By Donu Kogbara
LAST week, I published a sad letter I’d received from a Northern Christian from Borno State. He complained about myriad injustices that the Muslim majority had been inflicting on his people, whom he described as a silently suffering voiceless minority. And I, ever-eager to leap to the defence of the oppressed, sympathised.
I was really surprised by what happened next.
Firstly, a Fulani friend called me to say that he had seen the article and discussed it with some fellow Muslims…and that they had all felt bad and agreed that Christians are often treated very unfairly in the North.
Secondly, I forwarded the article to a few Northern Christian friends, in case they hadn’t had a chance to read it in Vanguard. But, amazingly, they all studiously ignored it. NOT ONE of them has gotten back to me to express an opinion.
I also posted the article on my Facebook page, expecting online reactions from some members of the group I’d written about so passionately. But nobody got in touch to say: “I am a Northern Christian and here are my views about the issues you raised.” The only responses that were posted on my Facebook page came from individuals who spoke about Northern Christians from an outsider’s perspective.
Meanwhile, there has also been no feedback whatsoever – no texts or emails that agree or disagree with the contents of my article – from any Northern Christian Vanguard reader. And I find this dogged, stony muteness extraordinary!
Food for thought came from a Facebook respondent who made the following remarks: The Northern non-Muslim is neither as oppressed, nor as marginalized, as is being made out in the article. If they are, then they certainly don’t act it.
Have you considered the pattern of voting in the last elections? Did it reflect desperate hunger and action for freedom from a discontented oppressed? No, it was a thunderous vote of confidence in their so-called oppressors!
What many of us may not appreciate is that it is a relationship of non-equals with both parties fully assenting to their position in the status quo…and that when the chips are down, there is a perfect, unspoken understanding between the Northern Muslim and Christian, regardless of whatever minor differences they may sometimes have, that is akin to the understanding between a husband and his wife.
And who doesn’t know that the person who presents himself/herself as an arbiter in a husband/wife dispute usually ends up being sacrificed by the “disputants” when they settle?!
I would be inclined to believe the above claim that most Northern Christians are essentially fond of their Muslim neighbours and basically happy with their lot in life if any Northern Christian had expressed approval of the above Facebook post.
But none did.
I would have suspected that the immensely aggrieved Borno gentleman who wrote to me was an exception to the rule if any Northern Christians had said, “Don’t mind him.”
But none did.
I’d have concluded that at least some Northern Christians feel like victims of Muslim supremacism if any of them had echoed the Borno gentleman’s concerns.
But none did.
The point I’m making is that I cannot draw any conclusions about the mindset of the average Northern Christian, within the context of his or her interactions with Northern Muslims, because no Northern Christians, except the guy who wrote the angry missive that triggered off my article, have shared their feelings with me.
As a journalist who is regularly approached by the general public, I can assure you that it really isn’t normal for an entire sub-section of the population to purse its lips and say absolutely nothing when controversial comments relating to its collective status and welfare are being highlighted in public fora.
And I wonder why they are so reluctant to participate in conversations about their own existences…and why they are so docile, even when they are being cheated!
I’ve been told that there has only ever been one Christian judge in the history of the Borno State judiciary. And I hear that some Northern Christians have converted to Islam in a desperate bid to improve their career prospects.
I certainly wouldn’t sell out and ditch my religion – or quietly tolerate ongoing chronic injustice – if I were in their shoes. And nor would my kith and kin.
Where I come from, the downtrodden would make big trouble, loudly file petitions and take to the streets, waving placards. But I guess that not everyone is as combative as Ogonis and Niger Deltans. And though we are sometimes wrong and can be utter pains in the neck, you have to admit that we are quite courageous!
The Secretary to the Federal Government – Babachir David Lawal – is a Northern Christian from Adamawa; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives – Yakubu Dogara – is a Northern Christian from Bauchi. And they haven’t converted. So it’s not, on reflection, as if Northern Christians are being completely bypassed.
Have the handful of Northern Christians who have attained high office done enough for their own kind? I don’t have a clue. All I can say is that I wish the resoundingly discreet, self-gagging Christians in the North the best of luck.
Fayose’s weird obsession with the First Lady
Is Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State OK?
For the past few months, he has been falsely insisting that Mrs Aisha Buhari was indicted in the Halliburton scandal and cannot enter America for fear of arrest.
When Madame cheerfully travelled to America a few days ago, Fayose’s spokesman ridiculously insisted that the photos that proved that she was there were fake.
I am not an unconditional supporter of the Buhari administration and I’m all for opposition leaders challenging governments in power because opposition is good for democracy and because governments in power often need to be challenged.
But there’s a world of difference between intelligent constructive criticism and sheer madness! And I will be very grateful if Fayose and his sidekicks can find better things to make noise about and stop wasting our time with stupid slanderous stories and childish tittle-tattle that totally lacks credibility.