Sunday, October 24, 2021

OP-ED: My Kafanchan, Our Southern Kaduna: Let's Embrace Peace For Humanity's Sake, By Femi Ayeni

I was born in Kafanchan a little more than 50years ago and have lived practically all my life there.
I had Elementary Education at Baptist (later LEA Bakin Kogi 2) Primary School. I then had classmates and friends who were Christians and Muslims, who were Idoma, Igbo, Bajju, Fulani, Yoruba, Kataf, Hausa, Edo and more, but which we never noticed. I remember we went to school together and played the truants together; potato-digging, swimming in little streams like rafin Baptist, rafin CMS, rafin tsale, rafin malaika etc. In the pack of happy-go-lucky boys and girls we had Ahmed, Dodo, Sunday, Elisha, Abubakar, Dayo, Femi, Naomi, Dije, Mary, Rukayya and others. Yes, we also went to Islamic school and Church together, in KAFANCHAN. No one ever told me I was a Christian and Saidu was a Muslim, i never heard anyone refer to Dodo as Bajju and Rukayya as Hausa or Fulani, we were one.
We grew up together and proceeded to various Secondary schools. Mine was Government Day Secondary School (now Government Girls' Secondary School), Takau, Kafanchan.I was one of the pioneer students of that school where we had a predominant Christian population of students and staff. We had Christian prayers during assembly and no one ever complained. We had a Muslim Headboy (Shuaibu Abdulahi) appointed by Christian teachers throughout our 5 years and no one complained. All female students  wore skirts or gowns above the knee and no one complained. Boys and girls sat together in class, no one complained.We were happy, no one could tell us apart based on creed or tribe.We had our social nights together and Martha visited Aisha at home while Sadiq and Elisha also exchanged visits without fear.
Later as undergraduates we partied together during the holidays when we came back from our various schools.Parties and picnics organized by groups made up of Muslim and Christian youths; "The Big Ten", led the pack back then, followed by "The Malis" and others. We all had fun together. Abdulahi was never scared of Shedrach and Ladodo was very comfortable with Abel. Mohammed dated Evelyn while Aishat and Paul were known to be lovers. We were not Christians or Muslims, neither were we Bajju nor Fulani, we were simply happy, hardworking, fun-loving Southern Kaduna Youths, yes, just young Nigerians.

Then we had religious processions without molestation or harrassment;The Catholic church had theirs, my church, Cherubim and Seraphim in our flowing white garments also had ours, sometimes as late as 2:am on Easter Eve accross the streets of Kafanchan, we marched and danced through Emir road, past the main market, Danhaya Street, Hospital road, Magajiya Street and other places unescorted by the Police and unmolested. Muslims sometimes had theirs too. All through the streets without incidence. We associated and worshipped freely, in KAFANCHAN, in Southern Kaduna because we loved and respected one another without bias to religion and tribe.
In those early years I couldn't tell Hausa and Kataf apart.

I thought Dangoma and Goska were one because there was no war. I didn't know the difference between Catholics and Pentecostal Christians because i was taught we belonged to one body of Christ. Nobody told me there was a difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, i saw them as brothers.

CAN and IJN were non-political. PDP and APC were not religions.
But now they are.
Things have fallen apart in our beloved homeland, in my Southern Kaduna.
But the centre may still hold if WE STOP THE KILLINGS AND STOP SPREADING HATE.
If we reason together we can #BRING BACK OUR SOUTHERN KADUNA.
#BRING BACK THE PEACE.

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