The Devil Wears Prada.

I know some may ask what Prada is, well it is a designers label. Now that we got that out of the way, the real question becomes, why would the devil wear Prada? I don’t know, probably to look stupendously and unsuspectingly attractive. I am sure you get the idea.

In my secondary school days, I came across an article about a group of Missionaries who went to Papua New Guinea to preach the Gospel. Remember that phrase in the Bible about Jesus being the bread of life? Well, these missionaries told the people of New Guinea that “Jesus is the sweet potato of life”. Yes, I asked the same question as well, why did bread miraculously changed into sweet potato? The reason is because sweet potato is the main meal in New Guinea, so, deceptive translation? or desperation? I still remember how hard I laughed then.

All of a sudden, it dawned on me, remember that miracle of Jesus turning water into wine? I ran for the Hausa version of the Bible to see how that translation will go. Lo and behold:

‘Da RUWAN INABI ya gaza, uwar Yesu tace masa, “Ba su da sauran RUWAN INABI” ‘ Yahya 2:3

‘When the WINE was all gone, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no more WINE” ‘ John 2:3

There it was, in all majestic glory, wine = ruwan inabi. In order to understand this, we need to break this down.

Ruwa = water
Inabi = Grapes

If you hand a glass of liquid to a typical Hausa man, and tell him it is ruwan inabi, the first thing that will come to his mind is that you got some grapes, mashed and squeezed its liquid into the glass, which of course is grape juice. But we all know that wine ain’t not grape juice.

The dilemma the missionary had in Hausa land was that you cannot say that God, or a Prophet of God turned water into wine, because wine, bear or anything alcoholic in known as GIYA. If you start preaching that :

‘Da GIYA ya gaza, uwar Yesu tace masa, “Ba su da sauran GIYA” ‘ Yahya 2:3

Nobody will listen to you. Hence wine, turned into grape juice in the Hausa Bible.

Further more, if you stop any random Hausa dude or ‘dudess’ on the street and ask them if they know what ruwan inabi is, you will be met with a look of confusion on their faces because:

1) Grapes are not common in Hausa land until very recently, which makes them very expensive. And for that reason, it does not have a Hausa name, the name inabi is actually Arabic, inab.

2) Hausa’s are not much into the business of making juice. If you go into any typical Hausa setting, all fruits are eaten. Oranges are squeezed directly into the mouth, mangoes are eaten and so on.

So the concept of juice in itself is foreign in a typical Hausa setting, so handing a glass of liquid to a Hausa man and telling him it is ‘Grape Water’ is criminally deceptive, especially since there is a 99.9% probability that he is a Muslim.

Apart from the word giya, there is another word barasa used in Hausa to denote anything that falls under the category of substances that may affect balance as well as reasoning, alcohol, hard drugs, wine, fermented beverages, e.t.c are all barasa.

So yeh, the devil does wear Prada.


Written by : Hamid Abdulmalik Al-Hassan



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