21st November  2002


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21st November  2002 : The Day Kaduna Began To Boil



Samuel Peter Aruwan



Kaduna State is indeed a melting pot of Nigerian politics. It is also a mini Nigeria , because people of different ethnic groups dwell here. There is even this aphorism that "When Kaduna catches cold, the nation freezes". Kaduna is a building ground to success and fulfilling life desires and ambitions. Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the astute labour leader started his unionism here in Kaduna , then rose to national and international lime light.


Late Chief Bola Ige the late icon and sage, did his early primary schools here in Kaduna . The revered Catholic priest Matthew Kukah cut his priesthood teeth here in Kaduna ; the rest is history of his exploits in international discuss related to religion and politics. Don't also forget that Kaduna is a home to many prominent Nigerians and foreigners. However it has the renown Ahmadu Bello University , Kaduna Polythechnic, Kaduna State Polythecnic,  Nigerian Defence Academy etc on its soil.


Anywhere Nigeria recorded victory in the sport arena, there are always Kaduna siblings. The first Nigerian footballer to won the prestigious African footballer of the year and the first Nigerian to score a goal in world cup, talking about Rashid Yekini was a product of Kaduna soccer college. However of 18 Olympians that did win football gold medal at Atlanta Olympic games,  five of them were Kaduna siblings.


I can go on and on. Kaduna has a lot of things to look at and feel proud of being associated with the fertile ground. Life used to be good and memorable one, why? Because there were not sentiments and animosity. Any place that could have all that Kaduna possessed would of course rely on its possessions to harness good living and peaceful co-exsitence.


Having come this far, one wishes to digress . Today I remembered with nostalgia on how we used to blend with our Muslim friends. We were younger than now, and thought nothing about our differences. We moved freely from Kabala West to Angwan Muazu, Rigasa and Tudun Wada without any religious or ethnic animosity. But today life has changed for there are now Christians and Muslim quarters, how and why?


Answers to these questions still hunt one. One was only forced to write because things are getting worse by the day and right and effective mechanisms are not being put in place to curb this cancer that has gotten deep into our body of life, despite our religiosity. For everyday I am watching with deep pain the way the so called conflict managers or experts are making capital profits out of the situation. They claimed they know and have answers to what does precipitate the fracas, but on the other way they exacerbate the complex issue, amounting to further igniting chaos.


What carnage began on 21st November 2002 and continued for several days was very emphatic and frustrating. The whole issues revolves around an allegation, that one Isioma Daniel a journalist with ThisDay newspaper wrote a piece on Saturday November 16 that blasphemed prophet Mohammed (SAW). The said unrest started like a child's play but has left many tragedies to mourn for life. Houses were burnt and looted, human beings butchered akin to animals in abattoir. Why was the crisis coming after almost a week of the said blaspheme? Is it that some people capitalize on the write up? How many of our people who indulge in the crisis, can afford newspapers, digest their contents and come out with a common resolution? Why would people who have lived together for time find any "solace" in killing one another?


This brings to my memory a particular question, a friend of mine asked me, in the heat of the said matter. He asked Sam "Is religion a blessing or a curse?"  I then answered saying, "religion is in the life of every society, if it is being practiced with sincerity and honesty, it will positively reflect in the society and then there would be peace, development and of course good moral way of life. But once religion becomes just a tool to achieve political interests or desire, far from its original form then, it will detonate unrest, agony, poverty, instability and mal-administration and bad governance."


Sudan is an example of this. When Nimeiry discovered his loosing of legitimacy and acceptability, he quickly adopted religious law as a cover to extend his political mileage. El-Mahadi, the former Sudanese prime minister confirmed this during the Association of Muslims Intellectuals annual lecture sometimes the rest are now history as we all know of the instability in Sudan .  The same for Chiluba who sometimes as declared Zambia as a Christian state, all was to extend his political mileage. Today he has been running from many troubles from divorce to allegation of corruption.


Those who orchestrated conflicts should think of its consequences, children becoming orphans and destitute, women become widows and men becoming widowers. This brings to my memory a neighbor whose wife was killed barely days after giving birth. Of what gain would one benefit after masterminding such evil acts? There are many things our diversity can positively work than to brew sorrow and hatred. We should by now learn to live together peacefully along with love and compassion for this are right before God. All those who do cause havoc should know that it is not part of religious obligations to do what they are doing, for they shall face God's judgment here or hereafter. For God's case has no provision for appeal.


We should stop capitalizing on controversial issues to disintegrate our society, because we don't know who will fall victim,  it could be the master minders or their siblings. Rather we should use complex situations to harmonize true concept of pluralism. True religion is not all about being too attached with religion, but strictly adhering to the laid down rules and regulations governing different religion, which is basically being kind, compassionate, showing love and kindness, giving to the needy, doing justice to all, sincerity and honesty etc.   However there is need for our religious bodies to be monitoring the proliferation of these too many clerics who go about inciting and deceiving adherents via their own fabricated theories of religion. Furthermore they are always dishing out unguided and sporadic sermons to the teeming populace, who has less understanding of events. Some of these clerics usually pretend as godly people are known faces who have less religious knowledge and moral balance, and are even allowed through the media especially government owned media to exhibit their ignorance and violent oriented messages that could trigger chaos sooner or later.


As it marks two years of this horrible experience one is optimistic that someday our people would understand all this delicate complex issues, so as to dwell again as it used to be, when I used to visit Tudun-Wada to see Habibu and Shehu ditto them.


Kaduna now has changed from all race quarters to Muslim and Christian quarters, people residing on the basis of religion and ethnic lines. Who will close this gap and reunite us? Is it the so called conflict resolution people who do make capital profit out of our rancor and acrimony? Is it the constituted authority who are only concerned with their political expediencies? Or is it the same people who do engage one another in free for all fights? Is it the religious and traditional leaders who also incite violence and instability? I don't have answers to these questions, please help me. God forgive us for all that occurred here in Kaduna where human life was reduced to nonentity, human beings were murdered, burnt beyond recognition, children and women crying, watching helplessly as life were being scoffed out of their bread winners before their very eyes. Houses, Churches and Mosques being burnt and looted.


May God give us the mind of tolerating and accommodating one another and the mind to do justice to all irrespective of diversity. For peace can only be where there is justice and equity.


I am dedicating this piece to all who lost their precious lives in the crisis and those who experienced one misery or the other.


Samuel Peter Aruwan


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