Monday, March 13, 2017

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

Well taken Cornelius,
But the issue is not much as in Nigerians wanting to know the type of ailment the President is suffering from, than the President talking directly to the people from wherever he was receiving treatment. This would have defused tension and all the unwarrantable speculations that it triggered. Rather is was senate President and Speaker House of Reps. toady, and Mr. ABC tomorrow, who saw the President, coming to tell us that he is hale and hearty. The question is if he is hale and hearty, why does he need prayers? Unless for a different purpose. Information management is key here! Don't be surprised that some of his Aids may use this opportunity to loot the treasury. Remember during Yar Ardua's health crisis, it was reported that even the security vote was traced to someone's private account.
On Sun, 3/12/17, Cornelius Hamelberg <> wrote:

Subject: Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: Orwellian Doublespeak About Buhari's Health
To: "USA Africa Dialogue Series" <>
Date: Sunday, March 12, 2017, 12:14 AM

Dear Godwin Okeke,
That was cute of you signing off as "Mr. Know it
How to explain? In this life I have been assigned to play
the role
Cornelius - nobody else - and I'm writing my own lines,
just as you
are writing yours.

Like Ray Charles, I'm fresh
out of tears.
My friend Menachem told me yesterday when I complained to
him, he
said " Well, you know that the Germans like
The Germans like titles and some people don't like the
Germans, all
because of the führer
- and so you see, for some people, sometimes, one bad apple
represents the whole bunch. You could even extend that one
bad apple
to someone like this
ex-Hitler Youth

I like your name - just as I liked the name of our
teacher Vidal
Godwin in the third form of secondary school.
It's a good
name, as good as other names such as Good-luck,
Patience, Blessing; the Almighty has multiplied us into
millions of
souls to serve him and so Besserwisser
(good German word), I love you too, I love our people
and this
means that your problems are also mine, really. It's not
as if should
I be the weakest link in the chain then the problem is mine
and not
yours also
According to another besserwisser, "We
get the governments we deserve" - this is
unarguably the
case with one-man-one-vote Nigeria, so, in my opinion, if
some people
don't agree with this and want to become self-governing
as an
independent nation to be known as e.g. Biafra, that 's
absolutely OK
with me as long as they go for it peacefully, starting with
referendum, because I don't want to countenance any
wanton killing; I
don't want anybody to die just because they ask for a
divorce from
being married to Nigeria.
Question : Shouldn't
we all be having a good time?

I understand that you asked a rhetorical question.
In Sweden, we have a parliamentary system of government
and a
prime minister, not a president. Here, transparency is a
reality and
not just a slogan - so if our prime minister were to fall
ill for an
extended period of time - to the extent of not being able to
his duties as prime minister, I do believe that it would be
in place
for us to know about it (unless of course - God forbid it
something like HIV - which has such a stigma) - but there
privacy laws and so normally my medical journal cannot be
and made public just like that, not to talk about that of
our King or
our prime minister. No one's extended illness has to
cause a crisis
in government or a constitutional crisis; I'm sure that
there are
provisions in our constitution and in the Nigerian
constitution as to
how to how to deal with such an eventuality.
Check this out : US
presidents who concealed ill health
Concerning the mystery enveloping President Buhari's
state of
health and the question, of transparency about the matter,
our own
Oga, Professor Falola has explained that it's cultural -
mark his
words: "Africans
don't like to report their health, whether it's a poor
farmer or
the president"
. Africans. All
Africans, generally? Is Godwin Okeke an Oyinbo or an
Mainland or

is that as far as I know, no one has yet asked President
exactly what the matter is. When he took time off and was
off to
London to fix his ear
everybody knew that it was an ear problem . Now it's
something more serious than just his ear. Bottom line, I
think that
in Sweden too a person whether a poor farmer or the prime
has a right to privacy and even if he is a public servant,
he/ she
does not have to make his ailment public.

On Saturday, 11 March 2017
13:57:23 UTC+1, Godwin Okeke wrote:Cornelius,

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 <>

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

 To: "USA Africa Dialogue
Series" <usaafric...@>

 Date: Friday, March 10, 2017, 8:45 PM













 Sami allahu liman hamidah - rabbana lakal



 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.

 wrote:My "Politics of

 Grammar" column in today's

 Daily Trust on Sunday

 By Farooq

 A. Kperogi,



 Doublespeak is intentional manipulation

 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

 in Trump's America is already causing
an enormous spike in

 the sales of Orwell's 1984, which was

 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

 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

 tells me that Buhari isn't nearly as
sick as his

 detractors make it seem, but the illogic,

 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

 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

 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


 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

 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

 Alhaji Garba Aminchi, was quoted by an

 Abuja newspaper to have fulminated

 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

 my knowledge," which is also commonly
rendered as "to my

 knowledge." This expression, according

 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

 The Free

 Dictionary defines the idiom thus: "as

 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

 "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


 The second possibility is that the

 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


 Now, this isn't an idle, nitpicking

 of an ambassador's innocent slip by a

 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

 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

 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

 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

 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

 language" of prominent


 Tony Wright, chairman of the committee,

 "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

 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

 you are constantly being either proven
right or pleasantly

 surprised." G. F. Will









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