OPINION: Hijab: Learn to Respect your Host: A response to Rev, Dr. Victor of Baptist Church. By Alhaji Aikhore
I have followed the Hijab Saga with a rather dispassionate interest, knowing fully well that the issue could be resolved administratively between the Government and the State branch of CAN.
I was, however, grossly irritated by the recent claim by the the President of the State Baptist Conversation, Rev, Doc. Victor S.A. Quoting him, he raged, "The schools are our heritage and legacy bequeath into us by our no fore-fathers." What a thoughtless submission! Judging by his level of education, and (probable) exposure, one would have expected a better reasoning level from him. His claim to "legacy" calls to question his level of knowledge of history, and thinking faculty. He ought to know that, if he and his cohorts have a legacy claim on the church, some other people have a legacy claim on the ancient city of Ilorin as a Muslim, and Islamic city. He may not know, but his " fore-fathers probably know that some people made sacrifice to make Ilorin the world-acclaimed Islamic city of peace and harmony, as it is known today. One must commend, and be grateful to the Ilorin fore-fathers who, inspite of their Islam, conceeded such vast a parcel of land to Rev. Dr's fore-fathers to build their schools and the church for a pittance. Of course, not many indigenes would want to have their children, or wards attend the Christian Mission schools in those days, for fear of conversion to a faith different from theirs. But, even at that time, the few who understood, still sent children to schools such as Mont Camel, and Baptist, among others.
I, personally, do not see the Hijab thing as an issue. It looks like creating a storm in a cup of tea.
For the avoidance of doubt, I am a product of Roman Catholics. They form me from my elementary through my secondary schools, though not in Nigeria.
At my secondary school, I was allowed to contribute Islamic articles in the school's quarterly Magazine. My first piece was on Surat Iqlas, where I discussed the "Trinity". My principal invited me to his office to explain my write-up. I did and he allowed its publication. I love the Roman Catholics, because they understand religion. If it were the like of Dr Victor, he might have asked for my head after rusticating me. My principal gave me access to a voluminous copy of the Canon Law, which I found to be very close to the Muslim Shariah Law.
Those who know me would testify that I am not a bigot, either in religion or ethnicity. I don't even discriminate on the basis culture, traditions or social strata.
My best friend is an Omuaran Christian. I made him my Best-Man during my wedding officiated by well know Islamic Clerics here in Ilorin.
I wish Dr Victor would appreciate that the prerogative of formulating Education Policy rests solely on the broad shoulders of the State Government. And, with the take-over of all Mission Schools, ( Christian and Muslims), government should be allowed to play its role. Hijab has nothing to erode from the standard and status of any school. Thank God Christians are not being compelled to wear Hijab. And even among Muslims, it is only those who wish to wear it that are permitted to do so. So, where lies the problem?
My concern in writing this piece is to stimulate Dr Victor's level of reasoning and let him realise that when he thinks about the legacy of his fore-fathers, he should not ignore that there is a superseding legacy of Ilorin as an ancient Islamic City bequeathed to the Ilorin people, which the people have the right to defend. What I think Dr Victor lacks is the right sense of history. But I think this write-up will do him some good. Shalom!
By Alhaji Aikhore, a former editor with the Herald Newspaper and veteran journalist