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Busola Idowu: Growing Up in Kaduna as a Non-Northerner

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dreamstime_m_53455600Several decades ago, the civil rights movement in the United States of America sought an end to the age long segregation laws and practices which were in force to separate White (Caucasian) and Coloured (Black, Hispanic, Asian) people. Even closer to home, the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, for which Nigeria was a leading light, was a fight against the segregation of white and coloured citizens of the country.
The underlying conclusion of the above is that segregation is very undesirable as it affects the very necessary and proper integration of members of the same society even for generations to come.

I grew up in a very well integrated Kaduna town and lived the greater part of my time there in the centre of the town. Our community was a huge mix of different ethnicities and I had neighbours from the eastern part of Nigeria, the south–south, the north-central and a few from the core north. My parents’ offices, our schools and even church were situated before the Bridge (the Bridge basically separates Kaduna north from Kaduna south). It was almost idyllic especially compared to other towns in Nigeria. There were good roads, water and electricity were available from the government sources, there was very little traffic, the markets were affordable and life went well. At least until sometime in the year 2000.

The agitation for and opposition to the introduction (implementation) of Sharia law in most states of the north crystalized in Kaduna and the succeeding riots led to large scale destruction of lives, properties and places of worship. It was similar to a civil war within a state. The resultant counting of losses, led to massive relocation of non-indigenes from Kaduna State; and for those left in Kaduna, there arose a separation between the Muslim north and Christian south in the state.
Also in 2002, sectional opposition to the planned hosting of the Miss World Pageant in Nigeria led to another round of wanton killings and destruction.
The ensuing polarisation became a part of the fabric of the society. Many Christians living in the north (before the Bridge) moved to the south and vice versa.
Interestingly, there has been some degree of peace ever since.
For weeks and months after the last crisis, people did not desire to be found outside their homes especially on Fridays at any time from 1pm. I had a friend living in the north and on Fridays, she would wear a headscarf and flowing gown so as not to stand out if any issues arose. No one was ready to go outside their comfort zones to avoid becoming a casualty of ‘war’

However, because we are human and must invariably relate with one another, the inevitable lowering of guards happened; and today, people basically move around different communities with just the slightest feelings of discomfiture.
A funny example involved our resident electrician. Because my parents had spent the majority of their time in the north of Kaduna, most of the handymen they knew and trusted were also based there. Therefore, in the process of moving houses from north to south, they had cause to require the services of Mallam Bello. I noticed that Mallam Bello would come to our house dressed in a shirt and trouser but leave in the regular Hausa kaftan, also the Muslim security men in the area were often dressed in their shirts and trousers rather than the kaftan. Mallam Bello explained that it was safer to wear the shirt and trouser so as to blend in with the crowd in the south. It was a form of protection. I laughed out loud but later reflected on how much the society had grown but not really improved.

Time heals all wounds or so they say, we can only hope that time heals every hurt and prejudice still inherent in and restores Kaduna back to her glory days.

Photo Credit: DiversityStudio1 | Dreamstime.com

Busola Abayomi-Adebayo is a lawyer, public servant and occasional writer. she's passionate about information and just about anything newsworthy. Follow her on twitter @busolaidowu'

26 Comments

  1. mgtss.blogspot.com

    October 24, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Such a sad tale, the negative effects of religion. why can’t people just live and let live?

  2. Bernard

    October 24, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Great

  3. Tell It.

    October 24, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    “”the succeeding riots led to large scale destruction of lives, properties and places of worship”” i.e. CHURCHES.

    “”For weeks and months after the last crisis, PEOPLE did not desire to be found outside their homes especially on Fridays at any time from 1pm. “” “”people”” i.e. CHRISTIANS.

  4. deedee

    October 24, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Busola ,long time, i remember you from Shooting Range Road,its a been a while, i can not recall if u schooled at FGC Kaduna or Zamani College.I went to FGCK (2001 set).Kaydee has really lost its glory but it is picking up gradually, i miss the Kaduna of old, where we played freely with neighbors and got invited to parties without a care.Now, every one is wary of the next person.Its so sad that we no longer have common free joints and fun spots in central Kaydee.

    • Busola I

      October 24, 2016 at 8:43 pm

      Hey! Yes i went to FGC/ stayed @shooting range. You are so right, I pray Kaduna is restored back to its old glory.

  5. Bomate

    October 24, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    Proud of u switie… yes! I finally commented

    • Busola I

      October 27, 2016 at 10:18 pm

      Thanks Bomate!

  6. Nunulicious

    October 25, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    More! more!! more!!! I’m so curious about life and living in the north. Looking forward to more. Hopefully, the stories would bind us together not rip us apart.

    • Busola I

      October 28, 2016 at 10:42 am

      yes!yes!!yes!!! 🙂

  7. Diuto

    October 27, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    I can relate to this write up as i grew up in Zaria, Kaduna State. We stayed within ABU campus as my parents worked there. We left in 1994 and as far back as the 80’s, we experienced a lot of hostility towards Christians. My dad had a muslim friend who informed us before any religious instigated riot takes place

    ABU used to be a beautiful place with a lot of diverse cultures and people. I lived on a street with twenty five families including people who spoke Nupe, Tiv, Igbo, Yoruba, Igala, Idoma, Hausa, German etc.

    The riots usually had silly reasons like a new VC who is a christian is installed, riots begin. The churches are burnt and people killed. Cattle rearers trample on your crops and you complain, a dagger is brought out. We had to leave as it was an inconducive environment

  8. kikelomo

    October 27, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    Grew up.in kaydee too so I can relate. Witnessed all the riots from zango kataf to the free zakzaky. My folks had enough and we moved to abj in 2001 when our dog decided to bring a human arm home during the sharia riot in 2000. I miss kaydee. Like kilode, the suya, kofar gamji, murtala square, classy burgers. Caravan by utc. But sadly I have not recovered from ptsd.

    • Busola I

      October 28, 2016 at 8:31 pm

      Seriously?! Human arm ke? That’s enough to cause PTSD…. scary!

  9. Shola

    October 28, 2016 at 12:42 am

    The good old days of KD. I remember you and Funlo from those days. I remember Sacred Heart and balangu from beside Officers’ Mess. Hamdala and Durbar swimming on the weekends. My best friends were Ghanaian, Igbira, Edo, Igbo, Nupe, Yoruba and Calabar. We all shared our lunches as a unit no matter what we brought. I remember walking everywhere without supervision because it was safe. Shoutout to Hadiza, Eme, Zainab, Susan, Adjoa and Mama. Best times of my life.

    • Busola I

      October 28, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Yeah! Twas awesome!

  10. Tope

    October 28, 2016 at 7:34 am

    Busola, this is a well written piece. Your narration in this piece is a reflection of how we have degenerated as a nation and calls for a serious reflection among younger generation of Nigerians to see to the integration of the society at large.

    • Busola I

      October 28, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      Thanks!

  11. Banji Ahmed

    October 28, 2016 at 7:51 am

    I never stayed in KD but i could feel the writers love for a city she calls her own and where so much memories were made. We can only hope for sustained action from the security agencies and most importantly a reorientation of her people.

    • Busola I

      October 28, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Thanks Banji!

  12. OIZA

    October 28, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Oh Busola, this is so true. I remember how wonderful kaduna was during our days at FGC until that 2000 riot. We can only hope and pray that the great glory of Kaduna is restored.

    • kikelomo

      October 28, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      Oiza Raji is this you???

    • Busola I

      October 28, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      There’s only one Oiza I know so I’ll assume you’re right @Kike.

    • Busola I

      October 28, 2016 at 8:28 pm

      Thanks Oiza! Amin oh

  13. Aderayo

    October 28, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    This is spot on sweetie. Oh! Busola, you have sealed it for me. You can’t have lived in KD and not feel that nostalgic pull when the rainy season ends and it’s just the beginning of harmattan. I’ve had that feeling for the past one week and the memories with it reminiscent of an era long gone. How can we replicate it?

    • kikelomo

      October 28, 2016 at 5:15 pm

      Reunion nko?

    • Busola I

      October 28, 2016 at 8:27 pm

      Hmmmm true @Aderayo! You’ve reminded me once again of that harmattan breeze! Then running from A-class to Yoruba class or biology cos twas too cold and breezy 🙂

  14. reggie

    January 7, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    Barr. Bussie, lovely write up, i miss kaduna .remember us strolling through kabala village, making our hair at “mama amina’s” place. we sure had fun growing up. i knew you would make a great writer, you inspired me to get every edition of truelove magazine then……lol

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