By Lawi Auwal Yusuf
I have been keenly following the recent raging altercation aroused by the hard-hitting comments of Nafisa Abdullahi. Many people have voiced their diverging opinions; some took an affirmative position while others came out against her. However, there is a consensus between the different parties that Almajiris are in a dire condition. Hence, no one would like to see his son in such a critical situation.
Though everybody has the leeway to express his mind, why are we wasting our energies on arguments that will come to nothing? These children are clamouring for justice, not a palaver over their plight. Such wrangle will never let us escape from the shackles of mutual antagonism. I believe that this issue is beyond mere accusation and counter-accusation. On the contrary, we have to go the extra mile. We have to give it our best shot to mark a turning point in this issue. Thus, we must debate matters that will help us clinch a victory over the problem. Put another way, it is more important to shift our attention from pointing accusing fingers at each other and focusing on the solution. This tendency to emphasise the problem rather than the solution is deeply entrenched in society and ravages our daily lives. Instead, it is more logical to put the solution above the issue.
Concentrating more on the problem will put us on a road that goes nowhere. It will keep us going around in circles, remain coasting and yield no helpful result. It will always go against us while our efforts remain in the doldrums. If you think this is the right way to ward off the problem. Indeed, you are living in a dream world. It is time to stop the dispute, draw a line under the issue and face reality, as this intractable desertion is getting out of hand.
Those on the same wavelength with the actress should know that not all the children they see on the street begging are actually Almajiris. Many children from impoverished homes disguise themselves as Almajiris to beg for food or scavenge through garbage, looking for valuable materials to sell for a living.
Furthermore, I want to remind those lilliputians that ridicule the Tsangaya that immensurable successes had been achieved through the system. It was the only institution that catered to the educational needs of our people before the inception of Western education. It was the bedrock of our ancient civilisation that paved the way for modern civilisation. It was the institution upon which the foundation for the development of society rested. It was attended by both the nobles and the commoners.
The Sultans of the Sokoto Caliphate, emirs of its semi-autonomous city-states and other members of the aristocratic class all went to Tsangaya. Also, they received their leadership skills training there and trained other administrators who served in different capacities. Moreover, Tsangaya scholars designed the constitution used to govern such a gigantic empire effectively. In addition to all these, it rolled out the khadis (Shari’a court judges) that administered justice, the Imams that led prayers, and Muftis that issued verdicts to guide authorities and the people on both their spiritual and worldly affairs. They also served then as the think tank.
Similarly, great scholars impart knowledge, herbalists that cure ailments, astrologists that determined praying times, crescent sighting, weather forecasts and navigation routes came from such a school system. On this basis, Northerners were proud boastfully that they were literates with a systematic way of life even before the imperialists invaded the region. So, we must be grateful for that.
On the other hand, those who take an unfavourable position from the Kannywood model should understand that the system now doesn’t go; it has a lot of issues and needs momentous changes. It is not what it used to be before. It has taken a different dimension in the last decades. We can’t keep going like that. The Tsangaya must be radically renewed, and these downtrodden children must be liberated from such bondage. Their future must be secured. They need to be under the vehement supervision of their parents, accompanied by their affection, psychological support and care. They have to enjoy the comfort of their homes and the bond of kinship ties, as we have all enjoyed. They deserve a decent life.
Lastly, politicians that have been dilatory in dealing with this problem and wash their hands on the matter must back away from such attitude. They must show genuine commitment to eradicating this menace. We must help these children to salvage the country because we have no other country than Nigeria. IT’S OURS!
Lawi Auwal Yusuf wrote from Kano, Nigeria, via firstname.lastname@example.org.