WHERE DID ALL THE HAUSA PEOPLE GO?

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Alright, let me explain the random title. I am curious as to why in over 10 years of living in the United States, I have never met a Hausa man or woman in my age range. As far as I am concerned, Hausa people are practically extinct. Of course, I know they exist, I grew up and went to school with Hausas. However, I have only met 2 Hausa people in the U.S. I met a Hausa man (and official pervert) while working at Blockbuster and a relative of mine is married to a Hausa lady. Neither of these two are my age mates and I am desperately seeking Hausa people for reasons that will become clear as you continue reading.


How did this issue come about? Well, my brother-in-law (a non-Nigerian) recently asked me to talk to him about the main ethnic groups in Nigeria. I had no problem talking about Igbo people and Yoruba people. I talked to hime Efik people, Ijaws and the Calabari, to name a few. When it was time to talk about Hausa people, however, I stuttered. It wasn't because I didn't know what to say, it was because all I had to say were negative stereotypes. That made me worry. I couldn't help but think about how some white people always claim to have at least one black friend and thus are not racist. Well, I couldn't even make a similar claim! I have no Hausa people as close friends or acquaintances and am now worried that I have a serious bias against Hausa people.

So, am I biased against Hausa people? I like to think not as I wouldn't have any reason to be. I have never had any bad experiences with any Hausa people, except for the pervert I referred to earlier. I have fond memories of sharing meat with muslim Hausa and non Hausas as is customary after Ramadan. I also have fond memories of drinkng funa de nunu (I hope I got that right) as a child when my mother was transferred to Abuja. Yet, I do have a lot of negative stereotypes in my head. Living in Lagos, a lot of the 'gatemen' were Hausa and I still to this day wonder if they, as a group, encourage schooling as much as other ethnic groups. I also, can't help but think of a girl I went to secondary school with who was rumored to be married off to a wealthy Alhaji quickly after she took her SS6 exams. Oh, and the fact that so many of Nigeria's military dictatorships were lead by Hausa men e.g. Babangida, Abacha.

When talking to my brother-in-law, I quickly realized I hadn't said anything positive, so I dug deep into my memory and remembered books I read about Hausa history. I told him the story of Queen Amina, explained that Hausa people tend to have a serious horse culture, play lots of polo, have a lovely language and have stories of great warriors and so on.

So, again, I ask - where did all the Hausa people go? My uncle explained that he knows a lot of Hausa people. He's 64 years young. He thought the reason why I didn't know any was because some Hausa people are a little conservative and I would not meet them at the normal Nigerian social functions. I figured that was fine, but how come I had not met them at the usual intellectual arenas? Such as conferences or institutions of learning. Not even at my local African store or any store where I live. Before you start thinking that that sounds ridiculous, please consider that the residential community in which I live is packed with Nigerians. In fact, my city has so many Nigerians that we have a Redeemed Church around the corner and you can never leave your house without seeing gele, buba ati iro, and hearing Efik, Yoruba, Igbo or even Calabari. You constantly see mothers screaming out for little Chioma or Lanre at the local Target store, Walmart store, Safeway and Shoppers supermarket or even the many playgrounds and parks that litter my neighborhood. In fact, in my little part of my residential community I can count at least 4 Nigerian families within seeing distance.

Anyway, what really has me worried above all else, is a concern that there is a disconnect between most southerners and northerners. I worry that southerners have had the opportunity to create social, intellectual, business, romantic and financial relationships with each other and not with northerners. I am concerned that in the future, this lack of interaction with northerners could have negative consequences and possibly foster a lack of trust and understanding. You might think that is an exaggeration but remember that this lack of understanding became evident to me during my conversation with my brother in law. Now, I wonder if there are others out there with the same predicament - not knowing what to say about certain Nigerians.

20 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Dee said...

Where ke? They are around for sure. I do know a couple of northerners that reside in the US, two of whom are young professionals working in the financial sector. I’m sure if you find one of them, you’ve found all of them.
I concur with your Uncle about Hausa’s being very conservative people; I think this is very much related to their religion. I share your fond memories as I had a number of Hausa neighbors growing up. Many of whom shaped my views about the ethnic group as a whole…very culturally rooted peoples with a unique historical/ethnic background.
I remember the girls in our high school too…and yes in truth most of them were married off right after high school or during their college years. I recall a conversation with one of my old neighbors who had 4 very beautiful daughters, with unique exotic model looks; when asked if he was going to marry his daughters right after secondary school, he told assured me that all his children would have a college degree. He did add though that he would have to bend many customs, fend off the increasing number of suitors and be willing to take the pressure from his extended family!

The northern perspective is certainly needed in any discussion about Nigeria. I’m quite sure there are many northerners that would contribute constructively and without prejudice to any other ethnic group. What would be left to discover is how to effectively preserve their rich ethnic history in these changing times…

D

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

Well said, Dee. Your comment, "I’m sure if you find one of them, you’ve found all of them. " had me laughing and crying at the same time.

Apart from my uncle, you are the only non-northerner that has confirmed a 'sighting' of these elusive creatures. lol! Everyone else can't seem to think of any.

It will definitely be important for all Nigerians to be represented in the discourse on how to improve the country. I believe that even the elusive ones will be present at the 'roundtable.'

Dami said...

they are conservative as you have said, dont really do owambes, and "intellecual gatherings" mainly because these so called intellectuals will probably see the tribe before the person.
Another thing is they dont travel much
Here in london ive seen many of them-including myself lol

in a way its like the kkk asking why there are no black people amongst them(this thought just came into my head its 5.30am dnt blame me)

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

@ Dami: You raise a good point. Southerners, some of them, do have animosity towards Northerners and could see the tribe before the person. That could definitely keep a northerner away. Never looked at it from that perspective before.

As to the KKK reference. Ah beg, oh! Maybe it was a little too early/late for you, my friend. LOL!Besides, on a serious note. I don't think it applies. The KKK would never care to ask why there were no Black folks around them. And if for any reason they did, it would be ludicrous at best, because for generations the KKK lynched, terrorized and threatened Black Americans (and still do in some areas). Blacks therefore have very good reason to be nowhere near clansmen. I like to think that northerners (Hausa) have not been treated in such a manner by non-northerners. However, feel free to educate me. I am eternally curious!

By the way are Hausa? Oh, and please update your blog, now! Kai!

Dat craze Igbo chic said...

My sista if my papa, broda, uncle, cousin, broda of my mama's sister's husband was IBB or Abaha, u think say I go dey here dey do suffa head? My dear, they are at home chopping belleful, thats why we dont see them o. The ones with mony that wan go schl, go to UK, do degree quik, go back home, America na for party...no point. Infact if ur still looking for them, go to Zaria, inside their castles, they'll give u caviar and wine jare, and you'll be watching CNN's story of ijaw militants and yet another kidnapping...sigh

Naija ooooo

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

LOL!

beautyinbaltimore said...

I have only met one Hausa person in this country. She and I attended the same university. I've often wondered why I have not met more Hausa people in Maryland since Maryland is the NIgerian capital of the states.

Thanks for adding me to your blog roll.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

Hi Beauty (if i may): Isn't it strange that in MD there aren't more Hausa people? I agree with you completely. Thanks for stopping by!

Dami said...

@ dat igbo chic

if their papa,broda,uncle,cousin grand uncle.....got money for contract they wont complete or sell off to the highest bidder, you think say them no go get money travel go jordan,uk,canada go further their education/party. America is for party and children of contractors NDDC(im generalising ofcourse)remember there are no photocpiers in the north to make false statements of account for the embassy ;-)

Anonymous said...

Such comments and posts reminds me that Nigerians are truly ignorant as a whole.

Anonymous said...

.

Anonymous said...

Nigerians are not ignorant as a "whole". The one who thinks so is the ignorant one. We are all humans here to learn. Some of us are smarter than the other and therefore "each one, teach one".

Anonymous said...

Hey there,You still searching for the elusive Hausa people?

Anonymous said...

Dami your point about Hausa people not travelling a lot is very silly. Just becuz you dont see a lot of them when you travel doesnt mean they dont. Most of the Hausa peeps that study abroad don't often go to America. They usually go to Canada, England mostly and Malaysia. The same way you have negative views of Hausa people is the same way they have negative views of you. You said you are not biased but you have negative stereotypes. How does that even make sense?

Anonymous said...

I’m just tickled that so much energy and discourse is being spent on finding out more about Hausa(s). I can’t speak for all Hausa’s only for myself and my own experiences. Most of the Hausa that I know a very educated (My immediate family alone are PHD or Master Degree holders from some of the best Universities in America). Hausa are just as intellectual as the next Nigerian (however not as loud). I agree as a people we tend to be a little more conservative and traditional. So you probably won’t find me at a Nigerian gathering dropping like it’s hot. At heart we all share a common goal and wish for the same success as other Nigerians. A great deal of us come here to the states and leave because of our family networks, roots and traditions are so intrinsically woven into our being that we would rather suffer together than apart. Nevertheless, I have lived in America for 30 plus years and have found a great deal of success in all arenas of life as a Woman. Yes, there are many Hausa people happily living in the states. The irony is we can see a Nigerian a mile away before their names give them a way. Many of us see and hear other Nigerian as you said in the local Wal-Mart’s and etc. calling out for their children or loudly having a conversation in their local dialect over the cell phone. Yes, Maryland : ). However, when people meet me, be it Nigerian or other nationalities they swear I don’t look like other Nigerians nor sound like them (I have lived and schooled in America since the age of 3). I seem to pass as Ethiopian and other similar groups (I have even been called a black Indian when in Jamaica - LOL) Hausa’s are probably one of the most traveled people I know. Most have traveled all over the world and have had rich experiences and forged great friendships with many different groups of people. Funny, when I go to those Nigerian stores I am dismissed as an African American or non-Nigerian (You know how our people do.) It’s unfortunate that we as Nigerian know very little about one another, other than sad stereotypes. The ignorance goes both ways, it’s sad to say. For all the “Malims” that are gate men in Lagos and elsewhere in Nigeria, I think we are all entitled to our own village idiots who failed to make in the North. You will find the reveres in the North for gate men/house boys/house girls/nannies and cooks and etc. ; they are mainly from the south. (Yes, I have been to Nigeria many times). Contrary to popular belief not all people in the North are ethnically Hausa (e.g. “Babangida” - Nupe and “Abacha” - Kanuri). As a matter of fact the last Hausa president was Abdul Salam (all of 3 months) Even Yar’Adu is not Hausa he is Fulani (Sorry to shatter some of the misconceptions out there). Hausa, just happens to be the second largest spoken language on the continent of Africa after Swahili. I do applaud your efforts in seeking a more holistic view of Nigeria. There is a great deal of literature on the Hausa people, language culture and great history (Google might give you a mind numbing experience). Where are all the Hausa people? They are around and woven into the fabrics of this society (College professors, VPs of various fortune 500 orgs., Engineers, Nurses, Biologist, School Teachers, IT professional, just to name a few – These are just the ones I’ve come across). If you are looking for us in the Western Hemisphere, all you have to do is look closely. Best Regards!!!

Anonymous said...

Hausas dnt come out, they r nt represented where I live(Sydney), for many years iv Bin designing 4 al different Africans, i hav seen only 1 who hardly visit home she z married 2 a Ghanaian , I tink in d north , their is only d very rich nd d poor, no intermediary, d ones abroad r there cos their parent r wealthy politicians, D rest r jst where they r , no change, i'm sorry d Hausas lack d strong determined fighting spirit of an everyday Nigerian , sry mr anonymous it's nt ur fault, its Wat happnd in d 60s

Anonymous said...

For the Comment before last! I Couldn't put it any better myself! Reading this blog I felt quite angry at the ignorant opinions of some, especially the one bout "if you papa is abcha" or what not. I myself I'm hausa, & would like to think I'm well travelled finishing my primary education in the emirates, completing my secondary in the United Kingdom, & now persuing my degree in the United States,in New York. My Parents are NOT politicians, they just worked hard & are very much middle class, s

Anonymous said...

So for someone to say, they are only the very rich & very poor, is just,well WRONG

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