When I wrote the articles Getting Ready to Islamise Nigeria? (http://wp.me/p1bOKH-BE) and The Complaints: Getting Ready to Islamise Nigeria? (http://wp.me/p1bOKH-BT), it was taken by many as mischief with a keyboard or a pen. Muslims denied any attempts at an Islamisation of Nigeria and Christians compatriots said it was neither possible nor even thinkable. As I have said before the Islamisation of Nigeria will be ‘structural’ or ‘institutional’, not ‘martial’ as some unwittingly expect. Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) is now being completely removed as a subject from the national academic curriculum while Islamic Religious Studies (IRS) and Arabic Studies (AS) remain. Why not ban Use of English Language from the curriculum too? History was taken out some time ago.
As Antonio Gramsci said of ‘cultural hegemony’ three institutions are used to control and dominate a people (a) religion, (b) education and (c) voluntary organisations; those institutions that channel the way societies think and expect. Islam is already the dominant religion of Nigeria with concessions at best given to Christians to pacify them, but not always. Sometimes the Islamic domination of Nigeria is blatant and unrepentant as is very visible within the political economy, government, ceremonial expenditure and some areas where merit is dismissed in favour of filling quotas. Christians are often left playing ‘catch-up’ by being the ‘ever-complainers’ often hoping for the next concession that would be gifted to them by the Muslim counterparts. In the Nigerian face of Islam, Christians are rendered powerless but worthy. Worthy seems to be a good enough status for Christians in Nigeria, what more could they ask for?
Education is an interesting phenomenon in Nigeria. The national education curriculum we have in schools today was started in the 19th Century by foreign and local Christian missionaries. The first schools in Nigeria were Baptist Academy (1855); CMS Grammar School (1859); Methodist Boys High School (1878) and Methodist Girls High School (1879), all in Lagos. There were no Muslim equivalents anywhere in the country. In fact, for Muslims to attend such schools up to the 1960s they had to convert to Christianity. It was then more convenient for these converts to bear the Christian equivalent of their Muslim name to prove their commitment to the new faith. Double first names like Joseph Yusuf, Moses Musa and Solomon Sule or David Bashir, Marie Maryam and Edward Mustafa are relics of that era. Now that certain Muslims in Nigeria have acquired Christian-centred Western education are they now trying to make it pro-Islam?
It is now a humiliation to the senses that through mechanisms of political domination that the very foundation of education in Nigeria, Christianity, is being kicked out of the national academic curriculum while IRS and AS remains as subjects. It is not as if Christianity is going out of fashion or Arabic is a fashionable international language. How did the education chiefs come up with such a policy and what for? Please, those who claim that the only reason for such policy is the “structural Islamisation” of Nigeria through the education system, at least in a hegemonic sense, can be forgiven. Is any other sense or perspective as important?
Islamic voluntary organisations (IVOs) that operate in Nigeria have always been routinely overlooked or underestimated by Christians. Most IVOs are educational and intended at proselytisation and revival. They get funding from federal, state and local governments, rich Middle East nations, other foreign donors and local donors. I cannot give any figures on the estimated or actual amounts of money IVOs receive in donations, however, considering the mosques and centres built, conferences held and attended, scholarships offered, training provided, visible overheads and ceremonial expenses the total sum [annually] has to be staggering. However, since the effectiveness of these IVOs are not centred on material achievement but consciousness building, the Christian South and Christian others are naturally oblivious to it.
These are the channels of hegemony in action as observed.
Can Christians and Muslims not pursue their separate religions and the necessary education involved peacefully without a supremacy battle? Such is a non-question. One would think in a democracy the right and freedom to religious education is normal, but Nigeria’s brand of democracy is too particular to be so. Islamisation in the modern day is an arduous task fraught with many challenges, requiring clarity of vision and efficient execution and lots of money and the prevailing democracy will permit it. It appears that the Muslim hegemons are always many steps ahead in the race for religious supremacy.
Nevertheless, Christians in Nigeria will yet again have to play ‘catch up’ with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other ‘worthy’ Christians protesting for the restoration of Christian Religious Knowledge to the national academic curriculum. And the Muslim hegemons will have the delight of saying ‘Ye’ or ‘Nay’. By the time Arabic will be a necessary requirement for getting employment into certain positions in government…