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Opinion: I Wake Up Everyday Praying That Nigeria Will Not Happen To Isanlu By Pius Adesanmi

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Prof. Pius Adesanmi

Isanlu, like the rest of Okun land, is heavily Christian with a sprinkling of Muslims here and there. In Isanlu, the Muslims are heavily concentrated in one ward, Bagido, where their Mosque is located.

The Muslims have educational institutions. Ansar ud Deen Primary School, which we grew up calling “ansaru”, was founded in the 1960s. She was joined in the 1980s by Oluyori Muslim Comprehensive High School, just a stone throw from my family home.
Obviously, the Muslim community has never had enough people to fill these institutions for Islam is a minority faith yonder. However, the school you attend in Isanlu has never been a function of the faith identity of the school. It has always really been a function of walking distance. Francis Okonkwoo, with his Christian ass, spent Forms One to Three at Oluyori Muslim Comprehensive High School in Isanlu before his Dad, Papa Okonkwo, withdrew him to a capitalist Baptist High school in Jos.
Isanlu Muslim schools have always been heavily populated by Christian pupils and students. If you are a Muslim in Makutu, you do not overlook all the Catholic and ECWA schools in Makutu and Itedo Oba just to go all the way to Ansaru in Bagido.
The Christians too do not overstretch themselves across vast distances to attend the Christian  institutions. You attend the closest primary and secondary school to you, irrespective of her religious identity.
I have never heard of religious conflict or wahala. Maybe there is a sense that people are Isanlu first before being Christian or Muslim. 
Chief Alfred Oludare Adesanmi, veteran Principal of Catholic secondary schools in Okun land, and Alhaji Sule, veteran Principal of Oluyori Muslim High School, were both IPU (Isanlu Progressive Union) first before being pillars of the Catholic and Islamic communities in Isanlu respectively. 

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If the two men were ever conscious of their religious differences, I have no memories of it. I only have memories of endless exchanges of visit over “itesiwaju Isanlu” matters. I only have memories of endless errands I ran as a kid to Alhaji Sule’s living room in Bagido, carrying IPU envelopes and memos. I am not sure that Mama Adesanmi and Mrs. Sule, close friends and Isanlu collaborators like their husbands, have ever been aware that faith separates them.
Now that I think of it, I am not even sure that Ansar ud Deen has always had Muslim Headmasters or Headmistresses. Akanbi Eyitayo Micheal, was your very ECWA mom not once Headmistress at Ansaru? Yeah, I seem to recall vaguely that Mama Akanbi was once headmistress of Ansaru in the early 1980s.
That can only happen in Isanlu, not in Nigeria.
The day Nigeria happens to Isanlu, Christians will start to wonder what Muslims are doing in their own schools; Muslims will start to wonder what Christians are doing in their schools; there will be accusations and counter-accusations; there will be threats and counter-threats of violence.
May Nigeria never arrive in Isanlu.




Adesanmi is a Professor of Literature and African studies at Carleton University, Canada.

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