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Dan Fodio, our history and our curriculum

No one is in doubt that what we are/were taught at schools plays significant role in shaping our perspective, views and opinions. The same applies…

No one is in doubt that what we are/were taught at schools plays significant role in shaping our perspective, views and opinions. The same applies to our children and generations yet to come. And just like the computer law of GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out), you can’t teach your people a distorted version of your history and expect them to fully understand their past and use that as a rung towards greatness or chart a better way for the coming generations.
A pensive look at some books been taught at our schools would bare the fact that either the revisionists have hijacked both our history and minds to the extent that we can only repeat what they say or our laziness have made us so careless that we can’t tell our stories as they were. Either way we end up with the same result: our past has been erased or distorted historically and we will feed our children the crap we were brainwashed with.
A handy example is the terribly distorted history of Sheikh Usmanu bn Fodio being taught at our schools, from the lowest to the upper level. Despite the fact that the books written by the trio of Sheikh Usman bn Fodio, Sheikh Abdullahi bn Fodio and Sheikh Muhammad Bello gave full details of everything about their struggle, from the beginning to the end, our schools seems to be interested in telling something else. During our school days, we were taught that the Sheikh fought a tribal war, not an Islamic revival, and he was enthused by the urge to free his people, the Fulanis, from the oppressions of the kings and, at the same time, put them in the position of power. When later we read from the books of the trio we realized that we were taught blatant lies at schools about Dan Fodio and by not mentioning the greater scope of the scholar’s works that included education, enlightenment, women emancipation, helping the needy, suppression of harsh and inhuman customs, and so on, we were meant to remain ignorant of that aspect of our history.
I, therefore, have every reason to be flabbergasted when I was going through an English text book of my child, who is in a primary school, and came across a brief history of Sheikh Usmanu bn Fodio which was grossly distorted with the same fabrications we were told at school. Worst, additional lies have been invented by the authors.
The book, Learn English Book 3, written by C. U. Chukwudifu, Keye Abiona and O. C. Adebanwi, claimed that Dan Fodio “waged a war against the pagans of the north. He defeated them and forced them to accept Islam.” The book, which is  a 9-year Basic Education Curriculum Edition and published by West African Publishers Limited, continued that “He (Sheikh Dan Fodio) later appointed fourteen commanders to preach in different places…They were to raise these flags on any conquered city or town whose inhabitants had been converted.” The fact that Muslims were the rulers of almost all the towns and cities before the Jihad of Dan Fodio made the narration by the book ridiculous.
If the authors of the book are so irresponsible to write such rubbish, their claim that the book complied with the prescription of the “new 9-year Basic Education Curriculum for primary schools” is more disturbing. I have to admit that I am not an educationist, but nothing could exonerate the body responsible for primary schools curriculum from complicity in this if indeed the book complied with its standard. Where are we heading to? With all the erudite scholars in our education sector, including northern Muslims professors, how can such a book be a standard of our Universal Basic Education as claimed? What mission does the curriculum seeks to achieve? Why are the historians silent?
And if the history of Sheikh Usman could be so distorted despite the prevalence of so many books written by him and his disciples, what reason do we have to believe all other narrations about the rest of Nigeria. I mean how sure can we be that the history of the Yorubas, Igbos, Nupes and the rest is correct given the distortions in the history of Nigeria’s Most Influential Person of the Millennium?
There is little wonder, then, that we see torrents of rubbish daily coming from the graduates in the social media. They are the products of our curriculum; the law of GIGO is at work!
Mahmud Muhammad, writes this piece from Kano. He can be reached at [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

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