Saturday, March 11, 2017

Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: Orwellian Doublespeak About Buhari’s Health

May be that is the way the President of the country you reside is hidden away from the people who put him in power when he's facing any health challenge. Some of you can never see anything wrong with the manner the country is administered because of reasons best known to you. Mr know it all.

On Fri, 3/10/17, Cornelius Hamelberg <> wrote:

Subject: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: Orwellian Doublespeak About Buhari's Health
To: "USA Africa Dialogue Series" <>
Date: Friday, March 10, 2017, 8:45 PM

Sami allahu liman hamidah - rabbana lakal hamd
Buhari returns to Nigeria !
This has laid to rest the many ugly rumours and the
unhealthy speculations by the ne'er-do-well, about the
whereabouts of
the President.

Since President Buhari is the president of all
Nigerians, I wish
that I knew exactly how to express the same sentiment of
thanks and
gratefulness to the Almighty for bringing him back safe and
sound to
our Nigeria in all the indigenous Naija dialects and all of
varieties of Nigerian English - of which there are many
varieties - and in terms of indigenous language interference
- as I
pointed out to a dear friend this afternoon, there must even
be a
variety of jargon known as "Biafran English" - if
should ever want to "nationalise" that speech
within and even without imaginary borders. As to exactly how
sounds - as with all languages, with special lexical
prosody, thought patterns and usual modes of expression, we
ask those who speak it fluently and fully understand the

It was frail looking Muhammadu Buhari that we saw getting
off that
plane on TV - but - another Baruch Hashem - his eyes
bright. May the Almighty fortify him and shine His light
upon him is
our prayer, according to His will. We heard his spokesmen
Garba say on BBC Focus of Africa that the President will be
some more time to rest and heard the
voice of President Buhari himself confirm his intention to
do so

It should be strictly, doctors orders - in this case
peace and

The advice that one usually gives to the Brethren - the
includes yours truly and all those who believe that when the
orders complete rest for two or three months he only has the
toubabs / oyinbo in mind and that real Africans are
usually back in
the field playing football again after a mere two or three
I guess that rest in this case should include rest from
the little
jabs from certain sections of the always oppositional and
Naija press that would like to torment him even now. May
they never
be satisfied!

Good thing that the vice president is already performing
at peak

On Monday, 13
February 2017 08:43:08 UTC+1, Farooq A. Kperogi
wrote:My "Politics of
Grammar" column in today's
Daily Trust on Sunday
By Farooq
A. Kperogi,
Doublespeak is intentional manipulation of
language to conceal uncomfortable truths or to cleverly tell
outright lies. The term came to us from George Orwell,
although he didn't use it himself. The term he used in his
famous book titled 1984 is "newspeak," which he
said consists in limiting the range of words people use and
in stripping language of semantic precision in order to
facilitate government propaganda and mind
 The mainstreaming of Orwellian doublespeak
in Trump's America is already causing an enormous spike in
the sales of Orwell's 1984, which was first
published in 1949, especially after a Trump administration
official by the name of Kellyanne Conway defended habitually
intentional falsehoods by the Trump administration as merely
"alternative facts."

All governments lie, but the brazenness and
consistency of the lies of the Buhari government are simply
remarkable. It competes favorably with the Trump
administration in prevarications and loud, bold defiance of
basic ethical proprieties. Nowhere has this become more
apparent in recent time than in the information that
government officials share with the Nigerian public about
President Muhammadu Buhari's
 I have no evidence for this, but my hunch
tells me that Buhari isn't nearly as sick as his
detractors make it seem, but the illogic, intentionally
deceitful and mutually contradictory language of government
spokespeople in explaining away the president's prolonged
absence from Nigeria have conspired to fuel unhealthy
speculations about the state of his
As I told the BBC World Service in a February
7, 2017 interview, the labyrinth of tortuous lies, fibs,
half-truths, and conscious deceit that emanate from the
government make it impossible to even guess the
The president's media advisers admit that
the president is in London on a "medical vacation"
(which is doublespeak for "he is sick and needs medical
attention"), and his latest letter to the National
Assembly said he was awaiting the results of medical tests,
but the Acting President and the Minister of Information say
he is "hale and hearty" (which means he is vigorous and
doing well). No one can be simultaneously on a "medical
vacation," be awaiting the results of medical tests, and
be "hale and hearty." That's a logical
It gets even stranger. Senator Abu Ibrahim, a
senator from Katsina State who said he was in touch with the
president, told newsmen that the president was neither on
medical vacation nor hale and hearty, but only "exhausted
by the weight of the problems the country is going
through." So London is the president's destination of
choice to rest, while millions of people who voted him into
office squirm in the severe existential torment his
administration either deepened or caused?
On February 7, Presidential Media Adviser
Femi Adesina also told Channels TV that he was
"daily" in touch with the President, but
doesn't "speak with him direct." How does one
"keep in touch" with someone thousands of miles
away without "directly speaking" with
Well, Adesina said he does that by being
"in touch with London daily." I am not making this
up. You can watch the interview on ChannelTV's YouTube
channel. But it gets worse still. He added: "People
around him will speak daily. Daily." You would think
the word "daily" was in danger of going out of
circulation and needed to be verbally curated on national
TV.This doublespeak recalls my grammar column of
December 10, 2009 on the late President Yar'adua's
health. It was titled "Yar'adua's Health: Amb.
Aminchi's Impossible Grammatical Logic." Read it below
and note the similarities with what is going on now.
Enjoy:Nigeria's ambassador to Saudi Arabia,
Alhaji Garba Aminchi, was quoted by an
Abuja newspaper to have fulminated against
the unnervingly prevailing buzz that President Yar'adua is
in a persistent vegetative state and in grave danger of
imminent death. "And all these insinuations are lies,"
he was quoted to have said. "To the best of my knowledge,
I see him every day, and he is
To the best of his knowledge, he sees the
ailing president every day? So our ambassador is not even
sure if, indeed, he sees the president every day, but he is
certain nonetheless that the president is recovering. Huh?
This is a supreme instantiation of a case where thought,
language, and materiality have parted
At issue here is the idiom "to the best of
my knowledge," which is also commonly rendered as "to my
knowledge." This expression, according to
the Macmillan
Dictionary, is used for saying that you think something
is true, but you are not completely certain, as in, "To
the best of my knowledge, the President has not decided if
he will resign because of his failing health."
The Free
Dictionary defines the idiom thus: "as I
understand it." The Oxford Dictionary also defines it as,
"from the information you have, although you may not know
So, the idiom is deployed principally to
express thought-processes that reside in the province of
incertitude, of inexactitude. If, for instance, someone were
to ask me (and somebody did indeed ask me a couple of days
ago) if Yar'adua was dead, I would say "well, to the
best of my knowledge he is alive." Here, the phrase "to
the best of my knowledge" admits of both the possibility
that he could be alive or dead. In other words, it betrays
the uncertainty and tentativeness of the information I have
about the query.
Now, for Ambassador Aminchi to use the idiom
"to the best of my knowledge" (which admits of
uncertainty) in the same sentence as "I see him every day
and he is recovering" (which connotes cocksure certitude)
evokes an eerily bizarre disjunction between thought,
speech, and reality, one that is impossible to conceive of
even with the wildest stretch of fantasy. This is as much a
grammatical slip as it is a logical
One perfectly legitimate interpretive
possibility from the ambassador's statement is that he
actually sees a figure in Saudi Arabia in the likeness of
President Yar'adua that is convalescing from a sickness,
but is uncertain if this is merely the apparition of a
spooky specter masquerading as Yar'adua or if it's
Yar'adua himself. In spite of this dubiety, however, he is
positive that the real Yar'adua is
This is obviously not what the ambassador
wants to be understood as saying. So, one or two of three
things are happening here. The first is that the ambassador
is being barefacedly mendacious in order to conceal the
graveness of the condition of Yar'adua's health. And
this won't be out of character. After all, English
diplomat and writer Henry Wotton once famously defined an
ambassador as an "honest man sent to lie abroad for the
good of his country." Only that, in this case, our
ambassador is lying abroad for the bad of his
The second possibility is that the ambassador
is simply clueless about the meaning of the idiom. And a
third possibility is that he has been misquoted or
mistranslated by the reporter who wrote the
Now, this isn't an idle, nitpicking censure
of an ambassador's innocent slip by a snooty,
self-appointed grammar police. This issue is not only about
the health of Yar'adua; it is also about the health of our
country. Since Yar'adua took critically ill, the nation
has been in even much graver illness. In somber moments such
as this, we cannot afford the luxury of tolerating
intentionally deceitful and irresponsible political language
from public officials.
between Bad Language and
In his famous 1946 essay
titled "Politics
and the English Language," George Orwell
railed against this very tendency among the public officials
of his day. He wrote: "Political speech and writing are
largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the
continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and
deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can
indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too
brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with
the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political
language has to consist largely of euphemism,
question-begging and sheer cloudy
Do you see any parallels here between
Ambassador Aminchi's illogical grammar—and indeed that
of most Nigerian public officials—and the public officials
of Orwell's days?
Interestingly, the problem endures to this
day even in Britain. On Nov. 3, 2009 the Guardian of
London reported that a British
parliamentary committee excoriated "politicians and civil
servants for their poor command of the English language"
epitomized in the "misleading and vague official
language" of prominent
Tony Wright, chairman of the committee, said:
"Good government requires good language, while bad
language is a sign of poor government. We propose that cases
of bad official language should be treated as
Maybe the committee chairman's sentiments
are a bit of a rhetorical stretch, but someone should tell
Ambassador Aminchi that he cannot simultaneously be unsure
that he sees the ailing president and yet be certain that
the president is recovering. That's impossible grammatical
logic. And that can only sprout from a mind that is wracked
by psychic

Farooq A. Kperogi,
ProfessorJournalism & Emerging
School of Communication &
MediaSocial Science
Building Room 5092 MD
2207402 Bartow Avenue
State University
Kennesaw, Georgia, USA
Cell: (+1) 404-573-9697
Personal website: www.farooqkperogi.comTwitter: @farooqkperogAuthor of Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms
of Nigerian English in a Global World

"The nice thing about pessimism is that
you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly
surprised." G. F. Will


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