WHO INTRODUCED WESTERN EDUCATION TO MIDDLEBELT?

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As early as 1904, at the beginning of the colonial era, Western missionaries started trooping into the Plateau Gurara Gongola region of central Nigeria. Most of these missionaries came under the unified mission bodies of the SUM/SIM (Sudan United/Interior Missionaries). Different branches of the SUM/SIM missionary activities gave rise to the various similar churches like COCIN, ECWA, LCCN, EYN, ERCC, CRCN/RCCN, UMCA, UMCN and TEKAN spread all over the Plateau Gurara Gongola region.

From the first towns like Wukari, Langtang, Numan, Panyam, Kagoro, Zuru e.t.c where these different branches of missionaries arrived within different parts of the PGG region, they dispersed to other neighbouring towns, creating mission stations in most of these towns. These missionaries built schools, hospitals, skill acquisition centers e.t.c alongside every mission station established.

For example, at the time of the Independence of Nigeria in 1960, the American branch of SUM/SIM which started in Garkida town in 1923 already had dozens of mission stations with primary and secondary schools, hospitals and training centers in all the major towns of the NORTHERN GONGOLA (Southern Borno and Northern Adamawa) subregion. From Garkida where they started in 1923 to Lassa, Marama, Shaffa, Chibok, Wandali, Uba, Askira, Gulak, Michika, Shuwa, Mubi, Vimtim, Kwarhi and many other towns within this zone. This later became the EYN church.

Government schools of colonial Nigeria and post-colonial Nigeria came to most parts of the Plateau Gurara Gongola region decades later (after Independence). For example, by the 1930s, there was already Teachers training college Gindiri (in present day Mangu LGA of Plateau state). However, the first government secondary schools in this area were built in the 1970s under the old Benue-Plateau State during the administration of Late JD Gomwalk.

These missionary establishments within the Plateau-Gurara-Gongola region alongside the infrastructures that came with them are directly behind the education, modernization and modern integration of the Indigenous people of the region. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Sokoto caliphate because the overwhelming majority of the Indigenous peoples of the region successfully resisted the jihad of Sokoto caliphate and were never controlled or conquered.

It is true that in the 50s and 60s, the Sardauna and his crew embarked on ‘Pro Islamic and Pro Arewa’ campaign and outreaches among the Indigenous peoples within parts of the Middlebelt region, especially areas like Southern Bauchi. However, by that time, the missionaries had already arrived most parts of the region and built many educational structures with thousands of pupils and students like the ladies in the picture below. Sardauna’s campaign was nothing but a reactionary campaign to counter the spread of Christianity and see to the spread of Islam among the Middlebelt ethnic nationalities in colonial Northern Nigeria and secondly to consolidate the unity of Arewa.

In the PLATEAU GURARA GONGOLA region today, we have Grandparents and Greatgrandparents who are literate, like the ladies in the picture below who must be in their 80s/90s if they are still alive. My own family and hometown in Plateau state also have lots of such. All thanks to these early missionary activities. However, among the Core-northerners (Hausa, fulani and Kanuri muslims), it is very difficult to impossible to find elderly women in their 80s who are literate outside Islamic education. So, how can it be that these same Core northerners claim to be the ones to have brought civilization to the Middle-Belt region?

We must tell the world our story!

-Noah K. Son_Of_The_Plateau, nowenuseka@gmail.com

References
*A history of the Church of the Brethren mission in Nigeria and the emergence of the Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria
*African missions, education and the road to Independence: The SUM in Nigeria, The Cameroons, Chad, Sudan and other African territories

[Picture: Garkida town of Northern Gongola (present day Adamawa state), showing young Bura women being taught how to read and write by a missionary in 1952]

culled from Esan People Blog

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