Taking Sides

One thing that has particularly troubled me in the aftermath of the Jos crisis has been hearing both Christians and Muslims (and all other combinations of this: Hausa/Berom/idigene/settler/outsider/insider) blaming the other “side,” without taking any responsibility for actions committed by their own “side.” I am also troubled by how international mission groups/churches have seemed to use the crisis as a way to further an agenda to “prove” that Muslims are fanatical and hateful and violent, even if this means ignoring the fact that so-called Christians have also been fanatical hateful and violent.  In fact, some of these Christian websites go so far as to deny that Christians took part in the violence and claim that Muslims are inflating the numbers of their own losses, without recognizing that they might be doing the exact same thing.  Even Craig Keener, a family friend and world renowned biblical theologian who has previously written books on peace and conflict resolution and whom I admire a great deal, in an article in Christianity Today ironically titled “The Truth about the Religious Violence in Jos, Nigeria” presented only the “Christian” side of the story he had heard from friends in Jos without doing much investigation on how the other side might view it. Many of the comments on the Christianity Today articles about the crisis from various Christian readers are cringeworthy.

One of the best analyses I have yet seen on the crisis from the R.E.A.L. Organization (Responsibility for Equality and Liberty) takes to task the international faith communities for not doing more to denounce the atrocities committed by their faith communities, pointing out:

But the obvious point to any people of faith who respect each other and respect our universal human rightsis that it really does not matter who “started” the latest conflict. The reports of burned houses of worship, rioters murdering with machetes, gunfire in the street, dead bodies thrown in wells, axes used on little children, warrant shame and international condemnation from both sides and a unequivocal renunciation of religious hate. The Jos riots are a horror story of human beings’ inhumanity to one another, driven by nothing less than blind, unreasoning hatred.

Let me be clear: I am a Christian. As I have mentioned in the past few posts, I know Christians who have lost homes, family members, and churches in these ongoing crises in Jos. In the 2008 crisis, I spent almost a week with Christians in a refugee camp at my parents house. I have the deepest sympathy for them and agree that the international community should pray for and support financially those who have lost so much. But perhaps the international Christian community should expand their compassion to include the many, many Muslims who have suffered as well.

Let me also be clear that, living in Kano and having many Muslim friends, I have heard similar claims by Muslims to the complete innocence of the Hausa community and complete blame against the “vicious and warring local tribesman” (that is a direct quote) of Plateau State. I recently read a poem by a Hausa Muslim acquaintance that I found very disturbing, that cast the settlers as peace-loving civilized people and the indigenes basically as bloodthirsty savages who pass the time by murdering other people. Now, it’s clear that both sides see the other side as having started the crisis and being at fault in it. Both sides dehumanize the other. And this kind of rhetoric, on both sides, will only feed the fires.

I intend my critique to be against all of those who look at only their own side of the story–both Christians and Muslims. However, since I am a Christian, I feel I have a particular responsibility to take my own faith community to task for what seems to be a lack of compassion and a refusal to try to see through the eyes of the “other,” of using the tragic deaths of both Christians and Muslims to further an agenda to demonize Islam. And to those who claim Christians are completely innocent, let me say that for the past year and a half that I have been back in Nigeria, I have heard Christian friends in Jos say poisonous, toxic, hateful things about Hausas and Muslims. I have heard Christian friends rejoicing over the destruction of Muslim property, even over the burned hull of a primary school owned by a Muslim. When I protested, I was told that I didn’t know what I was talking about. (In fact, my mother just told me the story of a Christian non-Berom friend whose shop was burned by Christians–he rents from a Muslim) So let me protest on a more public forum, and those who disagree with me are free to answer me in the comments section of this blog. I have no doubt that there is much similar rhetoric on the Muslim side of the divide that I do not hear because few people would say such things in front of me, but whether there is or not, does not excuse Christians for hate. As Jesus said, “43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5: 43-45

I will provide links to two articles on Christian websites here. There are many more, but these are the two that I wrote comments on, trying to point their readers to Human Rights Watch articles that would provide a more complex picture of the situation. My comments, which I posted over a week ago, were never approved and made visible on these websites. I’m sure the people who posted these stories are good people, who have the best intentions to help their Christian brothers and sisters in Nigeria, but in not posting the comments of someone who tried to bring some amount of balance and context to the story, they are not doing our faith any favours. In fact, by ignoring my contribution in favour of  their own preferred sources, one could even say they are complicit in the spread of hatred.

But let me give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they have not seen my comments. Perhaps the internet ate my posts. If this is the case, I welcome them to contact me when they receive the pingback  from my link.

The first one, “Jos is Burning,” is from the CMS mission on January 20, 2010. I read the article because someone posted a link to it on Facebook. The article correctly reports on deaths and losses of property from Christians. It also reports several rumours and allegations about “Muslim” soldiers targeting Christians:

A statement from the Anglican Diocese of Jos said that over the last two months, there has been concern over widespread rumours of plans to bomb the homes of Christian leaders and to kill senior members of Christian churches.

[…]

There are worries that the military, brought in to contain the violence, seems to be splintering along religious lines with claims that Muslim troops are allegedly firing on Christians and armoured vehicles are opening fire on Christian civilians.  CSW reports that one eyewitness saw a Christian youth singled out in a crowd by a soldier, who forced him to kneel and executed him.

It finally lists a number of admirable prayer requests, including that “For Christian leaders in Jos, especially the Anglican Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi: for safety, courage, wisdom and opportunities to make connections across the Christian-Muslim divide.”

On January 20, I attempted to post the following comment,

While we should rightly be very concerned about violence against
Christians in Jos and elsewhere, I think we also need to be careful
not to focus so completely on our “own” side as to miss the violence
and hateful rhetoric carried out by Christians against Muslims as
well.

I am a Christian who spent a good part of my adolescence in Jos. I now
live in Kano and have many Hausa Muslim friends. At least two or three
of my personal acquaintances (Hausa Muslims–Jasawa) from Jos but who
now live in Kano have had their family homes burned and relatives
wounded and killed. One acquaintance lost her grandmother and many
other family members. And if Muslim soldiers have been targeting
Christians, the same is happening with Christian soldiers targeting
Muslims. If churches have been burnt, mosques also have been burnt.

In fact, in one report, almost all of the Muslim homes in the village
of Kuru Jenta were burned and many Muslims”rounded up and killed:”
http://naijablog.blogspot.com/2010/01/tragic-news-from-norma-in-jos.html

For another side of the story about the beginning of this conflict,
see this article from a Northern newspaper. It presents one side of
the story, but it may provide some explanation of the context behind
the church being attacked:
http://allafrica.com/stories/201001190555.html

Similarly, for those who are not familiar with Jos, to make this a
story about persecuted Christians without mentioning the complex
politics behind it oversimplifies the story:

For more detailed information on the specific context of this
conflict, see these links:

Recent academic article by shari’a-in-Nigeria scholar Philip Ostien on
the 2008 Jos crisis
http://www.sharia-in-africa.net/pages/publications/jonah-jang-and-the-jasawa-ethno-religious-conflict-in-jos-nigeria.php

Human Rights Watch report on the Settler/Indigene politics in Nigeria,
with about 5 case studies from different parts of the country,
including the plateau
http://www.hrw.org/en/node/11354/section/2

Human Rights Watch report on Military abuses in the 2008 Jos crisis:
http://www.hrw.org/en/node/84005/section/4

Have Christians been killed? Yes. Have churches been burnt? Yes. I was
in Jos during the 2008 crisis and we had a refugee camp at our house
made up of mostly members from Emmanuel Baptist church, which had been
burnt for the 3rd time. (Hopefully, it has not been burnt again in
this crisis.) There is very much a need for prayer for Jos. But, let’s
please not focus so much on the Christian side that we forget that
Muslims are suffering and dying, as well, often at the hands of those
who claim to be Christians.

thank you

To date, it has still not been posted. Perhaps the internet ate it.

The second post on the 2008 Jos crisis I found because it is the automatically wordpress generated “suggested link” after my blog post on the Jos crisis. This article,“Nigerian Christians Murdered Left Homeless by Organized Muslim Attack”, posted by a Pastor Chuck and Arlyn on a site called “Urgent Prayer Chain” was a bit more sensational.

Pastor Chuck and Arlyn say:

The following report was received by Christian Aid from a native missionary living in Jos, Nigeria. Most reports of this situation by secular media contain skewed information, received directly from the Nigerian government. This information includes false claims that Christians attacked and killed Muslims, and vastly underestimates the damage done to Christian lives and property. In reality, Muslims plotted an attack on Jos Christians days before the election results were announced.

Now, I remember, at the time, as we sat through the crisis with hundreds of Christian refugees in and around our house, thinking that the international media reports did seem somewhat skewed and biased. However, for Pastor Chuck and Arlyn who were not actually in Jos or Nigeria at the time and who were relying on their information from one source, to claim that reports of Christians attacking and killing Muslims were “false claims” or that “in reality, Muslims plotted” the attack seems unwise and in fact quite dangerous.

I posted the following response, which I know was received, because on my google chrome browser, which I was using when I wrote and posted it,  it shows my comment and says “awaiting moderation.” On Internet Explorer, it shows no comment. This was my response:

carmenmccain said

Your comment is awaiting moderation.
January 23, 2010 @ 8:48 pm

As a Christian who was in Jos during the November 2008 crisis and had a refugee camp from three different churches at my family home, I appreciate the attempt to raise awareness about the sectarian crises in jos. However, I think we as Christians also need to be a little bit careful about skewing the story to “our” side so much as to not recognize that Muslims, many of whom I know personally, also suffered a great deal in this crisis, many times at the hands of those who call themselves Christians. While you say that “secular media […] includes false claims that Christians attacked and killed Muslims,” it is actually very well known in Jos that so-called Christians did engage in serious reprisal attacks. While we can say that people who kill others are not truly Christians, I have, with my own ears, heard Jos-based pastors advocating violence against Muslims (as well as some very admirable pastors who stress non-violence and forgiveness.)

You say that the “original” inhabitants of the land are Christian, but that “but the green farmland pastures have attracted Muslim Hausa and Fulani people from the north.” This is a bit of an over simplification. The Muslim Hausa community, also known as the Jasawa, has been in Jos for over 100 years, and has until recently lived fairly peacefully with the Christian “indigenes.” Many commentators who have researched this feel that these crises are actually political and have much to do with Nigeria’s policies about granting certain rights only to “indigenes” of the land, which often means that three or four generations of a family may have lived in one place but still not be considered “indigine.” The Jasawa community is denied rights such as reduced tuition at the university, opportunities to be employed in the civil service, and political representation. This does not excuse violence but places the crisis in more context. Just as many Christian “indigenes” feel that the violence is orchestrated by outside Hausa Muslim forces, many Hausas also feel that the violence is orchestrated by local “Christian” “indigene” politicians who are using ethnic chauvinism to reclaim land that has been bought and lived on for years by the Jasawa.

For more detailed information, please see the following articles: “Jonah Jang and the Jasawa: Ethno-Religious Conflict in Jos, Nigeria” by sharia-in-Nigeria scholar Philip Ostien ; a Human Rights Watch report on the politics of “Settler/indigene” in Nigeria , with a section on Plateau State , and the Human Rights Watch report on the Military abuses during the 2008 crisis, which have no doubt been continued during this most recent 2010 crisis .

For an example of why it is so dangerous to talk about only one side of the story, see these reports of a massacre of a Muslim community that took place only a few days ago in Jos:

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/01/22/nigeria-protect-survivors-fully-investigate-massacre-reports

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2010/01/201012333947758520.html

I say all of this as a Christian who knows Christians who have been killed in these conflicts, Christians who have lost their homes, and Christians who have seen their churches burned. I am not trying to downplay the amount that Christians have suffered, but to urge us not to open our eyes wider to the complexity of these crises and to reach out in love to our Muslim neighbors who have suffered much as well. This is the only hope we have that these crises will stop.

carmenmccain said

Your comment is awaiting moderation.
January 23, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

For some reason, the links I posted above did not come through.

The link to the “Jonah Jang and the Jasawa” article is here:

http://www.sharia-in-africa.net/pages/publications/jonah-jang-and-the-jasawa-ethno-religious-conflict-in-jos-nigeria.php

The link to the human rights watch report on the “Indigene/Settler” policy in Nigeria is here:

http://www.hrw.org/en/node/11354/section/2

The link to the specific details on Plateau State is here;

http://www.hrw.org/en/node/11354/section/8

The link to the Human Rights Watch report on Extrajudicial killings in the 2008 Jos crisis is here:

http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2009/07/20/arbitrary-killings-security-forces

I’m sorry that neither of my comments were posted, as I think those posts, without any sort of caveats, will merely further global misunderstandings about what is going on and will further solidify an “us against them” mentality among Christians and Muslims around the world. [UPDATE 4 February 2009: to be fair, the urgent prayer chain blog has now posted my comment.) As the R.E.A.L. organization notes:

You cannot promote religious love, if you won’t recognize and reject religious hate – especially when it comes from members of your religion.  Our shared rights to exchange ideas and expect dignity for our religious beliefs comes with the shared responsibility to never allow our religious beliefs to be used to rationalize hate.  Surely the thousands that have died in Nigeria over religious hate deserve more than a determined denial over why they died.

[…]

The widespread silence by responsible, international Christian leaders and Muslim leaders (outside of the anti-freedom OIC and Muslim Brotherhood groups) to recognize and condemn such religious hatred by both those Christian and Muslim rioters in Jos will certainly ensure that the Jos riots will be used by those who perceive a global Christian “war on Islam,” which remains a motivator for violent jihadists around the world.

Ultimately, I am not interested in “who started it” so much as “how will we now respond.” How will Christians and Muslims in Jos respond? How will Christians and Muslims in the rest of Nigeria respond? How will Christians and Muslims around the world respond? Certainly justice must be done, and the organizers of such violence must be found, prosecuted, and punished. But if we wait for  justice before we begin to reach out to the other, before we begin to forgive and try to heal broken communities, I fear that as Dr. Martin Luther King observed: The “Hate [will multiply] hate, violence [will multiply] violence, and toughness [will multiply] toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.”

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11 responses to “Taking Sides

  1. Talatu. This is about the most sensible thing i have read on the jos crises. i had a similar argument with a friend from eastern nigerian who said that christian are just being killed in the north, and when i told her christians kill too she couldnt believe. or like my muslim friend who said muslims are opressed all over the world and are all peace loving people. it is simply, the danger of a single story. when all you know is what you have been told by parents, friends from the same religion etc, you can only be a victim of being guided by a single story.
    i wish i could disown religion completly for methinks most religion as is practiced today is evil and complicit in most of the atrocities in the world today.
    Carmen, I admire your work, and taking us into ur tunani. Allah ya kara miki hikima

  2. Thanks for this Carmen. Excellent writeup.

  3. Carmen, what is your opinion regarding US fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq? If there was no 9/11 attack would there have been any war in these countries? What about people killed on both sides of the divide- innocent people for that matter? The number of people killed compared to the initial number lost on 9/11? Are pastors and churches way back in the US complicit in supporting the war/troops? George W Bush was probably the first president to profess his faith openly but he declared the war! Christians are fighting in that war as well. Now to the Jos crisis: Christians go to church on Sundays and carry bible and/or hymnals. How could they have drawn the first blood? The day Christians are most vulnerable is Sunday when they are in church. When and where did this attack take place? Or do Christians carry anything other than bible and hymnals to church?
    Ok, what are Christians suppose to do in such situation? Stand by and pray? Or watch their children, brothers, sisters, friends, pastors, albeit themselves, slaughtered and their churches burnt? If Christians had been fleeing all these while no missionary would have remained in Jos by now! If the US did not take the war to Iraq and Afghanistan by now there probably would be no tall buildings left in the entire US and the civilization that the US symbolizes would have been long confined to the dustbin of history. Revisit 2008, 2004 and then 2001 and how did those start? Who drew the first blood? Take a look at the pattern of the crisis in Jos: first day the hausas start the attacks for some pent-up reasons. Why would a mere disagreement over a building or re-building lead to immediate killing and burning of churches? The other group (beroms), unprepared, taken aback, loses lives and properties including their places of worship. Second day is always quiet- both group mobilize. Real battle happens the third day onwards. Typically no one, not even the HRW, reports the first day and apportion blames. Law enforcement don’t read this or they are too slow to stem the riot.
    Carmen, I am deeply sorrowed and saddened by lives and properties lost on both sides. And I am deeply troubled by the fact that, judging from the antecedents, this fracas is bound to occur over and over again at least till people learn that violence does not pay. Our blind refusal to call a spade a spade makes us also complicit in the recurrence of this barbarism. Calling this a Christian-Moslem conflict though the crisis wears the toga of religion is a great mistake. Christians in here have never stopped any moslem from erecting a mosque and neither has any moslem prevented a Christian from building a church. Christians have trading with each other and would continue doing so. It has never been arguments about preventing each other from worship. The conflicts have always been about control of the land and the resources thereof. I have heard arguments that Hausas have lived hundreds of years in Jos but no one mentions that the yorubas and the ibos and the urhobos have equally lived here for hundreds of years as well. Why then don’t these other groups take up arms against the indigenous tribes? I have heard the argument that Plateau discriminates against Hausa/Fulani people but are the Urhobos, Yorubas, Ibos and other tribes treated any different? In the US don’t you have “residents” paying less fees than “non-residents”? Do “non-residents” take up arms in as a result? It is a rule in the west that you are an “indigene” if you are born in the US or UK but not here. Many Americans, British and Arabs who were born here have been denied Nigerian citizenship! Indigeneship and settleship are an offshoot of that so no one should beat the drum of war on that issue.
    I will not approve of the dastardly act of killing as there is no room in the bible for violence. But is this really a Christian-Moslem conflict or a tribal conflict (for land and resource control)? Is this not a conflict to protect culture rather protecting religion? The issue in Jos is complex and very much indicative of a failed governmental system remotely detached from its citizenry. The fact that crisis of this nature occur in Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Kaduna, Kafanchan, Zago Kataf is enough evidence that these are tribal skirmishes and not Christian-Moslem conflict. The natives in these places do not want to be governed and controlled by people who have unfairly lorded over them for centuries. Indirect rule in the north exploited the existing feudal hegemony, military rule preserved the status quo but now democracy provides courage and hope. To the indigenes this is a liberation struggle. If you understand this you will sadly conclude that we have not seen the end this struggles.
    So what can we do? Argument about complicity would not help a thing. We need to take care of the people affected but a great deal of carefulness needs to be exercised in doing this otherwise Christian care-givers may end up being killed and vice versa. Let any care-giving be done in a neutral area and supervised by the security agents.
    We also need to promote healthy inter-faith dialog. Good governance, enforcement of the rule of law (without fair or favor) coupled with free and fair elections are necessary antidote.

  4. Talatu,
    As usual your analysis is very correct. Until we have religious leaders at both side reasoning from this perspective, the questions you raised will be difficult to deal with. I just pray that both Muslims and Christians in Jos and other parts of the world will learn to solve differences in the spirit of Dr King and Ghandhi (non violence ) means. I hope your work in Nigeria right now will in some ways help towards bringing understanding in the society.

    Best regards
    MK

  5. @Elnathan, Scott, and MK, thank you.

    @Gaskiya, I’m not sure I followed everything you are saying, but as for saying that this is an ethnic/political struggle, I think you are absolutely right, and I have argued as much elsewhere including in my last two posts (and in this one). I have not gone into as much detail as I should have in these posts because (bad excuse: I was tired from explaining all of this history on more private forums like Facebook) I linked to at least three other articles which give an excellent historical background. I realize that this is a struggle that has gone back at least as far as the war of defense by Plateau people against the jihad of Usman dan Fodiyo in the early 1800s and has been complicated by colonialism and postcolonial politics and national policies on indigineship. Agreed. My point is not to argue that this is a Christian/Muslim conflict. I agree that the use of religion in these conflicts is a shallow veneer over historical-political-ethnic causes; however, religion HAS become the most obvious marker of identity in the conflicts, else why would you have (ganga-smoking) gangs of youth on both sides demanding that people recite the Lord’s prayer or verses from the Qur’an to prove that they are Christian/Muslim on the right/wrong side. Obviously, neither faith calls for the slaughter of innocent human beings, and obviously these gangs of youth are not acting on their religion; however, they are using religion as an identifier on who to attack.

    My point is not that we must not seek justice or address the root causes behind the conflicts. We absolutely must. My point is (which I think you agree with) that those who claim to be Christians and Muslims must both denounce these obvious mis-uses of religion and work together to find solutions, otherwise, the situation will continue to disintegrate into one that relies more on these religious identifiers and the global misunderstandings about Christianity and Islam will continue.

    I wasn’t sure what you were saying about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was in New York during the September 11 attacks, saw with my own eyes the towers fall. I was devastated. I agreed, at the time and still do, with the attempt to find those responsible and bring them to justice. I never have supported the war in Iraq, which I believe was based on faulty intelligence, a misunderstanding of the politics of the region, and personal hubris. I am, to say the least, not a fan of George W. Bush. I also have never thought that the events of September 11 and the preceding/following attacks on innocent people have been about religion. I believe they are more about postcolonial global politics and resentment against imperialist policies of the West or perceptions of imperialistic policies of the West, and which use extremist form of religion as a way to motivate followers. Do those who blow up buildings believe in their extreme religion? Yes, I imagine they do, though I imagine they are also driven by political passions as well. If they do believe that blowing up innocent people is the fastest way to Paradise, does that make it mainstream or true according to the Qur’an? Anymore than the belief by certain Christians with political passions that they are carrying out God’s will by slaughtering innocent people? If, as you say, the conflict in Plateau is a war of liberation, one could make a similar argument about the actions of Al Quaeda being a war of liberation. However, the question is does the desire for “liberation” justify the murder of innocent people? And are those who desire to do the “liberating” really those that the majority of the people would support or are they self-appointed tyrants who would and do oppress and terrorize as much as those they hope to replace?

    So what are Christians supposed to do in Jos? As for your point about all Christians being in church on Sunday so how could they have started it, I think you know as well as I do that not everyone who identifies as a “Christian” is in church on Sunday–especially the aforementioned gangs of youth who were apparently behind the beginning of the crisis. Please note that I took no sides on who began the crisis. I do not think it is my place to do that. To do so would to rely on rumours, especially when
    there have been no conclusive results from past research commissions. I know that when I was in Jos during the November 2008 crisis, we woke at 6am to churches burning. However, there is also some amount of evidence that there was a certain amount of political foul play by “indigene” politicians in the preceeding hours of the election. That does not justify church-burning, but it does indicate that indigine politicians were not perfectly innocent either. As to what Christians should do when their homes and families are attacked, of course, I believe in self defense and the right to protect one’s loved ones. What I do not believe is that if your house has been burned that you are then justified in going and burning your neighbor’s house–or if your Christian brother has been killed that you are then justified in going and finding some random Muslim and killing him. I also do not believe that even if you feel that you are being oppressed by imperialistic “settlers” that you are then justified in organizing an attack on a village, such as happened at Kura Jenta/Kura Karama, burning women and children in a mosque, slaughtering anyone you identify as a settler and dumping them in wells. There is a very, very large difference between self-defense and massacre.

    You argue that because indigeneship laws in Nigeria affect everyone equally that no one should complain about them. Now, I realize that this is a complex issue and that certainly minorities must be protected, but I must say that strongly disagree with you that because this is the way it is, that is the way it must stay. I disagree with the sentiment of “Long Live the Status Quo.” I think the whole system is flawed and must be overhauled. I don’t propose just whole-sale adopting policies from outside. They must be tailored to fit Nigeria’s unique needs; however, let me just correct one point you have made about U.S. policies on residents and nonresidents. Yes, residents of certain states do have access to certain rights like lower tuition etc; however, one can become a resident of any place if one lives there for a year or even just purchases property which you declare your legal residence for a year. (Thus see Hilary Clinton becoming a senator from New York after having purchased a house there only a year before.) There are, of course, certain caveats–for example, if you start going to school in the state and you are resident there for over a year, you can still not get the discounted tuition unless you drop out of school and work for a year. You can then get the residency for the lower tuition. The U.S. also has certain land allocated for Native American nations, in which they are exempt from taxes and certain other laws; however, I think the U.S. has badly mishandled this. Along with slavery, the extermination and colonial policies against Native Americans, and pushing them onto “Homelands” (a policy directly copied, as well as our “Jim Crow” laws, by the apartheid government in South Africa) are some of the worst parts of the history of the United States, and it is not often enough talked about.

    So with those points made, I’m not sure the U.S. rules of residency would work for Nigeria; however, to deny people who have lived in a place for generations access to civil service jobs, admission to university, and political representation is, to my thinking, ridiculous and based more on a colonial way of thinking that was obsessed with classifying “tribes” and hardening ethnic divisions than the way the world actually works. Or did not those very same indigines not move from somewhere in precolonial history, and have not there always been migrations and settlements and movement over the land throughout world history? And what of the minority/minority groups in Plateau, like the Nassarawa people. Will they be benefited by Berom hegemony?

    You say: “I have heard the argument that Plateau discriminates against Hausa/Fulani people but are the Urhobos, Yorubas, Ibos and other tribes treated any different?”

    No. Not necessarily. None of them have rights if they are outside their “homelands.” The difference seems to be that those settlers don’t demand political representation. If you want to term this as a war for liberation by the indigenes, you might also want to think about how the other side might also view this as a war of liberation.

    So… a long response to a long comment. Those are my thoughts, though they are not as researched as they could be and are certainly open to change should someone show me evidence of where I am wrong. I agree with you that this is a political/ethnic conflict. I do not agree with you that indigenes are blameless. However, I do think that if faith can be a powerful motivator to do evil, it can also be a powerful motivator to do good. And while we MUST, MUST, MUST seek for justice and investigate the root political causes behind these conflicts, we must not wait for the conclusions to begin interreligious/interethnic dialogue or to rebuild communities. Yes, I know people are moving away from Jos. Yes, I know that Muslims/”settlers” are moving out of Christian/”indigine” areas, and Christian/”indigines” are moving out of Muslim/”settler” areas. Who wouldn’t after the events of the last 10 years? But this is where we must stop the trend. Because the fewer relationships we have between “sides” the less compassion and sympathy for each other we will have and the more and more likely it will be to approach a tragedy like that in Rwanda.

  6. Carmen, thank you for taking the time to respond to the issues I raised in my rejoinder. Two points need corrections though: I did not say and would never say the indigines are justified and blameless. The killing of innocent people cannot be condone even in a conventional or unconventional war. I described this terrible criminality as dastardly if you would recall. I hope the full extent of the law is applied, without favor to any group, to serve as deterrent. The second point of correction is averring that I favor the “status quo” regarding “indigenization”. The point I was trying to make is that the concept of “indigenship”, with its concomitant undesirable discriminative element, is present in various forms in all societies and is not a sufficient ground or justifiable reason for fomenting or starting violence.

  7. Gaskiya, Thanks for clarifying. I agree with you on both points.

  8. In light of all you’ve said, could you give me some prayer points???

  9. Pingback: The Most recent violence in Plateau State « A Tunanina…

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