The North is an orphan. Part 1
By Abdulmumin Giwa
An orphan is literally that minor whose father is late. This is because he is seen to have lost some life’s basic support that would make him into a man. A person that has lost his mother is generally not seen as an orphan as he who has lost his father.
Northern Nigeria is that orphan that has lost both parents and is left wandering in the wilderness while all his supposed relations only seek to squeeze life out of it.
The north I am referring to here is that of Nigeria that is comprised of three of the six geo-political zones and housing 19 of the 36 states of the federation. It is also predominantly Hausa/Fulani although there are other tribes including Yoruba. It is predominantly Muslim in religion although there are a lot of Christians. Its population as well as its land mass, which is generally fertile, could be placed on an average of 60 percent of the entire country.
It has a history of being an Islamic Empire established about 200 years ago by the Islamic revivalist and scholar Sheikh Uthman bn Fodio. The Empire was destroyed with the advent of colonialists from England, a situation that kept the region under colonial rule for over half a century before an amalgamation that brought about the current state after independence.
The north is so shattered that it’s like it has no owner, nobody cares for it in such a way that it reflects the entire poverty being suffered in the country. Most of the youth in the region have no hope for a better future in most of the communities and there is nobody that cares for them and their plight.
The norht’s politicians, its religious scholars especially Muslims, its elites, its businessmen and others have since adopted a negative philosophy of exploiting the north for their own personal benefits. Any time one hears any one of them calling the north (Arewa) there is something he is aiming to benefit as an individual. They never engage in any projects that will benefit the poverty stricken populace of the region.
The north has the worse socio-religious set-up with highest numbers of divorced women and beggars, unemployed youth and the worse and lowest access to education and entrepreneurial skills. They are more of a bunch of neglected and wasted human resources all because of their greedy, selfish and unpatriotic leaders.
Talking about the issues raised recently that have to do with resolving the problem of Almajiris in which children are abused and exposed to a lot of social ills, the northern leaders and elites in pretense make all efforts to blame it on the myopic populace claiming that they are making efforts to resolve the problem.
The Almajiri system is known as the Timbuktu system of learning that has produced a lot of scholars in history. Such scholars that include linguists and calligraphists that invented the Hausa alphabets called ‘Ajami’ that have aided literary works, it founded Khadis, Philosophers, Jurists experts in logic, sociology and medicine that have produced literary reference materials. The system provided access to the science of Quranic memorization and exegesis.
In the past the system was supported by the state with state resources called ‘Baitulmal’. More so the scholars had warehouses of grains that are preserved after every harvest of which the students learn the sciences of agriculture while in such Almajiri centers. They never go to beg on the streets. In fact in some of the communities state visitors are hosted in such Almajiri centers because they had enough resources.
The plight of the Almajiris started with the coming of colonialism during which the system was destroyed and forcefully uprooted from its base. The colonialists saw the Almajiri system of education as a threat to their colonial plans and had to destroy it. This led to the total neglect of the Almajiri system and the introduction of a new colonial system of education funded by taxes extorted from the ordinary populace.
Almajiri scholars in the past have written many books that were either destroyed by the colonialists or stolen by them. It was such that an entirely new curriculum was introduced that gave credence to the ideals of the colonialists. They changed the true history of the region and taught lies they have concocted in the newly introduced educational system.
Such lies included telling people that the north’s major pride, which was the revolution that founded a fast developing empire led by Sheikh Uthman bn Fodio, the Islamic revivalist was a ‘Fulani Jihad’ and not an Islamic Revolution. Bn Fodio actually led an Islamic revolution under which an Islamic Empire was established with complete social, political, economic and judicial systems operating. There were schools, courts, industry and the military as well as law enforcement and functional law and order in the empire. Even the colonialists attested to the fact that they met a level of development and a functional system across the Niger River.
Before the coming of the colonialists nobody in the north was walking about naked because there was already in place the science of textile technology, there was architecture that constructed colorful and artistic walls and even storey buildings called ‘soro’ in places like Kano.
The colonialists as part of their colonial activities distorted the history of the north in a deliberate attempt at killing it’s future by inducing the fake belief that everything started in the region with the coming of the colonialists. They gave wrong impressions of the past and trained elites to keep their new system alive.
The colonialists actually under-developed the north by removing it from the right course of development, freedom, independence and progress, to the course of retrogression, domination, dependence and under-development. Those who learnt all they know from the colonialists in the name of being educated might find it difficult to understand these facts because of the mind-set on which they have been placed both by colonialism and neo-colonialism as well as inferiority complex induced in them.
One would wonder how the colonialists were able to achieve setting the region on the path of retrogression. Actually it was not that easy because was not without resistance. They fought a popular war in this regard in 1903 at a place called Giginya near Sokoto from where they used more advanced killing machines to forcefully install themselves and put in place new leaders loyal to them.
The northerners were not traded like slaves, it was the case of a sovereign nation forcefully taking over another sovereign nation in the name of colonization. The newly established system and authority naturally neglected the Almajiri system of education in such a way that such centers had to rely on other sources to survive to continue to keep the religious education alive. The Almajiri system of learning is better described as a casualty of colonialism. That is the beginning of the plight of the north and that is why it has no patriots. It has been cut off from its roots and history and has been disallowed to get to exploit and benefit the newly introduced system.