ON THE LORD’S SIDE is a Christian engagement with news and culture. Listen or read below.
What’s the Question in Kwara State?
By now, many of us in Nigeria are aware of the unrest and tensions in Kwara State, Nigeria. A video that trended on social media last week suggested that both Muslim and Christian groups clashed, throwing stones over a recent policy allowing Muslim girls to wear hijabs in government schools that were founded by Christian denominations.
The way a question is framed often betrays, often indicates the leanings and preferences of the questioner? Trial lawyers know that very well.
So, someone taking the side of the Christians in the on-going unrest in Kwara State would frame the question this way: Should Muslim schoolgirls be allowed to wear hijabs to schools, even schools that were historically founded by Christian organizations?
And someone rooting for the hijab in Kwara State schools would pose the question this way: shouldn’t Muslim schoolgirls be allowed to dress to school according to their religious preferences? Or, does dressing according to religious preferences interfere with learning and the primary purpose of schooling?
And the Kwara State Government which, in my opinion, is solely responsible for the so-called hijab unrest has been framing the question this way: should a religious denomination be able to prevent the government from approving a particular form of dressing in schools that are wholly owned and fully funded by the government even though they were founded by that religious denomination?
That’s the way the Kwara State Government is framing the question. Legally, it’s a smart way to frame it. But it’s open secret that the Kwara State Government is being smart by half.
The question is: what was the position of things before the introduction of this new policy that allows the wearing of hijabs in schools that were historically founded by Christian denominations though they are now wholly owned and fully funded by government. What was the position? Before this new policy, were students of both faiths not co-mingling, co-studying and graduating …in peace before the introduction of this policy?
So, the Kwara State Governments should, in recognition of the historical sacrifices and investments made by Christian denoinations, reverse this policy. Those who feel strongly about their wards adhering to a strict Islamic code of dressing should be allwed to enroll their wards in other public schools. It is bad and sad enough that the great injustice of 1973 remains unredressed in Nigeria, that is, the take over of missionary schools by the government in 1974 by the decree of the then-government of General Obasanjo.
Having said that, the greater preoccupation of people on the Lord’s Side should be this: To train our children to be the light of Jesus in this world such that, even if they have to co-study with hijab wearing girls, those hijab wearing girls will go out knowing in the deepest recess of their hearts that their Christian counterparts are truly the children of light.
It profits to seek to honour the legacy and sacrifices of our missionaries by opposing the acceptance of hijabs in the schools they founded, but the greatest honour to their legacy and to the name of Christ will be to raise a generation that shines the light of Christ in the hearts and minds of even hijab-wearing students.
If this is our pre-occupation, a thousand hijabs in our schools would simply fuel the light of the gospel.