Debenhams’ Adverts Signs in Hausa: Worth Celebrating or Shameful?

For the first time in my life, I am ashamed of being Hausa-Fulani or rather, at our behaviour. Usually I am one who is extremely proud of my identity: I love the Hausa language, how it flows easily and I relish the slightest opportunity to speak it in the midst of friends and acquaintances of other ethnicities and nationalities; I love the beautiful and colourful cultural attire; I am excessively proud of my richly historical lineage which I can trace back several generations amongst numerous other things, and with all these, I never hesitate to take on, word for word, those whose favourite past time it is to bash “my people”. However, recently, the picture, below had the singular function of nearly reversing this proud, nationalistic, fervour to the point of making me wonder whether some of our more belligerent brothers in other parts of the country who call “Northerners” and “Hausa-Fulanis” “lazy parasites” might actually have a point somewhere.

A staff hangs the foreign language signs at Debenhams. Photo courtesy: London Evening Standard

The picture is a huge sign by popular departmental store Debenhams, here in the United Kingdom (UK), during the annual popular summer sales season, in 2011. Such big, glaring colourful signs are very common of stores in these climes during such sale seasons. On the advert sign, right below the pinkish-fuchsia coloured inscription that says “up to 25% off”, there are inscriptions in three different languages: Mandarin (Chinese), Arabic and Hausa, pretty much saying the same thing. In Hausa, “Sayarwa mai bada ma’ana” loosely means “worth while sales”. Other sales adverts in Hausa have messages such as: “Maraba” which means “welcome”; “Rangwamen 25%” meaning “25% off”; “Farashi ya da daraja” or “great value prices” and “Na gode don sayayyarka a Debenhams” which means “Thank you for shopping at Debenhams“. At face value, it is tempting to think that this is not so bad, and the fact that Hausa appears alongside Chinese and Arabic is some great achievement.

Well, I think not, for reasons which I shall explain below.

First of all, there is something preposterously ironic about any Nigerian language, and Hausa in particular, being included in such adverts in an industrialized country, meant to attract consumer goods shoppers from a developing country grappling with widespread poverty — Walter Rodney must be turning in his grave. Debenhams is one of the most popular departmental stores in the UK, renowned for its high quality, luxury and designer goods: everything from children’s wear, adults’ wear, bags, shoes and other accessories, kitchen ware, bed linen, curtains etc are pricey, top-notch quality stuff. This is in the mould of other high end stores selling luxury goods such as Harrods, Selfridges, John Lewis, House of Fraser, Marks and Spencer etc. The reason why, right after English, inscriptions of sales adverts in these stores are in Arabic, Mandarin and Hausa in a European country, and not in French, German, Dutch or Spanish, is because nationales of these countries are the biggest spenders in such stores.

In recent times with the economic downturn in Europe and the rise of emerging powers such as the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and increasingly South Africa – there is an influx of foreigners with lots of new money to spend, coming to Western capitals, especially the UK to shop. In fact if you go to such stores and malls, the foreigners – the Chinese especially, the Arabs (Qataris, Kuwaitis, Saudis, UAE nationales), Indians, Brazilians, Russians – shopping (not window shopping but actually spending cold hard cash and swiping their debit/credit cards)  far outnumber their English or Europeans counterparts, such that you might begin to wonder if you are actually in Europe and in the UK and not in some part of Asia or the Middle East. A report earlier this year, stated that Chinese tourists and shoppers with their huge spending prowess rescued the British retail industry during the Christmas sales season in 2011.

As at last year, Nigerian shoppers were increasingly rivalling and outspending their Chinese, Arab and Russian counterparts. According to a February 2012 report by the London Evening Standard, “in February last year, sales to Nigerians were up 50% in London shops… while overall in 2011, Selfridges says… that Nigerians have been among its top 10 overseas shoppers for the past five years”. The report continues: “on their (Nigerians’) shopping lists (are): suits and formalwear… jewellery, cosmetics and children’s wear; labels include Paul Smith, Gucci, Prada, Chanel and Rolex while Vertu phones (exclusive luxury mobile phones retailing from £1,750 to over £5,500) are a popular purchase.” What is more disturbing is that the average transaction per Nigerian shopper pegged at £1,648 (N420,000) is higher that of the Chinese at £1,310; the United Arab Emirates nationales’ £1,267 and the Brazilians and Russians, both at £988. Only the average spending power of the Saudis (£1,974) and Kuwaitis (£1,780) surpass that of Nigerians.

Now the absurd and utterly ridiculous contradiction here is that with the exception of Nigerians, all these big spenders come from emerging market countries which have some of the world’s fastest economic growth rates, which have lifted record numbers of their citizens out of poverty and which rank high in human development indices. Nigeria comparatively sticks out like a sore and sickly thumb in this elite league of shoppers, ranking low in almost all development indices while our shopping prowess surpasses even that of China – the world’s second largest economy,  a manufacturing and exporting colossus billed to surpass the US,  by as early as 2016, according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook. In terms of poverty reduction, according to the World Bank, China lifted about 400 million of people out of absolute poverty in the past few decades, its GDP per capita increased five times since 1981 and the number of extremely poor people fell from 64% to 17%. Brazil has similarly lifted over 40 million people out of poverty in a little over a decade with average household income since 2003 rising by 1.8% per annum and an estimated 33 million people since 2003 have risen to the ranks of the “new middle classes” or above, according to the Financial Times. Did I mention that according to Forbes, Brazil creates 19 new millionaires every day!? It is the same story with the other countries listed here with booming economies, growing middle classes, declining poverty rates and therefore, the huge spending of their citizens is probably justified and well-deserved.

Can we honestly say the same about Nigeria where poverty has on the contrary, according to a Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report, been on the increase from 54.4% (68.7 million people) in 2004 to 69% (112.47 million people) in 2010? According to the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) based on indicators such as income, education/literacy and life expectancy, parts of China (Hong Kong no. 13) and the UAE (no. 30) rank in the Very High Human Development category; Saudi Arabia (56), Kuwait (63), Russia (66) and Brazil (84) are in the High Human Development category while Nigeria comparatively ranks a distant 156 in the Low Human Development category, below countries like Kenya and Cameroon, yet our spending prowess surpasses most of the emerging powers listed above.

Secondly and most importantly, my main source of indignation here is that of all the over 250 Nigerian languages that could have been used by Debenhams, it is Hausa language that the store preferred, why? A report by Tom Harper in another issue of the London Evening Standard provides that answer thus: “foreign language signs mainly target rich, short-stay tourists from overseas.” The report quoting Marcus Appleton, a senior Store Manager at Oxford Street, one of the most popular shopping districts in the world says: “We’ve selected the most used signage terms in our stores and translated them accordingly”. Thus, it means the biggest Nigerian spenders are none other than the Hausas! Its gets more interesting and disturbing when you consider that there is a higher proportion of Yorubas (from southern Nigeria) in the UK than there are Hausas. I do not have statistics to work with here, but almost every other Nigerian you come across in the UK is Yoruba: either as a naturalized British citizen, an overseas resident, an asylum seeker, migrant worker, student etc. Of course there are Hausas, Igbos and many other ethnic groups of Nigerian origin in all of these categories, but Hausas are certainly NOT in the majority. In fact there’s a common perception (admittedly more fiction than fact) that in almost every Yoruba household in Nigeria, at least one person is obliged to leave for the UK in pursuit of better education, work or other opportunities, and of course the positive results in the Yoruba society are there for all to see.

Apparently, even with the large numbers of Yorubas in the UK, these high end stores did not use Yoruba instructions but instead opted for Hausa because according to the report cited above: “when deciding which language would appear (on the signs)… stores like Debenhams looked at the highest number of foreign shoppers who claimed their tax back with the store.” So while we have fewer Hausas who come here to study, live, work and engage in productive ventures relative to other Nigerians from other parts of the country, we however surpass everyone including the BRIC countries in extravagant spending on luxury consumer goods. This ordinarily shouldn’t be cause for alarm if we were in the same league with these BRIC countries or at the very least if the development indices in the northern part of Nigeria were the same with that of our southern brethren, but most of us are not showing-off hard-earned wealth.

Now this is precisely the source of my infuriation and grave concern. The northern parts of the country especially the North-West and North-East, where Hausa is predominantly spoken have the highest incidence of poverty compared to other parts of the country as this table shows:

Source: Nigeria Poverty Profile (PDF) National Bureau of Statistitics Page. 17

The state with the highest percentage of people living in absolute poverty is Sokoto at 81.2% and the top ranking states (all above 70%) in terms of absolute poverty are in the North East: Adamawa (74.2%), Bauchi (73%), Gombe (74.2%), Yobe (73.8%) and in the North West: Jigawa (74.1%), Katsina (74.5%), Kebbi (72.0%), and Zamfara (70.8%). Only one state in the North-Central Plateau (74.1%) and in the South-South Ebonyi (73.6%) fall within this unenviable exclusive league of poverty. This map below shows the regional distribution more graphically:

Source: Nigeria Poverty Profile 2010 (PDF) National Bureau of Statistics page 24.

We have low literacy rates, high infant and maternal mortality, collapsing healthcare facilities, an army of almajirai roaming the streets, decaying infrastructure in most parts of the north, yet our appetites for luxury goods only seem to expand in correlation with the swelling poverty, underdevelopment, and inequality. Like I stated earlier this year, such consumerist attitude is not backed by any economic prowess on our own part and gradually a needlessly competitive, consumerism culture is replacing the drive for creativity, productivity and entrepreneurship. We have a huge number of Hausa tourists with fat wallets and expensive tastes for the good life, which we buy in record numbers clutching Louis Vuitton bags, wearing Gucci shoes, strapping Rolex, DKNY or the ever popular Guess wristwatches, attired in the colourful Vlisco Hollandaise from Liverpool street, Babanrigas made of the shiniest and starchiest shaddas or suited up in Armani suits and Ralph Lauren polo shirts, with expensive accessories to match, heading back to our impoverished society where we skip the gutters, and the huge mounds of dirt that litter our pot-hole ridden roads into high walled compounds. We see nothing wrong in turning our noses at the beggars that are only but a “nuisance”, the hungry destitute children who roam the streets in their thousands, who go to bed hungry, and if they are lucky to survive the clutches of malaria, tuberculosis, the ritualists’ and traffickers’ den to reach their teens and twenties, the most they can get out of life is to become recharge card sellers, hawkers or maniacal ‘yan achabas (motorcycle drivers) drugged, disillusioned and filled with road rage.

We seem to be blind, oblivious or just nauseatingly nonchalant to how unsustainable this absurd contradiction really is and how the likelihood of it imploding and collapsing on us is ever so imminent. Being mainly adherents of the Islamic faith, we claim to be pious Muslims but there is nothing inherently pious, Islamic or noble in this extravagant, consumerist and unproductive behaviour of wasting wealth while poverty lingers and literally grows in our backyards. By so doing, we are tainting the noble image of Islam which is perhaps compounding our problems because this is not what Allah (SWT) nor the Prophet Muhammad SAW ordained.

We have forgotten that in the first place, wealth bestowed upon the rich is a trust from Allah as this Qur’anic verse indicates:

Believe in Allah and His Messenger (SAW), and spend of that whereof He has made you (temporary) trustess” Qur’an 57: Al-Hadid verse 7

…and that Allah has enjoined us empower the poor, the needy and the vulnerable:

“They (the wealthy) ask you (O Muhammad (SAW)} what they should spend. Say: “Whatever you spend of good MUST be for parents and kindred and orphans and Al-Masakin (the needy) and the wayfarer, and whatever you do of good deeds, truly, Allah knows it well.” Qur’an 2: Al-Baqarah verse 215

...and Islam admonishes against unnecessary extravagance and wasteful spending:

And give to the kinsman his due, the miskin (needy) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift.” Qur’an 17: Al-Isra’ verse 2

Verily, He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance)” Qur’an 6: Al-An’am verse 141

On the strength of Al-Mughirah bin Shu’bah(RA): the Prophet(saw) said: “Allah has hated for you: … waste the wealth (by extravagance with lack of wisdom and thinking)…”’ Sahih Al-Bukhari, 3/2408.

On a final note, I hope that upon reading this, if you are a Northerner, and you are Hausa-Fulani that you are sufficiently embarrassed, rightfully ashamed, absolutely disgusted and hopefully angry at what we are doing to ourselves. This is not a case of simply blaming bad leadership or blaming our politicians alone, it is our collective burden and responsibility. We are in dire need of massive attitudinal change from a society which has evolved, nay mutated, into a monstrous one, perverting a rich historical, cultural and religious heritage into one which has little regard for the most vulnerable in the society: the poor, the needy, the youth and women. We need to revive our noble values and ideals, the concept of being our brothers keepers, we need to set our priorities right, imbibe same in the youth and younger generation and ultimately salvage a society on the brink of moral, spiritual and socio-economic collapse. The first step is for you, for us all, to feel angry and ashamed, and then we can start discussing the way forward!


I noticed some people seem to have misunderstood the whole idea or reason behind the “shame/embarrassment”. I feel ashamed of being Hausa Fulani as I stated, only because of this situation, where we have glaring and increasing poverty vis-a-vis spending prowess  that tops global charts. I have no “regrets” whatsoever of my identity, lineage, culture etc. Let me give an example, imagine you are somewhere with a bunch of foreigners and another Nigerian gets arrested for something despicable, what would you feel at that moment? Well that’s the feeling (if only briefly) I am referring to.

Secondly, this is not some self-righteous write-up by someone claiming to be on a higher moral pedestal. Notice the use of “we”, “us” as opposed to “they” and “them”, meaning that I do not at all exonerate myself here. Most people love spending money, shopping and the good things in life, this writer inclusive (and in my spare time, I love going to the mall), what is not normal is our record shopping tendencies vis-a-vis the overwhelming poverty, its just wrong.

Thirdly, so long as you’re not poor (struggling to find food to eat), then I hope you feel guilty (even if its a little pinch) because of the facts presented here. As I stated, it is OUR collective problem, burden and responsibility, unlike situations where we’d normally heap all the blame on “bad leadership” and “politicians” . And more than anything, we are in dire need of attitudinal change.

196 thoughts on “Debenhams’ Adverts Signs in Hausa: Worth Celebrating or Shameful?

  1. Unlike your usual articles, this one does not make a lot of sense. Hausa language is used because not only is it he most widely spoken language in West Africa (second only to Arabic in Africa) but also because it is one of the very few Nigerian languages that is usually written and read. Inspite of the wealth of Yoruba and Igbo people, have you come across many novels or newspapers in those languages. Ever wondered why there is only BBC Hausa and no BBC Yoruba inspite of the deep ties the yoruba people have with UK? In Mecca and Medina mosques, public announcements are made in Arabic, French and Hausa. Ever wondered why?

      1. I guess ‎you never read in between the lines? Why not relate Tom Harper’s quote (on why foreign languages are used along side the indigenous languages of the said “big” stores) with the statistics of Hausas(a la studying,working,etc) in the said country before you concluded that the write-up was baseless.I served in the north (Gombe state) and I saw how the few “elites” lived ostentatiously to the detriment of the “unlucky” indegenes.your refences to mecca and BBC hausa should be viewed as being targeted at the people as a whole and not some selected ones(mostly public office holders) so my brother she really called a spade,a spade.

    1. Ahmed, please clarify this point for me. “…but also because it is one of the very few Nigerian languages that is usually written and read. Inspite of the wealth of Yoruba and Igbo people, have you come across many novels or newspapers in those languages.”

      I understand the magnitude of Hausa’s reach, which cuts across Nigeria into other parts of sub-Sahara Africa. In my understanding, Yoruba and igbo are also written in roman letters just like Hausa, albeit Hausa has an advantage of Arabic script (Ajami). However, regarding consumer behavior, which is Debenhams’ target audience, this is for purchasing power and not readability.

      Regarding international broadcasting media houses such as BBC Hausa, VOA Hausa, DW, RFi, RCI, Radio Tehran, Voice of Russia, the objective is purely reaching the masses. Targeting Hausa speakers via radio is based on the low literacy level and poverty, among others that is plaguing northern Nigeria. Therefore, it’s beneficial for international media agencies to reach the masses in Hausa for various reasons to disseminate information and/or propaganda.

      Zainab, I want to commend you for this write up. I have read a lot of your blogs but this one speaks volume to me. In order for anyone to appreciate this well researched post, one must remove the rose-tinted glass and control individual biases. The consumerist attitude exhibited by less than 1% of northern Nigerians is what the rest of Nigeria is using to judge the 99% that are impoverished and neglected.

      1. J Fagge, this is yet another misunderstanding of the difference between language and knowledge. Being able to speak english fluently means you learn how to talk in just another language and not educated. With your narrow thinking that VOA,BBC, Tehran et al, uses Hausa language in their broadcast because we are illitrate, but ther are more media broadcast in english than Hausa, going by your reasoning, there are more illiterate english people in the world than any race else.

      2. Aminu Hamza, u re very intelligent to figure out what jfagge thought he is smart to think such, after all u re the clever one, the popularity and the expansion of hause language in the world, makes the media broadcast in Hausa language more than any other in Africa…Zainab more grace to ur elbow!

      3. God bless you my brother for your insightful analysis on the write up.

    2. Mallam Ahmed, your comment made much less sense than Zainab’s. Indeed Zainab’s made a lot of sense to me.
      One, she provided the process the stores usually follow to decide what foreign languge to use. Are you suggesting that as businesses they just ask what language is widely spoken in Nigeria and they use it? Or that they tried to write in Yoruba but there were no alphabets to write in that language so they borrow that of their countrymen, the Hausas? Be real brother. This can only come from knowing their customers through the tax return system they use.
      Two, comparing this business decision with the political desicion of the British govt through the BBC and the decision of the Saudi govt for religious reasons is, to say the least, missing the point. BBC took the decisionn to influence its colonial and later neo-colonial subjects. Therefore they look for language that has widelybspoken like Hausa and Swahili and the Saudis want to address every major language present in the Kingdom during Hajj. Why do you think Swahili is not on the list of the languages used in the stores?

      1. Sada, may be Ahmed has not made himself very clear. I think what he meant was that amongst those Nigerians that shopt in the store, Hausa wass widely spoken, which does not necessarily mean that all those that speak Hausa language are of Hausa-Fulani descent. Zainab should have exppanded her topic to cover northern Nigeria, not simply Hausa-Fulani, because all the ethnic groups in the North with exception of thos ein the Kogi/Kwara region, and majority of Kanuris, speak Hausa as their language of daily communication. The attack should therefore b eon all northerners, not just Hausa-Fulani which is quite reasonable and justifiable. I don’t feel ashamed over the situation, but I feel angry. I don’t belong to the group that Zainab spoke about, but I see the ugly sight on a daily basis. I have a next-door neighbour who travels to U.K., Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and even Chine like going to Abuja or Lagos, almost on a weekly or monthly basis. He travels with all his family members for shopping, sigh-seeing and many other social occasions. Unfortunately, he hails from the state where Boko Haram is laying siege. Sometimes I wonder if he really cares or feels the pains that some of us are feeling whenever the BH strike. Zainab’s piece is a food-for-thought nonetheless.

      1. Aisha kin fede mana biri har wutsiya,wannan kira ne zuwa ga al’ummar Hausa-Fulani domin mu gyara halin mu kuma mu kyautata dabi’un mu.Idan kunne ya ji,gangar jiki ya tsira…Allah ya sa mu dace amin.

      2. Aisha, you shop in London just because you ‘kinda like it`? Mhm, that says a lot more than Zainab said. May He, the Lord, deliver us.

    3. Ahmed, the other examples you have mentioned…Pilgrimage in Mecca and News via BBC Hausa service are meant to for the common Hausa speaking person….The signs at Debenhams are meant for the well to do.What makes it sad is that apparently, Hausas spend way more money at these stores in the UK despite their minute number but then their people back home are among the poorest…..That’s the problem here.

      1. So you mean the well to do Hausa people who go to London for shopping are illiterates who. could. Of speak English?

    4. Apologies for being pedantic, but in Africa it would probably be third after Arabic and Swahili. In East Africa more than 60 mio people speak Swahili. That compares to c.43 mio speakers (including second language) of Hausa in West Africa.

      Not that any of this has any bearing on Zainab’s very valid argument or takes anything away form the beauty of the language but that mistake irked me.

    5. i disagree with you she has rightly said it…..the hausa-fulani elite should be ashamed of themselves, they use poverty as a political weapon now it has ricochet and they are fighting dirty using boko haram……God will judge them

    6. Swahili is more widely spoken that either Arabic or Hausa and indeed there is a copious amount of literature in Yoruba (this I am certain of) and I do believe the sam may be said of Igbo. Zainab has made a whole lot of sense and indeed she hit the nail on the head. The poll taken has shown that the shopkeepers acknowledge the spending power of Nigerian shoppers as opposed to West Afican shopper

    7. @Ahmed: Zainab’s article is well written, but it seems you and others guys with like minds have not gotten the real messages or the context of this article. Her writeup is not about the language (Hausa) but about the character, ignorance, and the extravagant and exorbitant life style of rich people of Northern decent. It is about how they are not intourch with reality.

    8. Thank God that you suddenly realized how Nigerians spend a lot of silver and gold, meant for our collective devpt on glitterati.
      I knew this and have been harping it to who ever cares to listen for more than a decade, but i have a different take on it.
      The fact remains that bad and blatant corrupt leadership have systematically pauperized Nigerians and the North is worst for it.
      Glaring recent events like subsidy scandal,police pension, James Ibori saga e.t.c have no ethnic coloration, in fact if there is any 1 language that Nigerians speak, its the language of mutual corruption.
      If census is taken of the heavy northern Nigerian spenders in any foreign land 99% will surely be those connected or logged unto the Abuja political graft system.
      I you work in the private sector or start a business and earn your legit money to spend, please do so proudly regardless of where you come from, and let only the thieves that have squandered our collective future bear the shame and eventually the bigger judgment
      As for me i dont deal with divide and rule shitstem, i don’t even see myself as a Nigerian, but more as an African.
      So lets come together North, East ,West and south , tall and short dreadlocks and bald head etc to emancipate our selfs from the vice like grip of materialism. Change starts from you and I.

  2. Its okay, you don’t have to agree with me all the time. On the issue of public announcements made or even written in Hausa in Mecca and Medina, I would argue that it is almost an entirely different situation than the one described above, where because of the sheer size of the North, and consequently, the number of Muslims from Nigeria (and of Hausa-Fulani extraction), we typically outnumber Muslims from other countries who go on pilgrimage, and because of our sheer numbers, there is need for public address to be made in Hausa to cater for this huge pilgrims’ population. Additionally, the Nigerians (of Northern Hausa-Fulani extraction) who go for pilgrimage, cut right across different social classes:the poor, middle class(what’s left of it) and the rich; people from urban and rural areas; farmers, traders, bankers, school teachers etc. People will save their last pennies to fulfill the religious obligation, Hajj. How many farmers, petty traders and rural dwellers come to the UK or shop in Debenhams? Did you read the part of the article which quotes the news report stating that ““foreign language signs mainly target rich, short-stay tourists from overseas.”?

    1. If they know their economics the aggregate Yorubas who shop in London far out value the Hausa shoppers even if by sheer numbers.

      1. true but I will tell you from experience that the average yoruba is more interested in ‘bargains’ that exclusivity. Credo being if I could look good for a buck why spend more.

    2. Kudos Zainab. Nice 1. I’m impressed. Always remember that the signs of a good work is critics. To be candid we really need an overhaul as a people and a peaceful revolution as a nation.

  3. Thank you so much for this write-up. May Allah continue to increase you in wisdom and daraja (amin). Now, we really need to put on our thinking caps and gird our loins!!

  4. To me your article has made a lot of sense (as usual). It was a mistake he made because nowadays public announcements in holy mecca are made in almost all the languages of tribes that visit the holy land even yoruba etc. And about the BBC, I think it has to do with the attitude of hausa-fulani towards radio.
    What u ve highlighted is worth looking at cos I used think myself about it.” Kinsan bahaushe akwai kece raini na banza” thank u zainab

  5. My dear Zee, with this article…confirmed I’m now a fan. You’ve said it well and it was well researched. If the north is mainly populated by muslims and we the muslims are the poorest, least educated, and perhaps most spendthrift…..then we need to check our Islam. Lets practice Islam as in the Qur’an and as dictated by the sunnah of Muhammad (SAW), May Allah bless you and may we really change our attitudes for positive and progressive ones. Amin.

  6. I dont know how 2 start or even what 2 say. I am shocked,angry & surprised @ this revelation…………….. I dont have any prove but i can tel u dat most of dem ar all dis politicians & dia families. Nice wok zee kip exposin dem 4 us. But u shuld also b careful, u knw many ppl wunt b hapy abt dis aticl. I tink its anoda briliant aticl 4rm u ones mo. Unlyk oda aticls u av writen,dis tym i concor wit evry tin u av writen kip it up ma salam

  7. Great article and connects with a blog I wrote titled ‘A Billion naira is not enough for a Nigerian’. Do read that article on my blog which is a nation-building blog. I will follow you on Twitter and regularly visit your blog. Lets keep in touch as together, we will build a developed Nigeria

  8. I guess if all young Nigerians will start thinking and craving for change like this, we can actually turn the country around for better. All that is required to effect this change in our nation is just character regeneration. Most of the rich and affluent from our end of the world are bankcrupt of good manners; the resources that should be used to develop and empower people were only being deployed to sponsor violence and the rest on senseless acquisition of material things. How I wish they will come round and read this sincere and factual appraisal of what the western world think of us. Other big spenders and shoppers from Middle East and Asia are legitimate and hardworking business men and women who are making money out of creating values in their various societies but ours are only coming to spend their ill-gotten wealth realised from looting and stealing from government purse. Anyway, a well reseached article and I hope one day we shall take this cruzade back home to evangelise our people with these message of change of attitudes and manners to give hope to the future generation of Nigerians. This comment is from a member of i-commision Nigeria; that’s a clue for identification, though we haven’t met personally. Keep it up fellow patriot!

    1. Kudaina damun kanku bayarabiya ce kawai taje zama shi yasa take shirmenta baku ji wata gwari tana comment ba wai azinarh sunanta agidan uban wa hausawa suke saka wannan suna? Mtsceew. Allah wadaran naka ya lalace. Gwarin kawai

      1. Banda buya a bayan fage mana ana zage zage malam.Bai kuma dace a bar jaki ana dukan taiki ba! Idan kana cikin masu almubazzarancin da kasidar wannan baiwar Allah ke magana a kai, ka yi gyara ko da yar kadan ce. To imma Gwari ko bayarbiya ce, ay tunda ta kawo maka ayoyi kan rashin dacewan abin da take magan a kai, karanci mutum yayi shiru idan ba zai fadi alheri ba. Yaushe yin nasiha da jawo hankalin dan uwanka ya zama aibin da za a kore ka daga kabilar da Allah Ya ga daman ajiye ka!!! (Ba mahalukin da aka yi shawara da shi kafin a ba shi yare-yes yare!! Kabila! Kabilar hausa!!!)

  9. salam zainab,u really comunicate to my soul and in love with your pen and you in pls dnt get up set with hausa language rather d people dat has such atitude as you have lamented over,also happy 4 recommending general atitudinal changes of people.may Allah help us.

  10. I have been reading your write ups for now, they are quite good, some I agree with and others I seem to have a little divergent opinion. But thing stands out in all, they are always intelligently scripted. And this one, I can’t help but agree with you totally. There are so many ways wealthy northerners in Nigeria can empower the poor and still make very good financial profit out of it. For example, owning a private school, I can personally touch thousands of lives positively with such a venture and still make reasonable profit. There are still over a thousand or million ways to give people’s lives a meaning in the north (Nigeria) rather than the very popular (but not agreeable with) system of giving pitiance (stipends) to mature who come cap in hand shouting “Alanguro”. Zainab, I love this piece, it is very apt and timely, especially with the current Boko Haram menace in the north.

  11. Wow Zainab, loving ur blog more & more! Such an asset to the north & the nation in general. God bless u.

  12. The use of the hausa language on signages in london shops is not due to profligacy by hausa-fulani muslims or an indication that they are the biggest spenders. This defective logic could be extended to imply that the establishment of a hausa service by british owned bbc world service indicates higher literacy among hausas than other ethnic groups in nigeria or even africa. The fact is that the british historically have shown a nostalgic preference for hausa than any other language in nigeria.

    1. Mallam Haruna, highest literacy ?! A wani gari kenan? You don’t know what you are talking about

    2. Malam Haruna, read the article again & understand it better. The writer mentioned and gave refence as to why and how foreign languages are selected for signs in UK shops. She didn’t just assumed it. Its not just logically derived, its factual.

  13. Nothing will happen to Rodney in his grave. To start with, it is ur guest to patronise UK that took u may be to thier schools instead of schooling cheap d way u religiously claim, and may use d balance to educate 10 other poor notherners. 2ndly , u only succeeded in advertising ur write up which is well researched, but d shame u talked about is just a creation of ur imagination. 3rdly, hausa as a language is beyöng nigeria to niger, chad, cameroun, ghana etc. Even in nigeria, u cant say that a plateau, benue, taraba or kaduna christain who only speak hausa and or read d advert, patronised d store had annoyed islam. 4thly, u cant say at that point, dat sales were generated merely cos of hausa language since 90% of nigerians there, in d 1st place, can read or speak english. We here are d one’s to complain of ur type who seem to ignore ur local languages, by speaking 2ru d nose. Why did’nt u complain dat bbc, voa, RFI, china and german radios uses hausa at d detriment of yuruba or ibo language. It seem u have enough materials 4 ur write up but got overclouded by naivity. Afterall i ve nt seen any correlation bw ur economic analysis and language or ethnic background. I xpected dat u measure d total advertisement placed by d shop in dat respect, 2ru both radio, tv, internet, magazine, nps and other outdoor media, esterblish weather or not they are main complementary reason why d buyer patronised them. U contradicted by saying the shop is biggest…. I know of many southerners who go to US, UK ETC on vocations, honey moons, maternity etc. How many hausas embark on such journeys. How did u get statistics of buyers by ethnic grop? U de work 4 d shop?. U only use a lengthy piece to run after nothing or i’d say using hammer to kill an ant. Check history, we have american fulanis who are lost insidde americans. How do u measure them. Better come home and be ashame with d boko haram ac tivities of ur ethnic leanage than fighting a sign post.

    1. The only thing I’d like to respond to here is this, you said: “We here are d one’s to complain of ur type who seem to ignore ur local languages, by speaking 2ru d nose.” I don’t speak through my nose, I speak Hausa fluently and my accent is very Nigerian. Once, I tried to start speaking with a British accent, it was too difficult and sounded very fake, so I decided to stick to my Nigerian accent 🙂

      1. U shudnt have replied him…he totally do not understand what ur write-up is all about…totally oblivious

      2. you let him get under your skin.The piece obviously went over his head either due to no fault of his or due to his complicity in what (we) complain of

    2. Your respons is total nonsens, absolut rubish. Even wit d facts,figurs & evidences presented in d aticl u stil dont see d corelation btw d economic analysis & ethnic background ? God hw do som ppl tink.

    3. “Better come home and be ashame with d boko haram activities of ur ethnic leanage than fighting a sign post.”
      If you are a proper Hausa man please next time say “our” ethnic leannage rather than ur. But if you are just hiding behind a hausa name , i can accept that word “ur”. If you are a Hausa man and felt not happy of what she reveal about our attitude( especially the drunken thieves parading themselves as Directors, Perm Sec etc) of our people, please write your own blog and praise sing all the thieves, so that the Pension scheme scammers can give u a little of their loot

    4. Abdullahi yuguda or wat eva you pretend 2 b, your respons is completly anoyin,entirely out of point,totaly nonsens & apsolutly full of rubbish. Better b bold enough 2 write your ril name & b proud of your identity. Atlist she is proud of who she is.

  14. I don’t think your article establishes a causal link between the poverty index in Northern Nigeria and the Debenhams sale sign in Hausa. Granted theft occurs in state governments across all of Nigeria. If your thesis is accepted that the Debenhams’ buyers are mostly government officials and there families then what the signage highlights is a lack of ease of use of the english language among Arewa officials than their counterparts in other parts of the country. That or Nigerians from other parts of the world have more sophisticated tastes and shop elsewhere when visiting the UK.

    Plus its wrong to assume all Northern buyers base their wealth from government.

    1. I doubt if at any point I said or implied that “the Debenhams’ buyers are mostly government officials and there families” as you claimed. You made that assumption on your own. Infact, I am placing the blame on everyone, I don’t think govt/public officials are the (only) culpable group here

      1. Point taken on source of income. If measure is absolute poverty index then numerically, China has 120m of its citizens living on less than a dollar a day compared to the 114m Nigerians. Due to our population growth of 4m a year and their one child per family policy we will soon overtake them though.

    2. @Dan Arewa’s second comment: Yeah, in gross terms, China’s 120m poor outnumber Nigeria’s 114m, but in relative terms, proportionally, China’s 120m pales to just about 10% of its over 1.2 billion people, while Nigeria’s 114million poor account for a staggering 69% approx 70% of its 150million people. In addition, China has lifted 400million people out of poverty, and is still doing so, while the poverty in Nigeria is simply increasing.

      1. As far as the Debenhams spending N420k on an annual or bi-annual trip to buy clothes and household goods for a family seems reasonable. Say an ‘average’ professional Nigerian family is five (two parents & 3 kids which is small). Then add five other family members you’ll be purchasing for (aunts, uncles, wedding item requests etc) then N42k per person is not exorbitant. The difference is in Nigeria, unlike Brazil, China or gulf states you cannot purchase reasonable quality western items (I don’t consider Debenhams a luxury brand) back home. (Or if they are available they’ll be three times the UK retail price Hence we buy for more people and the items are to last longer. That’s why travelling back to Nigeria the airlines queues are always bursting with excess luggage.

    3. Now this, I agree with 85%!! Any Nigerian traveller can relate to that, the fact that you have to buy stuff for family, friends and relatives….for the reasons you rightly pointed out above

      1. Key to poverty growth is population growth. Nigerian population has doubled in past thirty years and will double again in next thirty. That is a key issue that needs addressing. China applies forced sterilisation. That’s why the blind activist was forced into hiding in the US embassy in Beijing for fighting against this policy. They could not have achieved their poverty reduction rate without it. Is this a route we want to follow? A large part of Nigerian population growth is in Arewa. Its a big aspect of our culture . Why has polio been so hard to eradicate in the North? Because of (unfounded but widely held) fears that it is sterilisation by subterfuge.

    4. But that’s where the benefits of education come in, no need for any sort of sterilization. When people especially women have attained some level of education (at least up to secondary school), they will make informed choices about the number of children to have, in most cases, fewer. With mass literacy, population growth will be on the decrease.

      1. To summarise I neither celebrate or denigrate the debenhams’ hausa signage any more than I would celebrate or denigrate the nhs north west trust doing a bird flu video in yoruba (google is your friend). In terms of western education being required in the north. Totally accepted. This is not a new discovery and something I am familiar with. All I will say about education is that you can lead a horse to water but cannot make it drink. My father was chief inspector of primary education in the old Northern region the 1960s. Systems were put in place for developing universal access by the end of 1970s. What subsequent military/civilian milads/ governors did in the successor states is for you to judge. Here is a link to ‘The organisation of educational planning in Nigeria’, to which he contributed. It is a 1968 United Nations document that was adopted as a basis by other commonwealth countries such as Jamaica among others.

      2. Mature banter here! @DanArewa and Zainab Usman. Am impressed. There is definitely hope 4 this country.

      3. @ Zee and Dan arewa , population is not our problem infact its suppose to be our asset . Mismanagement / law and order are our major problems . Nice write up Zee !

    5. “Plus its wrong to assume all Northern buyers base their wealth from government”
      Tell me how many manufacturing companies are there in nothern nigeria,If there is any who own it. In the north if you are not in the governmant as a thieving civil servant , special adviser or politician, you most be a government contractor who collude with the civil servant to drain Nigeria dry. No proper business man from the north with hard earn money can go to UK debenham, M&S etc to waist his hard earn money.

      1. Everyone speaks from their experience. I can point to many Northern professionals (engineers, IT professionals, accountants, telecoms specialists, HR experts) that work with multinationals or have established themselves after working with such firms that spend their hard-earned proceeds within and outside of Nigeria.

    6. True, i agree with you, but what is the % compared to our thieving civil servants (Pension and oil subsidy thieves)

      1. Mallam Tahir

        You’ll have to ask those that hold the brief for Northern politicians/civil servants/government contractors.

    7. @DanArewa, I think there is nowhere in the article where causation is implied. What the article tried to do is to hypothesised an association between the spending behavior of rich Hausas & the conditions of their brethren in northern Nigeria. It is merely descriptive not analytical, at best descriptive comparison. In any case it is not an academic research report. Its meant only to prick our conscience, which I believe it did.

      1. Hypotheses are interesting. I am a believer in individual not collective responsibility. I don’t feel shame that Ibori was jailed for massive theivery just because I happen to share the same nationality as him. He should pay for his crimes and so should any other Nigerian who has committed similar crimes, irrespective of the part of the country they are from.

        Nor do I believe in a world where ‘rich Hausas’ all spend in the same manner. In the same way I don’t believe ‘poor Hausas’ all spend or behave in the same away. If there are those among the rich that stole their way to riches they should made socially outcast and preferably jailed.

        It is not the position of anyone to judge those that invest in the education of their children and dependents and fulfil their moral obligations to their communities, whether according to their muslim or christian beliefs.

        The writer overlooks the fact there are large indigenous (for a lack of a better) christian populations across the whole of Northern nigeria.

        A fact no seems to have commented on is that the Evening Standard states “in February last year, sales to Nigerians were up 50% in London shops. The connection can easily be made that this was pre-election related spending. How many of the culprits have been brought to book? How many of fuel subsidy probe culprits will be charged? The money siphoned off was used for gubernatorial elections in addition to the presidential elections.

    8. you mentioned that China’s population living on less than a dollar a day is 120m? Would you say that is impressive since China’s population is 1.35 billion (2010)? Nigeria’s population at 170 million (est. 2012) with 114 million living on less than a dollar a day based on your statement is a cause for concern.

      1. Of course Nigeria’s poverty index is not ‘impressive’. But if a comparison to China is going to be made in the article then HOW they achieved and maintain their low poverty needs to be mentioned: forced sterilisation and abortions after one child per couple.

        The relevant comparison is how Ghana has managed to lift a large section of its population out of absolute poverty in the past decade, without any oil income. Its probably outside the scope of this article, but they also have a significant Hausa population in the North of their country.

      2. I agree with you in using Ghana as a relevant example. This is the reason I find George Ayittey’s presentation on Cheetah’s vs. Hippos inspiring and a call to action. It’s one thing to recognize the problem, but another to incite change. If you can, watch this video: where he explained how Ghana managed to reconstruct their “attitude”, and in return reinstated the middle class as part of its social structure.

  15. Amazingly you can write. But, honestly Hausa is not a “Nigerian” language as you used all over your article. Also you need to know that Debenhams is not the most expensive retail shop in the UK, in fact most of their prices are far cheaper than the rest. So to my understanding even if to say yes all the Hausa shoppers are from Nigeria, then they are there to pick up some bargains. I assume they picked Hausa because it is the most important language from Africa at the moment.

    Finally if you are talking about rich people going there to shop, what made you to think that Hausa shoppers cannot speak English and they were easily identified by the language they speak? Most rich Hausa Nigerians will most likely speak English which is more fluent than that of the Yorubas or Igbos residing in the UK.

    Please try to different your conclusive opinion that the reason why they choose Hausa is just because most of their shoppers are from Northern Nigeria and need to be complemented in Hausa because they cannot understand English.

    1. So, Hausa is not a “Nigerian” language? In sheer numbers, there are more Hausas in Nigeria relative to other West African countries. True, Debenhams is not the most expensive retail shop in the UK, and I neither said nor implied that, it is still one of the most popular though, and it does sell LOTS of expensive stuff, even if there are also affordable ones as well and it is NOT “far cheaper than the rest”. As for all your other assumptions, I really don’t know where you got them from, you could probably try reading the article again and maybe following the supporting links…

      1. I bet you know, you just forget, or rather choose to simplify your allegations by attempting to change meanings. There is nothing like Nigerian language in context, Nigeria is less than a century old, Hausa is hundreds of years old, even before Nigeria was fabricated 98 years ago, Hausa was there, so get your facts right, with or without Nigeria, Hausa exists and will continue to exist till the end of times. My assumptions are rather trying to reveal what you seemed to have jumped or hid and concluded your article with an incessant blame on rich Hausa people.

  16. I think I agree with both of you guys. Spending is in us(Hausa/Fulani) cos when you look at a simple observation we do buy expensive things than any orther tribe in our country, though I have no any data to back up my claims but this is just an observations. And secondly I dont regret of being a Hausa/Fulani because of this challenges as a young man, we can change the way we go about our normal life anytime anyday. That is my candid openion

    1. Neither do I “regret” being Hausa-Fulani for one second. I said I feel embarrassed/ashamed because of this situation i.e. glaring increasing poverty vis-a-vis unproductive excessive spending, doesn’t mean I “regret” being…

      1. I agree with the content of your article. However, i dont like the word Hausa/Fulani. Hausa and fulani are not as similar as people would think. Its just that majority of the fulani people speak and understand hausa, and thats why it ends.

  17. I just don’t get the message here. What is shameful about your mother tongue being used in some advert? I haven’t heard you complain about BBC Hausa, VOA, Radio China, The Deutch Radio (can’t remember the exact name). I think you’re being over dramatic. Since when did poverty around us stop anybody from any part of the world from doing as they pleased with their money, how do we know which is stolen and which is not? I hate what the thieves have done to us as much as you do, but i would not be ashamed of being Hausa because they do not represent me in any way. Neither would the Ibos or Yorubas too cos if my kins man na thief that doesnt make me one now, does it? Hausa transcends Northern Nigeria and is spoken all over West Africa. Have you thought of those other Africans too? This is your second article I’ve read and both have given me the sense that you are trying hard to show that you are different? Don’t you live in London yourself? Can I ask what took you there in the first place? We have our faults yes, but we’re not any different from the other tribes. Being ashamed you’re Hausa because Debenhams uses Hausa on their sales boards? Da gaske?

    1. You know you started your criticism so constructively then you veered off into something else with this: “Don’t you live in London yourself? Can I ask what took you there in the first place?”. Seems you have a problem with my “living in London”

      1. No I don’t, why would I have a problem with you living in London? I just asked you that cos you are there and it can’t be free, surely. And really, Debenhams? If it was even Harrods, may be?

    2. …and by the way, most of the supporting evidence I used (if you care to follow the links in the article) make specific reference to Nigeria, then Hausa(s), meaning it is most probably Nigerian Hausas they are referring to

      In both cases, you can see how Nigeria and subsequently Hausa is mentioned. As for liking the write up or not, its not a popularity contest anyways…. you can read it or you can move on to other websites, simple as ABC.

      1. Liking? Who said anything about liking or not liking? I was just airing my views. I thought that’s what it’s all about. Obviously, you’re offended. I apologise.

    3. “Since when did poverty around us stop anybody from any part of the world from doing as they pleased with their money”

      Malama Badiya, that’s exactly Zainab’s point. The poverty aroun us should stop us doing as we please with our money. We have a guide. Please re-read the Quranic verses she referred to in her article.

      1. Malam Sada ko dai Dr. da na sani ne? I am currently suffering from brain freeze and can’t think of a better way of getting my point across, but fact is I hate my people being poor too, I have close relations that are poor too, but I wouldn’t be ashamed of being Hausa because some Hausas are spending money in Debenhams. We have our problems, and both the poor and the rich are to blame. The typical Hausa man would prefer to stay at home and collect N500 from you everyday than accept a scholarship from you or even a job that requires his working hard. We all know this. So while we blame the rich, let’s also think of how to change the mindset of the poor because it’s not oly in the North that there is poverty, but do you see beggars from other regions on the street? Severally, some of us have extended helping hands in the form of buying forms for police and army recruitment and such things but hardly do you see anyone willingly accepting this help. I am not rich by any means, and I’m not holding brief for the rich, but I want to hear someone come out and say the home truth about the poor too. Almajiri is one of the many things used to abuse the North, is there any reason for it? My only grouse with the Govt on that is the fact that they’re not taking the bull by the horns and banning it totally. How do you give birth to 20 children and throw all of them into the world for someone else to do the job of feeding and training for you, your God given responsibility. The rich shouldn’t spend, the poor too should get out of their lazy bed and do show some resolve. I will not be ashamed cos everyone is to blame here. Rich or poor.

  18. Read this some days ago:

    Putting aside that consumerism culture is self destructive, the wounds you have argued might be deeper. The article (in above link) tries to justify the increase in shopping by nigerians as a result of increased GDP. I am not aware of any recent GDP increasing ventures in the north. It means nigeria is lagging behind the BRICS but North is lagging behind the South. In spite of these Northerners r getting excess to spend; what does that say about the northerners that end up getting richer (and expressing it in purchases)… You do the math. Worse I think is that it masks an imminent problem to which affluent nigerians appear in pathological denial.

  19. Fuck You Writer nd D Fuckin London U live. Wawiya kawai. Even In Islam if U r a modafuckin Illetrate Luvin Ur Heritage is Mandatory.If U knw u r not going 2 Se gud Thins abt Us neva Talk again bcoz from oll Indications U not Hausa………jst usin d Auspices

      1. Zainab pls dont waste your time in responding 2 such people. You know i told you that this articl wunt go down wel wit a lot of ppl.

      2. why do you bother to respond? Zainab if you have the ‘cojones’ to write this kind of piece ( my 1st ever read of anything by you. It was posted by a pal on a motorbike forum I am on) then your skin ought to have the requisite thickness.

  20. I Don’t see anything wrong in me spending my money how, when and where I deem fit irrespective of how I acquired it. Whose fault is it that almajirais are all over?
    Like a minority have commented (cos others are famzing), hausa is not only nigerian, I know as much that it is spoken in chad, niger, cameroon and ghana. So what proof do u have that the hausa is targeted at the nigerians? Or you think chad and niger don’t have wealthy individuals to rival their nigerian counterparts.
    Abeg let’s not judge other people, you don’t know the level of their wealth, their level of charity aside zakkah that they do regularly

    1. The proof I have that “Hausa is targetted at Nigerians” as you asked, and which is included in the write-up, (if you had taken the time to go through the links) are these:

      In both cases, you can see how Nigeria and subsequently Hausa is mentioned. As for liking the write up or not, its not a popularity contest anyways….

      1. naga kuna yita wahalda kwakwalwarku.shin wai inason sani miye a bin tada jiyo ji a wannan sharhi ne ? kuma wakeda jayayya ne ? gameda bayanin ZAINABU ?

      2. Zainab I am impressed by your article and that you took the time to research. My question here is as a UK shopper albeit not a big spender I have never come across a sign in hausa language neither have I ever been asked to provide information about my tribe or country at the till so my concern here is where they got their numbers from?

  21. All this girl is saying is that we shud feel ashamed that the hausas constituted 1 of d majority shoppers in debenham n by extention UK nd dis is done with stolen (govt) money which cud hv bn used in lifting our pple 4rm abject poverty. All d tribes in nigeria steal govt money n go shopp’n in d uk but mostly we d hausas r d careless shoppers buyin things we don’t need 2 impress pple we don’t like. Simple its pathetic.

  22. Zainab its a brilliant xpression of your opinion backed by facts and figures only thing is some folks like me don’t see it a problem nor a thing of shame or embarrassment.

  23. I’ll first of all apologize for Ahmed’s behaviour for he not know what he’s doing. They say “it’s always easyto criticize than to construct”.
    Our leaders carry a significant weight of the problem but the dominating factor among the variables included in our problem set-up is people’s attitude towards change like that of Ahmed’s. These are people that have know about a problem but do not have the understanding of that problem and they fear for change because they think it is impossible by reading through or listening to someone’s idea.
    Well, a lot has been said about this write-up but if you’re a true patriotic son of the North, you can’t let this pass without casting your signature on it. We need change and the time is now. Let’s not just sit and post ideas on our pc’s or phones without action. Only less than 10% of us are interested in reading not to mention research and blogging. Remember what the prophet said “the most effect way of correction (change) is by hand”, hence, ACTION.

    1. Ranke dede,,

      Not wishing to repeat myself, I would refer you to some of my posts above. Suffice to say that Internet discourse tends to descend to the lowest common denominator (especially when comments are not moderated; this is not Nigeria specific but a world wide web problem).

      I would like to point you to this 1968 United Nations’ document. “The organisation of educational planning in Nigeria” contains statistical and comparative policy approaches of the different Nigerian regions as it then stood. It is a good primary research document

  24. A well researched & compiled article.This,as stated by Zee are the only obvious issues bedevilling the North

  25. This was a waste of my time. Seeing an advert in hausa is nothing to be ashamed of. I find it interesting, but ashamed? Really? That’s a bit much, don’t you think?

  26. Spirited writing once more. Enough to inspire anger in any sane mind. Brilliant!

  27. This is my first time reading your blog and I must say I commend you. Even though not everyone is responsible because some do geniuely earn what they spend but at the same time the obvious needs to be stated.There is a major problem with the orientation of an average northerner which needs to change hence we’ll be reaping what we have sowed. It is so obvious with what is going on in that part of the country now. May Allah guide us unto the straight path and make our worldly desires less desirable to us.

  28. The writer is lost in the white mans world, neither integreted there nor in Nigeria, hence in a middle of confusion.

  29. From one shopping exoerience, zainab had taken the opportunity to say all the things she wants to say about rich hausa, northern, kleptocrats. Nothing new Zainab. And mostly true. But there was no evidence that a shopping trip revealed all this to you.

    Its only from the profile of theft and corruption data in Nigeria that we shall know the true crooks.

    I will not be ashamed if i were you: those robbers shud be the ones to be ashamed.

  30. Look its not there fault for putting up signs. They are simply tryna market there goods to consumers. Its the Nigerian governments fault. For makin our economy so bad that we hav to go outside our country to get quality services. If to say we hav malls like this one. We wouldn’t b regular @ders nd der wudnt put up a sign in hausa

  31. I think you need to go class to learn how to use statistical data for analysis. A good example is a piece by Sunusi Abubakar title ” Ross Alegbo ana violent of truth”. Do not use wrong information for right analysis and vice visa.

  32. Usually, I don’t comment on sites but there are so many illeterates with smart phones now that I feel the need to bash a few of their heads. First off, please spell legibly so that we can follow…its exhausting trying to guess what you f*ckers are writing.
    Secondly, its so obvious that those disagreeing did not look past the fact that the hausa tribe got a backlash it deserved. We have to stop living in denial and the first step in that direction is to get inforned and get educated but unfortunately, most of you can’t even follow something as simple as links provided.
    The sign to me was no big deal but what it stands for and how it got there is disturbing to all well meaning Nigerians and FYI, the store knows that 95% of its hausa shoppers can speak English. The ploy is simply to make them more comfortable, and to give them a sense of belonging so they can spend more. I will not celebrate the sign like some of you are suggesting (the horror!) Instead I will find something worthwhile to do with my money before making another large purchase. We must all search for how we can make things better as the author is suggesting, there are people starving and dying and these statistics represent people!!! So before you conclude, yes I am a hausa girl and I too felt that anger and shame by the revelations.

  33. Say all you want but this write up was spot on.Lie to yourselves all you like but yes its the truth.Parasites that’s what we are indeed.Disagree why don’t you go kiss a cobra!Good job!

  34. Wow, sorry am going to use both hausa da turanci in making my comment. This is not because I cant speak both well, sai dai wata hanya ta nuna goyan baya na ko kishiyar sa, game da wannan article. Talauci ye mana kakanikayi a kasar hausa, and its true both our rich and poor are not helping the situation.
    From the writers view, its really something to be shamed of, when you have money and knowledge and many of your people are as poor as hausa people in the northern Nigeria. Dont worry every tribe have poor people but not this percentage. More over when the outside world see you as very affluent and well to do. Ni dai banga amfanin ina da kudi ba, amma yan uwana na jika, suna cin kanzo da sanya tsunma amatsayin sutura. From the other side, the fact that hausa or northerners spend alot in UK shopping mall, simply means there is an increase in purchasing power of our people and our local products are not high quality, am sure most of the northerners parent and grandparents that spend alot in the uk, have more than five members of their family living in abject poverty. Like it or not, The RICH and the POOR dont really like each other especially within the family. We really lost our ideals of family ties and social responsibilities. Its also true some people earn their wealth legitimately and deserve high quality products and vacation, like shopping in UK.
    My personal view on this article is, our rich should try and invest more at home and our poor masses should quit their lazy and cheat attitude in order to make our country better.

      1. please write on the have not (the poor) so that the whole situation will be balance.

  35. The explanations at the end to me are not necessary! A Word is enough for the wise! Any1 who thinks otherwise and twist this outta contect does that outta folly!

  36. Great blog Zai but like most of the articles I have read, this spelt out the problem without any trace of a viable solution regardless of how myopic or otherwise (just saying as an example) it may be from the writer’s point of view.

    In most cases, we tend to research a lot on the problem and leave little or no room for solutions. In my opinion, this is one of the major issues we need to deal with in Nigeria as a whole. According to you by inference, we have the data to work with through the national bureau of statistics. A focus group to find solutions should be a good start.

    That should not in any way take the shine away from a well written article

  37. A brilliant piece and a sad truth shared by Zainab unfortunately there’s little or nothing someone can do about this. Sometimes it feels like almost impossible to enlighten and organise “our people”. The non-chalants and idiot are always in the majority

  38. A well written and researched article. You lost it at the begining when you were comparing China, Brazil and Nigeria but you nailed it when you linked the signs in a Nigerian languge and the specific targeting of consumer behavior. Do only Hausa shop in London? No I struggle to see any Hausas at MacDonalds or working as tube security men. We are a nation of import dependent people, and until we stop exporting raw goods and importing finished poverty will remain with us like white on rice.

  39. Thank you Zainab for this article.
    I am happy that most people realise the worthiness of this contribution. I agree with those that defended you against criticism of this write up. The answers they gave are sufficient, so I won’t dwell on that.
    However, on the issue of signs in Hausa language for pilgrims in the Holy Land, to me is exactly in the same category as those Hausa signs in UK. Yes, pilgrimage is a religious duty. Ordinarily, one feels thrilled that one’s mother tongue attained such international acclaim. But viewed in the context of widespread poverty and the fact that majority of pilgrims are not first timers, majority of first timers had to struggle on what to leave at home for family sustenance, or had their expenses borne by either the government or a relation in high government position etc, then one has no option than to conclude that these pilgrims or their sponsors have misplaced priorities. Many islamic scholars have pointed out that a muslim’s duty are not only confined to a yearly event and that people are actually neglecting small acts of kindness which, if constantly repeated, accumulate like the provrbial rain drops and the ocean.

  40. It’s a really interesting writeup..Expect Criticisms like never before because u’v jst written Nothing but==>>THE TRUTH..

  41. All the fuss…all the fuss! Why?
    Everyone who lashed out against this article is either acting out of ignorance or hypocrisy, simple.
    Obviously, the writer is UK-based and by general implication is among the ‘little’ percent of Nigerians who are comfortable (wealthy, if you like). I commend her for her courage in saying it as it is, and I agree with her position wholly.
    Those who are crying brimstone and hell fire are most likely the most guilty culprits (or as recent trends suggest, they aspiring culprits) and have finished justifying such irresponsibility in their minds, only for the writer to destroy their ‘comfort zone’.
    And how was she able to achieve this? Nobody’s realised yet bt it was only because she quoted a few ayaats from the Qur’an and a hadith. I’ve faced enough confrontations because of same to notice one when I see it. Hausawa mun lalace yanzu, and it’s so bad that we don’t like hearing “Allah ya ce” or “Annabi ya ce”. And once you begin to toe that line, just know you’re in for a violent confrontation. What are YOU going to do about it, eh Zainab?

  42. I personally cannot see anything wrong with Hausa being used in a advert sign in a foreign country .They are simply trying to market thier products the most effective way possible: breaking the language barrier.
    Among the three dominant tribes in Nigeria(hausa, yoruba, igbo), the hausa tribe is the one tribe that does not care to adopt a foreign language as readily as the other two. Try getting into a conversation with a Hausa native in English; u’ll realize that sooner or later, bits and pieces of hausa language words get substituted for the English counterparts. The same cannot be said for the other two; the yorubas embrace english so fast all traces of their dialect disappears. Igbos on the other hand…well, its a dying language so to speak. Currently in the south-eastern part of Nigeria, igbo as a language is mandatorily been taught right from primary to secondary schools. I have come across many an Igbo person that cannot speak the language and doesnot even care to learn!

    Even within Nigeria, its considered alright to hear a yoruba or an igbo person speaking fluent english. If its a Hausa native, the assumption is either he/she grew up in the southern part of the country or overseas.I remember this one time i was with a friend of mine(coincidentally an Igbo) when i ran into another friend(this time a Hausa).Not wanting my igbo friend to feel left out, I made sure the entire conversation was carried out in English. After parting ways with my hausa friend, i remember him(igbo friend) asking me if I really am hausa; I of course asked him why and he responded saying that being in the north, he has a lot of hausa natives as friends but this is the 1st time he saw 2 hausa natives meet and no hausa was exchanged whatsoever. This is a general outlook on Hausa natives all over the country.

    Be mindful also that Nigeria is a CONSUMER nation with no quality control to imported commodities. As such, you’ll fiind many a Nigerian seeking to acquire quality products overseas mainly in europe.

    On a last note, do not attribute the entire failings of a country as a whole to one tribe. Nigeria is a nation with diverse people and diverse cultures. The hausa tribe cannot and should not be blamed for the decadence Nigeria is in today. We(Nigerians) all have our roles to play. I commend you though for a good write-up…a good one I have seen among many but your arguments just do not tally with your approach.

    1. Thank you Abdullahi Shuaib, you have done a better job than me in saying what I’ve been trying to say.

    2. Great article up there by Zainab,undoutedly a glaring reality staring us in d eye. Precisely why we are in a state of perpetual insecurity and uncertainty. What a good writing skills u have. Ur piece was indeed a call to action. Looking forward to reading more of ur write up.

    3. ”………..Even within Nigeria, its considered alright to hear a yoruba or an igbo person speaking fluent english. If its a Hausa native, the assumption is either he/she grew up in the southern part of the country or overseas……….”

      ……………not so sure i agree with this. I am Yoruba, grew up in Lagos and speak both English and Yoruba Fluently and think in either language. I am also particularly envious of anyone who is a polyglot. My mother – a Yoruba – was privileged to leave for her A levels in England as a 17 year old school girl, she studied English language and English literature in University and returned to teach both subjects in Nigeria. As a kid i got used to her saying that the educated Hausa man’s spoken English was the closest to the real thing amongst African languages and truth be told i tend to agree. I studied at one of the Federal Government Colleges and thus had the privilege of having school mates from all over Nigeria.

      I however do agree that what provokes Z into writing this brilliant piece really is a Nigerian Problem and not Hausa.

      Although she in no way alluded to that fact but the sad truth of Nigeria is that her wealthy are made up primarily of public officials – either current or former – as well as their cronies and proxies.

      They are the ones who flaunt their wealth and or are profligate with it.
      Hardly will you see a Nigerian who has worked hard for their wealth be profligate with it.

      In recent times I have become convinced that Nigeria’s problem is Nigerians. I used to be of the firm opinion that it was the rulers (we do not have leaders) but more and more i am thinking that WE the people are responsible for and deserve the rulers we are cursed with.

      The Hausa blame / bashing game primarily has been due to the fact that Northerners have held the topmost positions longer than any other but HEY, they had Southern cronies who did nothing to help and who came out just as filthy.

      n any event, Zainab makes a very cogent case. It is not rocket science that the oyinbo man is driven by data and the decision to have that sign in Hausa was no accident or lottery, it was based on empirical factors

  43. This is exceptional, a sad but true situation. Relating the amount spent to the poverty growing every single minute in the north is unbearable. May Allah bless you for this and I really hope most, if not all the extravagantly-spenders come across this and make a change

    1. And I wonder how on earth we’re going to make amendments and bring about solutions when more than half of our supposedly educated people don’t see this a problem. Dear Lord, come to our rescue

  44. I have noticed that some persons have deliberately refused to understand this article and the point its driving at, either for some selfish or mischievous reasons but it doesnt change what it stands for. More grease to your typing fingers, Zainab!

  45. I’m a hardworking Hausa Fulani man, an entrepreneur, have no business with Government. With over 100 Nigerians in my payroll I work hard every day (Sundays inclusive) to meet up my customers expectations and to pay salaries.
    Every two months I come to the UK to give myself a treat and a pat on the back for my efforts in my little way in fighting and reducing poverty back home.
    Debenhams is my one point of call. In all occasions I was there and will be there next tomorrow (Insha Allah), I will not be wearing a caftan or Babban riga but the normal shirt and jeans, I will not be speaking hausa to the store attendant, I will not claim any VAT for them to see my information. I’m one out of millions hausa Fulani who does this.
    Then the questions, how did you arrive at your conclusion? Are you sure as a hausa Fulani man I will be “sufficiently, rightfully ashamed, absolutely disgusted and hopefully angry at what I’m doing to myself”? Are you sure those signs in hausa are not for hardworking hausa fulani folks like me?

  46. am realy realy excited with this write up ,to me it seems we the northners re waking up .may allah ‘swa’ help us all 2 change to the teaching of our prophet ‘saw’ and the holy qur’an

  47. This article highlights the messy situation a once economically buoyant region called Arewa has found itself today (it is a pity). I commend you Zainab for taking your time to provide us with the facts and figures.

    Normally, I don’t comment on articles but the responses generated by this one have compelled me to.

    Some of the responses clearly show lack of understanding of the contents of this write-up and the perspective from which the writer has chosen to link these facts. I do not object to those who respectfully disagreed with the publisher and I acknowledge their positions. Topics of this nature generate different opinions which is why they are open for ‘intellectual debates’.

    However, some of the myopic, shallow, and narrow-minded responses have clearly demonstrated a high level of illiteracy malice still bedevilling us as a region. They need to go back to elementary schools and learn the basics of spelling and grammar before they open their mouths in issues that require logical understanding and constructive inputs.

    Every right thinking and patriotic Hausa-Fulani will be pained by the figures presented in this article which are on the increase. It is our collective responsibility to rise up to this challenge and secure a prosperous Arewa and Nigeria for ourselves and the generation yet unborn.

  48. Dear Zainab,

    This is a very well written article. U have stated ur opinion and presented facts that are really hard to disagree with.
    The nigerian love for luxury items is well known. Its rather upsetting that we refuse to realise that signs of development are not in the number of designer items a person owns…
    Anyway fantastic writing
    From a new fan

  49. Iv got the message in your well researched article and i have no doubt that its written in good faith. My only observation here is the use of the word ‘ashamed’. You should have expressed yourself in a more respectful and dignified way towards ‘OUR’ ethnic group. NAKA, NAKA NE, DUK YADDA YA BACE. Thnx.

    1. Its really a pity that some people choose not to read clearly the writtings on the wall, Boasting of glory does not make glory and singing in the dark does not dispeal fear! Allah ya sa mudace!
      Great piece dear Zainabu, Ranki shi Dadde!

  50. First of all, the fact that this article is receiving a lot of positive and negative comments is a good thing. The article makes some sense. I understand where Zainab is coming from. However, i have always wondered which is worse: those that go abroad for their personal shopping or those that import a huge amount of foreign products and by so doing result in the collapse of our local industries? A good example is the importation of rice. We can grow rice at home, but Aliko and his mates import rice and sell it at a lower rate than the local producers thereby bankrupting them! If someone wants to wear foreign products, thats ok with me, as long as they dont import and try to sell it lower than our local producers.

    Lastly, as i said earlier, there is nothing like hausa/fulani. There is Hausa and there is Fulani, two different groups of people united by religion.

  51. Very insightive,mindblowing and thoughtprovoking.This is the best article av read in 3yrs.More greese 2 u elbow Zee

  52. we need to look at this and more of our problems both from within and outside. yes an average rich nigerian, now that there are only two classes; the rich and the poor, shop abroad but we should remember that some of these are shop owners selling children stuffs and boutique back in Nigeria that do these shoppings as their means of business. In most of our write ups we highlight problems facing us in Nigeria in general or specifically peculiar to a region, tribe, ethnic etc. We cant make progress until we start propelling solutions to these problems. We have the power to make amends, we can make it!

  53. In every society there must be rich/poor however one came about dat its a debate for another day,but like it or not one can not deny having good things in life cos of poor relations or society especially ones who can not do anything to alleviate themselves from dat position!When one thinks about poor relatives u cant even eat,n so would u just live ur life like dat? D so call poticians/civil servants dat r stealing our resources r let to do so by all of us have we actually done anything about it?where is occupy Nig today? Baa mugun sarki …….!

  54. I am not hausa -fulani so I guess I shouldn’t feel guilty according to this article.
    I think its left me more confused as to what one shud be as a nigerian. Is one supposed to not work hard and spend their money because we have poor people amongst us?
    IN these same countries which are supposedly the world’s economic power, we have the extremely poor. In south Africa for example, in SandtonN Johannesbourg, you find 6 millionairs per SqKm, and you have the largest poorest township(poor people settlement) in the world, Soweto. shouldn’t stop them from spending should it?
    In China, some parents tie their kids to poles outside of their work places because they cannot afford child care. This is the world’s biggest economic power.
    The same Qur’an from which you quote says the poor shall always be amongst us, does that mean the rich should wallow in sorrow because of the poor?
    We should criticise what is worthy of criticism and not criticise everything in a bandwagon way.
    One up in the article, the proper use of statistics to support fact.

  55. In my view, this is an excellent write-up except for one thing; the self-condemning mixing of emotions with logic. As an expose of the historical and cultural reasons behind the socio-economic backwardness of the Northern Region – thumbs up. The reference to religious literature in support of the movement for attitudinal change added a rare and convincing dimension to the argument. I wish to advise that as an inspiring writer with a wide readership base, it is wise to avoid the overwhelming expression of low emotions in publications. One should not feel ashamed or embarassed for a misdeed that he is not personally or collectively responsible for. And most of all, one should not have much regard for other people’s views of you or the even the false kind of picture they paint about you. The most important thing is for you to have a very good and clear view of yourself and that of others. You can now work on these positive elements as a foundation for creating positive change in society. Kudos Zainab for the brilliant write-up.

  56. Please what/who is a Hausa-Fulani? I know of the Hausa tribe and the Fulani tribe. What language does a Hausa-Fulani speak? Educate me please.

  57. If not for the fear of the fact that I would be misunderstood and likely to be crucified by Ms Zainab’s fanatics, I would have aired my honest opinion with regards to this magnificent “academic exercise” but greatly lacking in meaning. To me this articles says a lot about economic realities of Nigeria not hausa people as d writer presumed, it is a common behavior among our thieving elites to spend recklessly and it is not only peculiar to Hausas, I believe it is something all tribes in Nigeria do… There is nothing to be ashamed of in any context u chose to look at it, I spent my hard earned money anywhere I chose, so does every other Nigerian, I feel comfortable doing that. It is very sad after spending most your time with little or no touch to your people u forget who you really are or may I say it is d guilt of “being a part of what caused this trend” is oozing out of you in this way? For me there is no correlation whatsoever between the popularity of hausa language in luxury stores across the world and the cultural attitude of hausa people or any other ethnic group! Statics, facts and figures used are necessarily dogmatic or sacred… I strongly believe the author have been suffering form a milder form of zynophobia. This not withstanding is not a challenge to your intellectual prowess, I have total respect for, that’s I’m not quick to condemn your work as entirely senseless, I see and refer to it as an excellent academic exercise.

  58. The authur got everything wrong. Don’t you know that hausa language is among the widely spoken language in west Africa and countries like Niger, Mali, Sudan and cameroun are fond of it and can be targeted? Even in Nigeria most people understand it. And the NBS indicators you are quoting are not true nd realistic if you don’t know, by and large do you know even in mecca when you visit jamrat you will notice instructions in hausa among 4 languages, what’s your conclusion there? You have to understand how to measure nd interprete western economic indicators like poverty index HDI and others before wrongly concluding as you did. Let me conclude by saying we are very proud to be hausas nd will contenue to be for you I smell fissHhhyy

  59. Hausa is spoken from the Central African Republic all the way to Senegal, a large percentage of the population of West Africa is Hausa.

    The other countries in Africa where Hausa is spoken are mostly french speaking (except the Gambia and Ghana) and ex french colonies, their ‘rich people’ will likely head to Paris and the continent for shopping, not London. A Hausa language sign in the UK is mostly likely targeted at Hausa speaking/reading Nigerians.

    Good write up with sources shown and well thought out arguments. Good replies and comments.

  60. I don’t think you are being fair to yourself when you conclude from the mere translation of an advert into Hausa by a popular London store that the Hausas are among the big extravagant spenders. Then what will you say about our language being used in all the major World radio stations: VOA, BBC, DW, China, Iran, Egypt, RFID etc. Whatever you may say about the Hausa/Fulani, there is no gain saying the fact that Hausa Language is blessed. It is in fact a lingua Franca in our subregion. Most of the indigenous churches in Plateau, Kaduna, Taraba, Bauchi and Gombe hold their services in Hausa. All demarcated religious places in Saudi Arabia have notices written in Hausa language. The North generally lack selfless and visionary leaders and ofcourse lazy followership.

  61. Oh my God! U hv said it all about US. I often wonder what is wrong wt US? Bt today I hv got an ansa:attitude problem. Weldone little sis.

  62. Well, the rate of spending is alarming but not necessarily shameful..You should be more clear about your research, show that the shoppers are either bussiness men and women or just families who shop-till-they drop at their leisure times. You know we have business people here who go abroad to purchase goods that are qualitative, so naturally they apend alot. We also have other category of people (the incredibly rich) who shop in the UK with their families. So your research should prove whether the shoppers you noticed in this Debenhams Store are in one of these categories. Some of Hausa people are politicians, so it goes right to say that most of the rich people in the North are Hausas and they tend to travel and shop worldwide with their families and friends. It is also kind of a culture for the hausa people to bring back gifts for their loved ones when they travel (and these loved ones are usually many), so the shopping becomes a spree. Although this act can be considered extravagant especially when considering the state of living in the country, however becoming shameful about it is a word too strong. In our defense, you can’t even begin to imagine some of the outrageous things the rich people in the UK do!! Check out their celebrities for one thing. So I think you should deepen your research and find out whether the most frequent shoppers there are business people or the incredibly rich! Until you can ascertain this, dont be too quick to be ashamed of your ethnicity.

    1. Seriously?

      Ok, people can always look for excuse for anything

      We have no defense, celebrities doing things in the UK has nothing with the state of abject poverty people live in Nigeria and we climb over them to go about our daily business

      Poor people in the UK have no idea of what poverty means. Most people classified as poor in developed countries have access to potable water, electricity and decent meals and housing.

      People that class themselves as middle class in Nigeria barely have flowing water in their flats/houses and the concept of water flowing out of a tap is an illusion for more than half our population and you say we are not doing badly?

      Oh well.

    2. I like abbati bakos comments. Coz like I said I’m a businessman, I buy lace from india and sell in Nigeria. The last time I was in India I spent about $15000 buying lace material.
      If the next time I go to india, the indian marketers target me for sales,, should all hausas be ashamed?

    3. Very well said. I subscribe to your argument. It is even very common to know that politicians make up a very small percentage of the rich people in the Hausa community. You cannot count the LG chairmen and their councilors who barely know the way to UK, but prefer to converge annually to Saudi Arabia for Hajj or Umrah.

  63. This is well said and very true. I have had similar experiences in other countries. I was at Dubai Gold souk to buy jewelry and once I entered the shop and they saw I looked and dressed like a northerner, they started pointing and bringing out big jewelries that one can never imagine hanging on her neck. When I told them I wanted s’thin small, the response was “this is what ur people are buying” – like why don’t u buy like them? I think this a wake up call for all of us. We need to start looking inwards. We are all sourrounded by poverty. Even the rich ones among us, somehow somewhere we all have relatives that cannot put food on the table. Please let’s try to be true muslims by truely making Islam our only way of life as its supposed to be. It is only by restoring our values, morals, and God’s contiousness that we can regain the pride, respect and dignity that we once had. As it is we have lost it all!!!!

  64. Seems some brainwashed fellas of mine operating smart phones are still in the darker side of life, the lady is just trying to shed some light to your dumb brain and you are there criticising furiously, you are only ready to hear that you want to hear, yea, the politicians understood you better that’s why they wheel balanced your dummy brains all the time, as of some of us we are tired to received negative insults that a simple change in attitude can mend that not war. As for you dummy wait to hear names like parasite before you could find something to do with you life, ain’t you?

  65. When its controversial, look deep and there would be sense in it. Even back home, we have d greatest number of praise singers. D Hausa man never goes to d market till its 10am. We just enjoy oppressing ourselves. Ride on Zee, I love this. We expecting more.

  66. A lot of people are missing the point of this article. It is more than just the signs being in Hausa. It is about what has become a Northern culture: consumerism. Let’s look at home and observe: the kind of cars young Northerners drive is incomparable to what their mates down south drive. Parents splash money on their kids, not by spending on their education, but on material things. Kids in turn, grow up with a sense of dependence on their parents’ wealth and never think about making their own. Why do we have fewer entrepreneurs in the North than in the South? It is not just about a lack of viable biz environment, cos entrepreneurs make the best of what they have. It is because the have-nots fold their hands and wait for govt to help, while the haves continue spending on their children and raising them with the wrong values, with one hand still in the public till. Last year, I blogged about why the North has fewer entrepreneurs here But I didn’t include this point I’m making cos I hadn’t realized it fully yet. It isn’t about us denying a fact, but we should look inwards and make corrections.

  67. This is an interesting and thoughtful article. I haven’t seen the messages in Hausa yet. However, as I read through your blog, I surmised that perhaps the reason why Hausa was chosen is that, despite the relatively smaller numbers of northern Nigeria visitors to the UK than other ethnic groups (notably Yorubas), maybe northerners spend a lot more. I think about the northerners I’ve met in the UK and how financially well-to-do they were. However, this is all based on my personal observations and not hard data.

  68. Assalamu alaikum.

    I don’t agree with this write up at all. Why should I feel ashamed.

    1. I’ve never been in charge of the wealth of the people, I’m not a governor, I’m not a minister. I’m a businessman.
    thank you very much for the verses in the quran, I’ll strive to pay zakat and give sadaqat more often.

    2. Your passion is not fired by islam, but by tribalism. Tribalism has no place in islam. I may be hausa, but the only culture I stand for is islam. If anyone abuses or maligns a muslim, that’s when I’ll stand up and fight. But I’ll never do that for the sake of hausa tribe

    So get the difference between striving for islam and striving for hausa

    So to answer your question, I’m not ashamed

    1. Well, Mal Mustafa, I think you are ashamed. Infact you are…
      And your claim that you will stand and fight for Islam, if it were touched, because that’s the only tribe you believe in; na nawa kuma? Rufe mana baki.
      Kai dai kawai kaci gaba da kasuwancin ka, tare da kiyaye hakkokin dokiya as you just promised to.
      Zainab did good point out some defects even though I know she also agreed that its a bit emotional. But as the Hausa saying goes; “Motsi Yafi Labewa”.
      Finally, all the contributions made is just a sample of what has become of the Nigerian population as a whole.
      We are expecting more articles pls.

  69. It is an interesting piece of write-up Zainab. It is very well researched. But I respectfully disagree with the submission that hausa Language was chosen because of the category of people who do the spending from Nigeria. I think it has go to do with the reach of Hause language in Africa. It is the most popular language in Africa. You have really been unable to prove that people from other parts of Nigeria especially the Yoruba’s do not outspen the Hausa’s in U.K. I think your write up is at best a fantastic piece of conspiracy theory. I think more attention should be spent on what we can do to improve the state of our economy in Nigeria.

    1. Arabic (with more than 150million speakers) is the most popular/widely spoken language in Africa, followed by Swahili (100million speakers), then Hausa (about 70million in Africa).

  70. Zainab musings is nothing but colonial discourse.iam positively sure that 100% of those Northerners that shop in London stores understand the English language,and am sure the shop owners know this!why dont we see the Hausa signage as a recognition of the wide reach of Hausa language,just like the BBC Hausa,and many others!

    1. I hav spent most of my adult life telling my father that I do not want to be his son if he continues to say we are hausa\fulani’s. I am from ilorin and I grew up in kano. There is largely nothing about the hausa \fulani that does not spell shame, inclusive of spending attitude of the rich amidst overwhelming poverty. My biggest furstration with the tribe is selfdeciet and willful ignorance. However tonight will record a day I am not ashame of the tribe, I am glad to be on a blog wit majority Participation of hausa people who are willing to be truthful to theirselves even if it is on this one subject.

  71. It’s a pity, i went through most of the comments but still could not see why people should agree that Chinese, Europeans, Americans etc are by far low spender in our country, do we asked ourselves why? I am a Yoruba person born in the north – still live there- could see the high level of abject poverty of the north due to negligence from their ELITE. Take for example 90% of pharmaceutical company in Nigeria are located and owned by western – part of the country, where then are the elite in the north why can’t they use their influence to build more industry indirectly creating job rather than becoming big spender in a shop at Europe.

  72. Really nice to know that some pple out there still have a moral conscience. Its rather unfortunate but I guess its about time we realise that the North is in deep shit ! We contribute the least to the economy be it natural resources or manpower, and yet there is an inexplicable sense of entitlement from the Northern elite. The illiterate poor are to dumb to ask questions or are too busy fighting, killing and maiming each other rather than venting their frustration on the elites that have robbed the country blind all in the name of representing Arewa !

  73. This is a lesson for all Nigeria. Thanks for this article you have said it all. Let there be peace in our land and we should uphold trust and honesty.

  74. wow.. the mere fact that a northern lady’s article is about the best and balanced i have seen in a long while says there’s hope for nigeria..
    i was born and breed in kaduna.. am proud of kaduna.. and still live there..
    what hurts me most is that the signage upon which this article is built translates DIFFERENTLY in hausa.
    it says ” worth while sales” but nothing to do with percentage (25%)..
    am a media man..
    i infer the following.. (this is what they are saying to us)

    they cant do the maths, just tell them they wont regret buying

    the greatest problem of nigeria is our stupi need for class… status quo

    we buy things we dont need.. with money we dont have .. to impress people we dont like..

    our problems is not the high cost of living, but the cost of living high

    blackberry declared its 1st loss this year since its inception (2004) and yet still declares its largest sale this year in guess where… NIGERIA

    we must buy it to feel among..

    zainab usman.. u give me hope to push to change these things…

    thanks once again..

    and pls come home… lolzzz… nigeria needs frank and diplomatic people like you

  75. I used to enjoyed your write ups and agree with your deep sense and concern for the hausas and north in general, but I totally disagree with you on this one. Am a hausa/fulani from kano living above subsistance level and I can proudly tell you that Alhamdulillah am comfortable. Am also ashamed but not of hausa/fulani as you wrongly put it and struggle to correct at the conclusion of your submission, am ashamed of hausa/fulani elites that send their daughters and families with ill gotten money for either studies or shopping to europe and other developed countries. Majoroty of those you talked on (may be you inclusive) could not justify the source of funds used for their education and the shoppings neither salary nor allowances. A hard earned money legitimately will not be spent in such way and am sure that advert is meant for those few less than 10% of hausa people. Am forever proud to be hausa/fulani.

  76. I have gone through this write-up, and I must say that though It has provided statistics and other semblances of a well researched piece, it is purely built on a shaky premise. The premise is that the Hausa language signpost in Debenhams is necessarily to target more Hausa customers from Nigeria who are net-worth high spenders, and these spenders are necessarily our thieving elite. This is the basic premise upon which all the statistics and emotional expressions of shame and the like are built. There are so many naive assumptions built into this single assumption which forms the basic kernel of the paper. First, Debenhmas could do that not necessarily to encourage their Hausa customers but to even chart an untried virgin market. Advertisements are known for charting out new courses, reaching out untried markets etc. It makes more sense to even assume the latter since you don’t need to egg on your already established customers, you need to court new ones. Debenhams could also do that using Hausa language as a form of reaching out to a large section of the African population in which the language is widely spoken. Are we to conclude from this theory then that the people whose languages are used there are the best customers of Debenhams? Have you done a vat-consumer assessment of Debenhams or any other means to know this? And sometimes adverts can be quirky and even simply arbitrary for the fun of it! Even if we assume that this advert are for the Hausa how do we know that Debenhams Nigerian customers are mostly Hausa government-related thieves? Zainab, pls try and look at your premises more closely before drawing your conclusions. You have a promising talent but be proud of who you are anytime anywhere. Thanks

  77. Let them spend their money joor, haba. Or the government should find a way these people to spend most of the money here in Nigeria.

  78. Dear Zainab, I follow your blog wholeheartedly and I believe this is a challenge for the North; its government and its people. It must begin with attitudinal change and a the political will by government to do the right thing.

    Thanks for this write-up

  79. I sell wholesale imitation jewelry in Lagos and I can tell you that any Monday that Buses from the North of Nigeria are not filled with buyers is an ugly Monday for us in the market. Infact many people here are feeling the indirect effect of the Boko Haram menace simply because our primary market is based up north.
    So what am I trying to say? Your analysis on the depth of consumerism is on point.

  80. I am a citizen of Kano but of Yoruba extraction.
    We don’t have to agree 100% with the Writer. However,northerners must read it again and do some serious soul-searching. Is this the way we should be? When are we going to stop this game of ‘always another’s fault’ but never ours? When are we just going to get up and go? Using our land mass, numbers and all the competitiveness standing beneath our soil ? Zainab has pricked at a sore point in our underbelly – the unforgivable disconnect between our everyday realities and an abjectly crass leadership that refuses to shape and inspire a fruitful livable future for the follower-ship. Personally I know of families that fit the Debenhams stereotype and I know their unfeigned INDIFFERENCE to working social structures to effect needed changes ( although not unique to the north but more pronounced and bordering on the criminal!). All these righteous indignation being expressed may be okay for some but are a failed rebuttal of wretchedness and widening despair I see and live with…

  81. Umar Tudunwada
    Date: 14 May 2012 02:49:04 GMT+01:00
    To: “”
    Subject: Re: [dandalinsiyasa] Debenhams’ Adverts Signs in Hausa: Worth Celebrating or Shameful?

    This is indeed a case to be embarrassed, disgusted and angry, but certainly never a justification to be ashamed of your roots, if you are truly a Hausa or Fulani gaba da baya. In any case, is it enough to just be ashamed without taking any action to remedy the situation? Solutions to the myriads of problems you highlighted can begin with you – come back home and do the little you can, to solve the two prominent problems of poverty and illiteracy. After all you may be part of the problem by abandoning your people, escaping to the cosy life of Europe, only to open your mouth too wide. This is a clear case of lack of patriotism.

    Think of the circumstances that took you to London, are those circumstances truly and sincerely not part of the problems that landed the Hausa/Fulani in the present mess we found ourselves? What took you to Debenhams, aren’t there smaller shops around your residence that could conveniently serve your needs? I have never in my life (and I am fifty years) come across insensitive and insensible a remark like this one.

    Yes, our leaders are corrupt like those of other parts on Nigeria, yes they do not assist even members of their extended families, but what do you expect when they spend the ill gotten wealth to take their wives and children out a shopping, to take their children and girlfriends to study abroad. And what do you expect those persons pampered with Haram resources to do with such funds except to waste them hopelessly, since the money has no value even in the sight of Allah? And don’t ever expect those multi billionaire thieves to do anything in the way of Allah with those funds, because “innallaha ta’ala dayyiban…”

    But then have you ever stopped to ponder, how many Hausa/Fulanis did you come across in the European media being listed among Nigerians arrested for duping unsuspecting persons, how many Hausa/Fulanis did you ever see involved in credit card scams, ponzi schemes, robberies, forgeries, drug deals etc? How many Hausa/Fulanis did your statistics show among those Nigerians serving jail terms for various criminal offenses across Europe and Americas? Conversely, how many Hausa/Fulanis are out there eking legitimate lives, how many Hausa/Fulanis do we have who have excelled in various fields of endeavor. Aren’t those points enough to be proud as Hausa/Fulanis both in diaspora and those at home?

    It is really disappointing that some Hausa/Fulanis out there have lost touch with reality, they are beginning to feel ashamed that they are Hausa/Fulanis and may soon shake off that identity and become turawa or feel more comfortable ducking while Yarabawa and Inyamurai are basking in the glory of being what they are. Good Luck, mutant Zainab. For me, I am still proud that in spite of all the hard times, the Hausa/Fulanis still stand out as honest, sincere and hardworking. We, the survivors ofmour corrupt and inept leaders should find ways of addressing our dual tragedy of illiteracy and poverty, not lamenting what we have no control over.

    By Umar Tudunwada
    “Some Think It Is Holding On That Makes One Strong, Sometimes It’s Letting Go”

  82. This says a lot about the north & what’s happening right now. For change to happen we all have to look inwards… Everyone has to be willing to play a role

    1. Abduljalal Danbaba says: Assalamu alaikum. This article was forwarded to me by a good and caring sister. Thanks. However, the astonishing aspect was about the writer, I began to wonder whether it was the same Zainab Usman we taught, or at least who was a student in Kaduna Capital School in 1989/90 from the Arts class. If it is so, good to hear or to see your write up, the least I can say is, I am proud of you. Since you can publish, then you will not perish. Once again thanks for justifying our training. While I largely agree with most of your contribution, but you don’t have any reason to be ashamed of being Hausa-Fulani, neither should you take an extra ordinary pride in being one. Your ultimate identity is in what you have done to truly demonstrate that you are Allah’s ambassador on earth, the esteem identity he gave to your great grand parent (Adam) on creation. True Hausa-Fulani remain the most accommodating, the most tolerant and the fairest of all ethnic groups in Nigeria, and in most cases, their own people suffer a lot because of their ‘kawaici’, a quality you cannot find in any other ethnic group in Nigeria. You don’t have to pay for the crime of an infinitesimal clique of that Hausa-Fulani who have negated their up bringing and the teaching of their religion to become looters, therefore, developed the culture of waste and purposeless and endless accumulation. Who have become their brothers killers instead of keepers, whose daily effort is to widen the gap between the haves and the have not, whose focus starts and end in their self imposed nuclear family, who never see close relations with eyes of compassion but meanness, and always arrogate to themselves their fortunes in life. They have departed long a go from the up bringing of their true Hausa-Fulani ancestors. The advert placed in that Deb……..mene ne super market was meant for them, due to their unquestionable capacity to waste and fictitious life style.
      The use of Hausa to advertise is not surprising, but is not meant for the Hausa-Fulani alone. Hausa-Fulani could be an ethnic group, but Hausa is no longer an ethnic group as an entity, because the Sakwatawas, the Kanawas and Kabawas, at times even the Barebaris, or is it Kanuris are all under the umbrella of Hausa. Therefore, Hausa has now metamorphose from group to ‘Ummah’, you may translate as ‘Generations’, due to their merchandise culture, wide travelings and search for knowledge. For example if you move across west from Gambia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and Central Africa, you would conveniently communicate and trade in Hausa more than any other language. Unfortunately the people with historical antecedents with the Ummah appear to be in the leading row of extravagance and affluence without caring for even close relations not to talk of neighbours and country men. One thing remains clear, if the money they spent was a legitimate earned money, they wouldn’t have been ranked 3rd after Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, they would have been at relatively the same position with the poverty level of their immediate society. Let it be clear to who ever cares to listen, you can never loot public treasury and expect your name to be in the good books of posterity. Allah ya saukake. Sorry Zainab for almost giving you another article. Well done! Its

  83. I agree with you in toto. I for example,am not rich but only manage a manial job to keep body and soul alive. But I find myself guilty of all the attitudinal vices you’ve enumerated in your write-up. I am simply a lavish spender of the little resources I get in the form of monthly personal emolument. I am struggling hard to gain more in order to spend,depicting a typical northerner,this was my mindset before going through your write-up. But after reading it and the Qur’anic verses and Prophetic Traditions,I felt guilty of complicity in the current state of increasing poverty,insecurity and diseases ravaging our North. I’ve therefore resolve to make necessary ammendments as an individual for a start,for a journey of a thousand mile begins with a step. Someone must initiate that change ie. Attitudinal Change. May the Almighty(SWT),reward you abundantly for this wake-up call.

  84. With articles like this, all hope is not lost for the redemption of Northern Nigeria. The awareness being created is a good starting point. But we must not forget that we all have to do our part, change our attitude to life, to public life in particular. Its easy to sit and criticize, but have of us can cast the first stone.

  85. Zainabu,

    I”ve read your musings and I must confess I find them extremely disturbing. But then, is it possible that the use of the Hausa language could be as a result of the fact that it is the second most widely spoken language in Africa after Kiswahili?

    We must not forget the fact that you have Hausa speaking peoples in almost every West African Country as well as in Tchad and Cameroon. It is therefore a possibility Hausa is used to reach that group just as the BBC, VOA, German, French, Russian, Chinese and even Egyptian Radios broadcast in Hausa.

    This however is not to say that you’re wrong. Far from it.

    Mallam Mohammed Shuaib

  86. Malama zainab…well I should say kudos for your wonderful piece of writing, it is indeed a masterpiece. though we all know the attitude of a Nigerian man towards competition, squander, needless spending, corruption, looting, seeking for power & respect, the case of a hausa man is way too far. I am from kano & I know how hausa people spend without thinking twice. Not only in debenhams or other luxury-oriented shops abroad, but also back home here, the case is even worse. We see almost everyday how money are squandered senselessly in marraige events. A hausa man is capable of buying a car of say N10.000.000 but living in a rented house wit his family, all on the verge of seeking for notice, respect & obviously competition. Living beyond their means is their primary concern. The issue here is whether a politically ill-gotten or hard-earned money, well am sorry to say that it is in our blood to squander & to want to live a life like a celebrity & only God is the remedy to that situation. Northern hausas are mostly muslims & we all know that its religiously & morally wrong to squander our wealth but we all kept deaf ears & blindfolds to that. Concerning debenhams signage, I believe its not worth celebrating neither is it a shame, its just a pity rather, I think u shouldn’t have used the word “shame” because that seemed to be an insult to your own identity & provoking. Apparently, that’s why you got all the insults & criticism from your fellow Hausa/fulanis in the 1st place. Have some self-esteem no matter the situation..Hausa is a renowned language & placing it by debenhams is nothing other than a marketing strategy.

  87. The number of beggars, found in all corners of Nigeria who are of Hausa-Fulani extraction, should make you feel ashamed.

    Not the Debenhams advert.

  88. To be honest i was told to read this article and had i known how long and somewhat pointless it was I wouldn’t have. I was looking for the point you were trying to make and writing this comment now, i don’t know where to start so i will go with the flow.
    First of all you said we should “feel angry and ashamed, and then we can start discussing the way forward!”
    How and why would you want people to get angry over such trivial matter (a sale sign in hausa)? and what sort of movement do you intend to start?

    This is marketing and if this was a dissertation, i would expect that your literature review would be on a lot of theories. When Tesco place cheaper products at the bottom shelves(so that people don’t notice them first), you don’t hear about it on the 6 o’clock news…. IT IS MARKETING!!

    Fair enough they feel hausa-fulani people are one of their major customers, and they are being targeted, I don’t see anything wrong with that, you can’t judge northerners that shop in debenhams and put them all in one category…the elite (Are you kidding me??? I doubt the sort of shops the elite go to even have sales){trying to make a point}.

    There are so many difficult issues faced by our country and questioning the marketing strategy of debenhams is just “drinking panadol for no one’s headache” and “carrying overload as an agbero”. You have tried to make a point about the massive gap between the wealthy and those living in abject poverty in Nigeria, However i feel you have picked a minor area to focus on.

    Secondly, you make it seem like Debenhams sell chanel, LV, gucci etc products (which they don’t), So in a way, i feel your point there was exaggerated.

    Thirdly, you claim to be no different so why the double standards? I strongly believe that if you want to make a difference, you should go and help the poor first hand and not typing such article.

    Fourthly, in the Quran, it doesn’t say you should give all your money to charity (it is your choice what more you give after zakat) and really shopping in debenhams and paying 75% of the retail price I personally don’t believe is being extravagant… My point here is one man’s expensive is another man’s cheap so there are a lot of unclear and subjective comments made.

    As much as i commend you for the research you’ve done, I feel you should have really not bothered or changed your focus or made a point that made more sense.

  89. In case you did not realise this, Hausa is a language thtat is spoken across the sahara and other west/central african countries. You seem to think it is a Nigerian only language.

  90. I grew up virtually in the north of Nigeria and I feel sick each time I move along the roads and I’m confronted with the sights of almajiris who could have had better chances at life, if the rich and elitist northerner would think for a second that he is nothing but a custodian of the wealth he clings so dearly to.

    I was shocked to find that in the household of a wealthy northern elite, his driver is a father with some kids old enough to be in school but unfortunately, they aint, due to reasons which are conspicous. So, his wife works in the same house doing domestic kitchen-related chores, her daughters run errands for the same family within the close community, the sons of the same driver tended to the unding within the man’s household keeping it neat at all times as well as washing his apparels and all the cars in the house. Interesting, you might say, he has gotten each and every member of a family employed. However, you are wrong! Cos they are all working there for daily survivals, such as guaranteed daily meals, unrestricted access to his children’s used clothings when the time is nigh. Albeit, would these guarantee their survival in the real world out there? That is one of the questions those who have the wherewithal to make the needed changes in the north aint asking!

    Some things w clear, the fact that the driver and his entire family were reduced to modern day slaves was obvious. That they do not have access to the modern day tools they need to prepare them for the life beyond the one they have. And that, the future of these kids may be tied to the apron of the rich man’s kids as nothing but “Bonded Slaves” transfered from one generation of elites to another. Ensuring that the cycle continues unabatted is a typical example of some of the realities facing the north.

    A cursory look at of some of us opportune to be making some of these contributions on this all-important subject matter will expose a harrowing, deeply entrenched and systemic modern day slavery in Northern Nigeria. It is obvious that that we’ve all along been a part of this, consciously or otherwise. If the North that we all seek must evolve and come into fruition, then, the time couldn’t have been more apprpriate to start the change with ourselves by looking deeper, thinking deeper and acting harder.

    A wonderful analysis that would be viewed by the parochial individuals as unnecessary and make efforts at deflecting from the obvious truth.

  91. Hi Zainab,

    This is my first time reading your blog and I’m really impressed. Your article in general was very revealing and I thank you for writing it. I however disagree with you on your conclusion that Debenhams put up signs in Hausa because Hausa’s are the most extravagant spenders. Although you have told us how the store decides on what languages (“foreign language signs mainly target rich, short-stay tourists from overseas.”), this does not mean that the average British Store Manager has a clue which ethnic group from Nigeria is shopping in their stores the most. How do they know in the 1st place that Nigerians are shopping so much in their stores? Based on requests for tax refunds where you have to produce your passport. The British store worker has no idea which ethnic group is shopping the most, they just know which Nationality. When deciding on the actual language, they would simply check up the most widely spoken local language, which based on population should be Hausa!

    Hausa is the most studied Nigerian language by the British and historically, they have always had more affinity for that language. In my opinion, they have simply used the Nigerian language which they know the most about and which they assume would be the most widely spoken Nigerian language based on population not realising that not many Hausas actually live in UK or visit the country compared to Yorubas. I think you give the poorly educated British store worker far too much credit when you conclude that they have undertaken such careful research to actually know exactly which Nigerian ethnic group shops the most in their shops to target their signage towards. They really are not that imaginative to guess that the highest number of people in the country may not necessarily be the ones shopping in their stores. I mean, think about it. Why would it even occur to them to check?

  92. Zainab, You have done a Nice Job. Whoever thinks there is a parallel view let him be man enough to write a rejoinder. U are gifted to have read meanings under that sign. Allah had said in Q12:105 “How many a sign there are in Heavens & Earth, which they pass by and are heedless”. You have noticed something but they are heedless.

  93. Nice piece but highly sentimental to smear the core values of well established sense of economy of the Hausa- Fulani. Zainab succeeded to portray Northerners in bad picture.

  94. I do trust all of the ideas you have offered on your
    post. They are very convincing and can certainly work.
    Nonetheless, the posts are too short for starters.
    May you please extend them a bit from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

  95. Hello,
    we are interpreting agency called D-Languages. we are looking for a person who speak Hausa language. We have some interpreting jobs in Hausa. we are wondering if you can help us. if you are interested please call us at 02088842281, 07557478355 or send email to

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