Secrets of three Kaduna communities isolated from crisis
Three communities in Kaduna State have distinguished themselves by strengthening Christian-Muslim relations among residents in areas where tensions between the two groups have become common.
Many communities in the state have been divided along religious and tribal lines for years and there have been consistent fears of attack from the opposite group.
Our correspondent reports that the division followed the 2011 Zonkwa and Kafanchan crisis, which saw a massive migration of Muslims from Christian communities and Christians from Muslim communities.
In the wake of the 2011 presidential election, Zonkwa and Kafanchan witnessed the burning of churches, mosques, homes and the Kafanchan market, which led to at least 13 separate reports of ethnoreligious clashes in the state.
But communities comprising of Barakallahu, Down Quarters and Kurmin Mashi are going against all odds to ensure peace among Muslims and Christians.
Through their efforts, the communities have staved off the ethnoreligious crisis and earned themselves recognition from a humanitarian organization, the Peace Revival and Reconciliation Foundation.
“In my community, all the tribes have representatives in the palace so that they can guide us on how we can carry everyone along,” District head of Kurmin Mashi, Alhaji Abdullahi Rabo said.
“Barakallahu, in existence for over 70 years, has never experienced ethnoreligious crisis because of the cordial relationship between Christians and Muslims,” District Head of Barakallahu, Alhaji Muhammad Abdullahi confirmed.
“Down Quarters is over 150 years old because it was already in existence when the white man brought the rail system in 1900 and the community has been peaceful ever since,” the District Head of Down Quarters, Alhaji Danjuma Musa said.
Our correspondent reports that there are many mixed families in these communities, with Muslims and Christians belonging to the same family, thereby strengthening the bonds in the community.
“The representation of the various tribes in the palace has further helped the community in attaining peace because we are aware of what is happening in every nook and cranny of Kurmin Mashi and in the event something happens, we quickly jump into action before it gets out of hand,” Rabo said.
“As our holy books tell us, we have to live in peace with Christians for us to be true Muslims, so we the Muslims, we always respect the Christians and allow them to practice their religion and vice versa. Even me, being a traditional ruler, I go to the church, especially when I am invited for a wedding or naming ceremony and likewise, the Christians come for our gatherings.
“This is one of the things that have helped us live in peace with one another. There have been many instances when communities will be in crisis but by the grace of God, we have been able to control such crisis and because of the relations we have with one another, you will find a Christian working in a company owned by a Muslim and a Muslim working in a place owned by a Christian,” he said.
District Head of Barakallahu, Alhaji Muhammad Abdullahi confirmed this claim.
“Among my blood sisters, there are Christians. We are Gbaji by tribe, so we are mixed Muslims and Christians. That is why immediately something happens, a meeting is called to address the issue before it gets out of hand and spoils the peace we have been enjoying with our neighbours.
“We have no problems with one another and we are living in peace that is why any meeting I call, I must ensure that representatives of all tribes and religions are present so that the people are adequately represented and these issues are heard and dealt with,” he said.
He hinted that because of the peace being enjoyed in the community, there has been development saying, “We are about to flag-off the construction of a 1-kilometre road donated to the community by its members, if there was no peace, this project will not have come to us.”
“Also, because of the peace we have been enjoying, it has brought in a mass influx of people of different tribes,” he said.
On his part, the district head of Kurmin Mashi, Alh. Rabo said the community has benefitted from the peaceful coexistence and called on the government to encourage such communities that are striving to live in peace by providing basic social amenities like roads, water, schools, hospitals and a skills acquisition centre, which he said will further enhance peace in the society.
Giving a brief history about the community, Alhaji Muhammad Abdullahi of Barakallahu said, “My father, Abdullahi Gosoro, founded the community when he left Niger State over 70 years ago and settled in the community. At that time, there were about three to four houses in the community comprising my father’s house, Abdullahi Gosoro, Mai Anguwa Tanko, Unguwan Sarkin Noma and Barakallahu Bakin Titi, founded by late Major Lawal Bazza.”
The District Head of Down Quarters, Alhaji Danjuma-Musa said the name ‘Down Quarters’ was coined because that was where labourers working on the rail line stayed.
At that time, the houses of the railway workers started from the Barnawa Bridge until present day Down Quarters and housed Hausa, Igbo Yoruba and many other tribes. In those days, when they sent a labourer on an errand, they would say ‘go down the quarters or down quarters’, hence, the name stuck.
He noted that at the time, there were mostly Fulani and Gwari people at Down Quarters, but today, there are many other tribes because, “there is no discrimination of who you are, or
“As our holy books tell us, we have to live in peace with Christians for us to be true Muslims, so we the Muslims, we always respect the Christians and allow them to practice their religion and vice versa’’
where you come from because we see each other as one big family.”
President of the Peace Revival and Reconciliation Foundation, Pastor Yohanna Buru said, “The communities have been able to sustain peace and unity between Muslims and Christian saying, “They are the best and most peaceful communities in the state as there has not been any kind of crisis in the areas.
“Despite the ethnoreligious political crisis that has affected peace stability in the state, Kurmin Mashi, Barakallahu and Down Quarters remain united as one.
“These communities deserved more than awards for the commitment and dedication toward promoting peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians in the communities,” he said.
Buru called on other communities to emulate the gesture adding, “If all Kaduna communities could be like Kurmin Mashi, Barakallu and Down Quarters, there would be peace and development.”
Taking a cue from these communities, one can say there is still hope for reconciliation in Kaduna State.
If three communities comprising of Christians and Muslims and various tribes in the state can put their differences aside and live in peace, then others need to look for ways to reconcile their differences.