Friday, February 10, 2012

What's in the name?

by Salman Hameed

A couple of days ago I was listening to the morning news and NPR was talking about a bombing in Nigeria. It turns out that the bombing was carried out by a extremist group - Boko Haram - and it is roughly  translated from Hausa language as "Western Education is Forbidden". Wow! Talk about specificity in names. This is not going back in time. This struggle is very much shaped by the modern world. But still, I wonder what was the discussion like when this Salafi group was thinking about their possible names? What were the other choices? How was the decision made about on this particular name?
Perhaps, this is the same sentiment in the bombings of schools by the Taliban - though, over there, the fight is also against government structures and schools are considered soft targets.

I'm in rainy rainy Portland, Oregon right now, visiting Lewis and Clark University. More later.

2 comments:

Gary said...

The site http://maguzawa.dyndns.ws/ gives the meaning of Boko as "Doing anything to create impression that one is better off, or that t. is of better quality or larger in amount than is the case". It can be associated with deception e.g.,"b. na/ yi masa, I assented to what he said merely to get rid of him, and not because I accepted it as true or believed it." or "yarinyan nan biri b. ta ke yi, this girl is making believe she has a large number of bands of beads, &c., round her loins (having ropes, &c., instead)."

One expression,"karatun boko" means "any reading or education which is not connected with Islam." Used in that sense "Boko Haram" does mean "Western education is forbidden."

Salman Hameed said...

Thanks Gary for this background - always interesting. These variations are fascinating as well and it is interesting how that might have played a role in the expression of "western education is forbidden".