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Monday, December 17, 2012

From My Facebook Wall (4): Social Media and Our Integration

Social Media and Our Integration By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde Do you truly want peace in Nigeria and in the North especially? Are you truly concerned about the deterioration of our communal understanding across tribes and faiths especially in the North? Are you ready to take practical steps to contribute in our peaceful coexistence without waiting for the government or our so called leaders to do someth ing? Do you know that you can achieve a lot in this regard without resort to bogus conventions and high cost? I guess your answer to all these questions is “Yes”. Now, come with me. This is the way. The social media way. First, let me awaken you to one reality. Check the list of friends that you have on Facebook for example. If you are a Christian, count the number of Muslims you have on the listand work out the percentage. If you are a Muslim, check out how many Christians you have on your list. If you are from the Northwest, see how many friends do you have from the Northeast or Northcentral that do not belong to your religion. If you are from the Northcentral or Northeast, do the same. If you are a Fulani, see what percentage of Beroms you have as friends. The gap that the devil and his agents has created between us will immediately unveil itself before you. The result? Of course, you will have more friends from your religion or tribe. This is normal. However, you are likely to find out that the number of friends you have from other religions is very likely to be between 3 and 10% only. If you have beyond that, you have done well and you deserve my thumb. Please let anyone that has more than 10% intimate me. I have something for him. If you post a comment, see how many Nigerians from the other divide respond to it. Very small. That tells you akwai problem. Babba kuwa! I can forgive a Muslim from the Northwest for not having plenty Christian friends. But I will not forgive anyone - and myself - from the Northeast or Northcentral for having less than 30% of his friends coming across his tribal and religious group. That is because the Northwesterner can be excused for his more homegenous environment but the other two are living in areas that are heteregenous. They have schooled with children and students of different faiths. Why would they now as adults have an unforgiveable negligible number of them as friends? The answer lies in the existence of two groups of people that have worked hard to divide us. The first group are our political and tribal leaders who have failed to live up to their responsibility and instead use our differences to create the huge gaps that breed suspicion; the suspicion in turn breeds hate and, finally, the hate breeds violence. These people in most cases got the best out of this country but are presently rewarding it with destruction. Their mission is to destroy, not to build. The second group are clerics who are hungry for money and power. They cannot find a better place for realising their dream except in the houses of God – the madrasas, seminaries, mosques and churches. Innocent children and unsuspecting masses – Muslims and Christians alike – are injected lethal levels of toxic doctrines of hate and abusive language against anyone that does not belong to our faith, as if our God is not one, as if religion’s primary mission is hate and not love, violence and not peace. Exalted is God, far above what we ascribe to Him as a result of our little understanding and selfish interests. We are the perpetual victims of any crises they instigate, while they remain free. We die in our scores, while the live to ride their jeeps and fly their jets the following morning. We must stop them by building what will frustrate them. Peace. Salam. Shalom. Now, the issue is: If we were hitherto captives to these leaders because they control the airwaves and religious milieus, our liberator is here. We can reclaim our freedom, if we indeed are interested in our liberty. The social media accords us the opportunity to reach out to others, correct our wrong perceptions of them and forge a path of unity for a better future worthy of bequeathing to our children. We can have no excuse. The social media, especially the Facebook, gives the full details of the other Nigeria we could not access before, from far and near. It tells us their names, show us their beautiful African faces, gives us their addresses through which we can instantly contact them, including, in many cases, even the telephone number we can use to speak to them. It accords us, with just a tap of our finger, the opportunity to become their friends, something that would have taken so much effort to achieve before. What are we waiting for then? This is the time to liberate ourselves from the clutches of those who have failed us. Together we can open a new chapter in the book of life that we write daily. The social media gives us the opportunity to first interact virtually and then physically until the atmosphere of fear that looms over our land and minds is replaced with the eternal breeze of understanding, love and justice. One to one, or collectively, we can discuss anything here under the sun without the barriers that estranged us. Together we can fight for the cause of justice and together we will build the bridges of understanding that are necessary for our peaceful coexistence. So let us invite as many friends as possible from divides other than ours. Let us confirm their invitation too with the speed of light. Let us always engage them, sometimes privately if we feel the discussion is likely to be misunderstood. Let us share our views and understandings of national but especially of local events around us, with an objective mind that is divorced of those toxins which were injected into our bloodstream by the two groups of power seeking Nigerians I mentioned before. Let us walk the extra mile to meet with the friends in our immediate vicinity and, if possible, even with those a far, individually and without recourse to convening meetings that will require resources that we may not have. Let each of us do this. Let me see the Muslims and Christians in the North take these honest, bold and practical steps. Let me see the improved variety in the composition of our list of friends on the social media. Let our accounts be more cosmopolitan and reflective of the ethnic and religious diversity of our region. And before we know it, our gaps would become bridged and peace will reign in our minds and environment. Together we will build a better North and a stronger Nigeria, our own way, different from the failed one constructed by the generation above us. As for me, my Facebook list is full. 5001. I am not permitted to add more friends. So I have opened a page that will enable me receive a limitless number of friends. You are welcome not only to add me as a friend but also to post on it anything you think will foster our unity and peaceful coexistence. Please do not be afraid to discuss any issue. If you are wrong together we will correct you; if you are right, I will defend you against any undeserving attack. Feedback My last weekend’s trip to Ganye, Adamawa State, for our 50th Anniversary of GSS Ganye was most rewarding. I had the opportunity to meet with my former classmates, breathe the wonderful air of the Benue Basin, enjoy the exceptionally beautiful scenery of the Northeast and see the charming faces our people. The visit has sprouted in me fresh buds of respect and love for our diversity and also renewed my commitment to our unity. I look forward to more of such visits in the near future. But, meanwhile, let us not hesitate to meet here in the social media, every day, hour, and minute. It is our Tahrir Square, our square of freedom. 13 December 2012 30

1 comment:

saadatu abdullahi said...

I couldn't agree more with this peace. I had the privilege of attending a federal government secondary school. though it was located in the North where i come from,we were drawn from all over Nigeria and it was such a beautiful experience to see and feel the mutual love between all of us back then.We sang the Igbo folktale songs, we danced the Yoruba dances, we were in tuned with the south south culture(very beautiful dance moves), we even had the honour of living with the Namibian and South African students that were been sponsored by the Nigerian Government as part of her struggle to free those governments from the then Apartheid regimes.

I still dream of those beautiful times and it saddens me that my kids may not have that opportunity in present day Nigeria.

We still keep in touch with my southern school mates and we have always wondered where the Hatred and Intolerance is coming from?