KANO, the ancient commercial nerve of northern Nigeria, home to the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote and the finest politicians this country has ever seen, the likes of Abubakar Rimi, Aminu Kano and Maitama Sule “danmasaninkano” just to mention but a few.
This great city with all of its impeccable historical antecedents, part of which earned it the nickname “tumbingiwa” (the huge elephant), has struggled to live up to its full potential. Its groundnut pyramids have gone extinct, it’s once thriving hides and skin industry has gone comatose, its numerous industries have become residential estates for the elite and its tye and dye heritage has been reduced to a few pages on historical books taught in a few secondary schools.
As governments, civil society and social entrepreneurs strive to take Kano back to its glory days, a few clerics, overly vocal with antiquated ideas and little apprehension of the city’s potential have become marine drill sergeants barking orders to a gullible populace. These clerics (usually in the minority but seem to have the loudest voices) are bereaved of tangible ideas capable of advancing the lives of people but will stick a clog in wheel of any meaningful and progressive initiative. Their often repugnant and conquistadorial messages have been the chief instigator of many crises that have claimed innocent lives over the years.
To think that these puritans will galvanise public action against a film village capable of creating 4500 jobs but lose their voice to the devastating hunger of children in northern Nigeria particularly those in IDP camps, the millions of almajiris helplessly roaming the streets of Kano or the alarming maternal mortality rate in the north is simply beyond me. Their argument is that the film village will encourage immoral sexual activities and promote the abuse of hard drugs, perhaps, a visit to sabon-gari in Kano will only show how legendary their hypocrisy is. Without the risk of sounding grandiloquent, their ‘monafiki’ is vintage. According to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Kano has the highest drug abuse rate based on number of seizures, arrests of addicts and convictions of arrested dealers.It might also interest you to know that Kano has the highest divorce rate in the country to the extent that the state has to organise and pay for mass weddings to reduce the backlog.
These puritans were vehemently against the fight against polio which was clearly ravaging the society with hundreds of thousands of children losing the use of their hands and feet. They stirred up series of propaganda about the polio vaccines and discouraged parents from having their children inoculated. Imagine the millions of children whose lives will have been dead on arrival if the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and Dangote were not brave and passionate enough to have followed through with the project to eradicate polio. Those clerics should hide their face in shame today knowing that polio in Kano is no more.
It was Ghannouchi the leader of the Islamic party in Tunisia who uttered the following words “we want religious activity to be completely independent from political activity. This is good for politicians because they will no longer be accused of manipulating religion for political means and good for religion because it will not be held hostage to politics”. Morocco, another Muslim nation has tourism representing a key segment of its economic outlook. In 2013, the sector contributed 17.2 billion dollars representing 18.7 percent of the total GDP. When many Muslim nations, like the UAE, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and a host of others are opening their doors to the world and separating religion from politics or socio economic development, Kano state under a secular nation seeks to shut its doors to global trends and advancements ostensibly for religious purposes championed by hypocritical puritans.
These guys were so blind to the fact that a film village hands them a fantastic tool for societal engineering and to shape behaviour. They were so blinded by hypocrisy that they missed out on an opportunity to export ideas, culture and even their religious beliefs via the film village.
I rest my case with the words of my friend and professor of Islamic studies at the Bayero University Kano (but won’t have me mention his name) who opened his Ramadan lecture in 2011, after returning from the United States on a brief trip. “I have been to a non-Islamic country and I have seen real Muslims, I am back to a highly Islamic state and have not found true Muslims”.
It is time these puritans stopped holding us hostage. ‘Allah yataimaka’.
Ayodele Adio a social critic, wrote from Lagos