Tag: gagara yasin

QOTD: American Football, Churchill and Gagara Yasin


“American football is a bit like World War I–only without the trenches.”

My Dad always attributed that quote, which I learned as a small child, to Winston Churchill. (Well, it sounds like something Churchill might have said, doesn’t it?) Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to trace it since, so at the advanced age of 65 I’m starting to wonder if perhaps the attribution, or even the quote itself, is apocryphal. (That’s all about Churchill in this post. If you came for Churchill, either stay for Gagara Yasin, or I’m afraid it’s over between us. Please don’t make a spectacle of yourself on the way out.)

I was reminded of the sentiment contained in the quote while reflecting upon the absurd and undignified brouhaha at the end of last week’s Thursday night Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns football game. (I don’t have to tell you where the “Stillers” are from, do I? In my mind, they’re a bit like Madonna and Cher, in that only the mononym is needed. Anyone who’s at all plugged in knows they’re from Pittsburgh. Not like the Browns, who really aren’t the Browns, because the Browns are actually somewhere down the road masquerading as the Baltimore Ravens, just like the real Baltimore football team is posing as the Indianapolis Colts, and Lord only knows where the Chargers are this year. Really. Google Maps needs a specialized GPS app just to keep track of the football teams. But I digress. Imagine my surprise.)

300: A Man, a Horse, and a Missionary Woman


The events related here took place a little over seventy years ago. They tell the story of a man and his horse. Together. Alone in the bush. The man, very ill. And afraid. The horse, very tired. He was probably afraid, too. And they tell the story of the extraordinarily brave woman who saved them both.

Some of you will recognize it as the récit d’enfance of Gagara Yasin, at the time a 29-year-old newly-minted colonial officer, the “lowest form of animal life” in the British administration of Sokoto Province in Northern Nigeria. He’d arrived in country the previous Spring, and had spent several months learning the ropes while his resolve, and his ability to think on his feet, were tested on a few small assignments (collecting the cattle tax from the nomadic Fulani farmers, investigating a case of witchcraft in Giro, delivering a baby in Bakin Turu). Finally, he was set (somewhat) free on his own, as a “Touring Officer,” a sort of roving junior Justice of the Peace, in and around Yelwa.

And so our story begins with our hero setting out on his first excursion, to reconnoiter the territory, and to meet the natives.