Nigeria recorded its first major religious crisis as far back as 1953. As bizarre as that sounds, it is true. A crisis occurred in Kaduna, precisely in Kafanchan in 1987, when a remark by a Christian convert was interpreted as blasphemous and led to a violent crisis between Moslem and Christian faithfuls, spreading to other neighboring states. After this has been several bloody clashes that claimed lots of lives, destroyed properties worth billions of naira, and this invincible divisional line has also crept into other aspects of our interaction as Nigerians; from politics, recruitment and social interactions, thus, affecting so many and denying the nation of having the best of hands or maximizing its opportunities.
Ironically, both religions; Christianity and Islam preach peace and love as its fundamental pillars, yet, violence seems to hover around perpetually. This makes for concern as to how violence found its way into the mix.
Let’s go back to how both religions are introduced to the society. In most schools, when it is time for these faiths to be taught, pupils or students are separated into either CRK or IRK classes, never taught together. Our places of worship too are different.
This births a mindset in children that I am different from the other set of people. To make it worse, we see the other children who don’t follow us to either IRK or CRK classes as “unbelievers”, just because they do not believe in the same deity as mine.
Again, our clergy’s preach about heaven and paradise and give the impression that anyone who does not belong to our faith is automatically not a candidate for heaven, that they are wrong or have wrong beliefs.
The society has taken this up to another level by bringing this religious difference up when it is time to recruit into political offices, or even to accept a tenant in a compound, some house owners deliberately refuse you access if you do not belong to the same faith as he/she is.
This separation indirectly planted in the minds of children while growing up is the first major cause of hatred amongst the two main faiths, it will be hard to love or accept someone who you were made to believe is different from you or who is unlucky not to be a part of your religion.
In all honesty, if the teachings especially in schools are taught inclusively, both set of pupils or students will have a basic fundamental knowledge of both religions and see the differences between them, BUT not in a way that makes him/her separate from the other child.
It will intentionally build a state of mind that we all can co-exist in the same classroom, same society without necessarily being separated because of our different views. This will go a long way to reduce the division we see amongst Nigerians today which has hampered economic growth and destroyed so many lives and property.
Let our educational curriculum be adjusted to teach the love and peace of both religions to all, and not bounded to just followers of the faith alone. That way, Christians will know and understand the fundamentals of Islam and vice-versa.
This theory will have many who will vote against it, but if we truly as a nation want to live peacefully and not be divided along religious lines, we must make the knowledge of both faiths available to all right from the onset and not isolate one from the other.
Nigeria can be far greater and better than where we are today, if we remove this menace from our social interactions as a people.