By Carthia Ndingi Elangwe
The Moslem community constitutes one of the largest ethnic groups in Cameroon, as they are the main occupants of the Adamawa, Far North and the Northern Regions with existing tribes like Hausa, Tupuri, Bamum, among others. Irrespective of this magnitude and especially with their divinity and worship of Allah and their dedication to the Holy Koran, one would expect that the respect for humanity especially women and children would be of prime concern to them.
Unfortunately, this is not the case as women and children from this race still suffer in the hands of their fathers, husbands and relatives who have practically denied them of their human rights and freedom. The intensity of disparity and hatred amongst the various tribes is appalling as attested by an Administrative Assistant at the Nigerian Consulate, Zenab Abdulayi Jingi, a Moslem woman.
Zenab who was actually weeping agitatedly while talking to The Post in an exclusive interview, said the situation is very frustrating as many young girls especially those within the ages 16, 17 and 18 don’t go school not because they don’t want to but because their fathers prefer marriage and worst still with men who are as old as their fathers just because they are rich.
She also noted that these marriages don’t even last for a year, as these men kick them out of the house under the claim that they are no longer appetising and even if the girl has to be fortunate to live with the husband for long, beating will be her breakfast and supper.
“As a Moslem woman let me tell you ‘Mrs. Journalist’ that our girls have been denied of their privileges and rights because education is the right of a child which they don’t get. Our leaders have been talking about opening Islamic schools for our children to benefit from but these children are not even given the opportunity to study, so what are we talking about when we the parents deprive these children of education?” Zenab questioned.
She further narrated a very regrettable experience faced by some girl children assaulted by their father. “I know of a very pertinent situation where a mother sent her children who were living with her to school and then the father appeared saying that he wanted to reclaim his children whom he abandoned. I don’t know if I would say unfortunately or fortunately because, as subscribed by the Moslem tradition, the father is the owner of a child. With a promise that this father of theirs was going to send these children to a Moslem school, the kids were handed over to him but shockingly, this man turned these girls into block molders commonly known as ‘shantie’. Very pathetic, inhuman and unlawful!”
Talking about inter-tribal conflicts and how it affects Moslem children, she mentioned that they have a well established and lone Islamic Government School in Limbe and the Region but parents don’t send their children there because it is being managed by someone from an unusual Moslem tribe. Sometimes she said children loiter around because parents have refused to pay their school fees.
This Reporter had a chat with the Sarki (Chief) of Limbe, Alhaji Abdoulaye Jingi, at the helm of this school, who said jealousy and hatred are the route causes of their inability to progress.
“My predecessors may be jealous especially with my achievements in Limbe like the Government School and also for being the lone Moslem Counselor in the Region. Sometimes there is this controversy between a Sarki and an Imam (Spiritual leader) which causes internal conflicts. Normally, Sarkis are superior to Imams but sometimes responsibilities are misguided with either of them doing what the other is supposed to do and some Imams refusing to take orders. But in all, our children are the ones who suffer, especially the girls,” Alhadji said.
According to a Moslem Parent, Ali Mohammed, educating a child will make her sensible and resistible to Islamic teachings which can lead to her pregnancy as the Christians behave. But this view was counteracted by another parent who questioned; ‘what about an illiterate Moslem girl who, despite these laws, still gets pregnant shamefully?
Nevertheless, all hopes are not lost yet for a Moslem girl child with the coming of a new Islamic Education Secretary for the Southwest Region, Hamza Matanga, who, unlike his predecessor is already making some progress barely few months in office as confirmed by the SW Regional Delegate for Basic Education, Maurice Ebai Atine in a recent first ever symposium organised by an Islamic Secretary to educate parents on the importance of classical education.