NORTHERN NIGERIA: THE ALMAJIRI, CULTURE AND THE SOCIAL MALAISE – ANTHONY NWOSU

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To some it might be a cultural shock while to some it is just a normal thing that is seen in the North. The Almajiri kids’ situation is something that we can’t play ostrich again with. It is here and it is spreading in the Northern cities like a wildfire.The nation was awed and disturbed when the picture of Almajiri (children sent to learn Islamic and Arabic solely ) came out eating food on bare and dirty road! These kids in their 8 – 10yrs were eating from from the dirty ground! Parents have spoken out, family planning folks and non governmental groups have called for the  overhaul of Northern Nigeria orientation and their view of child births which is soaring, but one thing of note is that the picture has made Nigerians especially those down in the South to ask “if being a region that presidency came from is a curse or blessing to North. ”

According to Punch News, these children were seen picking up foods from the ground. The excerpt reads Caption this photo. “Almajiris feeding from the bare ground after a minor accident involving a tricycle ND a food vendor at Liberty Junction, GRA, Gombe, Gombe State on Tuesday.
#Nigeriadecides #Nigeriadecides2019”

Almajiri, backwardness , insecurity and lack of competent capacity building isn’t a new thing from the North! In short the North has been backward in the 1950s that they were not eager to have independence that the Southern Nigerian was seeking for! The North in most instances has lost the culture and this high cultural erosion has been replaced by Arabian culture. The North today doesn’t have a distinct culture that is separate from the one stipulated in Islam! Islam isn’t a bad thing anyway, what is bad is the way it has been interpreted in Northern Nigeria far from the way the same religion has been interpreted in places like Doha, Bahrain , Dubai and Malaysia! In these places the have balanced Islam, education and development and today these cities are world class unlike the Northern Nigeria that has turned to retrogression, insecurity, poverty and hunger and above all the humanitarian crisis which international communities such as the  United Nations and Doctors without borders have reported. There have been calls for the need to study some of the progressive Islamic societies of the world. One of the foremost rulers Emir Sanusi has chastised the region and called for a total overhaul, but unfortunately, he seems to be like the lonely voice in the wilderness and we all know that a tree can’t make a forest and that is the situation today. Fortunately, social media has come to rescue! A lot of people have started lending their voices in various social media platforms and the conversation has changed now that the country is planning to take a decisive action that would either make or mare the region in the forth coming presidential election!

With the enviable position as the poorest region in the country, the most insecure region in the country and the most unproductive region! North has come to be the poster card of all what is not good in the country to some extent that is not of their making ! We have desertification to contend with but the most disturbing is the desertification of the mind! According to the statistics and international organisations, the result from the region points negative from high Infant mortality, communicable diseases , child marriage and VVF! These are few of the things that can be associated with the region ! It is that bad but that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost ! With high humanitarian crisis caused by a terrorist group known as Boko Haram this has further deepened the sad story emmanaating from the region and making the some of folks to be embarrassed being associated with such a people , some of these southern food which people might term crazy are Nnamdi Kanu, top of the list! A man from the South Eastern part of the country who is  bent on getting his Biafra country. A country that was carved out in Nigeria and fought Nigeria and have demonstrated technological advancements , this is what Mr. Kanu wishes to resurrect or exhume ! The Nigerian Government has tried all things possible to exorcise the Biafra spirit from the over 38 million Igbo in the country! But like a stubborn spirit Biafra has refused to go so , stakeholders are wondering if Peter Obi factor would pacify this spirit?

Another enfant terrible that is not happy with the association with the Norths is Adeyinka Grandson, not happy with a lot of things , Adeyinka is from the Yoruba clan and about 39 million strong folks ! He has been on Facebook and other social media making pronouncements on his Oduduwa party! Though unlike Kanu many  of  his folks don’t take him serious and they see him as more of a jester than a liberator! But one thing that is of importance to us is that his message are sinking in and the Yoruba youths are listening! We still have a lot of these types in the creeks from Dokubo to Tompolo! One thing that is common with these aforementioned people is that they want either to be out of the country or a total change of narrative.

Though a lot of people have shown displeasure with the way things are turning out in North. The Northern Nigeria has been in power or in the corridors of power from the time immemorial! There have been affirmative Actions and political actions to make them measure up and “man” up to the South in the area of education, capacity building, skill set and many others. The last president , Jonathan from the Southern part of the country took the pains by building tons of schools and mobile or nomadic education that would suit their itinerant lifestyle, but as it seems , they (kids) aren’t interested or the elders don’t want want them to be educated ! Remember the term “Boko Haram” stands for book (Western Education) is Haram ( Sin) as it stands today ! The Almajiri runs amok in the cities of North and possibly they might be a willing tool to be deployed to cause either uprisings and insecurities!

One of the angered citizen is Usman Abdulqadir, he took to Facebook and said that ” l am a northerner, but the sad truth is we the northerners are the number one problem of this country! It is such a shame that the richest man is from the north, the highest number of presidents,  this country have produced re northerners yet unfortunately North is the headquarter of poverty! Anyway,  lets get Nigeria working again!”

Akintoye Ade Abdul Akeem said that “The first time I saw the Almejiri children in Bauchi. I ran away. Why did people tell us that north is better than us in the south? They occupied the presidency longer than any but this is their real face.”

Other Nigerians that are well meaning are visibly angered and they have voiced out . Alan Peters added that “They celebrate poverty and illiteracy as an achievement over there and anyone who tries to rescue them is tagged enemy of the north… It’s unfortunate”

Adewale Adeolu Jisade said that “I was in Kaduna as an observer in the botched general elections, I was in a place called Kabala Doki for pre election surveillance of polling booths. What I saw with Almajiri and the hopelessness in the community shocked me. Something urgent has to be done to help these children.”

Some took to advisory roles and chastised the region. Aliu Bello said that “This is a punch on the face of Arewa, but yet some with obsession will still look at this picture and say that everything is very okey with sending younger ones to #almajiri school when those that go to Arabic schools at home while living with their parents speaks #Arabic fluently and can comprehend and memorize the Qur’an much and more better than those that are send to Almajiri schools elsewhere. “

He concluded that “Again, we give birth to children that we can’t take full responsibilities of, and when some rational minded individuals come out to say that we should be controlling how we give birth in this side of the country, then some individuals with mental dementias will read the comments and get pissed up and starts showering insults alleging that it’s wrong when it’s cristal clear that issues like that happens within the premises of their nose. ”

With a  different perspective, some people have viewed this as humanitarian crisis in ten North. Mass orientation is needed and the conversation should be , education should be encouraged with Islamic studies and using successful countries like Malaysia , UAE and Indonesia as a case study. Others have said that the South should deploy humanitarian efforts and assist the North in all sides from training to orientation of the masses.

According to Henrietta Okoye, She said that “Honestly, whoever took this picture is not better.Why take a picture of the poor kids when you can buy them food and also educate them on the danger of eating from the ground. ”

Anthony Emeka NWOSU

 

 

 

“I was in Kaduna as an observer in the botched general elections, I was in a place called Kabala Doki for pre election surveillance of polling booths. What I saw with Almajiri and the hopelessness in the community shocked me. Something urgent has to be done to help these children.”

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