Nov 24, 2013

In Conversation - Nigerian Muslims

Yesterday I had a long conversation with one of my students on the situation of Muslims in his country, Nigeria. He gave an interesting preview on the situation of Muslims there. He is a Muslim from the South Western part of Yoruba state and a highly educated young man with good communication skill, which I find among Africans a common trait, not to mention those Africans, particularly the Igbos or Ibos of South Eastern part of Nigeria who are known for the international scams and the drug-related violence in Malaysia and in this part of the world. 

My question to him was on the strange situation of Nigeria where only the Christian seems to be in charge of a Muslim-majority country.  This is what I suppose. How was it that possible?
He said the reason is that when the British colonialists introduced English education, Muslims following the advise of their religious heads shun away from sending their children to English speaking schools fearing their conversion to Christianity. And when Nigeria got independence it was the Christians who were educated to undertake the responsibility of leading the country. This gave rise to the Christian political ascendency which has developed and deeply entrenched in the society that whenever a Muslim is elected the establishment ensures that he is weak enough to be remote controlled or deposed off easily. This happened to the late Yaradua who was a sick person from the beginning. The recent spate of violence purported to have been committed by the so-called Boko Haram is in actual fact unleashed by the pro-government or rather government backed mercenaries to create schisms between the various communities to as to legitimize the ruling christian elites to consolidate their power base. Goodluck Johnathan is really man of many good lucks as he has scraped through many barriers by becoming leader by default. But many of the Nigerian Muslims are weary about what luck this man will bring to Nigeria other than empowering the Christians in the south.
My student is of the view that many Muslims in the south and south-western Nigeria are not accepted as Muslims by the "pure" Muslims of the north. He narrated many incidents of discrimination by the Muslims against their southern brethren that many of them feel comfortable in identifying themselves in ethnic terms rather than religiously. He expressed his sadness that even those who are staying and studying in universities abroad are also colour conscious that they see blackness within black.

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