy. 

I was humbled. I piped down. He had successfully emotionally blackmailed me. He had turned the leverage I thought I had on him against me. I came into the conversation on the offensive. He had put me on the defensive. I now had to reassure him that I was not out to keep him from building a legacy of masculine accomplishment. Even though I still disagreed fundamentally with his rationalization of his unbridled procreation, he made sense from a purely cultural perspective, the most dominant frame of reference available to him.

We agreed to disagree on the issue, and I told him that he would see my point in the future and that I hoped that he would not regret shunning my advice.

Even though we parted on a note of disagreement, I came away with a better appreciation for where he was coming from, for his masculine anxieties, and for the unspoken patriarchal cultural pressures against which he was struggling, and which were unfortunately determining his procreation decision.

I knew that he was speaking from a well established cultural script. In my village in Benue state, a man considered successful in the old days would boast that he had money and he had many children, meaning that he was complete. I connected what he had said to this manly tradition of success and fulfilment.

I realized that as personal as this issue may seem, it is deeply interwoven with our society's notions of masculinity and masculine pride, and that unless the culture evolves persons operating solely within it may never be persuaded to act outside of its dictates.


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