My eyes are sunken in grief as I gather the heart to write this letter. However, do let my condolences descend in the blood-bathed cushions of The Governor, and the mischievous elders of your religions and tribes borne in the cosmology of cannibalism; I’ve since ceased to call you religionists, for none of you, Muslims and Christians are fit to be in the book of theology.
True, I do not know the religions that hold your life in spiritual revolution. I did know until the electric bursts of your continuous grudges against one another become my shame. Too many strokes of wonder set me a-thinking; first, I believe that none of you shall be granted the shade of The Lord; second, my kinship with Jos inaugurates my thought as keen observer of the chilly land. Many things, my dear siblings, disqualify all of you as Muslims and Christians in the scope of philanthropy.
First, to the Muslims: I’m one of you, a meek lad that is popular among the mosquegoers of Nassarawa-Gwong where the last crisis popped its first spark. I’ve lived with you, your thoughts and their contents, much as I do the Muslims of Ungwan Rimi, Rikkos, Bauchi Road, Konar Shagari, Farin Gada, Yan-Trailer, Naraguta, Katako, Gangare and Dilimi. I know your fears; I can even touch them, and the clouds of perception that crawl over your domains. Second, to the Christians: your districts are mine, for the larger proportion of my friends come from your fringe. Many of the churchgoers whose shoes are known and could even be named by the Sunday soils of Jos are my beloved, and my fraternal embrace of your life is sublimity unequalled. I love Jos, the wintriness of ‘ember months that are once the womb of our endless festivities to mark the bye-byes of every year in clubs Zero-Eleven, D’makumba unrepelled by the wands of religions, tribes, sects and regions. And the smiling throngs that march on from Ungwan Rukuba, Eto-Baba, Congo-Russia, Dogon Dutse, Dutse Uku, Busa Buji, Laranto and even Barkin ladi, Ibrahim Taiwo, Millionaires’ Quarters, Bukuru, Kuru, Vom…. I love Jos, the caftan-wearing Christians and Coat-wearing Muslims therein; they are just too beautiful!
And here, away from Jos, my mind could not be blinded as I settle to expose our sins which are too weighty to be easily forgiven by Prophets Jesus and Muhammad. Truth has taught that all of you would not be forgiven by history, for a simple slide into the origin with an anthropologist’s faith tells the mockery that is our folly; John is a Christian because his parents are, and Abdullahi? He too is a Muslim because of his parents. I bask in the beam of Islam ‘inherited’ from my parentage. Funny, what if John was born by Hajiya Amina, a Muslim mother, and Abdullahi by Deaconess Maureen? What if…? This ignored mockery illumines the descent of tribes too. I do not see a reason why a faith or tribe that came not from us could stir me to repel my brother or sister.
Religion, from the cistern of history, is not a creation of God. A cult it is, organized by man to live in the directorate of The Lord, attuned to revelations of chosen Prophets. The only thing in religion that is divine are spiritualism and bowing subservience to the commands of The Lord collated in The Good Books which if permitted to sink into our soul unadulterated must inspire the thoughts of philanthropy. Misrepresentation of religion obeyed is pure agnosticism of the absurd! The day you dine the entrails of religion shall mark the moment of your sanity. And, the thought of your grumbles over one another provoked my peace to think, blasphemously: ‘What if the Arab Muslims never happened to Nigeria?’ And to the Christians, I say: ‘What if the English Christians never happened to our life in the name of missionary?’ We were traditionalists living in the cosmology of our ancestry before their invasion. Though time has authenticated the joy of their religions our belief in them remains unauthentic! None of us seems to be laden with the teachings of theology. That deficiency turns us lunatics. Yes, we are all living in inverted faiths, but there are many flames that hedge us for destruction. These, darling siblings, shall be my dart here.
The first demons that I shall stone are the inventors of injustice, liquor-sunken ushers of tribalism who out of idiocy ink the map of indigeneship that stretches to religious repulsions. My dear Governor Jonah David Jang, I salute your conscience for wading through these gory hours alive. I shall begin with you because the cardinal of every body can only be charted by the head. You inherited a tensed land despoiled by the past administrations of lunacy, and instead of having the sores of Jos bandaged, your strides were shoed in ambiguity. Even though your wisdom must have applauded your policies, the other tribes believed that you, a pastor, empowered your tribe, the Berom nation, quite irreligiously as though the non-Berom-speaking dwellers of the fallen city have no genes of intelligence. Aside reconstruction of our Royal Father, The Gbong Gwong’s Chaplin in a controversial situation, news hover that you imposed tax on non-indigenes whom you tagged settlers, and thereon begins the demonstration of the ideal ‘settlers’ who are largely of Hausa/Fulani tribe. This tension is an offsping of distrust. My neigbours wept that the world of Hausa/Fulani is an orb of Islam, and hence your political myopia transforms your anti-tribal dichotomy into religious riddance! ‘Have you no sense (sorry, Your Excellency,)’ they said, to have wakened such fatal policy in the ambience of tension? They cried that what on earth attacked your wisdom when you growled that only the hard-earned currencies of the settlers would reconstruct Jos city? Such is unwise leadership, for the Hausa/Fulani indigenes of Jos nay settlers who could not trace their ancestry again, have lost their properties in the recurrent crises of tribes and religions that deluded the once sublime heaven of relaxation. Where on earth did you expect the impoverished ‘war victims’ to fetch money for such taxes when their losses were never compensated, and watching them tottering to begin life anew? How could you be thus merciless? Your Excellency, these mindsets are the lives of my neigbours, tweaking me to borrow a seer’s life in analysing the explosive situation of old haven of bliss that was the swoon of the expatriates. But for the inhospitable species, the Berom-speaking Jossites aren’t malicious, and having a considerable population of Muslims, they accept one another in merriments. I know a lot of Berom-Muslims who head their Christian-dominated clan. You too know them, but your political hallucinations of having a Hausa/Fulani-and-Muslim-free state would not pour the ice of togetherness in your sentiments.
Now, to the Muslims, I studied your reactions to the politics of Plateau state, and the wands of marginalization that are your dividends. And if I’m to trace your missteps, my first hiss shall be for your most (un)religious leaders many of whom are dangerously uneducated to lead the queue of peace. Education strapped on violent theories is gunpowder in the neighbourhood of oven. True, an emblematic Jos youth is too busy to provoke another person. The youth settles for business in Katako Market (the moguls once reigned in the bombed Ultra-Modern Market), or drawn to the world of commercial vehicles, craftsmanship, petty trading and quest for education- western or Islamic. They do not rely on their parents to sprout livelihood hence the evils of idleness are deficient in the neighbourhood. What, seen in my romance with Jos, wrecked the Muslims is the daily fears of attack by the so-called indigenes and silly mis-education of the younger Muslims; these fears have thickened so hard that they become the sermons that mark many gatherings of the Muslims. And yes, everyone must be torn in that position watching that you’re never welcomed in your home. Blindly, the shield of invasion is discussed privately by the elderly Muslims whose hopes hover over the future of their ignorant children who are then cautioned against the frowning strangers. To the Muslims, the only shield is to be ready for the land owners’ raid at all time, and in the interludes, you teach your inheritors the art of survival in Jos, an art that interpret the degree of hatreds against the unfortunate owners of the land. This though I could not reproach for if I too were torn in such life I shall be wary of their closeness, and would accept their smiles as veiled frowns. My heart is filled with the wand of this repulsion seen only by the keenest watchers.
And to you, my Christian and Berom brothers and sisters, I don’t even know where to begin the tale of my grief. Any time I pace unto your psychology my thought gets ambushed by obfuscation, because the easiness with which your elders in politics steer your emotions to repel your other siblings embarrasses my trust on your hospitality. The stretches of land that mother earth bears for our occupation are God’s gift to humanity, and no man is lordly enough to manufacture a plot. The Lord Who owns the earth extended his artifacts to us, to be dwelled upon, and not to be owned by any mortal. Who’s a man, mere lump of sperm, to call The Lord’s handwork his? It’s the chaos of modernity and the explosive bedlam of population that trudge ownership into the constitution of humankind, and this too is wisely thought to stabilize our greed. History says that we were migratory tribes, and this in mind, challenges me to challenge you to have ruminations through your historicized origin. We are what The Lord destined, for us! I think your uproar was over religious egotism… and your desecration of The Lord’s assertion for brother-keep-brother command denies you a yard in the shade of divinity! Yes, you are not parading along the lanes of Christendom. You see, you are not even Christians! Christianity that came through the Son of Mary isn’t a cult of cannibalisms. There are many thinkers that attached your silliness to consumption of Burukutu; I’m not one of them though I believe that the brew too stimulates sanity out of its boundary. Now, out of riddles, an ideal Plateau Man- Berom or Non-Berom- is a lively person, craving stimulation of entertainment to appease his soul. He’s a quasi-hedonist. This is why I did not believe that he could be drunk into lunacy that peaks to whence he wishes to kill his sibling whom the Lord creates to a world that speaks one of His languages. An ideal Plateau man, like many Nigerian Muslims, detest the tonality that rings through the homilies of Muslim clerics, many of whom are decked in mischief spewing the assumed forgeries in Christianity. The worst intoxicant ever is word. And my fear, after these rambles, is that your elders have given you enough bottles of words that spun you in hateful passion unto your jovial neighbours of many years. How could you, ambassadors of peace, allow your intoxicated leaders whose nutrition is politics, to blind you thus? Their aim is selfish quest for domination of the space where they would loot our treasury. You should’ve known this… Haba! My Berom-friend Chollom and I discussed their tricks the last time I was at his modest place in Congo-Russia. He’s an epitome of an ideal man who engages in his biblical studies perturbed by the atmosphere of delinquency that engulfs the neighbourhood. He agrees that Christianity is a universal brotherhood of man, just as he appraised Islam.
Darling siblings; my heart is loaded with the coals of the endless fires that consume your beautiful life. Your restlessness is one thing that Nigeria shall suffer until her wielders begin to think and act straight. The same restlessness dwells in the brain of our other siblings in far away Niger Delta. The same restlessness dwells in Kaduna, Maiduguri, Bauchi, Port-Harcourt, Zaria, Kano…all over Nigeria! Every one is restless. We are restlessly restless, truncated by deep wounds of illiteracy and unemployment which are often the catalysts of every crisis in the land. And this restlessness is a progeny of idleness. The idleness that unemployment, poverty, government-imposed forlornness, thieving of public money…and many more evils that bad leadership entails. Even the white-man who longs for luxury like butterflies has said that an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. And your restless endurance of this pillaged nation of ours forces you to violence, at least to be occupied by an activity, loot in the womb of the crisis, kill fellow countryman intoxicated by ‘words’, burn the most imposing edifices because they mean nothing to an hopelessly restless man, burn this, burn that, burn all, for the land too is burnt by leadership! We are a burnt nation! True, I expect nothing from illiterate population, unemployed population, utterly divided by deceptive politics. Of all the crests of my anger the prickliest is the fact that you could not fetch a simple wisdom to boo those ‘God-damned’ politicians that ignite troubles among us in the guise of tribal advocacy. Ask yourself, where are they when you have to be embarrassed over debts in Mama Gyang’s? Where are they when all you could do is to measure, sorry, waste your time and life in a Burukutu joint? Where are they when your Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba or Ibo landlords listen to your plea for extension of time when rent is due? Where are their children when yours could not afford the substandard education offered by the nation? Their wives too, where are they when yours brood over ridges of Irish potatoes, and gather languor in market squares? Where are they? I know your answers because it’s the same anthem all over the nation: Zurich, Paris, London, Harvard, Dubai…while you’ve never even been privileged to have a whiff of Heathrow Airport let alone afford a pilgrim ticket to Israel where you could uncage your travails for divine pacification atop Mount Sinai.
My dearest siblings wake up from the swoon of religious misrepresentation before The Lord evokes tsunami over our puerile quests for the land that He stretched for our collective dwellings. How could you react if Jos turns Haiti in a blink, and the land contorted beyond habitation, and you have to relocate to Kano, Bauchi, Katsina or Sokoto for life anew? You see, we have to think beyond the coverlets of our polluted brains!
Aside the politicians are the religious clerics in the motorcade of our destruction. Many of these bearded or Three Piece-adorned talkers that fronted the queues of our religions have malnourished knowledge of religious history, theology and jurisprudence; all they champion is boastful exaggeration of faiths, and barbaric clamours of religious supremacy. We have to think beyond the coverlets of our brain! You see, if peace must sail in our conscience, we have to rebuke our Mullahs whenever they chant anti-Christian slogans in the mosque, and similarly do same to the eloquent pastors when they hum anti-Islamic grammars in the church. There is a colourful difference between religious fanaticism and fundamentalism; the former is practised by misled mischief-makers, the latter by souls that truly beckon divine fortification. Until we know this, our repulsion shall linger. One lesson that history teaches is, fundamental (I mean, non-fanatical) adherence to The Good Books is the pathway to a sane society. But for the lunacy of some fanatics, there wouldn’t be a commotion of any hue in say Vatican or Mecca. And if, provoked into atheism by the pollutions of fanatics, you get to do comparative analysis of theism and secularism you must be mortified to realize that the directorate of God and the empire of humans share nothing in common. Compare, for instance, the daily bedlam in Detroit, and that in say Vatican City or Medina; the latter cities are enclaves of serenity but for the myopias of a handful of fanatics!
Again and again my darling siblings, I would wish this letter become a writ of our beautiful Jos, and be duplicated for the other siblings in Langtang, Wase, Shendam, Quangpan, Mangu, and even to the towns and States beyond. And to our Governor, Jonah David Jang and their accomplices and colleagues in Islam and Christianity, let’s clasp hands to shame their intention and tie them in the sanatorium of history. We would never free any lunatic to disband us. Neigbourliness and togetherness are matrimonies of the souls, and your attempt to disband the people shall earn you the hottest portion in the hell, just next to Satan Himself!
Peace, my bereaved brothers and sisters; a prayer that we can think beyond the coverlet of our brains, at once.