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Operation Àmò̩té̩kùn: named after cheetah, not leopard BY Aremu Adeola Jr


With rising security threats in Nigeria, governors of the southwestern states have put their heads together to create Operation Àmò̩té̩kùn — a regional security outfit that launched on January 9, 2020.

While many have lauded the initiative for confronting spikes in kidnappings and killings in the region, others have criticized it for being unnecessary and at odds with the federal government.

Amidst the politically charged arguments surrounding Operation Àmò̩té̩kùn, linguists and culture enthusiasts are also weighing in on suppositions surrounding the English translation of àmò̩té̩kùn.

What does the word àmò̩té̩kùn mean?

Linguists have long taken issue with ascribing the name àmò̩té̩kùn interchangeably with the leopard, cheetah and tiger. To disentangle this twist, linguists have carefully investigated the matter from the Yorùbá cultural perspective regarding names and translations.

This Yorùbá proverb lends some insight: “Asárépani bíi àmò̩té̩kùn,” which roughly translates in English as “To kill as fast as an àmò̩té̩kùn,” comparing a person or thing to a fast animal. Well, then, it must be a cheetah, right?

The cheetah is the fastest land animal — even Usain Bolt could not outrun it. The word àmò̩té̩kùn comes from the phrase “ohun tí a mò tó tó e̩kùn,”  which loosely translates to “what we know that has attributes of an e̩kùn.”

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By these claims, one could conclude àmò̩té̩kùn means cheetah. Nevertheless, some call the cheetah òwàwà  — not àmò̩té̩kùn.

But what does e̩kùn actually mean? Is it a cheetah, leopard or tiger?

Some believe e̩kùn is the leopard, native to sub-Saharan Africa, which has a long-standing relationship with Yorùbá people. The proverb “fere bí kùn” which means “as swift as an e̩kùn” speaks to this relationship. A cheetah is faster than a leopard. But is a leopard indeed swifter than a tiger?

Some believe that ekùn refers to a tiger —  an animal that actually hails from Asia. 

This relationship between e̩kùn and tiger may have emerged from three possibilities: 1. colonization, 2. Western education, or 3. Early Africans’ encounters with the tiger, when British may have imported them to Nigeria during the colonial era.

It is possible that British colonizers may have assigned the meaning of e̩kùn to the tiger because the tiger was more familiar to them as a “fast animal.” There is no way, however, that e̩kùn originally meant “tiger” as this animal is not indigenous to Nigeria.

Some say that the word tiger is ògìdán, but this is most likely an oríkì (“praise name”) derived from the song:

 Ògìdán will not become a barber, the dogs will not go there to cut their hair — no dog dare enter the territory of the e̩kùn.

This proverb, a mix of English and Yorùbá words, uses the English word “barber,” meaning that the song was likely composed during or after British colonial rule. Perhaps, that is when the idea arose that e̩kùn and ogìdán both mean “tiger.”

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Another Yorùbá saying goes: “Ògìdán olólà ‘jù, akomonílà láì l’óbe” or “Ògìdán, a prominent forest animal, gives marks to it cubs without using a knife,” — referring to its sharp claws. This proverb affirms that Yorùbá people are most conversant with the leopard — the animal in their immediate environment and therefore, ogidan also means leopard, not a tiger or cheetah.

If leopard is e̩kùn, we can safely agree that cheetah is àmò̩té̩kùn.

Both have similar skins, compared with the tiger. The leopard has circular dotted spots; the cheetah also has dotted spots whereas the tiger has stripes. The face of the leopard and cheetah also bear some resemblance.

Existing traditions

Screenshot from a video about the Eyo Festival in Lagos, Nigeria, March 30, 2012, by Dreams Shots Videos.

With respect to existing traditions, the Aláàfin of Ò̩yó̩ (king of the Yorùbá kingdom of Ò̩yó̩) His Majesty, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, always rests his legs on the skin of an e̩kùn — which is always a leopard skin. Most oba or “kings” use leopard skin, too, while few use that of àmò̩té̩kùn — or cheetah.

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Notice how the eégún atìpàkó̩, a famous masquerade in Ìbàdàn, Nigeria, uses leopard skin referred to as the skin of e̩kùn.

Also, look to the popular Lagos festival Adamu Orisa Play, otherwise known as the “È̩yò̩” festival, which refers to costumed dancers. One of the priests of the Làbà E̩kùn È̩yò̩ group, the second in the hierarchy of the five major È̩yò̩ dance groups, carries a large bag made of leopard skin, referring to e̩kùn in the group’s name.

Therefore, leopard is ekùn while cheetah is àmò̩té̩kùn. And tiger has no indigenous name in Yorùbá. What cannot be found in the culture cannot be found in their language — except coined or loaned words, perhaps.

Linguists must address these misconceptions, especially in the Nigerian educational system — and especially when Yoruba words make international headline news as the name of major security operation such as Operation Àmò̩té̩kùn.




Sokoto Govt awards N11bn flyovers, road contracts



The Sokoto State Government on Wednesday approved N11 billion contracts for the construction of two dual carriage roads, flyover bridges, and township roads to ease traffic congestion and pave way for expansion in the metropolis.

Addressing newsmen after the state Executive Council meeting in Sokoto, the Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Isah Bajini-Galadanchi, said the approvals were made in recognition of public needs.

Bajini-Galadanci led the Commissioners for Land and Housing, Alhaji Bello Gwiwa; Finance, Alhaji Abdusamad Dasuki; and Health, Dr. Ali Inname, at the briefing.

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He said the flyovers would be constructed at Dandima round-about along Runjin Sambo road and Rijiyar Dorowa round-about which are densely populated areas and witnessing traffic holdups daily.

According to him, the Dandima flyover will cost N3.4 billion while Rijiyar Dorawa will cost N3.5 billion, and both have 24 months completion period.

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He added that the council approved the contract to transform Illela road to a dual-carriage road with a bridge on Rima river; awarded at N2.9 billion.

Bajini-Galadanci said another dual-carriage road contract was approved at N909 million for construction of Waziri Abbas road to Unguwar Rogo and Nakasari areas.

He said the dualization of Maituta road was also approved at the sum of N228 million, noting that the road projects have 18 months, 17 months, and five months completion dates, respectively.

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Speaking on the projects, the commissioner for finance said the council gave his ministry mandate on preparing all relevant documents and immediately mobilize the contractors to sites.

Dasuki assured that all contractors would be on-site in the next two weeks.

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COVID-19: Adamawa Govt fixes Aug. 4 for schools’ resumption



The Adamawa Government has fixed Aug. 4, 2020, as the resumption date for students in primary six, as well as Junior  Secondary Schools (JSS) and Senior Secondary Schools (SSS) students that will be writing their terminal examinations.

This is contained in a statement signed by the State Commissioner for Education and Human Capital, Mrs. Wilbina Jackson, and made available to newsmen on Wednesday in Yola.

Jackson in the statement said,  “In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic the ministry wishes to inform parents and relevant stakeholders that  education must strive under all conditions.

“Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri has directed that the resumption date for the  2019/2020  Academic session in the state for the existing students in Primary six, JSS3  and SSS3 is Aug. 4, 2020.

“Subsequently, resumption is to be observed strictly within the necessary COVID-19 preventive guidelines as outlined by the  NCDC,” she said.

She listed the guidelines to include:  frequent and proper handwashing with soap or rubbing of hands with alcohol-based sanitizer, use of face masks, and maintaining physical and social distancing.

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“And in view of that, the ministry will liaise with critical stakeholders for smooth resumption,” Jackson said.

She called on traditional rulers, religious leaders, and other stakeholders to educate their wards and communities over the development.

The commissioner also advised proprietors of private schools to liaise with the ministry for guidance and direction before opening their schools.

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20-Year-Old Wife Finally reveals why she cut off husband’s Manhood in Taraba



A 20-year-old woman,  Mrs. Halima Aliyu has been paraded for allegedly cutting off her husband’s genital over infidelity.
She was paraded on Wednesday by the Taraba State Police Command.
When asked during the parade, the lady told policemen that she cut the man’s private part because he has been unfaithful in their marriage.
Parading the suspect in Jalingo, the state capital, Public Relations Officer of the Command, DSP David Misal, disclosed that Mrs. Aliyu on July 1 cut off the private part of her husband, Umar Aliyu with a knife after a row a day before the incident.
He said the suspect would be charged to court as soon as investigation is concluded.
Speaking in an interview with the suspect at the Police Headquarters in Jalingo, Mrs. Halima Aliyu said she decided to cut off her husband’s genital due to anger and constant quarrels over unfaithfulness.
“He knows I am a hot-tempered lady. Since we got married, it has always been one quarrel or another, people have always tried to settle the fights without success.
“When I got the information that he was cheating on me, the devil entered into my heart and I cut off his genitals. We have four children already. I am calling on women not to be too hot-tempered,” she said.
Also paraded at the police command were six kidnappers, one Facebook account hacker, and a job scammer, as well as some suspected armed robbers who the PPRO said, would soon be charged to court.
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