On Friday the 2nd of September, Pages of printed A4 paper appeared across notice boards in the Awolowo and Fajuyi halls of residence, detailing the rationale behind an unexpected move to the effect of the Closure of two places used as Mosques. Students craned their necks to make out the contents of the official circular signed by the Acting Dean of the Division of Student Affairs, Dr. (Mrs) G. O Akinola. Some left after reading a few lines, while others stood, hands fixed on their waists or sticking up their necks in the afternoon heat, and read to the very last letter.
Soon enough, it was a news on everyone's minds, and yet scarcely on anyone's lips. OAU Students have by nature a nonchalant attitude towards things that do not affect one of four things; their Academics, rule of law and order, Electricity, and water. Take any of these away, and expect Armageddon, but if someone does something or something happens to someone in the middle of something or the authorities have problems with someone, such someones are on their own.
So, at least for now, there are no riots or street-blocking...perhaps this is due to the fact that the mosques haven't been sealed off yet, till Monday they won't be. But ironically, OAU have never had the blot of sectarian or religious violence of any kind or proportion, they've historically been too scholarly for that,even with the Institution's somewhat traditional volcanic posture and a timeline chequered with strikes and shutdowns. Perhaps then, it is this lack of violent religious dispositions that is keeping swords sheathed. In another Paradoxical side, Obafemi Awolowo university, Ile-Ife, is touted as having the most religious Campus in the whole of West-Africa.
In order to gain a better insight into the mind of the Great Ife concerning this issue, your dearly beloved Campuspunch Correspondent/Captain/Companion/Cynical Journalist Oakley, stepped on to the streets I always walk, and proceeded to ask of my fellow students what their opinions on the issue were. The reactions could be described as mixed, but in all honesty the overall reaction was indifferent. I spoke with a devout Muslim, and he just frowned and said we should see as it goes. Almost every other person felt like the same; let's just wait and see.
But one person did not feel that way. He felt the DSA was very right in taking the decision, and he gave his reasons. This particular "Splinter group", he posited, had some physical suggestions of the eccentric zealousness that can foster a suspicious atmosphere, and this thing about keeping their ladies in rooms... Seriously, on a University Campus? And in halls of residence? This is an Academic environment, not an harbour for Harems! And if they feel their religious perspectives were different and they must strictly adhere to their principles, must they do so in rooms built for non-religious purposes? Can't they apply for a place to build something at the Religious Area set aside at another wing of the university campus for religious activities?
And really, what is so different about them that they cannot be incorporated as part of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria? And why are they trying to be a sort of doppelganger, sullying the identity of the Original, mainstream and nationally recognized MSSN? Must they have their way? What is so strange about them that the Imam of the Central mosque said "he would rather not be
held responsible for what ever happened in those 'mosques'
as he had since dissociated himself from the practices and
doctrines of the splinter MSSN who controlled it"?
A while after the statement from the DSA was pasted, another batch of printed A4 papers appeared. This time, it's a response from this "splinter group" which referred to itself as MSSNOAU, detailing their objections to the claim. As at the time of filing this report, I am yet to obtain a full transcript of this release, so I shall tell you in two sentences what's its all about. One, the MSSNOAU release is very much a lighthearted but serious and succinct, making a good laugh of the DSA'S decisions and assumptions, especially the ignorance of the Acting Dean of the DSA of the norms of Islam, according to them. Second, it's quite nicely written. I should say that the way the response was articulated is quite commendable, as one would expect that they would lash out viciously at the "injustice". Lash out they did, but in a subtle way coated with satire. Even the heading is a satiric Headstone - "Madam DSA and her Brothels", reference to the suggestion by the DSA that acts of the nature of prostitution and and such may be perpetrated in the mosques. They didn't attend to some vital details, like what loggerheads they are at with the Mainstream MSSN, and why the Chief Imam is himself so cautious about concerned about their operations and "procedures", but we expect to understand better in the coming days.
In other but quite vitally related development, A particular unnamed Muslim student has added fire to ire, by publishing caustic papers regarding the events of the controversial closure of the two Mosques in the Awolowo and Fajuyi halls of residence...Coming up next exclusively on Campuspunch with the report from your No. 1 secretive Journalist Oakley.