As pensive thoughts dominated my mind; a resultant effect of the negative news on the media, my reflective thoughts transported me to many years ago in Kano; the Northern part of Nigeria.

I was a 5 year old starry eyed girl: Happy and positively enthusiastic with the world at large and passionate about my school, “Kano Capital School”.  A lovely institution filled with a delightful variety of students and teachers from all over the world. It was a Nigerian school filled with diverse humans of Different races and religions. We all lived in glorious harmony.

The teachers were extremely nice! Arm in arm with my best friend at the time; Hendricks from Ghana, we explored the school and soaked in all we could through the loving guidance of our wonderful teachers. Those were by far the best times of my childhood.I particularly looked forward to the morning assembly: “Inspiring times filled with information and rousing speeches.

At the end of which a collective prayer was said by the entire school. The Muslims lined up in one queue while the Christians lined up in another queue, as we all said our respective prayers in respectful unity.  It was quite the norm for me to cheekily queue up on the Islamic Queue and recite along with my Muslim friends the Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim in flawless form. It was that familiar to me and we all prayed together in acceptance and loving unity.They were Glorious times indeed.

Right up till a new kid came into my class. She was the new girl: A quiet, extremely pretty girl, with a lilting voice in a thick  accent. She also had a quiet self-assured air around her.Come break time, we all dashed out to play together as was the norm. She was quite reserved and watched quietly from the sidelines.

Some of the girls, went occasionally to speak with her, and they discussed frequently in furtive whispers, which sounded ominous  even to my young 5+ ears. This went on for a few days, while I noticed the group of girls playing with me on the playground  slowly diminishing. Right till I became “Ezinne with no friends to play with”. I was confused and hurt. The dynamics had changed and school as I new it was no longer the same. I was excluded from discussions and not allowed to join in with the games. A far cry from my initial success as the leader of the pack at games and break-time activities.

It was quite clear the new girl was a big part of this change. It was also very evident she was not a fan of “yours truly”, judging by the cold stares and smirks she sent my way. I decided to go ahead and make things right once again. After another tormenting day spent isolated during break time, I approached a former really good friend and asked what the issue was?I remember this moment as clearly as if it were yesterday.

My friend went over to the new girl and they dialogued for a while. She came back to pass me the message. In a nutshell: ” I was Christian/ Igbo and unclean. They would resume “playing” with me if I said to them that I believed in their religion”. Sadly, I was young and miserable and not too strong in my convictions. Alas, I went along and agreed with them that indeed I believed in their religion. Immediately, all was right and break times were filled once again with inclusive games and fun activities.

This got me thinking. We were extremely young and yet already harboring thoughts leading to religious fissures and disunity . Where did it come from? Who did we get these ideas from?. I believe it must be from what we hear and read in the news and the media as well as from our parents.

I am not here to point any fingers or blame my darling friends from excluding me and making me denounce my faith just to be accepted. This was what they felt they needed to do. It is wrong, just as wrong as how all the Christians go around judging people of different races as well as performing dastardly acts.

I believe we should love everyone equally, irrespective of their tribe, race or differences. Also, children are extremely smart and take on much more than we give them credit for. Our discussions and how they see us treating people is exactly how they would treat people as well.We should all set great examples… And preach love and kindness as much as we can!

The little seeds we sow influence our future generations. Sow them wisely.

 

So help us God.??????

xxx

Ezinne Chinkata

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