bai Edwin Eriata Oribhabor

One of 2010’s landmark events was Julian Paul Assange’s publication of secret diplomatic US government cables on WikiLeaks, his whistle blowing website-company. Na hu bi dis man sef?

Julian Paul Assange, born 3 July 1971, is an Australian publisher, journalist, software developer and Internet activist. Assange has worked as a computer programmer and was a hacker during his youth. He has lived in several countries, and has made public appearances in many parts of the world to speak about freedom of the press, censorship, and investigative journalism.

Assange founded the WikiLeaks website in 2006 and serves on its advisory board. He has published material about extra judicial killings in Kenya, toxic waste dumping in Africa, Church of Scientology manuals, and Guantanamo Bay procedures.

In 2010, he published classified details about American involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. On 28 November 2010, WikiLeaks and its five media partners began publishing secret US diplomatic cables. The White House has called Assange’s release of the diplomatic cables "reckless and dangerous".

Assange is currently wanted for questioning in Sweden regarding alleged sexual offences, and was arrested in London, England on 7 December 2010. He is currently on bail and under house arrest in England pending an extradition hearing. Assange has denied the allegations and claimed that they are politically motivated.

Assange has received awards and nominations for his work including the Economist Freedom Expression Award (2008), and the Amnesty International Media Award for publishing material about extrajudicial killings in Kenya. He was most recently named Time magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year". (From Wikipedia, free Encyclopedia).

In local parlance, what Assange has done is called tatafo or tatafo witaut waya. One who commits such an act is also addressed as a Tatafo or Tatafo witaut waya. The information leaked may be favourable to one party but the reverse for another. Julian Assange’s release of the many secrets of a big power like America and other countries like Nigeria is definitely not in their interest.

However, there are individuals, non-governmental organisations and nations that are happy about this development for reasons best known to them.

At the level of the private individual, with particular reference to large residential compounds or the popular fes mi a fes yu eria dem, tatafo witaut waya is synonymous with rumour mongering. As an unsolicited act, it is presumed as something that usually happens through the back door.

This is underscored by the fact that in those days of the NITEL brand of analogue telephone (called waya in Naija), any information sent through this medium was generally presumed to be official and genuine. Information passed outside of this medium, was perceived or described as witaut waya (not via the telephone) and therefore fake and capable of creating unhealthy situations. The Americans dubbed Mr. Assange’s actions as "reckless and dangerous".

If you have ever lived in big compounds wie pipul plenty, there’s no way you would have missed seeing wetin tatafo witaut waya don du to relationships and marital homes.

Most Tatafo witaut waya derive pleasure in leaking secret information but not without the following caveat: "no tok se na mi tel yu o".

Tatafo has its bad and good sides, but the case of Julian Assange is a different ball game because he operates with a duly registered website branded as "dangerous" by those opposed to his views.

Despite the fact that the government of Goodluck Jonathan was not pleased with Julian Assange’s leaks about Nigeria, The Guardian, one of Nigeria’s respected newspapers has named him as the paper’s Man of the Year.

Whether for good or bad, we have people that are averse to keeping secrets and Julian Assange happens to be one. Another name for a Tatafo is Amebo. Julian Assange is a komfam Amebo who could be described as Tatafo wit waya we pas waya. Na Tatafo wit intanet. Weda pesin de du tatafo wit waya oo not, tatafo na tatafo an na wahala fo evribodi. Nobodi send am. Kpakam!

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(Received 16/02/2011 – Published 02/03/2011)

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