Busy Brain writes from Jalingo, Taraba State
Recently, Kwara State with harmony emblem has been diluted with series of crisis. A peaceful and serene atmosphere has metamorphosed to a state of phobia and restlessness. Although, crisis is inevitable in a secular setting with people of different character and orientation but the need to quench the burning rages of such crisis should remain paramount and non negotiable.
To me, the recent drama in Kwara State capital is needless but the intolerance and misconception have metamorphosed to a very silly and disgusting religion kerfuffle between the Christians and Muslims. The use of Hijab in schools with missionary nomenclature has been tagged aberrant because hijab is perceived as symbol of Islamic religion which should not be embraced in schools with missionary background. This gesture by Christian leaders in the state has put our unity and togetherness into question. If a school girl can not freely put on hijab in a Baptist school, the mantra of serving one God together has been indicted. Apologies!
I stand to be corrected, Kwara State is a Muslim dominated state and I want to guess right that the number of Muslim students in these missionary schools are more than the Christians, hence, the fear of dominance with the use of Hijab by Muslims might have triggered the rejection. Of course, nothing is wrong in wearing hijab to school but the Christian leaders see it as abomination in these schools because of the fear of domination and superiority. In Nigeria, religion doesn’t matter when it comes to looting and stealing public funds but it matters when we want to strangle peace.
In as much as I will like to fault the level of intolerance of the Christian leaders for rejecting Hijab in missionary schools, I will also impute heavily, the Muslim parents who are fuelling the crisis. I see many of these Muslim parents as hypocrites and not true believers because many out of these parents don’t compel their children to wear Hijab at home. I’m a Muslim and I know that Muslim fanatics will never send their children to Baptist schools. Many of these parents that can not afford Islamic private schools will prefer public schools with Muslim nomenclature like An-Sarudeen, Nawa-Rudeen, Anwarul-l-Islam, or schools with neutral nomenclature like Government Day School, or community titled schools. Muslim parents that send their daughters to St, Cyprian, Catholic, Baptist are free Muslims that doesn’t care about religion discrimination. They are much more aware that their daughters will put on cap/beret and reserve hijab for prayer time. Muslim parents that always enforce hijab on their daughters at home and school will not enroll them in any of the missionary schools.
For instance, I attended St, James Primary School and Baptist High School. When I was in primary school, during morning devotion, a Muslim teacher will pray and the same thing applicable to a Christian teacher. Our songs in those days were mixture of both Muslim and Christian stanzas; the lyrics still ring bell in my memory. During my days in Baptist High School, our female colleagues would always put on their cap/beret as part of school uniform which also cover their hair and they always put on their hijab whenever it is time for mosque. In Baptist High School, we had ‘Malim’ who was in charge of Islamic Religion Knowledge (IRK). Malim looks into the affairs of Muslim students, we also had Amir/Imam for Muslim students and we do observe Jumat prayer without any hindrance. It has always been like that till date without crisis. Hijab is part of school uniform in An-Sarudeen schools and cap/beret is part of school uniform in Baptist schools. The students should dress according to the formation of their school uniform. A Muslim student that cannot wear cap/beret in Baptist should go to An-Sarudeen and Christian student that cannot wear hijab in An-Sarudeen should go to Baptist. It does not call for crisis.
In Kwara case, I think the only thing that should lead to crisis is when students are banned from going to mosque or practice their religion or when they are enforced to embrace something that is not in the doctrine of their religion. Anything less is a misplaced priority and needless.
Religion is a sensitive matter than can tear a state apart and degenerate into a serious war. For the fact that different states had similar issue does not warrant same approach. An approach that worked for Osun, Ogun, Lagos may not work for Kwara. The need for dissection and critical examination of issues is required before taking decision. At this juncture, a good public relations is required for crisis management. Kwara is in need one one.
To the Muslims and Christians, we serve one God and the God we serve loves peace, tolerance, love and unity. Allahu Akbar, In Jesus Name, let’s embrace one another for peace to reign.
Busy Brain is an opinion writer, journalists, columnist and Public Relations Practitioner