When Kano rocked, “Shariah” rocked too


Jaafar Jaafar




You may call it concert. Some may tag it Sallah fiesta. Others have dubbed it a show of insanity. But the government of Kano State says no to all these assertions as it coined some tender adjective to describe the gathering so that the gullible can have an easy swallow without mental indigestion. It named it: “violence free Kano” concert. But in whatever lingo, jargon or in whatever way you try to whitewash this orgy of immorality, every right-thinking person knows that an out-and-out unnecessary show of moral infirmity was played out recently in “Shariah State,” to quote a glossy billboard in Kano State. For those who never had the privilege of concert-going because of Shariah, they don’t have to worry anymore because the same Shariah has now lowered the bar and brought it to their doorstep! But the fun was just transient – it is to mark the return of the election season, a season of grandstanding.


But the faith of the neo-shariah leaders is, as usual, put to the test. It has once again confirmed our belief that Shariah of today is bait placed by our crafty politicians to trap the votes of the credulous Muslim masses. And a lot got caught.


Lest you misunderstand me, I am not saying that Kano State government should be intolerant given our cultural and religious diversities as a nation. I have come to realize that some people with foggy view of Islam would simply go to the extent of labeling a person apostate because of his tolerant standpoint on issues, which, after all, Islam preaches such virtues. Of course there have been varying attitudes to religious tolerance that have socially been important in the history of the world.


A Muslim scholar in the fourteenth century, Ibn Batuta, who was born in Tangier and traveled some parts of Africa and Asia was surprised when, on a visit to his friend, a Muslim qadi, in Iwaltan, a town near Timbuktu, he saw a man (who happened to be qadi’s wife’s friend not relation) and qadi’s wife conversing on a couch. “Do you acquiesce in this when you have lived in our country and become acquainted with the precepts of Shariah?” Ibn Batuta asked qadi. He then replied: “The association of women with men is agreeable to us and a part of good conduct, to which no suspicion attaches…”


What the aforesaid paradox is trying show here is the different nature of the societies to which Ibn Batuta and his host belonged and – in some respect – the differences in the social behaviour of a people belonging to the same religion. The same reason that perhaps made qadi to allow his wife to converse with her male friend is, probably the reason that makes Kano State governor to work with married women as members of his cabinet and, to borrow qadi’s words, “no suspicion attaches.” I have in one of my essays criticized Kano State government for banning achaba riders from carrying women without putting into cognizance the dynamics of such action. And as predicted, it failed. Not because of the opposition that greeted the exercise but because the government had willfully blinked over the ethno-religious nature of its people and – remotely – the iron-fist approach it took. As being tolerant of heterodoxy can not, to the Christian brethren, precipitate excommunication likewise it can not, in Islam, simply render a Muslim apostate. You can be tolerant and yet remain ‘a good Muslim’ as the Islamic theologian, Abdul Haq, described a very tolerant Muslim, Akbar, the great-grandfather of Emperor Aurangzeb (who ascended to the Mungal throne in India in the late seventeenth century). Even with his “innovations,” Abul Haq concluded after Akbar’s death, he remained a good Muslim.


For me I do not have any problem with the concert especially during this festive season but rather with the deceptive way the government had supported it. What is more of essence and noteworthy here are: if similar concerts did not go in synch with Shariah last year, what has happened this year to even make the government become a partner of the jamboree? Why did the government deny same Edris Abdulkareem performance during the last year’s Sallah festivals? It is, the government told us, because Kano “is a Shariah state”. But it is ironic for a government that described this very concert as act of debauchery, immorality and permissiveness would make this sudden volte-face. This is a government that once sent men of the hisbah to prevent CHILDREN from entering a modest amusement park (Cookey) some two years ago during similar festive season. But interestingly, this season, the same government has however given the same concert a nod – exclusively for adult men and women!


But the bottom line for all these is, however, the coming of the election season, a season of deception. The principal actor of the show, a popular musician, Edris Abdulkareem was shown on the NTA, AIT and the state-owned CTV 67 displaying the governor’s poster, describing, in his obviously affected tone, the governor as a peace-loving person. This playing of politics with the religion makes one to conclude that even faith, in this clime, can certainly be compromised on the alter of worldly – or most aptly vote-ly – gains. What has really changed? Is it the “Shariah” or the governor? Or, does this confirm the insinuations of the cynics that Shekarau’s “Shariah” is laced with politics? It is, I was told in confidence, also the encroachment of the election season that made the governor to appoint non-indigenes as aides. The appointments could be, in the non-indigenes’ pacifist criteria of assessment, a good gesture and a step toward holding out an olive branch to some areas mainly dominated by the non-indigenes. But that, given that the gesture happened at the eleventh hour of the administration, is, to say the least, political.


But nevertheless, the government has succeeded in killing two birds with a stone. On one hand, the government had shown the non-indigenes how higher its tolerance threshold could fly and on the other hand, the gullible, with the active support of the politico-religious mullahs that endeared the show, have been regaled with concert, featuring: Edris Abdulkareem, Konga, RMD, Stella Damasus, Sani Danja, etc. Yes Kano rocked – and so “Shariah” rocked too.


Sometime back newspapers reported similar occasion when Shariah was “suspended” in Zamfara State. It was opulent ceremony where musicians from all walks of life gathered to massage the ego of Zamfara State governor. It is just normal, some people would argue, because Kano State had plagiarized the “Shariah” from Zamfara State and repackaged it, so it is no shocker when Kano State government today in its copy-cattish manner imitated similar immoral gathering and as usual repackaged it. But whatever the case may be, the public, whose funds were used to organize the show bear the major brunt. How did the government fund the concert is the question seeking answer from our leaders. Or is it, as many wonder, the Bayelsa way? Sunday Trust once reported how Bayelsa State Government squandered about one hundred million naira meant for poverty eradication to bankroll a concert organized by a certain national daily. Our governor owes us explanation as to how much was really spent to organize this show in Kano.


Or, did the administration mean that all the media hype sponsored with public funds are part of Shariah? You must be furious when you watch one irritating footage on our TV stations today. As part of the governor’s expensive tazarce project, the government regularly sponsors about 30 minutes simulcast on NTA Kano, CTV 67 and AIT to show the people of Kano two singers, a man and a lady in skimpy “traditional” attire dancing and singing. In a tune synonymous with the West Life’s popular gospel song, I had a dream…, the mimics had sung: Malam will continue… because he promotes Shariah …


The musicians should please remove Shariah and put concert and then pray, at least for the sake of the masses, this shall never come to pass.


Jaafar resides at 319 Warshu Hospital Road Kawaji, Kano.