Friday, April 07, 2006

A common figure of speech in Nigeria?

I found this interesting tidbit in an editorial by leaders opposed to President Obasanjo's Third Term campaign:
...the country could be made ungovernable for anybody who insists on hoisting third term on Nigerians, warning that although there is need for peace in the country, it should be borne in mind that nobody has monopoly of violence. [emphasis mine]
If this isn't a threat of violence, then I don't know what is. And I now no longer know what to make of Archbishop Akinola's "reconciliatory" message to Nigerians in the wake of February's internecine violence, when he said:
May we at this stage remind our Muslim brothers that they do not have the monopoly of violence in this nation. [emphasis mine]
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, defended this statement. Andrew Brown writes for the Church Times:
It is enormously refreshing to find an Archbishop who doesn't believe his own propaganda. But I think it's wrong of an Archbishop not to take advantage, at least intermittently, of the fact that other people do believe his propaganda, and want to. Equally, there is a danger that a man who does not believe his own propaganda will find himself repeating the propaganda of others. How else is one to interpret this exchange:

Rusbridger: "The Archbishop of Nigeria recently told Nigerian Muslims, in the aftermath of the Muhammad cartoon furore, that they did not have a monopoly on violence and that Christians might strike back. Coincidentally or not, the remark was followed within days by a spate of attacks on Muslims by Christians which left 80 dead."

Williams: Hmmm, I think that what he - what he meant was, so to speak, an abstract warning - you know, "Don't be provocative because in an unstable situation it's as likely the Christians will resort to violence as Muslims will."
I, for one, don't know what to think of Williams' response, but I'm starting to get a sense for what "monopoly of violence" might mean in Nigeria.

(See ThinkingAnglicans for a further discussion of Williams' Guardian interview)

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