A motley crowd of people gathered at the gate of the school. As I drove by Adeke on a visit to my hometown Iwo in Osun State last Tuesday, I was forced to stop as well. Then, I glimpsed the grotesque spectacle of some students of Baptist High School, Iwo going into their school in various choir and church apparels. And for a moment I wondered why the divisive issues of ethnicity and religion, which have stunted the nation’s’ growth and development, were allowed to creep even into our secondary school system. Several years ago when I was given admission into Baptist High School Iwo, Adeke Heights, as we called it then, my names with which I sat for and passed the entrance examination were Sarafadeen Omotunde Rahman. The Vice Principal of the school who was at the time acting as principal (I can’t remember the name of the gentleman now) simply yanked off Sarafadeen, my Musllim name, from the log, because, according to him, the three names were just too long for the school’s register. Neither me nor my dad, a devout Muslim and strict school principal himself, felt offended about that because as far as my father was concerned all he wanted me to obtain from the Baptist school he sent me to was secondary school education.
Baptist schools have a dress code, which anyone who elects to attend or finds himself or herself enrolled into, must adhere to. It’s like you are a lawyer and in court you want to put on your religious veil and not the wig. It’s simply unthinkable. For me, Justice Jide Falola of Osun State High Court, who gave the controversial judgement on Hijab, may be right under the law to say it’s the right of Muslim female students to wear Hijab in school. But the law is made for people and not the other way round and those from the temple also sometime weigh the implications of a strict interpretation of the law on the society and peaceful co-existence. By ruling that Muslim female students are free to wear Hijab in schools in this period of female Boko Haram suicide bombers all decked up complete with Hijab, isn’t our learned judge also saying, by extension, that Christian students can also wear their church garments and robes to school? After all, what is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. Now, CAN leaders are free to vent their anger at the verdict, but they must do this within the ambit of the law, without recourse to violence. Also, Governor Rauf Aregbesola must move in to douse the tension created by the judgment in a dispassionate manner, without allowing the problem to further escalate, as this moment calls for the statesman in him.
*Please let’s continue the conversation on twitter @tunderahmanu