By Sadiq Tijjani Inuwa
The task of addressing the menace of Almajirci should be a collective responsibility. Government alone can not solve the problem. Therefore, all hands must be on deck if at all we are serious about rooting it out. However,
we can not reform the society we don’t understand. Understanding the society first is a prerequisite in social reform.
On the Facebook activist:
On the part of activists, I think the fight against the menace of Almajirci should go far beyond mere Facebook rhetorics. Granted that Facebook or social media is the fastest way of disseminating information. It is also affordable and easily accessible. However, we should equally take in to cognizance the need to identify the target audience – an indispensable part of our work. In order to avoid taking our campaign to the wrong place, the need to identify the real target should be maximum.
The people we are trying to enlightened or reform are mostly not on Facebook let alone other social media platforms. They do not have the luxury of smart phones to be here, and be abreast of the happenings around the world let alone reading our daily updates. Therefore, dispensing our energy on Facebook and Twitter will be an exercise in futility because the message will never reach the real target. We ought to have take our advocacy to the right place – The Tsangaya Almajiri.
Beyond the rhetorics, we need to augment our loud voices and mighty pen with action. How about moving to the field- meeting the concerned people- the ones we want to reform, discuss with them and understand their flights. How about forming an NGO of like minds(we have them in abundance here on Facebook), research, mobilise, strategies and organize to serve as a pressure group. Raise awareness, enlightened the people and push for legislation in our state assemblies. That way we can achieve far more sound progress than mere postings.
For the Abolitionists:
Many commentators are advocating for the system to be abolished. I was never a proponent of that because it is not an ideal solution. What the system needs is reform not abolishment. And here is why.
A well entrenched tradition like Almajiri can not be abolished overnight without providing an alternative to it. Most of the abolitionists do not understand the realities of the people involved in Almajirci. We shouldn’t think that every person must see things through our lens. Just because we are privileged to be educated in the western and Islamic sense, we shouldn’t think that every other person must like us. The abolitionists failed to understand that, the Tsangaya system is not the problem in itself but rather, It is just like any other system that can be subjected to abuse.
Do you think abolition Almajirci will be an easy task? What will be the fate of over 10 million destitutes roaming the streets? Will their destitution disappear overnight just because the system is banned.
Beside, abolishing the system altogether without addressing the root cause which is poverty, will only create another societal problem. Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi once said “banning begging without putting place adequate palliatives is injustice”.
Some of the reasons put forword to make a case against Almajirci is the saying that the parents who sent their children to Almajirci instead of enrolling them in the various available islamiyya shools are being irresponsible. While I agree that some of the parents who sent their children in to begging are being irresponsible, there is the need to look for the reason behind that irresponsibility. The islamiyya schools are for those who can afford. Ask any Islamiyya teacher you know, he will tell you how they struggle for the collection of school fees which in most cases do not exceed 200 naira per month.
Nigeria is not the only country with large number of muslim population that is facing challenges with it’s Islamic system of education. Countries like Egypt, sudan, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh underwent similar challenges but what differentiate them with Nigeria is the kind of policy measures they adopted in tackling the challenges. The point I am making is, these countries did not discard their sytems which is akin to our Tsangaya but instead devise a means to address the challenges associated with the system. Therefore Nigeria can learn something from these countries.
Why call for the dismantling of a system that could be reformed? If other Islamic countries can do it, why will Nigeria be an exception?
To be concluded@ST_InuwaBakori