Abdulrazaque Bello-BarkindoThursday, November 21, 2002


ny given endeavour in this world has two sides to it. Cultures, religions, coins, lifestyles all have their pros and cons. At the human level we speak of body and soul, flesh and spirit, masculine and feminine, man and woman, father and mother, son and daughter, husband and wife, senior and junior.

At the very basic level of other human existence, we hear of the sun and the moon, angel and beast, black and white, beautiful and ugly, good and bad, day and night, natural and supernatural, positive and negative, hard and soft, teacher and student, believer and non-believer, and to the most crucial, most distinct, most controversial and most popular religions in the world, Islam and Christianity.

The two religions originate according to their scriptures from the same source but at different times. They were led by Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammed (saw). Their duality manifest in all aspects of our existence, our relations and discourse, our formality and informality, our casualty and seriousness and our inner selves and outer actions, all distinctions that are in themselves merely composite of one another.

In talking about the two religions that to all intents and purposes profess to worship the same divine power, some people become more careful than others. That is why we have good and bad writers, good and bad newspapers, reasonable and unreasonable commentators, objective and subjective editors and responsible and irresponsible analogies among many other proclivities of modern existence.

In religion just as in politics we speak of good and bad, divine and sacrilegious, left and right, liberal and conservative, progressive and reactionary, moderate and extremist. There are also the democratic and the dictatorial, the civilised and the uncivilised, the developed and underdeveloped, rich and poor. To a large extent all these factors influence the writer and at the end of her entire exercise, the reader.

As a Moslem, and definitely not for any religious inclination, but for some other reason that I could not place, I did not read the article that enraged the loyal readers of Thisday. There are many of us who think differently from north to south but remain united in the inalienability of the presence of a forum for discourse, education, information and entertainment value that Thisday has come to represent. The author of the infamous article, just as the enraged Moslem readership belong to this group, but yet again subscribe to different views, different perspectives, different religious influences and even perhaps different approaches to the feelings of others. At the end of the day, it is like a family disagreeing on a matter so fundamental to one but which means nothing to the other.

Over time, Moslem writers have in the main, at least in Nigerian newspapers been very careful in the way they represent Christianity in their writings. It could be attributed to the place that Jesus occupies in the Quoran. But writers like Isioma have, through their exuberance caused untold hardship to innocent citizens by their expressions and jaundiced analogies. How she would have felt if her article had led to the death of Josephine Lohor, no one would ever know, but certainly a point must have been made, even if the point approaches the extreme from a another point of view.

In reading Thisday, both Isioma whose exploitation of the forum has angered an entire nationís Moslem population and the rioters are a family, only that Isioma plays the role of a mischievous old woman who creates bad blood among siblings (Uwar Kinibibi). Her statement was blasphemous, irresponsible and irritating. The reaction of the Moslems youth of Kaduna even if debatable has sent the signal that no one ridicules Islam with impunity but to go ahead and boycott the newspaper as others are suggesting is preposterous because Isioma the offender does not constitute the paper and its numerous workers among who are Moslems likely to lose their honest source of income in the process, and Islam frowns at denying people their right to a decent livelihood. Besides, the paper has in the last three years championed the cause of justice for which the north has been a ferocious complainant and losing this ally at this time is not a wise idea. We have made our point and the management and staff have apologised. Let us continue to read Thisday.