The arguments over the use of Hijab in Public schools have largely being divisive and unsettling. Same way it has always pitched faithful of the two largest religion in Nigeria — against each other.
Call it an issue that always reveal our cosmetic tolerance — and you will be damn right. Think of Osun. Think of Oyo. Think of Lagos. Think of kwara. Undoubtedly, we know religion has and is a very sensitive issue and always evoke umbrage once one part feel cheated or shortchanged — or the two parties couldn’t arrive at a common ground.
And it’s the way it is: Lack of understanding and inability to come to term with the fact that we are no longer in 50s or 60s when missionaries were in control of most public schools. In 1978, there was an handover of missionary schools to govt. And today, they are being funded by who? And don’t forget, that same Government swore to uphold the constitution by allowing freedom of every citizens — association, speech, religion, etcetera. As a matter of fact, funds for these schools are extracted from people regardless of their religion affiliation. If govt fund those schools, recruit teachers and provide infrastructure. Who then will stand in the way of such govt when inclusive policies are made?
Between 1998 to 2008, I was in two Christian schools. Of course, the two were privately owned and managed, so I had no option when it comes to the practice of my religion — which includes noon prayer. And even on Friday, when others converged at mosque for Jumat, we are at fellowship dancing and clapping until it two or thereabouts. It was a non issue because firstly, it’s a private and profit oriented school where rules were made in line with the dictates of the founders. In a private business, you are entitled to ways you run your affairs.
So in 2008, I decided to attend a Muslim school. For one fact: being in a Christian school was already affecting the way others see me. At a time, I was challenged by someone in the mosque. “I thought you are a Christian” he jokingly said. Being in a Muslim school was sort of homecoming. I could pray alongside others and attend Islamic programs. It’s where I met MSSN, the society that changed my life.
Odey Joshua was one my classmates and a devoted Christian. Alongside his brethrens from Benue, they were treated equally, and fairly. As a school striving for survival, it will be unwise to post CRK teacher when we are yet to have teachers for essential subjects and even at that, Govt is wise enough to know that posting a CRK teacher to a Muslim schools is an afterthought. But then there were Christian teachers who continue to be good and resourceful mentors and role models. In other words, my friend and his relatives enjoyed their stays and days with us. Now, he and others understand tolerance more than what anyone may want to teach them.
Hijab is unlike any garment you wear occasionally or weekly or when you feel like. It’s every day wear. Made compulsory for all females in Islam by their Lord. You will have to accept that. Therefore, does it not defy logic to say you want to wear garment because someone wears Hijab to school. First, that’s been senseless and irrational. Two, if that’s what your religion dictates, you are covered by the law. How does Osun Hijab hoopla ended? The students whose religion mandated them to wear Hijab continue while those who out of envy and copycat are back to their normal uniform. It’s same way this Ilorin inferno will end.
The point is not about tolerance, we know our tolerance is cosmetic, always in trouble whenever our old dogma and prejudice are challenged. The point is that, you can’t gift a goal and still hold the rope. Hijab has come to stay and we expect our sisters to be respected for that. Government schools are owned by Governments, available and accessible to all and sundry including Ojebisi, Sangodoyin, Mariam, Musa, Mary and Marvelous.