By Bamidele Ademola-Olateju
Your Majesty, I wish to congratulate you on ascending the throne of your forefathers. Long may you reign in peace. Sir, you have proved your impressive intellectual and political stamina, it is time for you to leave politics for politicians. You prepared your life for this moment and you have made history. How history will judge you as the leader of your people and a respected voice in Nigeria starts from now. The urgency of now dictates that you use the exalted stool of your forebears to promote education and religious tolerance in Kano and in Northern Nigeria in collaboration with other traditional title holders.
The time has come. No one else can bear the burden better than you. Sir, you are uniquely qualified as an intellectual champion to fashion fundamental educational ideals for your people and as a scholar of religion, you are better equipped to lead the handshake across religions.
Sir, I suggest you begin the internal processes that can catalyze the reduction in the North’s education deficit and the promotion of inter-faith dialogue and tolerance at this critical juncture of our times.
It is time to work for the total absolution from the Original Sin of indifference to Tsangaya and unequal access to education by the Northern elite. Sir, use your pedestal as the cultural custodian of Kanawa’s, an intellectual, a thinker and one of the most influential traditional leaders of the core North to synthesize the convergence of Western Education and Islamic learning. This synthesis must seek to educate across socio-economic classes about the spiritual and material value of schooling and how lack of Western education can perpetuate inter-generational poverty and minimize opportunities for your young demographics.
I submit that the Northern elite did not invent Tsangaya but it sure grants tacit approval to a system that has outlived its usefulness. You can change the sustained socialization of young people into an ideal education that is serving the interest of powerful exploitative groups in the North. Your intervention can begin to dismantle the tripod of poverty, parental neglect and ignorance that are stunting developmental indices in the North.
I appreciate the central position of the Holy Qur’an in the spiritual life of Muslims; but a good leader must take on the unpopular as long as it serves the greater good of the society. With your leadership, the North can record and achieve meaningful “cultural production” and economic capital outside government patronage if you reform the almajirci system. The underlying injustice of it is the major reason Boko Haram festers and has gripped the country.
This country has 8million – 10million boys within the almajirci system. I know you abhor any situation where life batters children early having paid keen attention to your engagements in public intellection. The Tsangaya system subjects children to unimaginable stress and stress.
Life becomes toxic when a child has frequent or prolonged exposure to detrimental experiences like abuse, neglect or poverty without adult support. Majority of the almajirai grow up not having a surer sense of what is important, has meaning and is good because they cannot make a living after their discipleship. They have no formal schooling and have never learnt any trade. There’s nothing noble about being malnourished, going mostly hungry, surviving at the mercy of strangers, prying the waste bins scavenging for food, exposed to the blazing Northern Sun in pursuit of knowledge.
When you walk miles, bowl in hand begging for food, and you can’t get anything decent to eat, it doesn’t matter what your mission is. You just get worn out.
Sir, on the girl child; Africa Health, Human and Social Development Information Service (Afri-Dev. Info), in partnership with African Coalition on Maternal Newborn and Child Health, and Pan African Campaign Against Forced Marriage of Under Age Children, in a landmark study, reported Kebbi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Jigawa, Yobe, Zamfara, Katsina, and Gombe states as having the country’s worst girl child education, highest female illiteracy, highest adolescent girl marriage, highest under 15 child bearing, and highest risk of maternal death and injury.
Sir, your Kano reflects other Northern states with sustained birth rates of about 3.5 per cent. With this surging population are poor indices in school enrolment and graduation rates in early childhood and secondary education. This kind of combinations can only perpetuate rolling poverty and educational disadvantage. You will agree with me that at the root of development is education. There can be no development without it. It has also been said that “there can be no peace without development”. That means there can be no peace without education. If that is true, you can lead the North out of the present economic doldrums if you use your clout to persuade politicians, traditional rulers, the Ulamas, leaders of thought and the educated elite to confront the monstrous challenge of Tsangaya.
I advise you to also fashion out a way to stamp out the culture of institutionalized begging in the North. Begging has continued to stifle the confidence, creativity and mental productivity of your people. You can lead the way to define, measure and validate set accomplishments that will produce cultural, spiritual, social, moral, productive and economic capital to the Northern poor who are the majority. It will take some brass to tackle this issue in a country filled with religion but less with righteous people. A country where religion is all politics.
Bamidele Ademola-Olateju via firstname.lastname@example.org