The following is a series of tributes to Philip Jaggar from friends and colleagues, compiled by Roxana Ma Newman and Graham Furniss. A biography of Phil is available here.
Mahamane Laoualy Abdoulaye
Abdou Moumouni University, Niamey
I first met Prof Philip Jaggar a long time ago in 1994-95 in Bloomington, Indiana, while I was still a PhD student. I appreciated his immediate friendship and came to know his family, with the then two little boys, especially during a ride from Bloomington to Indianapolis.
Since then, we have stayed in contact, including two meetings in Leipzig and London, discussing Hausa data or exchanging ideas (sometimes through journal editors, if I can admit). He is certainly among the researchers who shaped my own work on the Hausa language.
Congratulations, Phil, on the occasion of your 75th birthday (Allah ya kai mu) and I wish you many more years of contributions to Hausa studies and the field of linguistics. Matuƙar godiya.
Usman Ɗanfodio University, Sokoto
The Phil Jaggar I Know
The name Jaggar is a household name in Hausa linguistics circles. I first came across the name in Zaria, Nigeria when I was an undergraduate student of Hausa in the famous Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in late 1970s. In 1982 I was admitted to the School for Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London to read a masters in Linguistics. It was at SOAS that I met Phil Jaggar in person. We were pleased to meet each other; but the meeting was short-lived as Jaggar returned to the USA to complete his doctoral programme. When we met again in 1984, my final M.A. year at SOAS, Jaggar helped me greatly with my thesis. At the end of the programme, Jaggar offered to supervise me for a doctoral programme. I told him that I would have loved to work with him but for the fact that I was bonded by my University (then University of Sokoto) and I must return to Nigeria and teach for some years before I would be allowed to go for a doctoral programme. That was how I lost the golden opportunity to be supervised by Phil Jaggar. I was not able to return to SOAS until 2010 when I came there as a Leventis Scholar in the Center of African Studies. I was assigned to Phil Jaggar who was to serve as my guardian, and to assist me throughout the period of the fellowship. As fate would have it, Jaggar effectively became my academic mentor. I had a cordial and excellent working relationship with him.
Jaggar is a complete gentleman, very jovial and very helpful. I gained immensely from his wealth of experience and the general experience was very satisfying. He donated materials to me and allowed me full access to his personal library. On the social side, Jaggar invited me to his house and together with his wife and mother in-law went to a church where we witnessed him and his friends performing in a choir. It was very beautiful, and all the members of the choir group were sixty years and above.
We also went to Cambridge University together to witness a paper presentation by Prof. Paul Newman. Jaggar once introduced me to the Dean, Faculty of Law, SOAS, who happened to be a Nigerian, and who gave Jaggar’s son an administrative job in the faculty. Jaggar is a Professor of African Linguistics and a renowned Hausaist. He has a special ability to see easily and clearly the intricate nature of aspects of Hausa grammar. He has done immeasurable work for Hausa grammar, and most of his important contributions to linguistics are on Hausa. His epic work on Hausa is a giant book entitled Hausa, published in 2001 by John Benjamins. He has published numerous high-quality and very insightful studies of Hausa and his masters and doctoral theses are seminal works on the grammar of Hausa. Jaggar came from a blacksmithing family in north England, and while at Kano, Nigeria, he lived in the blacksmiths’ quarters and later wrote a wonderful book on blacksmithing in Kano. While at Kano, Jaggar was given the Hausa name Malam Bala.
This year 2020, Malam Bala is celebrating his 75th birthday. I wish him a happy birthday and pray that he will be granted long life and health. On behalf of all Hausa-speaking people for whom you have spent your entire life working on their language, we say: Allah ya ƙara wa Malam Bala lafiya da yawancin kwana masu albarka, amin.
University of Naples “L’Orientale”
I met Philip in the early eighties, when I was traveling around Europe in order to create a network between universities where Hausa and Sudanic languages were taught in the context of the newly created EU Erasmus Programme of inter-university exchanges. Philip welcomed me to London with great interest and I was able, thanks to him, to also visit the BBC’s Hausa section. The network received approval from the European Commission and thanks to it, close relationships and exchanges of students and teachers began. Philip, on my invitation, came many times to Naples, which he loved very much and defined it—which was striking to me—as “the only African city without the European quarter”.
University of Hamburg
We Say YE from the Kanuri Corner
I met Phil in London in 2001, the same year when his magnum opus Hausa was published and also the year of my relocation to London from St Petersburg, Russia. The literary and grocery landscapes of London seemed both appealing and complex to the post-Soviet Russian immigrant, and water, stones, foils and roses were all mixed up in my head. On one of those days, I came to Phil’s office at SOAS and, determined to impress him with my familiarity with the current trends in African linguistics, I said, “Phil, I was recently in Waitrose and saw your book there”. “Oh, did you?” There was a pause and Phil said that he had hoped his Hausa grammar would be well received by fellow linguists but had never thought it would become so popular as to reach grocery shelves. Aha! the place where the letter H shelters Hausa, and K Korean rather than Kanuri, is called Waterstones (the bookshop).
Kanuri was not far away though. In 2003, the late David Bivar (then Emeritus Professor of Iranian Studies at SOAS) showed me photographs he took in northeast Nigeria in the late 1950s of four 17th-century Qur’ans from Borno. Kanuri was there, in the form of annotations written in Arabic script between the lines of the Qur’an. But it was not the Kanuri I knew. The annotations called for a massive decipherment project. Who would be the academic host? Graham Furniss suggested asking Phil Jaggar. And Phil agreed.
When the project was granted two year later, David Bivar congratulated us and remarked that he hadn’t got a penny for what we received £300,000. The funds were well spent, leading to decipherment of Old Kanembu and also to what Phil coined the “Kanuri Corner” at the SOAS Staff Common Room. There, Abba Tijani and I were sharing our daily catch of fresh Old Kanembu glosses with Phil. Some were small and similar to Kanuri, but many were large chunks of puzzles. After listening to our conflicting explanations, Phil would say, “Too many pieces on the board, Dima”. Dumping surplus pieces would normally lead to bingo!
But one piece of Kanuri grammar was particularly tenacious. This guy was YE, an elusive differential subject marker, cutting across syntax, semantics and pragmatics and showing up and disappearing, apparently at its will. And for more than a year the Staff Common Room would fall silent, for we would yell YEE! from our Kanuri Corner.
We caught the guy, by the way. But with only one ball in the air it was inevitable.
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, South Korea
Malam Bala: Gwani, Haziƙi, Mai Hikima
Duk wanda ya san Malam Bala, wato Farfesa Philip J. Jaggar, ya san mutum ne mai naci, da bin diddigi a aikinsa. Babban jigon tafiyarsa a koyaushe shi ne nuna hazaƙa da gwaninta. Irin su Malam Bala ne Hausawa ke nuni da su idan aka ambaci karin maganar: “ba a san maci tuwo ba, sai miya ta ƙare”! Kulli yaumin, yana kan aikin laluben nahawun Hausa da hanyar koyar da Hausar kanta. Hazaƙar ce kuma ke sa a koyaushe ya ji ƙanshin Bahaushe, to sai ya bi ta nan domin gwada wasu jumlolin da yake son shigarwa a littafi ko maƙala. Kafin jumlar ta karɓu gare shi, kuma, Hausawan da za su jinjina ta suna da yawa. Wasu a ofis ake marhaban. Wasu a Gidan Daji ‘BBC Bush House’ Malam yake arba da su. Wasu ta saƙon i-mel. Wasun kuma sai dai a bi kundayensu, da yake da yawansu ɗaliban sahibansa ne, irin su Malam Graham [Furniss], da Malam Sabo [Paul Newman], da Malam [Ekkehard] Wolff, da marigayi Malam Takalmi [Russell Schuh]. Kar kuma a manta da cewa ya jima a Kano ta Dabo, a tsakiyar Hausawa, waɗanda ya koya musu Hausa, ko kuma ya koyi Hausa da al’adun Hausawa a wajensu. Shi ya sa kuma Hausar ta zauna a bakinsa garau, kuma idan aka ratsi rubuce-rubucensa sai a tarar babu kuren ta-da-baƙi, sai dai na zama ajizi.
Hazaƙa da gwaninta kaɗai ba sa fitar da mutum yadda Malam Bala ya yi fice a fagen aikin nazari. A ce mutum koyaushe yana sahun gaba a ƙwazo tun digirin farko har ƙarshen aikinsa, ai sai gwani mai hikima. Hikimar Malam Bala ta kasu kashi biyu. Akwai hikima ta fitar da jigon bincike, wanda sam ba a ma san aiki akansa na yiwuwa ba. Misali, aikinsa na babban digiri akan nahawun zube a shekarun 1980, ba ya cikin tsarin ayyukan da ake bincike a harsunan Afirka a lokacin. Kun ji hikima ta ɗaya.
Hikima ta biyu kuwa ita ce ta jawo ɗalibai cikin jiki, don reno. Da dama daga cikin ɗaliban Malam Bala sun zama shaihinai kuma jiga-jigai a fagen nazari da mulki. Kai, har shugabannin jami’o’i akwai daga cikinsu. Hikimar reno ce ta jawo irin gagarumar nasarar da ɗalibansa suka samu. Ni ma dai a wannan ɓangare ne mu’amalata da Malam Bala ta fara, yau kusan shekaru 30 da suka wuce. Na wayi gari, watan wata rana, sai na tsinci kaina a ginin kwalejin SOAS. Kafin ka ce ‘kwabo’, na fara shiga ajin Malam Bala ina taɗin Hausa da Turawa! Kun ji fa – Basakkwace da taɗin Hausa! Wani abu sai Malam Bala! A lokacin ko Gidan Daji na gudun irinmu a turu; amma sai ga shi ba gudu ba ƙyama, Malam Bala ya saka ni tsundum cikin harakar Hausa. Daga baya, shi da Malam Graham sun yi ruwa sun yi tsaki har sai da na sami gurbin karanta babban digiri kyauta, kuma har da ƙarin canji a aljihu. Ni ga ni ɗalibi, kuma malamin ’yan yara – kamar dai yadda ake renon malaman makarantar allo, kafin su kansu su zama manyan malamai.
Zamana da Malam Bala na koyi hikimomi iri-iri, tun ba na fara rubutu ba. Ban mantawa da yadda ya zaunar da ni a haɗuwarmu ta farko wajen aikina na Ph.D. Maganar farko da ya tayar mini ita ce: ‘in ga abin da ka rubuta’. Nan fa na fahimci cewa aiki da Malam sai an shirya. Ya nunar da ni muhimmancin fara rubutu tun ranar farko; watau, taken jigo, shi ne kalmar farko, a ranar farko. Daga nan, sai sheɗarar farko, sai shafin farko, sai babin farko, har ranar sauka. Da haka, na kammala kundina cikin lokaci (1997), kuma tare da rubuta maƙalu da dama da shi, da kuma ni kaɗai. Sai dai na wahala! Na sha duka! Na sha kuɗa! Na sha aiki, kuma na sha roƙon a sassauta! Na renu fagen hikima; gwanintar ce ta gagari koyo. Aikin Malam, sai Malam!
Haka kuma, shaida ne ni yadda Malam Bala yake gwani, mai hikima, wajen iya zama da mutane. Mutum kome zamansa ƙarami, Malam Bala yana iya hulɗa da shi. A haka, ya sada ni da ’yan kwamfuta, da ’yan sharar haraba, da masu gadi, da ’yan kicin, da manyan shaihinai a SOAS da wajenta. Na kuma ci abinci tare da manyan sarakunan arewa dominsa. Ya kai ni Gidan Daji [BBC, Bush House] inda na share shekaru ina gabatar da shirye-shirye. Ya kai ni gidansa, sau da tari, inda na sadu da uwargidansa, da ’ya’yansa, har ma da tsohuwarsa. Tun farkon zamana Landan, na kalli bukukuwan dare da dama irin na turawan Ingila tare da shi. Misali, ya gayyace ni daren hasa wuta na Guy Fawkes a garinsu, da rera waƙen maza, inda shi kansa yake cikin marera.
Yawancin zaman masha’ar da muka yi da Malam Bala, ina riƙe da hannun maiɗakina Norma, wadda da ba donsa ba, da zamanmu, ni da ita, na kusan shakaru 30, bai yiwu ba. Da kuma ban zama ‘Ɗan Arewa a Landan ba’. Daɗin daɗawa, ko yanzu, a duk lokacin da na shiga Landan sai na biya wajen Malam a gida ko a SOAS. Sannan a kowace ranar 14 ga Yuni ina kiran Malam Bala domin in taya mu barkar zagayowar ranar haihuwa. Wato, dai, ni da Malam Bala a rana ɗaya aka haife mu! Zumunta ta wuce aiki!
Allah Ya ba Malam ƙarin lafiya da ƙarin kwanaki masu albarka. Su kuma waɗanda suka jagoranci wannan abin alheri, Allah Ya ba su ladar daɗa danƙon zumunci, amin.
[English translation, by Graham Furniss]
Anyone who knows Malam Bala, that is, Professor Philip J Jaggar, knows him to be persistent and thorough in his work. His record demonstrates perceptiveness and expertise. It is the likes of Malam Bala that Hausa people refer to when they use the proverb, ba a san maci tuwo ba, sai miya ta ƙare ‘he who wants to eat the food is known only when the sauce is all gone’. He is forever exploring Hausa grammar and ways to teach it. His keenness means that whenever he comes across a Hausa speaker, he will be wanting to check out phrases that he is intending to put into a book or article. Before he is satisfied with a phrase many Hausa speakers will have had a taste of it! Some will be at the office, some he will meet at the BBC Bush House, others through email. And he will peruse the works of students of his colleagues and friends, such as Malam Graham [Furniss], Malam Sabo [Paul Newman], Malam [Ekkehard] Wolff, and the late Malam Takalmi [Russell Schuh]. And let us not forget that he lived for some time in Kano, in the midst of Hausa people, to whom he taught Hausa and from whom he learnt the Hausa language and its culture. Which is why the Hausa he speaks is so good, and if you go through his writings you will find there are no errors you might quarrel with, only the occasional fallibility.
It is not perceptiveness and expertise alone that can lead someone like Malam Bala to excel as he has done. It takes a wise man of skill to stick to the task that will lead him from his first degree to the end of his career. Malam Bala’s qualities lie in two areas. The first quality is to pursue a research theme that had hitherto not been considered feasible. For example, his higher degree dissertation on the grammar of discourse, in the 1980s, was a topic that had not previously been explored in African languages.
The second quality was his ability to support and take care of his students. A number of his students have gone on to become professors themselves, and stalwarts in research and management. And there are Vice-Chancellors amongst them. It was the training and support that brought the great success that his students have achieved. My first interactions with Malam Bala happened in this same way, nearly thirty years ago now. One day I found myself outside the doors of SOAS, and the next thing I knew I was in Malam Bala’s class talking in Hausa to a group of white people! Chatting in Hausa with a Sokoto man! Only Malam Bala would have done it! At that time even Bush House was avoiding Sokoto speakers, but here there was no rejection or dislike, Malam Bala set me squarely in the middle of doing Hausa. Then he and Malam Graham helped me as a staff member to have my higher degree fees remitted, and to be paid, even if not a lot. So there I was, a student and a teacher of students, very much like the Koranic school teachers who learn and progress before themselves becoming senior teachers.
Working with Malam Bala taught me many things even before I started writing. I will never forget my first supervision session with him for my PhD. The first thing he said was, “Show me what you have written.” I immediately realised that you had to be ready to work with Malam Bala. He showed me the importance of starting to write from the first day. The heading is the first thing on the first day. Then the first line, then the first page, then the first chapter, until the last is finished. In this way I finished my thesis on time, while also writing papers with him and on my own. But how I suffered! How I was beaten! How I was sharpened on the grindstone! I worked so hard, and I begged for mercy. I was trained on the field of knowledge, but expertise remains elusive! The work of a teacher is only for teachers!
And I am also a witness to how Malam Bala is an expert in getting along with people. However lowly a person is, Malam Bala gets on with him. So he introduced me to the IT people, the cleaners, the security people, the caterers, and the senior professors at SOAS. And I sat at lunch with northern Nigerian emirs through him. He took me to (BBC) Bush House where for some years I presented programmes. He took me to his house where I met his wife, and his children, and even his mother. From my very first period in London I went to many celebrations with him. For example, he invited me to Guy Fawkes night where he lives, and to performances of the male voice choir where he sings.
For most of the period that I’ve known Malam Bala, I’ve been with my wife Norma, who, over these last 30 years, I might not have been with were it not for him. And I would never have been a ‘northerner in London’. And even now, whenever I pass through London, I go to see him at home or at SOAS. And every 14th June I call Malam Bala on the phone, to wish us both a happy birthday, because we were both born on the same day! More than just working colleagues!
May Allah grant Malam good health and more blessed years. And may Allah grant reward to those who have organised this generous event. Amin.
University of Vienna
Do We Need Two Hausa Grammars?
While learning Hausa during my studies in Hamburg, I missed a reliable grammar that showed me the rules of the language. We had to wait several decades until this wish was fulfilled. After Ekkehard Wolff had published his grammar of Hausa in 1993, the Hausa grammars of Paul Newman and Philip Jaggar appeared a few years later, within less than two years of each other. These were Paul Newman’s The Hausa Language (2000) and Philip Jaggar’s Hausa (2001). Both publications are comprehensive and show great expertise.
As an outsider, one might assume that these are competing works, with one trying to outbid the other. Or that both authors dealt with the subject at the same time, without either of them knowing anything about the other. But both suspicions are false. Paul and Phil have been friends for a long time. In addition, Phil spent some time with Paul in Bloomington having long discussions about their respective work.
When both grammars appeared, there was great expectation to learn where they differ and where they go together. Without going into detail, I have gained an insight that is also an important one for me: the only correct grammar probably does not exist.
Paul’s method of description reveals his scientific affinity for other languages in the wider Chadic region. Historical perspectives are often provided. This is also how I understand the term “encyclopedic” in the subtitle of his grammar. On the other hand, Phil builds on the current grammatical structures of Hausa. He describes the linguistic rules in detail and shows them in well documented examples.
My impression is that each grammar provides important information about the Hausa language. But I have also learned that the knowledge of Hausa increases enormously when we internalize both grammars. Science in our field wins if we do not regard our work as competition to others. Rather, we make important positive contributions when we work together and not against each other.
We Almost Lost Our Reputation
In the 1970s, we both lived and worked in Nigeria, Phil in Kano and I in Maiduguri, some 600 kilometres apart. Phil visited us in Maiduguri for the first time. He found our office, but my colleague John Hutchison and I weren’t there. Since our office was quite remote, we had it guarded. Phil asked the guard whether two Europeans worked here. His answer to the question was roughly as follows:
“Well, there are Europeans staying here, but they certainly don’t work. They come every day and write and read, but that’s all.”
I’m glad Phil didn’t take this strange answer too seriously!
University of Colorado
Thanks to Phil for a Memory Jolt
Around 1949-1950 my family was living in Wroclaw (Poland). One evening, sometime around that time, my parents came home from a concert, delighted because they had heard Paul Robeson, a black American singer, singing some Yiddish songs. A few years later I learned, in Polish, Old Man River, which was played on the radio, possibly in English and in Polish.
Nearly seventy years later Phil sends me a video of a celebration of Paul Robeson at SOAS, where Robeson studied African languages. Phil’s presiding over this celebration, and the warm words he said and wrote to me about Robeson, revived memories of times gone by. It also roused regrets, in that I couldn’t share with my parents the knowledge of what Robeson did and thus revive their memories, nor could I share with them what my friend, Phil, did to celebrate Robeson. In comparison to that, our common interests in things Hausa and Chadic appear insignificant.
School of Oriental African Studies, London
Tribute to Phil Jaggar on his 75th Birthday (14 June 1945)
In the early 1970s Phil Jaggar and I were both working in Kano, Nigeria, attached to the Department of Nigerian Languages at Abdullahi Bayero College (now Bayero University Kano). Both of us had been students at SOAS, learning Hausa under F W Parsons and D W Arnott. By 1982 I was back at SOAS and Phil had been teaching Hausa in Hamburg and had switched from anthropology to a PhD in linguistics at UCLA with Russell Schuh.
When he took up a Lectureship at SOAS (1984) we quickly agreed that a natural division of research interests and teaching would see him concentrating on language and linguistics and me focusing on oral and written literature. The teaching programme was run by a triumvirate when we were joined by Malami Buba and subsequently Barry Burgess. For some 30 years and more Phil and I worked together to maintain a teaching and research programme of which we were proud, without ever a cross word between us! Any differences were quickly resolved over a pint, and we saw eye to eye when it came to students, teaching, and research. A better working partner I could not have wished for!
Alhaji Maina Gimba
University of Maiduguri
P Jaggar: A Researcher and a Teacher
I have not personally met Philip Jaggar, but his works have brought me close to him academically. Reading through his works, one will understand that no amount of knowledge is too small or ignoble to a true academic. His works on Hausa, in particular, illustrate in depth research and consultations with native speakers and specialists on the language and other areas of study. More often than not, they provide a window to the structure of languages to which Hausa is related.
The joy of a true scholar is triggered by the satisfaction he derives from a lucid work he has consulted. Not only that Philip Jaggar’s works are lucent and educative, they satisfied my drive for linguistic research.
Prof. Jaggar, you are not just a Hausaist, you are one of our most cherished Chadicists! You are without a doubt a teacher, a scholar, a Chadicist and indeed a renowned Hausaist! Your works on Hausa provide a brilliant insight into the understanding of the nature and structure of many related languages in the Chadic family.
It makes me wonder whether the monumental works you did are just within 75 years of your life or are they 750 years of hard work!
University of Sussex
75th Birthday Tribute for Phil
I first met Phil (together with Graham Furniss) when I went for an interview at SOAS in 1985. I was 18 and had applied to study for a BA in African Languages and Cultures. I grew up in inner-city Bristol, I was state-school educated, I was the first person in my family to apply to university, and I’d never been outside Europe at that point. But I’d figured out that I had a love of languages, and that if I continued with the languages I’d studied at school (French and Latin), I’d end up studying more literature.
Lucky for me, Phil and Graham offered me a place, and I didn’t have to worry anymore about French and Latin literature. I chose to study Hausa because I was interested in West Africa, and because I liked Phil and Graham straight away. I didn’t know it at the time, because I didn’t know what linguistics was, but that moment was the beginning of my career as a linguist.
During the four years of my undergraduate degree, I became clearer still about the focus of my interests, and thanks to Phil I discovered linguistics and took some courses in the linguistics department. I also studied Arabic and began to learn about language families, as well as taking courses in history, art, material culture—and literature! But the courses that always most drew my attention were Phil’s courses on the structure of Hausa, where I vividly remember learning about topic and focus and being intrigued by relative aspects, a subject I’m still working on.
It was Phil who encouraged me to take an MA in linguistics, and it was Phil who patiently supported me through my PhD in linguistics, even though I chose to explore focus and copular constructions in Hausa from a theoretical perspective that Phil referred to as “gobbledygook”. What I learnt from Phil during this time was the conviction that a solid descriptive approach is the foundation of all good work in linguistics, and it was this conviction that led me to my focus on the descriptive-typological approach.
Indeed, Phil’s pioneering work in Hausa linguistics stands as a model of careful descriptive work, in particular, his Hausa grammar of 2001, which Chris Reintges and I reviewed in Lingua in 2003. Phil’s volume provided a detailed and reliable foundation for my own work on Hausa, and it was my deep familiarity with this work that engendered my passion for descriptive grammars and my ambition to write one myself. I finally achieved that goal in 2017, with the grammar of Cameroonian Pidgin English, published in the same series as Phil’s grammar. I subsequently became one of the series editors and consider that work a privilege.
I finally left SOAS over twenty years ago. In the years since my PhD, Phil encouraged me to publish, published with me, nominated me for my first external examining role, read drafts of papers, shared his ideas with me, wrote me numerous references for job applications and promotions, and still turns up to my talks and continues to support me. He has also bought me more than a couple of pints over the years.
Thank you, Phil, for being my teacher, mentor and friend. Happy Birthday!
University of Bayreuth
An Academic to Admire
Phil Jaggar—an academic to admire, a singer to enjoy, a friend to rely on. For more than 30 years, we have been sharing (personal) world-shaking experiences. We were together at the conference Unwritten Testimonies of the African Past in Ojrzanów near Warsaw on 7th and 8th November 1989, being glued in the evenings to the TV reports on the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Phil was probably the first non-Frankfurter to know about Kerstin and me being in love. He welcomed us in London in 1994 as a new couple and, as hoped and expected, took us extensively through the local pubs.
Phil was the first official Guest Professor at the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), in 2008, an unforgettable time of an intensive scholarly exchange and—as always with him—a lot of fun.
I am so happy that our journeys in this world could cross. And for the future, I wish you, dear Phil, a very light and bright road to life!
University of Frankfurt
To Phil from an Austro-German colleague and friend!
The few times Phil and I met were sufficient to establish a solid and loyal, even amical relationship between us. To know Phil means to know a gentleman—one who is in our mind when we think of a typical British gentleman. At the last Conference on West African Languages in Vienna (2016) I remember, Phil, the question you posed after I had presented a paper, “From Mubi to Ngas–A History of Evolution in Chadic”. You wondered whether in Migama the transitive verb form (-i-) was derived from the intransitive one (-a-) or the other way around. A probably unanswerable question!
Two other pleasant occasions I remember when I think of you. One, I am happy to have been able to assist you in publishing your valuable monograph with Harrassowitz, The Morphological-to-Analytic Causative Continuum in Hausa (2017).
Two, I remember with great joy our last meeting in Cambridge. I was visiting with my good friend Shelly Lange in her children’s home. You came over from your nearby town and pleased me by your friendly welcome visit. I gratefully remember you kindly inviting me to a concert of your choir of which you are an active member.
Finally, let me cordially thank you for our truthful companionship over so many years! Allah ya ba ka nisan kwana, amin.
Centre of African Studies, SOAS
On Phil Jaggar’s 75th Birthday
Of the many dimensions that Phil has, there are two that I regularly recall when I am thinking of him or need to look up his work when I am in need of accurate data. The first is his work in Kano on smiths working in both black and white metals. I used to divert my route through the kurmi market and head to its northern edge where the metalwork stalls are. I was fascinated by traditional locks and their keys. But my main interest in blacksmiths’ work was the variety of types of axes and hoes. My hosts in Gidan Jatau each morning, before heading out to farm (men and women, young and old alike) first sharpened their hoes by beating with a stone each blade’s edge on an anvil by a granary; the anvils were once parts of a motor’s engine. Otherwise, metal goods were relatively rare. They used well-heated arrowheads to lance swellings (sakiya), on a knee joint, for example, and they used wire to hang clothes up to dry. They did not use corrugated iron for roofing, though possibly for a porch, but not where cooking was done as smoke can’t escape. Nails were a rarity.
Clay pots, wooden bowls (akushi, made from a ɗinya (black plum) tree) and calabashes of various sizes did the work of iron bowls used elsewhere. There was only one blacksmith at work in the local market, and he wasn’t as interesting as the Kano kurmi stallholders; and all the padlocks used to shut doors within the farmstead were cheap imports. Padlocks were necessary in order to prevent any quarrels within the farmstead: people feared another person’s child might go into an open room and steal something, and hence cause an enormous row—no one could strike any child ever! As far as I know, the zaure (entrance room) of 19th century city houses, in contrast, was not locked; front doors, where they existed, were made of iron sheets fastened to wood. But locks, like those regularly made in pre-colonial Timbuktu or Jenne, had no real parallel, I think, in Kano.
So, Phil, you see what thoughts your work on smithing in Kano provokes! But I think of you, too, whenever I hear Paul Robeson sing (or Sir Willard White sounding a bit like him!). Listening to Paul Robeson, when he was in Moscow, was my passion as a small boy. I’d have a small radio and tune in, beneath the bedclothes, to Radio Moscow late at night and hear his regular broadcasts. My father was a fan of his — his singing, rather than his politics — but it wasn’t till much later that I ever saw Robeson’s Sanders of the River (1935). We must have had several 78” records of him singing (I admit, Harry Lauder was another singer I liked then). I assume that the scriptwriters for the film had the River Benue in mind, and the Tiv as the troublemakers, though the names are not very Tiv-ish. I assume too that Joyce Cary’s novels were the inspiration for the film: he actually wrote the script for a film about healers versus the DO in Tanganyika—a plotline that mirror-images An American Visitor (1933), or is it Aissa Saved (1932)? Joyce Cary was a close relative of my supervisor, so I met him briefly once in Oxford very shortly before he died in 1957, but I failed to ask him about Nigeria — a topic I was then totally uninterested in. What a pity!
So, your interest in Paul Robeson, Phil, leads easily to thoughts about riverain colonial rule, and about such early students of Hausa as Rupert East, whose first postings— in the same 1930s— were along the Benue and among the Tiv. You are indeed one of that remarkable cohort—experts on Hausa language and thought—that dates well back into the 19th century. I salute you!
University of Hamburg
Following Phil Jaggar
This contribution is a short biographical description of how I first met Phil and how I followed him in various ways to various places.
I think it was the beginning of the summer term 1971. I was making my way to Highgate underground station to get the Northern Line train to Goodge Street and then walk to SOAS. I had spent the night at my sister’s flat in Muswell Hill (north London). Some way ahead of me I saw a good-looking guy in red jeans. (I think most of us were wearing blue jeans then.) The red jeans (pardon my metonymy!) got into the same train as I did and, I think, got out at Goodge Street too. Fifteen minutes later I was introduced to them in the SOAS bar…
It was Phil Jaggar. Phil was back from Kano for a term to upgrade his MPhil on Hausa blacksmiths to a PhD. So we had ten weeks or so to get know each other.
Three years later I was off to Kano. By then, Phil was there teaching Hausa at Abdullahi Bayero College (now Bayero University Kano). In my first year in Kano, my wife and I both had mobylettes to get around; we needed an extra seat for our son, Andy (then two years old), and Phil got a blacksmith to make one. This blue mobylette with its silver coloured child’s seat became well known in Gwammaja where we lived. The children there would see it and cry out “Andy! Andy!” whether Andy was in it or not. (In 1975 I lent it to a student from SOAS for an afternoon; he came back wondering how the children of Gwammaja knew his name… He was also called ‘Andy’!)
I remember Phil taking a group of VSOs (Volunteer Service Overseas) and others including my wife, son and me, to visit a village at some distance from Kano, and how he asked the village head how long it was since they had last seen Europeans in their village: “Yaya rabonku da ganin Turawa….?” I understood the question but realised I could not have phrased the question in that colloquial, metaphorical way. I still had some way to go to reach that level.
Phil was a great sportsman: he played rugby for Kano; he played cricket (once for Nigeria against England’s second XI); he also played squash but I never challenged him, it would not have been a match. Not for him.
When he left Kano for Hamburg in 1976, Phil asked me to take over his weekly Hausa lessons to expatriates—VSOs and a few English people living in Kano. I was teaching African Social Systems and Sociology of Education at the university then, so that was my first attempt at teaching the language. It was not to be my last!
Phil spent two years in Hamburg and is well remembered there. When he decided to go and study linguistics in UCLA (1978) he wrote to me and asked if I was interested in the job. I was. I took the job and also got his flat — a big help for a family of four (Jessica was born in Kano in 1976) coming to a new city. So I followed Phil to Hamburg.
Here a wry word of warning. Using the Hausa ina bin Phil to translate “I was following Phil” could be quite wrong: with its metaphorical meaning of indebtedness (the direct object “owes” something to the subject) it suggests that Phil owes me one. The reality is quite the opposite. Phil has helped me on many occasions: that seat for the mobylette, the job and flat in Hamburg, and checking early drafts of at least one chapter of my PhD as well as of a few articles.
I’ve enjoyed Phil’s hospitality on many occasions and I’m glad that I could return the favour here in Hamburg. The best part of those occasions is getting together to sing.
The song I have written here for Phil (Bahar Hausa) is based on one of his favourites (‘The Shoals of Herring’ by Ewan McColl) and can be sung to the original tune. We have tried the original together a few times; I hope we can try out the new text soon!
Phil, thanks for everything. Allah ya ba da alheri!
A song for Phil Jaggar
Night and day we’re farin’
On the wide and wealthy ocean
It’s there on the deep that we harvest and reap our knowledge
It’s the bahar Hausa we’re explorin’.
Oh it was a fine and a pleasant day
From my home in Bradford I was farin’
Sad farewells I made and set off for London
For the Hausa language I was carin’.
Now the hours were long and the standards high
For this Chadic language I was learnin’
Yes, the desk was hard and the grammar harder
But the fire I lit just goes on burnin’.
Freddie Parsons – he an old colonial man
Ai Mai Gemu ya wayar da kaina!
For he knew the language, had great understanding
As a teacher there was no-one finer.
Then it’s off to Kano, go and learn about
Kano blacksmiths and the work they’re sharin’
With the smithy’s heat and the iron smeltin’
’Twas with blacksmiths that I took my bearin’s.
Ah some time went by, I was taken on
At the college there – I’m scarce believin’:
Malami ne ni in the Kano Dabo
Learnin’ from the students I was teachin’.
Teachin’ Hausa grammar there in Hausaland
When a Hamburg prof he came a-searchin’
Got me teachin’ Hausa there in Hanse Hamburg
And inspired notions of researchin’.
So I did a year and another too
But the Hamburg job it got me yearnin’
For the sunny climes – southern California
Where linguistics I was surely learnin’.
‘Zirga-zirga’ yes, that’s a Hausa word
“Bein’ on the move” it’s signifyin’
From Los Angeles we pack up for London
It’s to where I started we are flyin’.
It’s with Gloria, with Tom and Matty too
Yes, it’s SOAS London we’re intendin’
Karatu, they say, that you start in ɗaacii
A professor now, daaɗii your endin’.
For my ‘Hausa Grammar’ on that ocean sailed
Many themes it was that I collated
Helpin’ Paul with his then I wrote the other
In a different style I formulated.
There’ve been students taught, administration too
There were conferences I attended
Hefty themes discussed, ah but in the evenin’s
Got together and in song we ended.
So I earned my keep and I paid my way
Earned a Hausa linguist’s reputation
Read ten thousand books, wrote some million words, for
I was followin’ my inclination.
[Text by Joe McIntyre. With thanks to Ewan McColl whose ‘The Shoals of Herring’ is one of Phil’s favourite songs and one we have sung together. This text was inspired by that song and can be sung to the original tune.]
Phil Jaggar’s stature as a renowned scholar and one of the world’s leading Hausaists is evident from his record, which speaks for itself. His accomplishments can be seen clearly by perusing his list of publications and by delving into his impressive Hausa grammar (2001).
The grammar and the bibliography highlight different, but both significant, aspects of Phil’s work. The grammar demonstrates Phil’s encyclopedic knowledge of the language—to borrow a term from a work of my own—and his painstaking attention to accuracy and detail. The bibliography throws light on the incredible breadth of Phil’s interests and the wide range of topics and repertoires he has explored over the years, from his anthropological study of blacksmiths to language pedagogy; from focused empirical studies of a single language to more abstract analyses involving formal linguistic models; and from studies of Hausa per se to biographical appreciations of the scholars who did the groundbreaking work on Hausa before him.
In this personal note on the occasion of Phil’s 75th birthday, I would like to offer a few words not about Phil the distinguished scholar, but Phil the man. To be brief, let me comment on one truly admirable personal quality of his, namely “generosity of spirit”, that is, his willingness to give of himself to help others. I illustrate this by describing two situations that transpired some 25 years ago when Phil and his family spent a sabbatical year (1994-95) with us in Bloomington at Indiana University (IU).
The first relates to Phil’s contribution to my Hausa grammar, which was published one year before his own. I had been working on this for some time, but because of heavy administrative duties as Head of Department in addition to my teaching obligations, the work had bogged down. As it turned out, the year that Phil was coming to Bloomington was also a year when I was entitled to sabbatical leave and thus could devote myself full time to the grammar. And what could be better than to have Phil nearby so that we could discuss issues of Hausa linguistics. This proved incredibly important for me, both in terms of probing his insight and knowledge about Hausa structures and complexities that were troubling me, but also in the psychological support and stimulus that this provided. We had a great time that year. We drank beer and talked Hausa linguistics; we listened to jazz and talked Hausa linguistics; we took long walks around the track near the Y—he was in much better physical shape than I was—and talked Hausa linguistics. This all contributed immensely to my grammar project.
Phil never begged off or imposed on my time on the grounds that he himself had important projects to accomplish, including pushing ahead on his Hausa grammar. (He was already under contract with Benjamins to produce such a work.) And I confess that I never really went out of my way to find out how his grammar project was going or how I could assist him. Hopefully Phil also benefitted from our discussions about Hausa, especially the diachronic perspective that underlay many of my analyses, and in observing my scientifically focused and strict work style. Still, one has to appreciate his selflessness during that year in graciously providing me input and encouragement, ultimately resulting in the completion of my grammar. Few other scholars would have done that.
The second situation concerns a student from Mali, who had come to IU to teach Bambara while pursuing an advanced degree. Shortly before the start of the academic year, the student came down with an illness, which the medical people suspected might be TB. And so the student had to be quarantined, which meant moving him out of his dorm room. The African Studies Program found him a minimally furnished little house off-campus and set him up with some minimal groceries so that he could prepare his own food. And that was about it. The university administration had done what they supposedly were required to do and no more. Since the student had only recently come to IU and basically knew no one in Bloomington, he was horribly isolated in his quarantined quarters with little human contact or social support. And this is where Phil came in. I don’t know how it was that Phil heard about this student’s plight, but when he did, Phil took it upon himself to help the student out. Instead of coming straight to the university, where we had a couple of offices that constitute our “Hausa Research Institute”, Phil often took a bus to town to pick up some meat, bread, fresh fruit, and coffee, etc. to take to the student, with whom he would stop and chat through the screen door for a half hour or so. Phil became the student’s lifeline for the few months he was in quarantine. It wasn’t Phil’s responsibility—he himself was a visiting scholar from England without any honorarium or obligations to IU—but he did this because Phil is someone with a good and caring heart and it was the human and humane thing to do.
In this day and age when basic civility and common courtesy are so lacking, you have to admire Phil for his generosity of spirit. Shi mutumin kirki ne.
University of Warsaw
Labaran Baka, Labaran Ka: Flashbacks and Memories of Phil’s Visits to Warsaw
A Chopin Concert
It happened to Phil during his walk around the city of Warsaw, near the University of Warsaw which is located in the historical part of the town. It is here that many historical buildings and old palaces have been adapted to academic institutions, culture centers, various public buildings. He decided to open one heavy door. When he entered a big hall which looked empty, he saw the lonely pianist playing the piano. Playing Chopin. It was like a special concert dedicated to Phil.
Lost in Warsaw, 1989
Phil was invited by my Polish colleague Stanisław Piłaszewicz to his home. In the evening, on the way back to the hotel, he used public transport. The tram took him to an unknown place, where the tram ended its run at the so-called last stop. When he left the tram, he saw that there was no one around to ask him how to get to the hotel. There was only a sentry booth at that place. He turned to a man sitting inside, expecting communication problems due to his lack of Polish language skills. He asked a question in English but what was his surprise when he got the answer in proper English. During a nice conversation he learned that the man served in the (British) Royal Air Force during the Second World War.
Godiya for the Erasmus Program
For many years, SOAS and the University of Warsaw have been successfully implementing the Socrates/Erasmus Exchange Program in a very specific area, African and Hausa studies. The program was a particularly great opportunity for students from Warsaw to spend part of their education in London and to have classes of Hausa taught by Phil. I was delighted to learn that some of them were as good as his own students—or even better, as he himself said. I would like to acknowledge our thanks to Phil for his personal involvement in the cooperative program which has contributed so importantly to the teaching and research of Hausa at the University of Warsaw.
How the London-Warsaw Erasmus program began was rather unusual and worth mentioning here. The first agreement of cooperation came into being through a simple form that needed to be filled out. The form was duly completed somewhere in a canteen at some conference in some city (Frankfurt? Vienna? Hamburg? – a detail not apparently that important) during the break between sessions. What was crucial was that the form be signed by Philip Jaggar. Apparently, his mere signature was all that seemed required to initiate the cooperation between the two universities that lasted many years!
Thank you for the invitation to take part in Prof. Philip Jaggar’s celebration. My personal contacts with the jubilee man were not frequent but quite fruitful. I have very impressive memories of one of them.
It was in 1989 when the Iron Curtain between the western and eastern political blocks was broken. In that year, between the 7th and 8th November the Department of African Languages and Cultures, University of Warsaw organised an International Symposium on Unwritten Testimonies of the African Past. It was planned to combine Africanists coming from both parts of the world. Among the participants who distinguished himself then was Dr. Philip Jaggar who delivered a very valued speech on meaning correspondences between Hausa and Guruntun. When the news broke that the Berlin Mauer (Wall) had collapsed, our East Germany colleagues immediately left the Symposium and rushed back to their country.
At the end of the Symposium I invited P. Jaggar to my house and we enjoyed a pleasant time: we met face to face for the first time. When the party ended, on his return to the University Hotel in the deep of the night, he could not find the place. And passers-by were not very helpful as the knowledge of English was not common among Polish people at that time. Philip spent a substantial part of the night outside the Hotel. Concerning the adventure, Philip only told me about it after many years had passed. Such is our dear Colleague.
Department of Economics, SOAS
Baba Philip Mutumin Kirki Ne
Before I came to SOAS, I had heard about Hausa, my first language, being taught in SOAS by non-Hausa English people. This had always aroused my curiosity and endeared SOAS to me. A thing of joy for any Hausa man or woman is to come across a non-native Hausa speaker speaking Hausa especially with some degree of proficiency. It makes for easier and long-lasting bonding and friendship.
Thus, immediately I had finished the registration process, I made an effort to Google the Languages Department in SOAS, and profiles of such people as Professors Philip J Jaggar and Graham Furniss came up. I immediately emailed the two and introduced myself to which they responded very warmly, expressing readiness to meet with me for a coffee. I met with both and our meetings were memorable and helpful especially as I was trying to settle in then as a new PhD student in SOAS’s Department of Economics. My relationship/friendship with these great Hausa scholars has always been helpful in many respects. It is, therefore, my pleasure to write this anecdote about Professor Philip Jaggar who, in all respects, qualifies as a mutumin kirki (‘a good man’).
Baba Phil has always served as my father-figure in spite of country and culture, creed and colour setting us apart. Whenever Phil asked, Hamisu, ai ba matsala ko? “Hamisu, I hope you don’t have any problems”, it always struck a familiar chord in me as that very same sentence had always been a mantra of my own father back home.
Baba Phil stood with me not just in kind and caring words but in actions demanding of his personal sacrifices of time, energy, and other resources, for which I remain eternally grateful towards this dattijo! When I was looking for an accommodation around London, Baba together with his equally kind wife, Jan, took great pains to accompany me around so that I could rent a secure, safe, and accessible house. Baba would halt, rest, and still trudge on as we went from one house to another. Whether I was in the UK or now that I am doing fieldwork, Baba would also ring to ask about my plight and progress, for which I remain eternally grateful.
Another noble value Baba Phil stands for is his firm belief that all men are equal regardless of the colour of their skin. Wherever Phil is, racism vanishes! They would make the strangest of bedfellows! To this end, the African American freedom fighter, Paul Robeson, remains Baba’s hero for all time.
When the recent sad incident involving the African-American George Floyd happened while I was in Nigeria for my fieldwork, I could only imagine the pain it would inflict on Phil who, always, finds even the slightest manifestations of racism abhorrent. The worth of any man, they say, is what he stands for. I am happy to be a living witness to the fact that Baba Philip J Jaggar stands for principles so noble as to outlive his sojourn here on earth.
Kafin na zo SOAS, na samu labarin cewa Turawa na koyar da harshena, wato Hausa. Wannan kuma ya matuƙar ba ni sha’awa sosai saboda wani abin farin ciki wajen duk wani Bahaushe shi ne ya ga ɗan wata ƙabilar yana jin Hausa musamman ma cikin ƙwarewa. Hakan yana taimakawa wajen yin sabo da wuri da kuma ƙulla alaƙa ta din-din-din.
Sakamakon haka ya sa, ina gama ayyukan biyan kuɗin makaranta sai na yi ƙoƙarin shiga shafin yanar gizo na Sashen Harsunan Afirka a SOAS inda na nemi sanin su wane ne suke koyar da harshen Hausa. Kwatsam kuwa sai ga sunayen manyan shehunan malamai masana harshen Hausan nan guda biyu ya fito: wato Farfesa Philip J Jaggar da kuma Farfesa Graham Furniss. Ba da wani ɓata lokaci ba, sai na tura wa manyan masana Hausa saƙon kar-ta-kwana ta hanyar yanar gizo don gabatar da kaina. Duka masanan biyu sun yi farin ciki matuƙa da saƙon nawa, inda suka nuna buƙatar mu haɗu don shan shayin kofi. Na haɗu da duka malaman biyu daban-daban, kuma waɗannan haɗuwa tamu ba zan taɓa mantawa da su ba. Hasali ma, haɗuwar ta taimaka min wajen magance matsalolin baƙuntar da nake ciki a wannan lokaci da nake sabon ɗalibi mai fara karatun digirin digirgir a Tsangayar Tsimi da Tanadi ta Jami’ar SOAS. Tabbas, alaƙa da waɗannan hamshaƙan masana Hausa ta taimaka min matuƙa ta hanyoyi da yawa. Wannan ya sa na yi matuƙar farin cikin samun damar tofa albarkacin bakina game da rayuwar Farfesa Philip Jaggar (Malam Bala), wanda zan iya bugun ƙirjina cewa mutumin kirki ne ciki da waje, gaba da baya!
Baba Phil ya kasance tamkar mahaifi a gare ni duk da bambancin ƙasa, da al’ada, da addini da kuma launin fata da ke tsakaninmu. Duk lokacin da Baba Phil ya tambaye ni cewa “Hamisu ai ba matsala ko?” sai na tuna da ɗaya baban nawa da ke gida, saboda da shi ke min irin wannan tambayar a baya.
Baba Phil ya tallafa mini ba wai da kalmomi masu daɗi da nuna kulawa kawai ba, a’a har ma da a aikace ta hanyar sadaukar da lokacinsa, da ƙarfinsa da kuma dukiyarsa; wannan ya sa ba zan taɓa mantawa da wannan dattijon ba!
A lokacin da nake neman gida a kewayen birnin Landan, Baba Phil har ma da matarsa Jan mai kirki sun sha ɗawainiyar yawo da ni gida zuwa gida, duk domin su taimaka mini na samu gida mai kyau a unguwa mai tsaro da kuma wanda ke kusa da jami’a. Sai ka ga Baba ya ɗan tsaya ya huta kafin ya motsa mu ci gaba da duba gidaje.
Bugu da kari, ko ina Ingila ko ma yanzu da na fito yin filin dagar bincike, Baba yana ƙirana don ya ji labarin lafiyata da kuma nasarar bincikena a filin daga; kuma wannan abu ne da ba zan manta da shi ba a rayuwata.
Kazalika, wani abu da Baba Phil ya yi fice wajensa shi ne ƙyamar wariyar launin fata. Baba ya yi imani da cewa duka mutane daidai suke ko ma mene ne launin fatarsu. Kai, ko’ina Baba Phil yake wariyar launin fata ba ta nan! Su biyun ba su jituwa! Saboda haka ne ma wannan mashahurin ɗan rajin kare haƙƙin baƙar fata na Amurka, wato Paul Robeson, ya kasance wani gwarzon Baba Phil a ko’ina kuma a ko da yaushe.
Wannan ne ma ya sa a lokacin da baƙin labarin nan na kisan-gillar George Floyd ya yaɗu a duniya yayin da nake Nijeriya, kawai sai na tuna yadda Baba zai ji ciwon wannan labari. Na yi wannan tunanin ne kuwa saboda na san Baba Phil ya ƙi jinin ya ga ko da ƙwayar zarra ce ta alamun wariyar launin fata. Masu iya magana sukan ce, “halin mutum jarinsa”. Ina mai matuƙar farin cikin zama shaidar cewa Baba Phil ya tsaya ga halaye kyawawa da za su zama shaida gare shi ko bayan ya kwanta dama.
I recall Phil Jaggar reminiscing on the determination of the blacksmiths of Kano with whom he had spent time during his doctoral research: even fasting through the heat of a sub-Saharan Ramadan, they would stay by their fiery forge and keep working. The example they set seems to have served him well in his own unflagging efforts to maintain a place at SOAS not just for Hausa but for a certain vision of linguistics — rigorous, detailed description of insufficiently studied languages large or small, profiting from a constant dialogue with cross-linguistic theorization but keeping the focus firmly on the language and its speakers. While I was studying with him, the breadth allowed for by this holistic approach came as a breath of fresh air in a moment of increasing over-specialization. It was neatly highlighted by his fostering of the Kanuri Manuscript Project, which straddled the artificial boundary between sub-Saharan Africa and Arabic studies while bringing linguists together with specialists in religion and material culture.
I wish Phil a happy and well-deserved retirement and hope that SOAS will manage to continue his legacy.
H. Ekkehard Wolff
On the Occasion of Philip (‘Phil’) J. Jaggar’s 75th Anniversary
For several very good reasons, I cannot let this anniversary of a certain Yorkshire man from Bradford UK go by and say nothing on the occasion! This Yorkshire man, together with his unmistakable and heart-warming Yorkshire accent, has been part of my professional and private life for no less than 45 years, ever since we began to share time, professional interests and pastime pleasures, doing so in various parts of the world, whether we were together in the Czech Republic (for the 2nd BICCL), in Germany, Finland, France, Nigeria, the UK, or the US, be it on one or several occasions, or in any other place that I may have meanwhile forgotten.
In my memory, which gets more and more selective and telescopic with advancing age, I seem to recollect that we were never far away from the next pint of beer and any welcome opportunity for occasional singing, when Phil would display his smooth singing voice—and when, for equally obvious reasons, I kept my own mouth shut! This was more particularly true when another UK friend and Hausaist, a true Geordie from Newcastle, was also present with his guitar and a likewise wonderful voice, as happened countless times at our homes in Halstenbek (near Hamburg), in Weseby (near the Baltic Sea shore), or in Leipzig. Most readers will know that I am talking about another dear friend of Phil’s and mine: Joseph (‘Joe’) A. McIntyre. Joe actually followed Phil in the position of Hausa language instructor at Hamburg University at the latter’s professional and personal suggestion when he left Hamburg for an appointment and PhD program at UCLA. Both of them, the Yorkshire man and the Geordie, made the learning and study of Hausa in Hamburg successful and enjoyable for the students and for fellow staff members like me and others for whom it was a personally and professionally rewarding pleasure to have them on the team.
I first met Phil in Kano, Nigeria, in 1975 (if I remember correctly), where he had earlier conducted anthropological fieldwork on Kano blacksmiths. The year we met was when he had moved on to teaching Hausa linguistics at Abdullahi Bayero College (now Bayero University Kano). I was on my way to attend a West African Linguistics Conference at Ile-Ife in southern Nigeria and to revisit my previous fieldwork area in northeastern Nigeria. In Kano, my aim had been to find and recruit a knowledgeable and reliable candidate to teach Hausa at Hamburg where there was a tradition to regularly have instruction done by Hausa mother-tongue speakers. In the 1970s, however, the Nigerian economy boomed and academic institutions were created all over the country. Suddenly German university salaries for language instructors (Lektoren) could no longer compete with salaries and professional promotion prospects for Nigerians in Nigeria.
So we decided to look for highly qualified non-mother-tongue speakers of Hausa, and where to look for them was among candidates who had studied Hausa at SOAS. American colleagues (among them, Linda Dresel) and friends in Kano introduced Phil to me, and we soon had a deal. A year later, in 1976, Phil came to Germany, together with Gloria (later his wife) who had been with him in Kano at the time, to fill the Hausa language instructor position at Hamburg University—which he did with great success.
He became very popular among our students, got us all acquainted with the rough rules of rugby and the intricacies of cricket—he was quite good at practicing both himself—and he was soon to become a brother in Hausa and Chadic linguistics to me as much as a close friend, but eventually a fierce competitor as well at our weekly game of darts. For playing darts, which in those days was not yet popular in Germany, we used to meet in one of the very few pubs in Hamburg that had a dart board, which was usually hidden in the darkest corner of the pub and often right near the smelly lavatories.
As far as Phil’s linguistic career is concerned, I take special pride in having freed this Yorkshire man from the academic shackles of Kano-blacksmith anthropology, showing him the path to the light and the glory of becoming a world-renown Hausaist! He is a worthy representative of the combined academic virtues of both SOAS traditions in the spirit of Freddie Parsons and others, and the Hamburg traditions of August Klingenheben and Johannes Lukas, the latter having made Hamburg the hub of Hausa and Chadic linguistics. Later, this already remarkable combination was fabulously topped, so to speak, by Phil’s close personal and working relationship with US Chadicists such as Paul and Roxy Newman and Russell Schuh.
However, as soon as he got the taste for linguistics, and, as we say in drastic German idiomatics, had “licked blood” and meanwhile published his first article on Hausa grammar—it had to do with information structure, i.e. topicalization—Phil followed the song of the sirens from across the Atlantic. These sweet songs lured him to move to the US, not only the land of the brave and the home of his wife Gloria, but also of splendid African linguistics at UCLA. As a matter of fact, it was a particular male siren who sang that sweet song to him: another great scholar in Chadic linguistics and a good friend to quite a few of us, namely the late Russ Schuh. The song was about coming to teach Hausa and in turn getting admission to their PhD program, working with Russ. I had nothing comparable that I could offer to keep him in Hamburg. No more intensive discussions with Phil in Hamburg concerning Hausa grammar and its Chadic historical linguistic background, no more classic British humour over a beer or two—usually a special darkish brew called Hannen Alt that we both had discovered for us as something new and very tasty—in the evenings after classes in a long-gone pub across Rothenbaum Chaussee opposite the university’s main building near Dammtor Bahnhof.
Retrospectively, however, and on a professional level, for Phil this was exactly the right move to make. In those days, UCLA, in competition with MIT, was a global hub of theoretical linguistics, and scholars interested in African languages profited immensely from exposure to theoretical linguistics, much more in the US than in Europe at the time, and particularly in Germany, including Hamburg University. So Phil developed a keen interest in linguistic theory, which showed in many of his later publications. Had he remained in Hamburg, I am sure, together we might have been less theoretically inclined, but probably would have jointly done a lot of potentially good work on comparative and typological Chadic, and it would have been fun. And Chadicists had a lot of fun in those days—if you believed Larry Hyman!
On the other hand, who knows, if Phil had remained in Hamburg with a continued interest and competence in Hausa linguistics, I would probably have asked him one day to consider sitting down and writing a first modern Hausa reference grammar, which was lacking until the 1990s and which we needed badly to support teaching the language, among other things. With Phil leaving Hamburg, first to join UCLA, and afterwards returning to SOAS in London, I felt urged to write that Hausa grammar myself—it was published in 1993—and I did it in German to the benefit of the then many German-speaking students of Hausa around the country. Eight years later in 2001, Phil did produce his own reference grammar of Hausa, somewhat parallel to the encyclopaedic reference grammar written by Paul Newman that was published a year earlier. Since the year 2001, we are thus blessed with a choice of three professional descriptive grammars for (Standard) Hausa, one in German and two in English, to which we must add the one in French by Bernard Caron on Aderanci Hausa in Niger, also from the early 1990s. After finishing my Hausa grammar and seeing it through to print, I turned my focal interest away from that language and focused on applied African sociolinguistics and, most of all, again on my favourite Central Chadic languages.
Phil, however, has kept on ploughing the field, continuously producing excellent work on Hausa linguistics—until this very day. Malam Bala – na gaishe ka!
University of Potsdam
My first encounter with Phil Jaggar was of a rather indirect nature, or so I think. Katharina Hartmann and I had just been back from field research in Maiduguri in 2005. Based on original fieldwork material we had written and submitted a—or so we thought—great article on morphological focus marking in Guruntum, one of the Chadic languages that Phil has worked on apart from Hausa. In this article, we deviated from a previous analysis of Phil’s in analysing the postverbal suffix –a in that language as a regular instance of the Guruntum focus marker, and not as a perfective marker as Phil had done. The anonymous reviewer was obviously very familiar with Guruntum, and he/she was not too impressed with our article, to say the very least. As a result, the recommendation was that the paper be rejected. Eventually, we did manage to get it accepted though :).
A couple of years later in 2010, we invited Phil to Berlin as an outside expert for the SFB-projects on Information structure in West African languages. On this occasion, Phil was extremely friendly and supportive, and it was a real pleasure to interact with him!
In view of the decreasing number of Chadic scholars in Germany and elsewhere, on this occasion, he attributed to us the flattering term of “torch bearers” for the linguistic study of Chadic languages. I found this attribute quite surprising, seeing that Katharina and I were not dyed-in-the-wool Africanists, and therefore also busy with many other projects in generative syntax and formal semantics. But still, it was a very flattering attribute, especially when coming from somebody who had devoted so much time of his life to the study of Hausa and other Chadic languages.
In consequence, I try to live up to Phil’s expectations and slip in little side projects on Chadic, or at least Hausa, as often as possible. In 2015, two PhD theses on Chadic languages were completed under my supervision. Mira Grubic’s thesis was on the information structure of Ngamo, a Yobe language, and Anne Mucha’s thesis focused on the tense-aspect system of Hausa. I am happy to say that Mira and Anne are still busy with aspects of the semantics of Hausa, presenting at conferences, publishing, and keeping the interest in this language family alive in the formal semantics scene. And only recently, I gave a presentation at Semantics and Linguistic Theory SALT30 in Cornell, with a presentation on past- and counterfactual marking with dâa/dàa in Hausa.
For me the nicest encounter with Phil took place when I gave a presentation on serial verb constructions in Medumba (Grassfields) in UCL’s linguistics colloquium in London in 2013. I had just started into the talk, when the door opens and in comes Phil together with an entire entourage from SOAS. Knowing that Phil most certainly did not attend in order to get an insight into the latest generative ideas about serial verb constructions and their interpretation, I liked to think that he came just because it was me giving a talk, and I took his attendance as a real show of a genuine Africanist’s appreciation and interest in my formal semantics work on African languages. And it was nice to hang out afterwards over beer :).
I sincerely hope there will be other occasions for us to meet and talk about African languages. Happy Birthday, Phil!