By Ganiu Bamgbose
What became of Nigeria was the conglomeration of autonomous and unwilling nations lumped together in the self-interest of the colonialists. Why and how the Hausa/Fulani have enjoyed colonial preference and post-colonial influence should not perpetually attract agitation but, essentially, some reflections. More annoying for many is the erroneous belief that the Northerners are the least educated and sophisticated in the country. More surprising for many others, is how the supposedly less educated could remain perpetually in power for sixty years with only a feel of power from few persons from other tribes. This, then, calls for a reflection on what true education means, and what other factors make education beneficial to both individuals and societies.
On the one hand, educationists have conceived of education as the acquisition of knowledge, skills, attitude and values which make one a functional member of a society. On the other hand, education could simply be said to be the ability to meet up with life’s expectations. The former definition of education which is academically-based is, and has been, the strength, pride and assurance of the other tribes of the country; especially the Yoruba and the Igbo. The latter definition which concentrates on education for survival and self-sufficiency has been the strength of the Northerners. The supposedly uneducated Hausa knew the importance of obedience, submission and loyalty to the colonial masters who eventually deemed them deserving of favour and power. So, while the Yoruba leaders, especially, relied on their legal knowledge to clamour for rights, the Hausa leaders knew that it does not take so long for a servant to become a master if he is loyal. As a first step towards everlastingly rewarding their loyalists, Bernard Bourdillon, in 1939, made the North bigger than the West and East put together. I learnt, from my critical assessment of this situation, that, sometimes, nature rewards humility before ability.
Moving to the post-colonial era, we may want to ask why and how we have remained at the mercy of the Northerners even after the colonialists left our affairs to us. It still boils down to our education. The formal education and sophistication of the Yoruba and the Igbo have made us establish classes of rough edges among ourselves—the learned and unlearned, the rich and the poor, the privileged and the depressed: they do not meet. But among the supposedly uneducated Northerners, the schooled and the unlettered sit down to eat on the mat and this builds trust. Let me buttress further with what everyone in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria may attest to. Two Hausa itinerant cobblers would rather polish a pair of shoes together than have one do it; it still amazes me how they share the money.
A Hausa cutting nails would volunteer to help the cobbler clean the shoes while they hawk together, than go in search of his own customers. My last observation was that, I buy ‘bitter kola’ (garcinia kola) and ginseng sweet when I drive, and they are usually sold by same persons. While I drove somewhere around Lagos yesterday, I suddenly noticed these stuff were being sold by different persons who were Hausa. Not that I know for sure, but trust me, it is not impossible that these Hausa guys have agreed to share this business to ensure for comfort-for-all. Get a Hausa as a gatekeeper; you may have to warn him not to bring his people to your house. Get many other Nigerian tribesmen as gatekeepers; they may even teach you how best to avoid your people. One more! Have you experienced a commercial motorcycle ‘okada’ rider being arrested in Lagos? If you find other riders around him immediately, trust me, those must be his Hausa fellows. My people would never be part of such solidarity; not even for themselves.
Shall I round off? I wish to submit that Northerners understand that the core of education is relevance and service to humanity; especially brotherhood. They trust themselves enough to collectively agree on issues and uphold a mandate. You hardly hear them say their people are not good like you say of your own people. They surround themselves by their people when in positions of authority; that may be wrong, but it is good. Until the bookish education of other tribes achieve this practical essence: OUR ‘UNEDUCATED SIBLINGS’ WILL CONTINUE TO CONTROL US THE EDUCATED REST.
© Ganiu Abisoye Bamgbose (Dr GAB)