Arewaphobics: They Are Not Our Teachers – By Malam Naini Musa
I am reminded of a classic movie in which the story of Libyan struggle for independence from Italy and the life of the hero of that struggle, Umar Mukhtar, was portrayed. The title of that movie was “Lion of the desert”. A deserving title for a story so moving. In one of the most memorable scene, when some Libyan fighters ambushed an Italian army unit and caught some prisoners, a Libyan fighter was ordered not to kill the prisoners by Umar Mukhtar. The fighter emotionally responded “but they do it to us”, to which the scholar answered “they are not our teachers”. So much is going on in this country and most of it negative. The air is full of toxicity, and the atmosphere charged. It is almost waiting for a single match stick to ignite chaos and bring the roof down on us all. We must do our very best to avoid arriving at that point.
Just months ago, after the flopping of the #Endsars protests, the residue of that anger felt for the failure of that dream not achieved was vented on some Arewa people and their business facilities. Markets were looted, products destroyed and in some cases people harmed. All in the name of freedom. Freedom from the shackles of police brutality. Ironically, for a group of people tired of tyranny, they had no hesitation wielding it against others. While some may argue that they were infiltrated by “bad eggs”, I will answer that with a quote by Mahatma Gandhi “it does not matter to the dead whether the war was just or not”. They must be held accountable for providing such a platform. To ignite a fire which you clearly have no capacity to wield or quench is irresponsible.
This reckless action was then followed by another wave of action targeted at the Fulani community in south-west. A man woke one day and gave a quit notice to members of the Fulani community. A daring act of utmost impunity that garnered so much influence. Till this day, very little has been done to bring this tribal jingoist to justice or any of the people he was successful in influencing in aggressively pursuing the order he issued. Another punch inflicted on the face and dignity of an Arewa community.
These actions are not isolated. A dailytrust report on Wednesday 9th of June, 2021 stated that OPC bandits have successfully attacked, injured and even killed some members of Fulani community residing in the south-west. If one is reported, who knows how many more missed the headlines? The Nigerian press is not particularly sympathetic to the narrative of Arewa and its people. The Arewa people have learned to accept that without grudge, because part of it can be attributed to the region’s failure to invest in media. So the bias is anticipated, expected and understood. Not accepted but understood. Good media must be fair and balanced. A good media must be ethical in its pursuit. I think in the case of Nigeria, the precedent set has been deprived of those noble qualities. Most of these media outlets are the propaganda wing of some tribes and faith.
It has even gotten to a point that the ridicule, insult and hate speech projected to the Arewa people and its predominant religion are accepted as norm on social media platforms and in aired public opinions. People no longer have to look over their shoulders before they could drop outrageous hate comments and speeches, they are encouraged and given applause. All this while we remain the people with the largest land mass and population. All this we accept while our dignity and rights to freedoms of movement, settlement, speech etc. are guaranteed by the law of the land.
They are many people that are unwilling to persevere. Some of us that are unwilling to forgive and accept. Some of us willing to reciprocate. To those I convey the message of “Lion of the desert”, Umar Mukhtar, “they are not our teachers”. We do not learn from them. We do not import their vile hatred for us and allow it to colonize our hearts. We wish them to prosper and we wish them tranquility and peace in their lands. Even after all the harm inflicted, injuries endured and deaths we have mourned, we wish them multiplicity and health.
For teachings and influence we are not starved of. We are sufficed in that department. We have the teachings of the father of Fatima, the most beautiful in behaviors and the most worthy of emulation. We will get our guidance from him. When he stepped into Makkah as its captor after years of their manipulation, injury and wickedness towards his blessed self and his companions, he did not come with aggression and vengeance. No. He came with forgiveness and mercy. So did the noble Salahaddin Al-Ayyubi when he conquered Jerusalem. He forgave the crusaders who butchered muslims civilians and smashed babies against the wall. These are our teachers! There are our influencers!!
Mallam Naini Musa
Mallam Naini Musa is a writer and a social critic.
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