As this momentous year 2015 is inching to an end, it is auspicious to set a new template for our interaction with others and the world so that we may enjoy peace more abundant wherever we are in 2016 and beyond. This template essentially revolves round the concept, “Be Your Brother’s Keeper”, or BYBK for short.
Being one’s brother’s keeper means “to watch over and defend especially from danger, harm or loss”. BYBK entails having love for, and solidarity with, fellow human beings as well as wishing them all the peace and happiness one wishes for oneself.
When brotherhood is extended the way it should, that is beyond the narrow confines of family, kin, clan, town, ethnic and religious affiliations, it includes everyone. This is because ultimately, all of us are from the same first man and woman. As the Dalai Lama once said, “Our prime purpose in life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
Last week, two good examples of being your brother’s keeper happened in Kenya and Kaduna. The two separate incidents negated the stereotypes that Islamophobes here and elsewhere would often like to portray, with the active connivance of the media that they bankroll.
On December 21, 2015 a bus was travelling from Nairobi to Mandera in Kenya when it was ambushed by Al-Shabab militants, according to news reports from major media organisations including BBC and CNN. The militants attempted to split the passengers into two so they could kill the Christians but the Muslims refused, telling the attackers “to kill them together or leave them alone”, as the Governor of Mandera, Ali Roba, told Kenyan media.
That was how being one’s brother’s keeper foiled the attempt to further polarize the country and the world. The terrorists left in frustration and it was heroic on the part of the passengers who “showed a sense of patriotism and belonging to each other.”
Barely four days after, precisely on the last Christmas day, something of no less significance also happened in Kaduna. According to the News Agency of Nigeria, “No fewer than 150 Muslim youths and Imams worshipped together with Christians during Christmas service in Kaduna to strengthen peace, unity and religious tolerance….”
The General Overseer of the Christ Evangelical Intercessory Fellowship Ministry, Pastor Yohanna Buru, who led the service noted with satisfaction thus: “I am very happy with what I witnessed today. Today is a special day to all Christians all over the world….We have large numbers of Muslim youths and traditional title holders who joined us in prayer; this is a clear fact that Nigerians can really be their brothers’ keepers; it is amazing. We must all remember that we are from the same parents (Adam and eve) and we all worship one God.”
As the year 2016 beckons, the lessons of Kenya and Kaduna should abide with us. Students especially have to learn the fundamentals of peaceful coexistence, mutual understanding and religious tolerance. The future belongs to them and they should shape it with love, justice and cooperation, not hatred, untamed emotions and bigotry.
Now, you can resolve to BYBK all the time and live and let live. Accordingly, “we must learn to live together as brothers, or we are going to perish together as fools,” as Martin Luther King Jnr reminds us.
Re: Zaria: Action, inaction and reaction
Dr Mahfouz, I read your article on this Zaria thing. You presented some points that are quite reasonable to reasonable minds. Meanwhile, you need to see how these Shiites embarrass the public with their unfettered hooligan attitudes in the name of religious rite. I was a victim of one of their molestations some time ago in the PZ area of Zaria. They show utmost disregard for constituted authority. They attract hatred to themselves every second instead of love and understanding! What kind of religious rite gives anybody the right to take over public places and exhibit rowdiness every time? I think the military took advantage of their stupidity to teach the group a bitter lesson because of the over-zealousness of some of them. Yes, a bitter lesson because it could have been the other way; these guys can kill with impunity. The case is very complex but the Shiites need to re-organize their group and do things in peace or else, the society will not accommodate them in any form. They need the society, the society does not necessarily need them!! This is the FACT. Well done. Ismail Olawale, Lagos.