Opinion

Mark Amaza: But the North and Islam aren’t the same

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Today is a good day to talk about the gaslighting that’s always attempted anytime you criticize anything northern: whether personality, socio-economic conditions, cultural practice, or even a criminal (like Yunusa Yellow). It is called an attack on the north and Islam. But the North and Islam aren’t the same. They are mutually exclusive. There are millions of northerners, like myself, who aren’t Muslim. In every northern state, there are lots of indigenous people who aren’t Muslim, who are Christian or another faith altogether.

For all the name-calling, Babachir DAVID Lawal has gotten here, you have never called it an attack on the North. If Boss Mustapha gets criticized, it won’t be an attack on the North.

There are also millions of Muslims in Nigeria who aren’t from the North. Why is a criticism of Bola Tinubu not an attack on Islam but a criticism of Buhari is? Why is a criticism of Ishaq Akintola of MURIC not an attack on Islam but a criticism of Pantami so? For all my active years on Twitter, I get this, every time I do any kind of commentary about the North. Sometimes, I’ll be on my own sef and I’ll just see “amasonic hates the North & Islam”. The same north I’m from, I grew up in, I still have family in & go often?

This isn’t just a matter of not knowing where I’m from by merely looking at my name. There are times I’ve tweeted a thing and gotten heat for it. Another person will tweet it & you’ll see them agreeing in the comments. The difference between us? Our identities.

I talk about something in the North, I get “but this happens in the East, you don’t talk about it.” But I’m not from the East, I’ve never lived there. I talk about where I know better by virtue of birth & breeding. Who stopped you from talking about the East?

I keep coming back to this article from 2012 (I won’t tag the author). But pay attention to the 5th paragraph, posted in the screenshot. If it was me or someone whose name doesn’t conform to an identity, it would have been endless bashing.

Even for people who don’t want to be identified as northerners, you insist there is no such thing as the Middle Belt, only North. But yet, you don’t recognize them as northerners. They speak, it is the same “you hate the north and Islam.” Gaslighting at its best.

I’ve said before: I’m not going to preface any commentary of mine about anything North with “I’m from the north” so as to make it valid. It’s not cos I’m denying my identity. I’m proud of where I’m from, of my culture, my heritage, and I’ve never regretted being from the north.

But you will learn to take my points on the merits or demerits of it, and not on the basis of whatever identity I’ve or you perceive me to have. And no, shutting up I won’t. We won’t. We speak up because it’s our North as well, and because we want it to be better than where it is now.

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Mark Amaza works on sustainable and youth development, and media in Nigeria. He works on a campaign to increase energy access through decentralized renewable energy. He is also a founder of an initiative that aims to implement community projects in Borno State that has been ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency.

He is also a freelance writer and has written for and contributed to numerous outlets such as Quartz Africa, African Arguments, The Scoop, and YNaija.

He is also a social and political commentator and has been involved in various causes such as helping raise relief materials from persons internally displaced by the Boko Haram conflict and the Not Too Young to Run campaign, designed to increase youth political participation in Nigeria and this opinion was culled from his twitter feed

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