Let me begin by the two most outstanding misconception people have about Fulani people as a race. Firstly, many Southerners in Nigeria think Fulani are only found in Northern Nigeria. Well, that is not true. Fulani people are found in several countries in West Africa such as Niger, Senegal, The Gambia and Cameroon. Secondly, many Southerners think Fulani people are always nomadic. This is also wrong. There are a large number of Fulani people who culturally lead a sedentary lifestyle. That is, it is not all Fulani people that engage in driving cattle from one place to another for grazing purposes. Some of them reside in a given location and engage in other agricultural activities. Thirdly, many Southerners think Fulani people are only literate in Arabic, and that they are a bunch of fleabags. Anyway, that is a fallacy. Yes, there was a time when Arabic was a lingua franca in many Islamic states of West Africa, but today many Fulani people are multilingual. Apart from Fulfide, the indigenous language of the Fulani people, they are also fluent in Arabic, Hausa and English languages. Hausa enables to read the works of many Islamic scholars. Arabic enables them to read and write down the writings of Quran. While English language introduces them to Western education.
Fulani people are great people, and we have many famous men who are natural Fulanis. One notable one is Uthman Dan Fodio. He is popularly known as the warlord who invaded Hausa city-states in the early 19th century and instituted Islam as the only religion in a holy war known as Jihad. However, he was doubled as a brilliant Islamic scholar. He had lectured and tutored several of his disciples in Islamic laws and principles, and had preached the message of Almighty Allah in different parts of Sahel Savannah.
Uthman’s descendants have been the rulers of the great Sokoto Caliphate up till date. The current Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III is his descendant. The current president of Nigeria today is also a Fulani man. So, if we are to mention notable Fulani men, it will not be difficult to pull up names.
That brings us to the next point, which is, ‘Who is the most famous Fulani woman?’ This question is imperative because most of African cultural societies are patriarchal and sexist. In Africa, women are expected to get married as early as in their lower teenage years and bear children. Therefore, their opportunities are limited and monochromatic. Mind you, this is not only in African society. Sexism permeates virtually all cultures. Plato and Aristotle, both of whom are venerated in Europe and beyond as great intellectuals spoke very poorly of women. I bet think it was a disciple of Plato who wrote that the virtue of a woman was absolutely in and within her households. The only difference between Africa and other lands is the rapid evolution of feminism. In Africa, it is still a rare feat for a woman to be famous in any field of human endeavor whatsoever.
I know someone is aching to know who the most famous Fulani woman is. I want to spill the beans now! She is none other than Amina Jane Mohammed! Her middle name Jane will likely make you frown, right? Frown no more. Because even though her father is a Fulani, her mother hails from Scotland in Great Britain.
WHO IS AMINA JANE MOHAMMED?
Amina is a phenomenally successful woman. She is an administrator, a technocrat, an advocate of women and children rights, and most importantly the incumbent Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The United Nations, as you already know, is the most famous, most powerful and most active international organization in the world. The association is an abstract republic on its own, with its own army, constitution and legal system. It also serves as the world’s supreme mediator. And after the Secretary-General comes Amina Jane Mohammed. Everybody knows her, from Kenya to Kazakhstan, from Mexico to Maldives. She is the second African woman to hold that office after Asha-Rose Migiro of Tanzania. And she is the third woman to occupy that lofty position after the ever first female officeholder: a Canadian woman named Louise Frechette.
Amina Jane Mohammed came from a brilliant family. Her father , although had practiced Islam, had a very tolerate views of 21st century ideals. In other words, he let go of illiberal aspects of Islamic doctrines, whether real or perceived. Her mother gave birth to five girls. She was the first of those girls. If her mother was an African woman she could likely had been depressed of having only girls. Unfortunately, she came from a world where children are given the best irrespective of their gender. Her father who is a Fulani man from Gombe State was also too learned to give hoot about the sex of his children. He was a trained Veterinarian. The first ever in Northern Nigeria. He came back to Nigeria after his studies together with his wife, and they both traveled around the country, working in many government organizations. You cannot talk about animal husbandry and veterinary in Nigeria without mentioning Mr. Mohammed.
Robert Greene wrote, “To gain respect from peers, you must repeatedly prove yourself.” I suppose that is true in case of Amina Jane Mohammed. She has proven her worth time and again. She started her early education in Kaduna. That is why two governors jokingly quarrel over who owns her. Mallam El-Rufai claims since she was bred in Kaduna State, she is a citizen of Kaduna. Alas! She is a citizen of the world.
Amina obtained her tertiary education certificate in United Kingdom in a school called Henley Business School in 1989. She has raised the bar on women’s competency, diligence and productivity.
Amina was not just catapulted from being a university graduate to the being in United Nations office. Success does not come overnight in such a way. Rather, she worked her way little by little to where she is today. When she returned to Nigeria upon her graduation, she took up jobs that involves advocacy for inclusivity. Her niche was especially for women. She did not need to write a book like Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In deed there are thousands of girls in Northern Nigeria who have never seen an English or Science textbooks in their lifetime; all they knew were rudimentary Arabic and few surahs. She aimed at getting more children in schools, especially girls. She knew that when education is given to the girl-child, she would be able to fight ignorance, poverty and early marriage. This would also reduce the rate of maternal mortality in Northern Nigeria.
Amina championed for the provision of social amenities for the people. In the north, there are few hospitals. Through her connection, she made sure hospitals with aesthetic and therapeutic measures are built in her home state, Gombe.
Her fame flew to the high heavens. She worked for three successive presidents. She started by serving as an adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo, next was President Umaru Musa Yar’ adua, then President Goodluck Jonathan and lastly President Muhammadu Buhari. How she managed to stay away from any imbroglios of Abuja politics is something that needs to be studied in Harvard. She was appointed federal minister of environment in late 2015. That ministry does not get a lot of accolades. You cannot compare it to the ministry of petroleum or finance or power. She said she was referred to then as ‘Lady Dustbin’. People erroneously think her job was only to make sure the environment is tidy by picking up dirt and used nylon bags. She helped in enlightening Nigerians that the Ministry of Environment is not only established for the growing concern of insanitary mega cities and towns. She did not dwell on the hackneyed subjects of his predecessors in respect to garbage and garbage collection. Rather, she made a pitch for weightier issues of climate change and how humanity has contributed to the worsening degradation of the Ozone Layer and the health implications of all forms of pollution. In reality, she projected a vision of futurity. In her less than one year in office, she maintained that for the survival of third-world countries, there is a need to start treating our ecosystem in relation to climate change. She spoke extensively about the excessive emissions of harmful carbons.
AMINA’S LOVE OF FATHERLAND
The stench of Nigeria’s unpatriotic tendencies and tribalistic inclinations have hung in the air like a putrid carcass for decades. We seem to enjoy talking down on the only country we can call our own. But that is not the best way to go. Amina has shown a stellar performance in this aspect.
Amina Jane Mohammed has every opportunity to be working in developed countries. But I suppose her strong love for her fatherland was what kept in those years she spent in Nigeria before moving to the United States of America to serve in the UN. She is still frequently seen on her hijab, partly revealing her strikingly beautiful face.
Apart from her intellect and passionate altruism, she also has a rare patriotism. Whenever she has an opportunity to spoke about Nigeria, she has never relented in painting good image of the country instead of disparaging the government and entire Nigerians in the public ear.