The North And The Rest Of Us (1)

On June 1978, the famous historian, Chinweizu wrote what was to be a best-seller and a book for all seasons, 'The West And The Rest Of Us.' However, while this article draws inspiration for it's title from the book's own title, it does not share any resemblance to the work. It was the mandatory pandora's box (NYSC), that thrust me upon the Seat of the Caliphate, Sokoto. Unspeakable fears and petrifying doubts gripped my heart. A sojourn to the North, was an adventure I'd never embarked on, yet, for factual and ficticious reasons, I concluded it was a poisoned chalice. Having stayed at Lagos, Abuja, Rivers, Enugu and Ogun states, to mention a few, Sokoto was one region I dreaded. However, as I was later to find out, my fears weren't just borne out of the alarming rate of insecurity in the North, it was a perception that has been moulded by ignorance, forged by hear-says, and propagated by the media. The Northern image has been battered prior to the advent of Boko Haram. Perhaps, the first myth that has to be demystified is the notion that the North refers to one people. There is obviously a malady in regarding nineteen states as being equally babaric, nasty and bruitish. Pathetically, this is what many of us do, unconsciously. Coming to Sokoto, I saw how severe and deep rooted this damage has gone. Almost every of my fellow Corps members came to camp with that preconcieved mindset. In fact, many went as far as to blame their 'misfortune' of being posted to Sokoto on the gods and some form of supernatural forces from 'home'. While I cannot deny that I didn't actually feel good about coming to serve in Sokoto, I strongly believe that the flurry of hatred for the North, is a threat to the Nigerian project. It is a truism that some states in the North are very volatile and relatively insecure, but hatred for the region, will not resolve the menace. Perhaps, it will be apt to first ask the question: How and why did the North inherit such a soiled image over the years?

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