Friday, February 24, 2017

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

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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