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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Boko Haram: A paradox of technology

Wondering the role of technologies imbedded in western education may have played in bringing the so-called ideology of Boko Haram thus far. REMMY NWEKE writes that it’s a paradox.

Waking up sometimes in 2009 a newsbreak was being scrolled on television, radio stations were already running it every other five or 10 minutes until the major news bulletin. Precisely on June 11, 2009 the news-line went thus; Police has fired on alleged funeral procession and killed 17 followers of Boko Haram. The group leader then, Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf, announced a revenge.

Historically, Boko Haram was purportedly founded in the 60s by the father of Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf, but inveriably came to limelight in 2002 in the city of Maiduguri, as a notorious Nigerian militant Islamist group that seeks the imposition of Shariah law in the northern states led by Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf.

In 2004, the group reportedly moved to Kanamma in Yobe State, where they set up a quasi military base tagged ‘Afghanistan.’ This base afforded them to launch attacks on nearby police posts and killing police officers. Yusuf was reportedly hostile to democracy and the secular education system in line with his fathers antecedent, hence he vowed that “this war that is yet to start would continue for long” if the political and educational system was not changed.

Experts in the study of the origins of words and how they have arrived at their current form and meaning known as ‘Etymologists’ described Boko Haram as a term emanating from the Hausa word ‘boko’ which means “Animist, western or otherwise non-Islamic education” whereas the Arabic word ‘Haram’ could be metaphorically attributed to mean ‘sin’ which in other word, literally connotes ‘forbidden.’

With the concept of Boko Haram tacitly opposing not only Western education, but Western culture and modern science as well, but in a 2009 BBC interview, late Yusuf had noted that the belief that the world is a sphere is contrary to his ‘Islamic’ belief and should be rejected, alongside the Darwinism and the theory that rain comes from water evaporated by the sun.

And talking about the Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, a free and open source encyclopedia, Wikipedia, summarized it thus in line with a renown biologist, Mr. Ernst Mayr; based on five key observations and inferences drawn from them.

These include that species have great fertility, they make more offspring that can grow to adulthood; Populations remain roughly the same size, with modest fluctuations; and food resources are limited, but are relatively constant most of the time

From these aforementioned three elucidations, it could be inferred that in such an environment there will be a struggle for survival among individuals. Therefore, in sexually reproducing species, generally no two individuals are identical. Variation is rampant; and much of this variation is heritable.

From these explanation, it could be inferred that in a world of stable populations where each individual must struggle to survive, those with the “best” characteristics will be more likely to survive, and those desirable traits will be passed to their offspring.

It was further clarified that these advantageous characteristics are inherited by following generations, becoming dominant among the population through time and described as ‘natural selection.’

Additionally, it could be inferred that natural selection, if carried far enough, makes changes in a population, eventually leading to new species, which have been amply demonstrated in biology, and even fossils demonstrated the veracity of these observations.

So, the five summary outlines on Darwin’s theory of evolution centered on variation, competition, offspring, genetics and natural selection.

As of today, one wonders if any of these Darwin’s theories have been proved otherwise, especially by Yusuf and his misled supporters, because from what is left of him and even before his demise have been roundly inclined to western or modern innovations.

Take for instance, does Boko Haram sect, use their hands to kill people or guns and instrument suspected to have been concocted into explosions. Although the theory of local gun powder could be said to be a local innovation, was it not novel and has since transcended into other inventions.

Today, Boko Haram members use mobile phones in Nigeria to communicate, use electronic mails (emails) to share information with the media and even wear clothes sewn with sewing machines; The question, is all these not modern inspired by the so-called ‘western education?

Accepted that Boko Haram members admire technology, it is definite as “the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts, engineering, applied science, and pure science. Technology could also be defined as a technological process, invention, method, or the like.

It would be nice also to remind Yusuf’s men in Boko Haram that as far as their movement entails, they don’t just trek, hence they make use of cars inspired by various technologies; which could be bicycles, motorbikes, cars and even air planes, wear clothes as well as Identity cards, while findings have shown that they also make use of social media like Facebook. They may need to explain why they make use of these modern tolls whereas they abhor modern education?

Although, like Yusuf, who was reportedly shot during an escape attempt, and tagged by human rights groups as extrajudicial execution, one only hope these activists are following up on Boko Haram he left behind. Unfortunately nothing seem to be heard of them. Invariably until security agencies began to retaliate, then the likes of Transparency International among others would dust their thinking and human rights caps.

With four wives and twelve children, Yusuf who was reported to have indulged in a luxurious and wasteful life, were definitely born in hospitals or clinics and have been immunized of polio and other childhood diseases, otherwise, he should have died long ago.

Still wondering on the Boko Haram classification and meaning, whether the proponents actually know what they really want for themselves and the people who are now enslaved into the cult.

First is the fact that what gave them the intuition of what education is and how it has become sin, after all even the Quran has an English version before now and you can only testify that Western education is sin only after you have experienced it, otherwise one may be lacking in the locus standi to judge if Western education is a sin or not.

Consistently, members of Boko Haram have been making use of technologies including telecommunications which spans across voice and data services. This is in addition to the fact that they have scientific and chemistry understanding to be able to construct a bomb no matter how elementary it may seem.

The question now being asked by most well-meaning people of the world, especially in Nigeria, is ‘what exactly or the aspect of the western education is disliked by the members or promoters of Boko Haram?’ At least, in Nigeria of today, there is no low end mobile phone either Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) or Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications handset model that is merely on Arabic, even though it is possible, which means there must be a techie person somewhere who could install such a language after downloading same from the Internet.

Additionally, the use of Short Messaging Service (SMS) by this sect cannot be over-emphasised, just as the vehicles of various make and models being put to use by its members to detonate their supposed home-grown bombs, no matter how small it may seem or look were as a result of western influence.

Although, they may have their beliefs, having read both Koran and Bible as well some other religious books, there is no place where it is stated that ‘you take the life of others who do not agree or have the same belief as yourself’. Rather, what the aforementioned entail is that the believers woo those classified as ‘unbelievers’ of your own faith so as to convert them, but definitely not by force any more, as such act has become archaic.

Therefore, they must identify what exactly they want in order to be absorbed by the society. This is because, no one could be convinced no matter how unlettered the person may be, and assumed to be. It is not convincible that you must first of all put all people to death, including your own kit and kin in order to convince them.

This is majorly because the era of cannibalism has gone and one expects the promoters to call themselves to order without much ado.

There is no gain saying that those proponents must have first of all gotten or experienced Western education to be able to classify it sinful.

Responding to the issue of Boko Haram and associated menace to the Nigerian state, a public commentator, Mr. Oluwaseun Awo suggested that if these people (Boko Haram) members were gainfully employed, made comfortable by their salaries, and kept busy by jobs provided by the government, they may not still offer themselves as suicide bombers to Boko Haram.

For Emmy Ade, he likened it to a man who stole N100,000 and spent 2-5 years of his life in prison awaiting trial. Another man stole N100 billion and is jailed for only 2 years and eventually came out of prison a celebrity, to enjoy his loot unchallenged.

He wondered why someone with more courage than reason would not decide to kill everyone in sight including himself in protest of his belief?

Additionally, another concerned Nigerian, Iyke Abelu, said that people should not be deceived by Boko Haram members, because they are not suicide bombers; they prefer planting the bombs and sparing their own lives.

He stressed that the person that was caught in the web at the police headquarters was because he could not explain his identity and mission; all he knew was to drive in the vehicle to the car park at a given time and then stroll out of the vicinity.

“Unfortunately for him, he was still trying to repark the car when the bomb exploded, which means that the control was outside him,” he said, noting that even giving them job may not stop it, insisting that members of the sect are just monsters that needed to be arrested by all means, unfortunately the IGP and his boys are yet to wake up from the slumber of October 1 2010 bombing.

However, a search on Boko Haram at Facebook, for instance, indicated that it has about seven FB accounts with three seriously soliciting for friends at the social media platform; the other four have a total of 73 friends who claimed to like their mission shared in the proportion of 47, 7, 4 and 15 respectively.

Until such a time when the Nigerian state would wake up alongside all the security apparatus with intelligence department scattered over the country, then the security of the nation incidentally would entail inviting both local and western technology experts, who are ready to proffer solutions to the lingering Boko Haram menace once and for all.

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