RE-INTRODUCING NORTHERN NIGERIA: NOT AS YOU KNOW IT

I am writing this article mainly for the benefit of Southern Nigerians who have never been to the North, and mostly have a warped and inaccurate view of the North. I have been driven to write this out of my many personal experiences, and those of friends and family, as has been shared with me. This is mainly an educative piece about what Northern Nigeria is in reality; a complete, holistic picture of this region.

To make this piece a simple read and easy-to-follow, I am going to write it around 5 common perceptions about the North and
debunk them:

Religious Perception: The general belief held by most Southerners about the North is that the region is not just mainly Muslim, but wholly Muslim. Whenever I meet someone from the South and introduce myself, I am correctly placed as a Christian. But once I am asked my state and I say Borno State, the next question becomes, ‘Are you a Muslim?’ This is despite my name being a very common Biblical name, Mark, which is the second Gospel. Matter of fact, I have been asked that question while attending a church programme, with a Bible conspicuously held in my hands. You could imagine my surprise at that question. This has also been the experience of a lot of friends with common names such as ‘Emmanuel’, ‘Daniel’, etc.

To start with, out of the 19 Northern states, at least 5 have a majority Christian population: Plateau, Adamawa, Nassarawa, Taraba and Benue. At least 6 more have at least 40% Christian population. These states include Niger, Gombe, Kaduna, Kogi, Kwara and either Borno or Bauchi. That then leaves only Kano, Kebbi, Katsina, Jigawa, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara as having Muslim populations above 60%. How then are we all seen as Muslims?

This misconception could be excused when the person has an Arabic name, as there are many Northern Christians who bear names such as Jamila, Habiba, Halima, Sadiq, and Yunusa and so on. But when the person has an obvious Christian name and is even attends church services, you really begin to wonder.

Ethnic Perception: Another common perception of the North is that we are all Hausa. My usual response to this is to borrow the logical argument of Simon Kolawole, the Editor-in-Chief of THISDay Newspapers. In an article in which he attempted to educate his largely Southern readership base about the North, he went thus:
“If out of the estimated 250 tribes in Nigeria, we can say that the South-West is mainly Yoruba with a few other tribes around Badagry area, the South-East wholly Igbo and the South-South being most diverse in the South with about 40 tribes, that still leaves the remaining 200 tribes in the North.”

How then are we reduced to one single ethnic group, Hausa? It is only the North-West that is close to being homogenous, mainly Hausa and Fulani, but with still some minority tribes in the Zuru area of Kebbi State and the multi-diverse Southern Kaduna. The North-East and North-Central is filled with tribes, many of whom I have never even heard of. For example, Adamawa State is so diverse that the largest ethnic group, the Fulani, is just 3% of the entire population. In my home state of Borno, there is a local government so diverse that from one village to another, you are likely to meet an entirely different ethnic group. The number of tribes there are so many that we just address the people as ‘Gwoza people’, after the name of the local government.

Even though we all speak Hausa as a lingua franca in order to communicate amongst ourselves as trading partners over the centuries, that doesn’t make us Hausa people as much as communicating English doesn’t make you and I English people. As a matter of fact, in the North-East, Hausa people are a minority and virtually non-existent in the North-Central region.

Intellectual Beliefs: Now, this is one belief that whenever I am confronted with, it takes me a great deal of self-control not to flip out and lose my temper. Times without number, when I tell people I am from Borno State, I am asked how come I speak such good English. What the hell? What am I supposed to speak? Arabic? The general expectation is that someone from the North is not supposed to be this learned, this well-spoken and articulate in English, this knowledgeable. I remember when a friend asked me if my mother went to school, and the surprised look on his face when I told him that my mum earned her masters’ degree over 20 years ago. There was also a time when my dad met someone at the Lagos International Airport and they got talking. When my dad told him his profession, the man, in a fit of surprise, exclaimed, ‘I didn’t know that there were professors in the North’.

I admit the fact that the North lags behind the South educationally, especially the North-West and the North-East. But this is not due to our inability to comprehend what we are being taught, but rather due to the incompetence of leadership in the region to give education its premium importance as a form of human development. We, like every other human being on the face of this earth, can excel when given the opportunity. Talent and intellect abounds everywhere. Opportunity, however, does not. I personally know of many Northerners who have excelled nationally and internationally. Daily, the story of young men like Ahmed Mukoshy, who is born, bred and schooled in Sokoto, and yet, rose above his environment to become one of the emerging forces in IT in this country in his early 20s inspires me. This is just one example among many that I could cite but for the lack of space.

I find it outright disgusting whenever people claim that if not for federal character and ‘zoning’, no Northerner would be able to compete in this country. Last week, I was shocked when a friend said only 10% of Northerners in the Federal Civil Service deserved their places on merit, and went on to add that if he had not known me personally and I were to get a job with the Federal Government, he would believe that I did not earn it on merit. The most ridiculous one I encountered was when earlier this year, former Minister of Finance, Dr Mansur Mukhtar was appointed a World Bank director. Most of the commentators on the 234Next article announcing this achievement for this Nigerian and Nigeria made the ludicrous assertion that the appointment was done to please the North, that Dr Mukhtar did not merit it. Little did they know that Dr Mukhtar had worked at the World Bank and the African Development Bank, prior to his heading Nigeria’s Budget Office on the invitation of the then and present Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former World Bank Managing Director, who also recommended him for the post of Finance Minister when she rejected former President Umaru Yar’adua’s invitation to join his government. What is even worse is that they did not care to know: their minds were already made up and could not be confused with the facts.

Geo-Political Beliefs: Another common belief among Southerners and most especially spread by Southern newspapers is that the entire 19 Northern states act and think as one when it comes to issues of Northern politics. This is one of the biggest untruths about the North. Whenever Northern Nigeria is mentioned, the people of Benue, Kogi and Kwara states do not feel it refers to them. Geographically, they are part of the North; politically, however, they and the entire Middle-Belt act independently. This can be clearly in the last elections where President Goodluck Jonathan won in 7 Northern states, even against his strongest opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari, who is a Northerner. This was something I am sure a lot of people in the South, save for the political savvy, did not see coming.

One common sight of this perception being entrenched by newspapers is when politicians of Northern extraction speak on national issues. I have innumerably seen a washed-out Northern politician, without any influence or popularity speak regarding an issue, and the next day, newspapers carry bold headlines saying, ‘North rejects this’ or ‘North plans to do that’, quoting the same washed-out politician as speaking for the entire North. I have rarely seen a Bola Tinubu speaking and being quoted as the mouthpiece of the entire Yoruba ethnic group, or a Chief Edwin Clark for the Ijaw people. Methinks this is a way of selling newspapers by capitalizing on the image of the North as one single, political force which moves in a particular direction all-together

Cultural/Social/Economic Belief: Admittedly, as people of the same region, we share a lot in common culturally and socially in the general terms: our mannerisms, modes of dressing, traditional titles (apart from paramount rulers with the exception of emirates), etc. Despite that, the Jukun in Taraba and the Kataf in Kaduna are very different in the specifics, as even the Bura and Marghi people of Borno/Adamawa States. To pick the attitude of one ethnic group in the North and attach it to all the others, is to put it mildly, a very short-sighted way of knowing and understanding the people of Northern Nigeria.

Another belief in the South is that the entire North is but an empty land mass with nothing but trees. I remember the controversy of the 2006 census when Kano State was said to have a slightly higher population than Lagos State. Many of my Southern friends called it ‘an impossibility’. In the words of one of them, ‘Lagos is so populated that when you throw grains of rice into the air, they wouldn’t land on the ground, but on people’. However, they all forgot to factor in land mass, because Lagos State is a much smaller state than Kano State, and hence has the highest population density in Nigeria, hence making it look as though it was way more populated.
There are cities in the North that have been thriving economically, such as Kano and Kaduna. As a matter of fact, Kaduna State was adjudged by the World Bank in the year 2009 as the best place to do business.

Lastly, the most retrogressive belief about the North in the South is that the entire North is a hotbed for violence. As much as we have had more than our fair share of ethno-religious violence, there are many states that have never experienced one, including states such as Zamfara, and others as Nassarawa and Benue.

I have not written this as a criticism of the people of Southern Nigeria, but rather, in the hope that this will be an enlightenment of the South about the North. It amazes me when I see that despite the fact that we have been a country for almost a century, yet, a lot of people down South know little or nothing about their fellow Nigerians in the North, but know about Europe and America.

I have also realized that we as Northerners have allowed others to say our story for ourselves, hence have given it distortions, deletion and generalizations. What has happened over time is what the writer Chimamanda Adichie, in her TED talk in March 2009, at Oxford, England, describes as ‘the danger of the single story’, where a single story of the North as a region of poor, illiterate, lazy, Hausa Muslims who do nothing but connive to lord over this country politically and kill Southerners’ has been repeated so much that it is seen as the truth. This is the kind of stuff that creates stereotyping, which in her words, ‘not that it is untrue, but that it is incomplete’.

This is one reason I still see the significance of our NYSC scheme, choked with problems as it may be. We need to know each other more. Let us override this stereotypical mind-set and seek to learn about each other with open minds and seek the complete story that gives a holistic picture of our country.


160 Comments on this post

  1. Awesome piece- am a youth corper serving in ondo state from Borno, d 1st question everyone asks me is – Hope you are not a Boko haram agent? And I dnt get offended, I see it as an opportunity to enlighten them because I know where that question is coming from.

    Arhyel / Reply
  2. Once again, genius Mark. Heartfelt and simple. Kudos!

    Azeenarh Mohammed / Reply
  3. Mark, God bless you for this enlightening article. unfortunately the southern press, many who already know the facts, may never take cue but will continue to tell the north’s story with such sensation and mischief all with a view to selling their papers, and sometimes a political agenda.

    I agree with you that the NYSC should be strengthened to help overcome stereotyping, to which I add Unity Schools. We that were lucky to attend them have found accommodation, love, mutual respect and understanding amongst the various ethnicities and religions. I pray Nigerians as a whole do in the near future.

    B Adamu / Reply
  4. Markopedia de la effin s…. Thank u 4 dis. this is superb. God bless u jare.

    KadaGal / Reply
  5. Classic!!!!a good read.I will do well 2 share as I will no longer get confrontational while trying to enlighten my southern brethren

    gigs / Reply
  6. Nice piece i must confess, it’s a very educating one even to some of the so called northerners. I sincerely wish this was published on the front page of every Nigerian dailies because i have seen and met people who have this misconceptions about the 19 northern states.

    It’s so common that they’ll almost (if possible) want to convince you that what they have made up their minds to believe is the true picture of what is obtainable in the north.

    Freeborn / Reply
  7. Coming from a state that many don’t even know exists, this is a breath of fresh air…Maybe more northerners should carry a chip on their shoulders (in a good way ooo) and how they are viewed and make positive moves about such misconceptions

    amsayaro / Reply
  8. I love this article. Very educative and in necessary.

    Ayuba Pindar / Reply
  9. Flawless mark! Insightful, fact-right, witty, truth and objectively-subjective! Thank u!

    Nessa / Reply
  10. Every Nigerian ought to read this post! Nice read

    unimaidbackyard / Reply
  11. They’ve said it all.

    Tahir Hassan / Reply
  12. i really want to believe your rosy picture of the north but this statement is true
    “the North is a region of poor, illiterate, Hausa Muslims who do nothing but connive to lord over this country politically and kill Southerners”
    19 out of 36 states but 90% of Nigeria’s GDP is generated from the south. The north couldn’t sustain itself before amalgamation & it still can’t.
    The sooner the south rids itself of the north leecherious

    Isaac Boro / Reply
    • **Incomplete comment posted in error**
      I’m sure you get the gist. The north has enormous potential but is mostly a wasteland with some of the highest illiteracy & infant mortality rates on the planet.
      It’ll be best if we go our separate ways
      Flame away

      Isaac Boro / (in reply to Isaac Boro) Reply
      • To start with, Isaac, I never compared the North and the South economically. This was a merely an educative piece about the diversity of the North which the average Southerner is ignorant of, and also against stereotyping. Of course, the South is ahead of the North economically. If u check my previous posts, u will c I’ve written at least 2 highlighting d poverty in the North and how we can combat it. Obviously, u read through this article with a closed mind cos u still called us ‘lazy Hausa muslims’ when through the article, I kept saying that there are many tribes and Christians in the North. As for your secession threats, I’ll respond to them in my next blog post. And lastly, you should at least your real name when you comment. Isaac Adaka Boro died in the 1960s. Selah

      • To start with, Isaac, I never compared the North and the South economically. This was a merely an educative piece about the diversity of the North which the average Southerner is ignorant of, and also against stereotyping. Of course, the South is ahead of the North economically. If u check my previous posts, u will c I’ve written at least 2 highlighting d poverty in the North and how we can combat it. Obviously, u read through this article with a closed mind cos u still called us ‘lazy Hausa muslims’ when through the article, I kept saying that there are many tribes and Christians in the North. And lastly, you should at least your real name when you comment. Isaac Adaka Boro died in the 1960s. As for your secession threats, I’ll respond to them in my next blog post. Selah

        • You should have compare all I mean economically and educationally to give it sound basing and also what does this entails? How is the rational?

          So since the southern states produce more intellectuals and able minds, how do you then justify Buhari appointing the majority of leaders of the same Nigeria from the Northern states who are not as capable?. I mean a cut off mark of 2??. What does the person have to write. Maybe if they can write their name then they’ve passed. God help that contraption called Nigeria, I think we’ve been deceived.

          Abia –——— Male (130) Female (130)
          Sokoto –—– Male (9) Female (13)
          Adamawa –—Male (62) Female (62)
          Akwa-Ibom –-Male (123) Female (123)
          Anambra –— Male (139) Female (139)
          Bauchi –—— Male (35) Female (35)
          Bayelsa –——Male (72) Female (72)
          Benue –——- Male (111) Female (111)
          Borno –———Male (45) Female (45)
          Cross-Rivers – Male (97) Female (97)
          Delta –———- Male (131) Female (131)
          Ebonyi –———Male (112) Female (112)
          Edo –———— Male (127) Female (127)
          Ekiti –———— Male (119) Female (119)
          Enugu –———-Male (134) Female (134)
          Gombe –——– Male (58) Female (58)
          Imo –————- Male (138) Female (138)
          Jigawa –——— Male (44) Female (44)
          Kaduna –——– Male (91) Female (91)
          Kano –————Male (67) Female (67)
          Kastina –———Male (60) Female (60)
          Kebbi –———- Male (9) Female (20)
          Kogi –———— Male (119) Female (119)
          Kwara –———- Male (123) Female (123)
          Lagos –———- Male (133) Female(133)
          Nassarawa –—- Male (58) Female (58)
          Niger –———– Male (93) Female (93)
          Ogun –————Male (131) Female (131)
          Ondo –————Male (126) Female (126)
          Osun –———– Male (127) Female (127)
          Oyo –————-Male (127) Female (127)
          Plateau –——– Male (97) Female (97)
          Rivers –———- Male (118) Female (118)
          Taraba –———Male (3) Female (11)
          Yobe –———– Male (2) Female (27)
          Zamfara –——- Male (4) Female (2)
          FCT Abuja –—- Male (90) Female (90)

          WHEN YOU GRADUATE WITH SCORE 2, BUHARI WILL CLAIM THAT HE WILL APPOINT U ABOVE THOSE THAT SCORED 139 BASED ON MERIT.
          IS THIS THE CHANGE?

          Chango / (in reply to Mark Amaza) Reply
          • My dear young man (I want to presume you are one), this article is neither an attack on the South nor an attempt to deny the fact that the North is behind in terms of education and economic development. If you read this post well, I made mention of that, and I have made mention of the same on many of my other posts on this blog and other sites (you can google my name with education in the North and you will see these articles). It is intended to explain the diversity of the North rather than the lazy single story of it being a region of only Hausa Muslims, all uneducated.
            Secondly, it is not about any politician, so your reference to Buhari’s cabinet is a diversion from the subject at hand.
            However, since you have gone that route, I am only obliged to follow you there: President Buhari’s cabinet (or rather, ministerial nominee list since they have not yet been sworn in) is not populated by only Northerners. It has a nominee from every state as demanded by the Constitution.
            Again, your view on the cut-off marks for Common Entrance and linking to Northerners in government shows exactly the kind of biased mindset I was talking about in my article. I agree that the low cut-off marks for the North not only is insulting to Northerners but to all Nigerians. But to then assume that every Northerner in government did not get there by merit is very myopic. What is lacking in the North often is not lack of intellect, but lack of opportunity to harness that talent. Nonetheless, like every part of country, we have our fair share of people who can hold their head up anywhere in Nigeria.

            Mark / (in reply to Chango)
      • @mark…i agree with issac and you…..but mark you fail to understand that quite a number of Nigerians are not literate,highly religious but denying the power thereof..My primary school was in kano,secondary school in jos and presently work in the civil service in abuja….my best friend is from nubi in adamawa and she is the best friend a man can ever have……the North is the architect of its own misfortune..how do you explain to a mother who lost her child who is serving in the North all you just wrote…its practically impossible,how do you explain away the fulani herdsman destruction of farms along the migratory road to a farmer whose farm has been destroyed like i said its practically impossible,how do you explain to the igbo man what you just wrote when the dead bodies of his kinsmen are brought home due to religious riots,its practically impossible…..@mark..i can boldly say today that most Northerners in the civil service are there not based on merit…i won’t mind speaking one on one with you if it will make u get my point of view…jelani aliyu is a sokoto man but he works in G.M motors as their lead engineer so i am not saying there are no brilliant northerners…you only wrote on how you want southerners to view the North but not once did you say how you want me to see the north based on the atrocities that has been committed……..plateau is a case study!there is a saying that first impression last longest

        banji / (in reply to Isaac Boro) Reply
    • @isaac boro. Do u tink life wil make a sense wit division, isolatn and disregards to fellow being?, i tink u shld go tru d post again and undastand it clearly befor u make comment of any sort. And i dnt tink d divisn u r advocatin is healty to d dis great nation cos wether u admit it or nt we both need each other.

      Ben / (in reply to Isaac Boro) Reply
    • Isaac, Nigeria as a WHOLE has serious developmental issues of which we can all agree dat the north has d lion share, BUT dat does not make d south a New York or Dubai! I’ve been 2 all zones of d south & come on its all ‘Nigeria’. Been 2 many places in Ogun State where we have 2 get an interpreter cos dey don’t understand simple English, only Yuroba. Now many southerners paint d south 2 their northern friends in such a way dat dey won’t believe dat such illiteracy too exist in dat region. What am I trying 2 say? we’re all in dis 2geda so stop fooling yourselves!

      Riblex / (in reply to Isaac Boro) Reply
      • So as not to generalise, I can confirm that 90% of core Northern employees in federal service do not merit it. 90% percent in unity schools as at today will be at home if not for the quota system. 99% of revenue the northern states share comes from the south. And the population of the North is overblown. Before you reply, I grew up in Yola and I’m of Igbo extraction.

        chima / (in reply to Riblex) Reply
        • Only part I agree with is the revenue part, and I will put it more at 80%. But I don’t blame you for thinking this way. Quota systems creates such views, and in my opinion, it has hurt us more than it has helped us. Personally, I want it done away with.

          Mark / (in reply to chima) Reply
        • I really find it difficult to believe that u grew up in the north and believe that 90% of northerners don’t truly deserve federal employment and 90% of northerners in unity schools are there only because of quota system. I can agree that u are Igbo, that is not a surprise, but u definitely didn’t grow in the north. Thanks!

          Hassan / (in reply to chima) Reply
    • Hey you a whoreson, how dare you made such a rashy statement to the Northerners. Dont you have a common sense to know that this article was created for enlightenment and unity promotion!!!

      Najeeb / (in reply to Isaac Boro) Reply
  13. Spot on! you could not be more correct. Many times on my visits to the south ave been assumed to be a Muslim even though my name is Christiana.I hope a lot of southerners get to read this.

    Christy Ndandok / Reply
  14. And the dumbass southern ignoramus rears his ugly head @ Isaac. How can you not get confrontational with people like this? The dude even thinks the north couldn’t sustain itself before independence. That doesn’t even make sense, that is only to a warped mind like his. God bless you Mark. But I hope you realise that only a few southerners will get your gist. The rest have had their gullible heads turned by their media. Keep up the good work.

    lawman / Reply
  15. @Isaac, it is Southerners like you that Mark is trying to educate but you have just proven that the task is a big one. How can the North be lazy when it feeds itself and largely feeds the South. Unlike oil, farming require hard work and doesn’t involve leasing out of blocs to foreign firms to extract resources. But I am not angry with you, I only genuinely pity you and really wish you will one day be educated.

    Thanks Mark,
    I am also a Borno man (technically from Yobe). I remember when serving in the east, the Igbos call our mosque “Hausa Church”. Can you beat that?

    IG / Reply
  16. Nice one Mark but perhaps you should also do another piece on the misconceptions, prejudices and stereotyping that the North has about the South for a balanced read. I think it will reinforce the understanding that you seek to promote.

    TIMI / Reply
    • @timi…..spot on

      banji / (in reply to TIMI) Reply
    • Perhaps Timi you being a southerner is in a better position to write an article on the misconception of the south by northerners

      Id / (in reply to TIMI) Reply
  17. Nice piece. Come to think of it, the ethno-religious crisis in the north is an indicator of diversity, a bad one at that. wrote a piece on the “Intellectual Belief” as well, here http://bilnigma.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/sanusi-lamido-fulfilling-prophecy/

    peace

    bilnigma / Reply
  18. Thank you for educating us.

    David Adamo Jr. / Reply
  19. Nice Mark, This is genius and I’ve gotta get it accross to mu pops. He’ll love u for life.

    Slick / Reply
  20. Nice one bro! You spoke my mind. Since my stint in the law school when I was paired with a nice guy from Delta, I have taken it upon myself to educate and re-orient my brethren from the South about the diversity and multi-cultural nature of the peoples of the Northern Nigeria. Its a pity that it does not even make any difference to some folks

    Ishaya P Amaza / Reply
  21. I must confess that this is a well written piece, but have a lot of reservations of my own. I am from kogi state which in ur piece u refer to as geographic north, but a I don’t need a rocket scientist to know that most states refered to as the north were for political reasons. Why will states like kwara, kogo, benue be refered to as geographic north while as a mater of fact are more southern in the geographic placements.

    Secondly, I have lived in the north for over 20 yrs and most say that some of the general belives shared about the north are false, but a number of them as not too far from the reality. A large number of government agencies are filled with incompetent workers and are mostly northerners, most of the religious and other violence in the country have occured in the north. Interms of the religious voilence the excuse might be given that its cos of the christian/ muslim composition of the north, but kogi state as an almost 50/50 composition but livr in peace, even given the fact that lagos is largely a christian populated state, it has been ruled by muslims since 1999, and there has been no agitation in that regards.

    I agree that a large number of problems in the north are both religiously propelled and as u rightly said are also political, but u cannot divorce them from what has become part of the composition of the northern people. I did my primary school in the north, secondary school in the north, university in the north and work in the north and i will say the problem of the north is politcal, backed up by the religious beliefs of the few in power.

    dare / Reply
  22. I agree with you Mark since I’ve interacted with several “northerners” in my time but only to an extent; it’s the 90% that give the other 10% a bad name.

    EmCee / Reply
  23. mark , mark, very nice piece you have enlighned me about the north – but you have cleverly stirred your piece away from the major issue other parts of nigeria has with the north “religious/ethnic intolerance” . am a muslim from kwara, but every time a new crisis is brewed i cant help but wonder about the senseless killings that are carried out by these northen muslim youths -and personally i think people fear what they dont understand-so if indeed NYSC will make us understand our country and culture better ? why is it that most times there is a crisis innocents NYSC corpers and non-hausa muslims/xtians are killed in the most barbaric and brutal way? mark i understand what you are trying to do – which is very noble. but you have to agree that some parts of the north are just so volatile – and when ‘foriegners'(other nigerians) are killed everytime there is a crisis , people dont want to understand that – THEY WANT TO FUCKING STAY AWAY! .

    Olabisi 'bizzau' Yahaya / Reply
  24. Mark. I agree with your viewpoints 100% but the problem cuts both ways. If I begin to chronicle the stereotypes I come up against living in Kano for almost 19 years. Worse from the so-called educated elite……

    FemSun / Reply
  25. Nice article brov….d northeast has earned for itself the unenviable position of the least developed’ least educated & most volatile region in the whole of nigeria… It is up to us (the children of the region) to reverse this conception and strive to lift our beloved’ albeit beleaguered states, above all the strife and inadequacies back to the path of greatness… Cheers man..

    tippie / Reply
  26. Mark you are so on point! Went to PH once and someone mislabelled me as Hausa after informing him I’m from Kogi state he went on to say that “its all the same thing”. I felt really sorry for him considering that Kogi is bordering Edo state and he hasn’t even bothered. if he doesn’t know bout kogi, he won’t know bout Kebbi.

    I also think the integration should start much earlier than NYSC. I was privileged to go to a second sch where 3 students were picked from each state, this helped in our understanding of the diff cultures in *NG*. Though these days people are more likely to stick to their uneducated, biased, ill-informed views even in the face of proven evidence.

    Oyiza / Reply
    • You sound like you went to Suleja Academy 😉 But seriously, NYSC is usually too little too late in many cases. And it also cuts both ways. Some of the laughable stereotypes of Southern Nigeria some of my fellow Northerners have are truly astounding.

      Mustapha Garba / (in reply to Oyiza) Reply
  27. Beautiful piece! Best attempt at ? holistic explanation of the ‘phenomenon’ that is the north. However, ? pluralist society such as ours is vulnerable to ? number of vices
    (Ethnic,religious,political differences etc),on which stereotypes are conceived…Having said that,I would like to draw your attention to the fact that you too are guilty of the same prejudice of which you accuse the ‘southerners’ when you make comments like this:’the most retrogressive belief about the North in the South’;’Another belief in the South is that the entire North is but an empty land mass with nothing but trees.’In other words,you’re contradicting your very well made point that hasty generalisations about an entire group are usually made based on the opinion of ? few as evident in the following line: ‘One common sight of this perception being entrenched by newspapers is when politicians of Northern extraction speak on national issues. I have innumerably seen a washed-out Northern politician, without any influence or popularity speak regarding an issue, and the next day, newspapers carry bold headlines saying, ‘North rejects this’ or ‘North plans to do that’, quoting the same washed-out politician as speaking for the entire North.’ Note,an opinion of an entire group is usually formed based on the opinion of the ‘loud’ few…On that note,I wanna say bravo!I will most definitely spread the word.

    Affiong Eyibio / Reply
  28. Mark, I just read this through a friend’s link on facebook. I love it! I see what you are saying.
    Am I the only one who noticed that from what I gather most of the people who commented are northerners. And the others who commented was not on a particularly positive note.
    It’s a tall order. I respect bright people like yourself who know their stuff.

    Yes there are northerners, even educated ones who have stereotypes about the southerners but in my experience it does no good to either side.
    I am from Southern Kaduna and my tribe the Bajju people who the hausa call Kaje is one I have to explain as much to most Nigerians as to foreigners. We are so different from hausa people it’s a wonder their capital is so near us (Zaria). We have no traces of Islam as far back and wide into my extended family and village as I have searched and I have searched and asked.
    In Uganda I met a Nigerian and introduced myself and mentioned I am from Kaduna to which she replied: “So that’s why you’re so dark” after which I gave her a photo of my family. I just am the darkest skinned in my family is all. Some people think my sister is Igbo because she’s so light-skinned.
    I remember being offended when I did well academically, not because I was congratulated but because people were surprised. Both staff and students. It was like, this is an act of the supernatural or something.
    Or this one time in I went to the Air Force Girls school in Jos in 2000 for the interview to JSS1 where we line up according to our states and I was first on the queue. This lady asks me where my local government is and I told her. Upon which she started hitting my head with her umbrella because “my people” are causing all this trouble. (There were some skirmishes at the time) I heard about them for the first time from her. I had to go back home and ask my parents what that was about.
    Having never lived in Kaduna myself but in Lagos, Jos and Bauchi I’ve learned many things. Did you know that indiginous Bauchi state people are not hausa. The hausa just migrated there in overwhelming numbers until they became the majority.

    This just floored me. I was zoned out watching some variety of MTV when they interviewed Jay-Z on his visit to Nigeria and when he asked about the cultural diversity, he was told Nigeria has two major tribes: Igbo and Yoruba. I was amused, surprised, embarrassed (for the level of ignorance) and offended. I don’t know in how many minds this happens without them saying it aloud. who think Hausa people are not Nigerians. Was it, Awolowo who did not think there was any such thing as “Nigeria”? I forget.
    Oh that the middlebelt would be recognized as having an opinion.
    As for being Economically dependent.That is a relatively recent development. We were the world’s leading exporter of groundnuts. Nobody studied the groundnut pyramids in primary school?
    As I travel more I hope to dispel some of these myths. And try not to speak ill of anyone, hausa, yoruba, igbo, ijaw, or tiv, etc malicously. That is doing my country and myself a disservice.

    Yanang Bossan / Reply
  29. Thank you for a most enlightening piece. While I’m almost certain that not everyone will agree, Nigerians being who we are, I believe it’s a step in the right direction. I would suggest that you publish this write-up in a national daily. That would go a bit further in spreading the word. Cheers!

    Femi / Reply
  30. This is a beautiful pieace. Thanks Mark!

    Sapheeya / Reply
  31. I find it very sad that some comments here are being made to emphasize what the author “cleverly stirred” away from. The point of the article wasn’t to portray the North as a perfect place, rather it is to help some people see how complex a word “North” is, as far as Nigeria is concerned. Let’s not turn this into a debate on whether or not the north failed to sustain itself in the past, and present.(An ignorant remark, by the way.) Understanding these complexities will make us appreciate each other more. Wonderful piece of writing my brother, keep it up.

    Christopher / Reply
  32. A well written piece. thumbs up mark, pls keep up d good work.

    becky / Reply
  33. Dear Mark,
    Reading throug your lines, I remember what I always tell my friends from Sothern Nigeria. I cannot imagine how someone will claim to be enlightened and even dare to comment on topical issues about this country when he or she has spent his or her whole life in Lagos! Originally from North Central Nigeria, I have been to every part of this country, Served in Lagos, worked in Lagos and I’m back at the centre. There’s a more balanced opinion of the beautiful people of this great Nation if you dare to travel and explore places.

    4myke / Reply
  34. Hi Mark, I forgot to mention that you should perhaps add a victim’s perspective to the next piece I had earlier suggested. To borrow Chimamanda Adichie’s words, I think the story is incomplete without the victim’s perspective. By victims, I meant those southerners and even northerners who have lost siblings, friends and loved ones serving in the North as a result of the killings in the North). Victims are often ignored in story-telling. Imagine yourself as a victim though the pain can’t be same as that of actual victims. I think there are just too many incomplete stories in Nigeria.

    TIMI / Reply
  35. Good write up mark at least this people will not look down on us again

    Balgo N / Reply
  36. Its an amazing ! I really like this write-up. I was moved, persuaded and fascinated when i go through this. Am shamduddeen by name am from Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, born and bred up in maiduguri, the Borno state capital. My Nursery, primary and junior secondary, Polytechnics and University was in Maiduguri. Only my senior secondary school @ Ilorin. Suprisely anytime i visit Ilorin i was called different name: molla (mallam), boko haram, malu (cow) to mention a few. I was under-rated, though i could not speak and comprehend English, it was when i was challenged by one secondary school teacher in front of my area, and people seeing the way i was flowing. They started saying different things. The truth is that all the Northers were under-rated, and belive any body from north is a muslim, killer, suiciders, boko haram to mention a few. I believe they are myopic, selfish and i cant i say not wise enough. Man i really enjoyed your article, more greese to your elbow. I need more of this to shed more light about the significnaces of northers. Thanks.

    shamsudeen Idrees / Reply
  37. nice one!

    Linduwa / Reply
  38. Good one Mark, if stereotypes where trees we all would be monkeys. I fully key in with your frustration, no need to be apologetic. The sooner we start the conversation, the easier it would be to get to know ourselves better. Keep it up!

    feathersproject / Reply
  39. A wonderful piece. In your next blog
    I would like you to discuss about how to develop our internally dynamic economy. I m from North knowing the fully portentials we have. For its the over relience on oil money that cost us all these embrassement. At the sametime the unemployment contribute to the level of violence in the region.let us understand our diff. Respect them and match ahead to erconomic dev. Path. I really commend your effort.

    ringim / Reply
  40. Mark, i have really found this article interesting and well appreciated. however, i will excuse my comment because your key motive is to address the misconceptions of the north by the southerners. but i feel a very fundamental factor of the above matter you attempted to address is left out or partially treated.
    ‘The term ‘Northern Nigeria’ or ‘Arewa’ means different things to different people. There are those who see it as a Muslim entity because of the dominance of Muslims in the region and there are those who see it as a heterogeneous entity that protects, or should protect, the interests of all its inhabitants regardless of religious or tribal affiliations.’and i think the stereotyping is on the basis of the former. The arewa mantra has been used to solicit the allegience of the large population in the region and they use it for the ulterior motive of the few for political and economic reasons. and that is the picture they wanted the world to see and am sorry, that has been the picture on their minds. even the states you mentioned to have at least 40% christians actually have more than 50% i.e: Kaduna and Gombe states. but we also have been brain washed to think they are more populated. am sorry to sound this open but even the initial machine for the GSM sim card registration that were brought to the north were programmed to have one religion regardless of what you choose as religion (islam) in the region and that is why when it was discovered it was completely re-programmed to eliminate the status of religion. you have actually chanted your predicament over the perception of the south about the north but the genesis of how the problem began should be the concern and until you get to the roots of the matter, this will continue and the pain will hit you harder.i think there are stories left untold about the north and the northern AGENDA. THE AREWA PEOPLE.

    simon karu / Reply
  41. Awesome! I can excuse d misinformation of the south with respect to our intellectual ineptitude of of the North, reson been that our so-called northern leader often mortgage competence with mideocrity in d name of religion. As long as our northern leader will continue to be subjective in employments and other states’ opportunities the intellectualy beraved will continue to represent the ‘northern best’ in the public service where they are expected to compete with others. As was ashamed when about two years ago the Federal Government to come out publicly to complain about the educational incompetence of the Federal civil servants from my state Bauchi state while many qualified graduates roam the streets without job. The time to speak out is now. Bravo! Mark. You spoke the minds of so many of us. God bless you real good and keep it up.

    folmi mallaka / Reply
  42. Mark I like your piece here. But I beg to correct some misrepresented fact about the % of christian population in Kaduna State. I would rather you refer to figures of the National Identity card. If I am right these figure show a population ratio of 65 % to 35% in favour of the christians.

    ABOI MATTHEW / Reply
  43. I find it interesting and somewhat surprising that you didn’t respond to Banji’s first comment. Inasmuch as generalization and stereotyping is not patently correct, it isn’t altogether wrong. It is borne out of instinct based on the behaviour and character commonly displayed by a group (homogeneous or heterogeneous irrespective).

    I fully understand your point and frustration, but you have simply ignored the true view of the other side. The Yoruba’s as you see today are not one homogeneous unit. The Ijeshas are remarkably different from the Ijebus, the Aworis etc. But did you know and see them as that? I am sure not because the Yorubas have over the years learnt to be less virulent. If the North were to be a peaceful entity, I bet that you wouldn’t bother with this piece.

    The South wouldn’t erroneously label the North no-good if and only if the North has shown real leadership and maturity. What you seek to disclaim is what Late Sadauna fought head, tooth and nail to proclaim. Search through history books and you will discover that you are trying to UNDO the works of the Great Sadauna (who the South respects and adore).
    Dear Mark, write a piece on how the North can and should put their house in order so that you can be proud of the Hausa label. Write on Socio-economic reforms that should set the North on the path on envy.

    Southerners have no problem with the North, afterall they feed the country; Southerners’ malice with the North is the violence. Their kith and kin have been killed and maimed. Their businesses have been destroyed and their hopes shattered.

    Just as you have tried to debunk the Sadauna notion of one Northern Nigeria, a Southerner will have to argue vigorously with a Ghanian that he isn’t from the VIOLENT North. If only you have an idea of what the violence in the North has done to Nigeria. The number of foreign experts that have trooped out, and those that will never come. The number and value of potential investments Nigeria has lost, all to this Norths’ penchant for innocent blood (generalization right). I am pained you have no clue how Nigerians will be subjected to closer security checks and violations just because the North enjoys being in the news. You should actually commend the South for not putting an advert on CNN dissociating themselves from the North.

    Give us peace and we let the North be, nobody cares if the North is predominantly Muslim or Atheist. The Yoruba’s have Muslims in their midst now. Haba!!

    Yemi Oluwakuyide / Reply
    • @Yemi am so sorry that your comments have turned from being objective about the aforementioned topic to incitement, the writer has only lamented his plight over the pains of some northerners, particularly the minority tribes. you are at liberty to express your predicament in the south if you so wish. no one is giving glory to the north and am afraid the south has given more negative image to this country than any geopolitical zone in this country and infact tis ‘ only a northerner that is guaranteed return back to this country when given a Visa out of this country especially to Europe. so please i suggest you keep your comments strictly on the subject matter to avoid deviation and incitement. the south has equally not done any good outside the shores of this country for decades.

    • My, my, my! Have we gotten our lines crossed!!! I see we still don’t get it! The Hausa label CANNOT stick like the Yoruba label sticks to cover the Ijeshas, Egbas, Ijebus, Aworis etc like you say for one simple reason, which is what Mark has tried sooooooo hard (God bless his heart) to get across: the Hausas are Hausas. The Igalas are NOT, the Biroms are Not, the Jukuns are NOT, the Igbirras are NOT, the Tivs are NOT, the Nupes are NOT, the Gwaris are NOT, the Kanuris are NOT, the Idomas are NOT, the Angas are NOT, …….. Need I go on??? Catch Mark’s drift yet? We are not even related. I live and have lived on this side of the country most of my life and so I am aware of the various dialects and their peculiarities. I speak your language as well! You have missed the point of this write up entirely. Mark is simply trying to educate you and a lot of people who think the same way, on the fact that what is happening up ‘North’ is not about belligerent family members having a squabble. We ARE not members of the same family! We are neighbours living within a community owned by all but dominated by a few. Please read the write up again.

      Ajuma / (in reply to Yemi Oluwakuyide) Reply
  44. Its painful to me that the essence of this article is lost on so many readers. A lot of them have wrongfully assumed I’m here to paint a ‘rosy picture’ of the North as a perfect place without problems. Nothing could be further from the truth. If any of them had bothered to go through my posts, there will see at least 3 posts in which I dwelt on the extreme poverty in d North, the religious crises and the lack of entrepreneurs here. I’m not going to hide my head in the sand and pretend as though we don’t have problems. We do have problems and they are embarassing to me as a Nigerian and then as a Northerner. But this isn’t the crux of this post. What I’m attempting to do is to explain the diversity of the North, which is unknown to many Nigerians from the South. It is the same way you feel when Europeans and Americans lump you and Congolese people together, since you are all Africans, without taking into congisance your differences. It is the same way Nigerians are all perceived as fraudsters cos of a few crooked ones. Someone mentioned that I should also write about the way Northerners stereotype the South with regards to riots. Maybe he doesn’t know that Northerners too fall victims of these riots at the hands of their fellow Northerners. My home church with a 95% Northern membership was destroyed during the Boko Haram crisis in 2009. But that’s not what I’m talking about. The thrust of this post is understanding Northern diversity, and not expecting the Northerner to be backward intellectually because of the idiots who call themselves our leaders. Yes, we have problems and we desperately need to put our house in order. I have not and will not deny this. But this isn’t reason enough to stereotype us in the way we’ve been.

    Mark Amaza / Reply
    • Dear Mark, stereotype wasn’t the making of the North, ask Sadauna, Aminu Kano, Awoniyi, Ciroma, Maitama Sule etc. They all fought to have a unified North and always present the North as one. I have never seen an Ibo man claim the Yorubas and Ibos are same, but great and respecfully eminent Northerners have. Can I ever fault their selfless service at keeping the North or Nigeria as one?
      You haven’t appreciated that the crux of the Northern stereotypezation is the ceaseless and senseless mass murders being committed there. Do you expect a mother, who lost her only child to start disagregating the North? What the your non-Northern friends are saying is that we are less bothered with who constitute the North, inasmuch as you are a Northerner. The negativity emanating from the stereotyping is the your main concern. Okay, tell me, who do the country hold accountable for the perennial violence in the North. The Hausa Muslim or the Berom Christian?

      Yemi Oluwakuyide / (in reply to Mark Amaza) Reply
      • To start with, what’s the percenrtage of people that know that a tribe like the Beroms exist? Of course, those politicians presented d picture of a unified North. But d issue at stake is that my being a northerner doesn’t make me Hausa. That’s it!!!!
        Sent from my BlackBerry® Smartphone, from Etisalat. Enjoy high speed internet service with Etisalat easy net, available at all our experience centres

  45. I am persuaded the reason for the initial post was to educate, by highlighting the diversity that exists in the North. This is commendable, and if read with an open mind, makes for a better understanding of the complexity of the Nigerian problem. At the same time, one can understand, even if not excuse, the chagrin of the southerner who tags the north as a hotbed of intolerance and violent agitation.

    Stereotypes are unfortunate, but usually crystallize from a recurrent pattern of occurrences, and thus have some elements of truth. The violence in the North is regrettable, and calls for a sincere effort on the part of northerners, in whose backyard this tragic drama frequently plays out, to put measures in place to limit the wanton activities of the perpetrators. You cannot invade a man’s private space to force him to tolerate, much less love his neighbor; but you can, by strict application of the law, make it extremely unattractive for him to translate his animosity to public harm.Thus people must be made to pay for their destructive acts, and the damage they cause to the image of the country. Unfortunately, we don’t see a genuine commitment from the authorities in the North in this respect, and any government that does not take up this challenge is not sincere.

    But taking the conversation one notch higher, we should begin talking seriously about what needs to be done to achieve greater integration and the beginnings of a national identity in Nigeria. I suggest we maintain the designation of the geopolitical zones as they currently exist but do away with states, which are a source of continued fragmentation and dissipation of national wealth. This way, we would take out things like ‘State of Origin’, and ‘Ethnic group’ from job application forms, starting with government jobs. We should then encourage our legislators to conceive and sponsor bills that would give some form of government support to couples who come from different geopolitical zones of the country, as a way to encourage inter-marriage and greater fusion. And children should be granted all the rights of indigenship in the zone of their birth, or for adults, in any zone where they have worked and paid tax for at least 10 years, rather than where their parents come from. Let’s dream a variant of Martin Luther’s dream, of a future in Nigeria where an Abdullahi Bala would be a democratically elected representative of the South-Western zone, and an Olufemi Adebisi, married to Nneka Obi, a Senator representing the North-Eastern zone of Nigeria.

    Dr Kenneth Ochulor / Reply
  46. My…who can believe I am from the North!

    Mbaya Sunday Peter / Reply
  47. wow this is a very nyc piece, i recognize the regular stereotype and its painful how we percieve ourselves …i may not agree with the population facts but the north is a region that has never been given its full respect due to ignorance by our leaders

    temi dare (@temid08) / Reply
  48. Good point. Well written article. But I must point out that the article bulds its best assumptions from the stereotypes it hopes to debunk. There are many stereotypes about the South and mainly, as this article proves, there are stereotypes about stereotypes…of what both ends of the axis think.

    Nnamdi Okose / Reply
  49. Are u a muslim?

    moses koi / Reply
    • With all due respect, sir, if u read the very first paragraph, I stated my religious faith there. But Christian or Muslim, it does not affect the substance of this article, does it?

  50. Simply want to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity to your put up is just spectacular and that i can think you’re a professional in this subject. Well along with your permission let me to seize your RSS feed to stay up to date with coming near near post. Thank you one million and please keep up the enjoyable work.

    Nancy / Reply
  51. I totally agree with you.Reason for this, is as a result of Sadauna politics in northern Nigeria.He played a kind of politic as if the whole north Nigeria is an Islamic state whlch is wrong.That is why i always tell my southern Nigeria friends during my service year as a corper that am not ‘ABOKI’When ever they called me.But i think the tribes, hausa christians and the non hausa christians should create an identity that we will be known for.And you and i are responsible for that.We can change it.

    Labaran Madaki / Reply
  52. Good write up but there are controlling thoughts: they can be formed from experiences, background,Education, relationships and believe in a supreme being (GOD). There is also what is termed territorial authority/supremacy…..in the light of the foregoing we come to that conclution that the few -ve NORTH has established their thought as the controlling thought of the NORTH and have exercised territorial dominance over the more +ve NORTH…it is rather unfortunate but this exists everywhere. The most united ”NATION” in Nigeria is the west because of this same principle. On the other hand the Ibos are the most diversed because the most controlling thought is that a man is selfmade and owes nothing to any one else…..that is why to get a concensus opinion amongst them is not very easy….the North can only change the prevailing opinion about them and manefest her potentials, and by extension change Nigeria if her controlling thought/territorial dominance changes from what it is now to accepting the good part of westhern Education and Civilization; Lets give it to them, Democracy is fairer than one Igwe, Emir or Kabiyesi, etc thinking and taking decision for every one else OR is it good that a woman should not explore her potentials to the fullest but should stay at home to be only a little better than a servant to her husband?…..A CHRISTIAN’S CONTROLLING THOUGHT FOR INSTANCE IS TO PLEASE GOD, IT DETERMINES HIS/HER ACTIONS…. What is the controlling thought of the NORTH vis-a-vis the current perception of the North by other Nigerians…….

    NSOFOR 1ST / Reply
  53. Someone should introduce the Southern Nigeria: Not as the North knows it. I mean like citing the striking difference between a southerner and a White Fulani cattle that can be slaughtered for fun. As much as I appreciate this introduction, I feel in the world of image making or laundering, words are not needed, actions speaks volume. This piece, as beautiful as it is in introducing the unseen features of this entity called North, it has failed to take responsibility for the various mishaps wrecked by its people. It has further provoked the “danger of the single story”.

    Felix / Reply
  54. Reblogged this on I.J.E's Blog.

    jmoolvee / Reply
  55. Well done Mark. This effort is a great step at nation-building because understanding/knowledge eliminates fear and fear eliminates prejudice.

    Keep speaking out as we learn more from one another and the end product would be the building of Nigeria into a developed nation.

    This is also a clarion call for many more nation-builders to arise and join the train.

    God bless

    Bobby Udoh / Reply
  56. I tend to agree with this. I remember when I was at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, and during the height of the June 12 period, all my “Yoruba friends” knew nothing enough about the North and even the rest of Nigeria BUT knew so much about Europe and America. It used to marvel me. I am a “son” of a University academic(Professor) and was raised in the University of Ibadan, Nigeria’s first university. I had/have a very good friend Mohammed Yahaya in Ife and he was MORE educated about Nigeria and the “west” than even my Nigerian brothers..I even asked him once whether he was on a “mission” to understudy our Southern education. This was because his family could afford to send him to the BEST school anywhere in the world but he was in Ife with “us” and he is the first son of his wealthy ex- military father. But I came to realize that in the “political game” of Nigeria, the North IS very “strategic” and they had a head-start. It opened my understanding to how great this country is. I should also suggest that the “Northern” intelligensia of THIS generation should do more in educating other Nigerians about themselves and their “challenges” in the Nigerian environment and use all the MEDIA power that can be gotten. The “Northerners” should also try to form “healthy alliances” in all sectors of the economy to fight “misinformation” and “mis-truths” because that will change a LOT of perceptions that majority of “Southerners” have. It would take some time and would be a gradual but sure movement.I personally have seen some Northern brands taking on the CHALLENGE. E.g. DANGOTE as a brand. Even with the current challenge of Boko Haram and it’s intricacies which I believe like President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan says would “pass away” though there WILL be casualties. It is the CURRENT battle to keep this nation one for the coming generation.

    Ime Udo-Obong / Reply
  57. I like this ur post we will share it so that people will read it and know the truth.

    Dandy Madakan / Reply
  58. We need more of dis if indeed we wnt a “1 Nig”

    Ayotunde Oyesola / Reply
  59. Thanks to Allah my people are waking up.

    Musa Abbo / Reply
  60. I luv ds, its gud 2 knw I hv sm1 who feels d way I feel abt ds issue… I hv battled much in trying 2 enlighten my frnds wth such ideaology too. Its a nice piece!

    Okibe Attah / Reply
  61. Funny how Northerners know more about the South and its people than the Southerners know about the North and its people. I served in Benin and the ignorance I saw there made me doubt if we were all taught the same social studies in primary school or not.

    Niechai / Reply
  62. Well written! Very nice piece! Kudos!!!

    petralyn Gambo / Reply
  63. This is superb!!!

    matt / Reply
  64. Great piece!we should see the full picture before we judge!Nigeria is a product of failed leadership and the cancer of corruption has spread everywhere in our blessed country!its easy to use the North as a scapegoat having led this country longest,but what our southern brothers n sisters fail to see is without the active involvement of southern Nigerian leaders it wouldn’t b possible.Our leaders,both from d North n South have led with one motive -their stomachs!we should wake up and smell the coffee!we need a fight for a second Independence,to free us from our new colonial masters-our greedy politicians and leaders!

    yakiz / Reply
  65. Spot on! An enlightening article abt Northern Nigeria – a good read also. The more we learn & know about ourselves, the more we understand each other; the more we understand each other, the more we tolerate each other’s values and belief system and when we can achieve that, then we would have more peace & unity in Nigeria.t

    Chalya Princess Miri-Gazhi / Reply
  66. Mark did well. It maybe hard for an average southerner to full understand why the violence in the “Northern” part of the country. The other ethnic nationalities find themselves in a union in which only thier numbers are required. In addition, a false identity has been imposed on them. For sometime, in a place like Kaduna Christians and Non-hausa were been killed and and diplaced and the goverment didn’t or couldn’t do a thing to stop it. How long does anyone think peace can reign under such conditions? What makes a goat bite is what has brought about the intollerance on the part of the minorities. For the southerner to understand better what mark is saying they can experiment by calling the Niger-Delta guy, preferably Ijaw by Nationality, an Igbo man persistently. After this read Marks article again.

    Agai Dala / Reply
  67. Kudos 2 Mark, this article has written because of we melitary serving @ south, may be they’ll know the truth about north

    Moses Malachi / Reply
  68. Had a similar experience where someone who had not been to church in close to two months asked me if I was a christian. And when I said yes, he asked when I got converted from Islam?
    And then there are those who are suprised that I can speak english…..

    zax / Reply
  69. The so-called northern image as believe by the rest is actually created largely by Niger republic illegal immigrants they are mostly illitrates and are all over the place most southerners call them mallam or aboki regarding them as Nigerians from north

    David Barminas / Reply
  70. This is the reality..kudos to the writer

    Rahila / Reply
  71. Mark thanks for this. The stereotyping is not only about what the south thinks about the north but also what the north also thinks about the south. But in all of these we also must look inward to see what traits tend to perpetrate these stereotyping and address it. I am a middle aged igbo woman who attended federal gvt girls college gboko in the late 70s/early 80s, have travelled across nigera and by virtue of my husbands 26 year military career hane lived in many parts of Nigeria including the army barracks in nguru yobe state. It was a great and interesting life as I remember traveling to the at nights and catching bikes in between. I don’t speak Hausa but felt completely safe. We also made and still keep lifelong friends from across Nigeria. Inspite of these I note with regrets that while the NYSC remains a great idea, none of my children will serve in any state north of abuja for now. The truth is we woke up one morning and can no longer recognize that country we all loved and some places are more prone to violence than others. And killing someone holds so much promise instead of dsaster for the perpetrator, then the temptation to go to violence will always pose a security threat. So my dear we should include the education of everyone including that killing sends each and everyone to hellfire. And that yes we should help pull up each other but merit must be our watchword.

    Bless you

    Alaigbe Ahoroaho / Reply
  72. Well articulated piece. Keep it up please

    Yila Nehemiah / Reply
  73. Excellent piece, Mark!!
    I just saw this today through a link on facebook. Sadly, many of the comments here prove the exact point you are trying to make. I am from the middlebelt,schooled in the middle belt and did my NYSC in the east and it was sometimes nauseating to know that the so called learned young people of this country knew next to absolutely nothing about their own country! What did they learn in school! Imagine what the rest think!

    For those who have read your article with certain negative stereotypes in their minds (or upside down!!) I urge them to read again.

    Freddy Longse / Reply
  74. JESUS CHRIST…So I have been F****ing UP since….God bless u my broda 4 opening my eyes…I will from 2day onward show the light to some of my mis-led friends too…7 gbosa 4 u jare!!!

    Prince Ogaga Wowo / Reply
  75. I am a southerner, having read all this…I am amogst the ppl that have this wrong impression to be honest.. Thanks mark 4 d education. I will spread the good news 🙂

    tj / Reply
  76. this is a well researched work. thanks for taking your time to present this wonderful piece.

    francis o. / Reply
  77. I remember my friend (a graduate of Unimaid & Nigerian Law School, Enugu campus) was reading a book during his youth service in d Orientation camp in Imo & some1 asked him if he understands what he is reading! Yeah, its that bad

    Riblex / Reply
  78. Good article,a must read for all Nigerians and other nationals who have wrong impression about Nigeria,most especially the Northern Nigeria.I wish Gaddafi is a live I would have loved that he read this article because he had wrong perception about Nigeria when he suggested that Nigeria should divide christians in the South and muslim in the North as if to say the entire northern Nigeria is muslims.You need to study more about the percentage in some of the states in the North because the percentage you gave for Gombe state is not correct.Christians are more than Muslims in that state.

    Usman / Reply
  79. I’m proud of u sis, I pray dat it will go a long way. My tombs r up.

    Lura Samari / Reply
  80. I agree some issue were deliberately over blown by sourthern media. One example. is islamic bank which some said is an attempt to islamise Nigeria. For God sake how could ten branches of islamic bank in Aba islamised Igbo business man.

    chana / Reply
  81. “Two way traffic” we have been together officially for a hundred years and historically far much more, yes evidence of interactions before colonisation exists.Is rather ironic the scale of ignorance,arrogace and prejudice we witness.We have virtually tried all systems of governance unsuccessfully and we all know why- absence of strong, people based and enforceble constitution.

    ramalan / Reply
  82. Maza, You have done what deserves commendation from every northerner, especially those of us from ethnic minorities from this region. Sannu da aiki. My suggestions for you however can be obtained if you write me at jphayab75@yahoo.com. I should be grateful to read from you as your work opens a new door for re-educating our teeming non-northern Nigerians and the wider world about our diversities and put them in perspective.
    For the benefit of others who may be reading my comments, I am currently studying in the UK and at a dept of African Studies. Shockingly, the map of Nigeria at our dept. suggests everyone in the north is Hausa as Nigeria has THREE ethnic groups (North: Hausa, East: Igbo and South: Yoruba) Two: The international media also projects the kind of sentiments Maza highlights. Three: I used to go to what you will call a “Nigerian Church” but not any more. The reason is that, at a Living Faith Church Service in the town I live, I met Nigerians among them are PhD holders and when asked what part of Nigeria I come from and I said Kaduna, I could tell that they hardly know the country they call theirs. I make this claim because they blatantly said they did not know that Hausa people go to Church. Now, who told them that I am Hausa- simply because I come from Kaduna state? It is these distorted ‘impressions’ that Maza’s article seeks to address.

    Philip Hayab / Reply
  83. Thanks for your informatve article. But I hasten to add that prejudice borne out ignorance or insufficient knowledge is not the exclusive preserve of Southern Nigerians. As a Southern Nigerian who was born and bred in Kaduna(the Crocodile city) myself, and who only went to live in the South for the first time in 2005, I recognize that a great many people in both the North and the South know very little about each other’s environment. I am often confronted with pathetic ignorance from both sides . Many Southerners from the West as well as Northerners often refer to people from states like Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers & Bayelsa as Igbos and vice versa. I have been addressed as such several times and so I should know. The prejudice and ignorance often demonstrated by many Nigerians in relation to issues of North South matters is a function of underdevelopment, pure and simple. It will fizzle out. I myself often struggle to re-educate my Southern compatriots about the North and its people and I have told people here that coming from the North to live in the South is like coming from Europe or North America to live in Nigeria. So, Mark, not to worry. Things will fall in place.

    Garvey Ufot / Reply
  84. You have spoken the true,when i was serving in Delta state,i was confronted such chalange.

    Kwaji / Reply
  85. Hey, Mark, u know how it is, some people just have thick skulls and no matter how much u try to educate them about issues like this, it just won’t sink in, but u’ve said it all. U’ve spoken the minds of all middlebelters. Bravo!

    Danee / Reply
  86. @issac, why so myopic nd unreasonable. Mark is trin to enlighten ppl like u dt ve dis complete negative impressn as regards d north n u ve refusd to be enlightened. Anyways, its allowd. U r entitiled to stick to ur views. Howevr, this is nigeria, we r all nigerians nd as far as d devlopd countries is concerned africa is a stricken poverty continent n letracy level low bt dt dosent mean we cant produce d likes of ngozi iweala nd whole lot frm various region of nig,dt applys to me nd u, so d issue of poverty, illetracy etc is applicable to evry region in nig. The issue of d killings in d north is political thou i must admit dt we regret d violence going on. All said n done, know this issac n ppl dt may be reasoning on ur level dt in d whole of nig., ‘the north’ or ‘northerners’ re d most hospitable nd reliable sets of ppl u can come across. Believe it or nt.

    Mami / Reply
  87. Very great piece.very enlightening.pls give it a wider reach than this especially among d information age youth cos we southerners ‘v been very myopic about north and i until now.dis ‘ll help in unifying d country

    Dipo / Reply
  88. Thanks Name-sake for this brilliantly articulated piece. A “most read” for students of Geopolitics and Nigerians who share contrary views. Well done!!!!

    Markus / Reply
  89. i will like to respond to those complaing about bodies of their relative being brought (home) the south from the north.
    i think it will be good for the southerners to knw who falls victim of the ethno/religious violence in the north, i cannot count the number of bodies that ws taken to my own village in Adamawa state from jos killed by the same hausa muslems who kills the southerners, it ws more tragic when i went home last xmas and new yr celebration where i spent the celebration period mourning, coz atleast once in a week bodies of our relatives r brought from Maiduguri murdered by the same boko haram who kill the southerners in the north.
    NB: imagine me being addressed as hausa or muslem, if u were in my shoe how would you feel?
    We should try to understand that both the northern and the southern xtians sufferes from the hausa muslems for example a driver to the igbo banker killed together with his boss during the january killing in Mubi
    Is from my village but he ws omited among the victims in the news

    dauda jacob kwaji / Reply
  90. This is very informative and educative despite the attempt by some commentators to still read it with prejudice instead of trying to understand what they might not know

    Usman / Reply
  91. Very important and educative

    urwat / Reply
  92. My brother, this is very educative information to our southern and even some northern counterparts. This peace need to be published beyond this medium. Imagine somebody asking whether U are a christian even in church? What then befalls people like us, Haruna Fatawa from the same state with you?

    Haruna Fatawa Ndahi / Reply
  93. This is good. I really appreciate.

    mathhias Sunday / Reply
  94. Thank you for this Mark – my fellow Northerner. I also try constantly to point out that ‘the North’ of Nigeria is NOT a monolith, so I am really glad to see this.
    But it would be good to point out also that even within states, religions etc, there can be great diversity… I am not from one of the states that is often discounted, nor am I Christian – bet VERY OFTEN, men from Kano State say things that I fundamentally disagree with! And I am not the only one in that situation.
    Thanks again – and thank you to Asabe Audu – through whom I got to know about your blog.

    ayeshamimam / Reply
  95. This is Very Good Bro….

    S D Silas / Reply
  96. Beautiful.

    Dan Paul Fredericks / Reply
  97. A beautiful enlightening article Mark.As a believer in Nigeria, i hope we overcome all our difficulties.The North surely has huge potentials in terms of Agriculture.If and when our leaders decide to wake up and unlock the opportunities therein.

    However, i beg to differ on Simon Karu, Aboi Mathew and your religious breakdown of the north.What was your basis for coming up with this percentages? Nigeria’s muslim population is currently 50%, Christian 40% and traditionalist 10% (CIA world fact-Nigeria).As we all know the percentage of muslims down south is minimal hence the north is predominantly muslim and a more precise approximate is hereby provided for a more accurate presentation: Benue and plateau are the only 2 states in the north with a clear christian majority of approximately 92% and 80% respectively. Adamawa has a split of 50- 50, Nasarawa and Kogi has about 50-55% muslim, 35% christian and between 10-15% traditionalist.Niger,Gombe,Kaduna and kwara have between 65-70% muslims,with Borno and Bauchi having above 70% muslims.The rest of the Northern states have less than 5% christian in each state.I know i will get my ear full and blasted,but please go to the archives most especially in Kaduna and get your facts before you unleash a war on me.It is also not about Christians bearing Hausa names,but more a case of lumping the number of all christians resident in the North that gives a wrong perception of the INDIGENOUS number of christians in the north.

    Either way no matter the numbers i pray we all unite and love one another as it use to be.My favourite part of growing up was going for christmas in Jos with our family friend.So please northerners let us live in peace with one another and transcend the love to the whole country.

    Habibah Liman / Reply
    • Let me say that all these numbers we all throw about are estimates. Even CIA Factbook is an estimate. Censuses in Nigeria are inaccurate largely, and the last census in Nigeria did not take data on ethnic and religious demographics. For more on the scam Nigerian censuses are, read this: http://aguntasolo.com/2010/06/07/p-is-for-power/

      Mark / (in reply to Habibah Liman) Reply
    • Excellent Habiba! Benue and Plateau are the only two states in Northern Nigeria with a clear christian majority. In fact in Adamawa christians are much less. Out of the 21 LGs, they are predominant in only 8 LGs. Improved electoral practices is putting to a lie the figures they relay to the unsuspecting public as the population of christians.

      Bamanga / (in reply to Habibah Liman) Reply
  98. Ur data on ADAMAWA is questionable

    Labaran / Reply
  99. Matthew Bata a pro carpenter from Borno

    succes / Reply
  100. […] week, I was going to write about my thoughts on an article by Mark Amaza demystifying Northern Nigeria to other people – target audience being the […]

  101. Nicely written Mark. I completely understand. However, I think it is important that even you recognize that you just generalized the South in most of your statements, thereby, creating a single story of some sort. Most of the things mentioned, I, as well as many others I’m sure, have never thought of in that way. But once again, I would admit that this blog was educative.

    Abani2 / Reply
  102. I totally agree with your viewpoints except one or two. While having read about the many ethnic groups and multiplicity of Northern Nigeria peoples in books growing up – including Awo’s books – I was a bit even amazed during my NYSC year in Gombe in 2008 when I learned that Gombe state alone has over 26 ethnic groups and visiting up to 6 out of the 11 local governments in the state during my time there confirmed that. I remember a conversation I had with a Gombe state indigene who told me then that he never allows his children to speak Hausa in his home; they must speak his local language and only speak Hausa with outsiders. I also remember when the presidential election results were coming in 2011 and there were reports that GEJ won 4 local governments in Gombe, I promptly declared the names of the LGs – Billiri, Balanga, Shongom and Kaltungo – to my mum and sister even before they were announced. And anytime I want to tease/joke with/taunt/rile up my Benue, Kogi and Kwara friends who attended ABU (including my GF) I just call them Northerners. In essence, my one year in the North revealed to me beyond what I hitherto learned about it via books.

    However, and you may call this nitpicking which wouldn’t be wrong, talking about some of the Northern states, I disagree that states like Kwara, Kogi, Benue and even Taraba and probably Nassarawa too should be called North in the first place. Geographically they are not (if what we have been taught is true); but maybe culturally some of them are a bit similar. My Idoma friend often says her culture is closer to that of that of the Eastern Nigeria (and Benue shares a fairly long border with enugu, Ebonyi and Cross River). I think it is a result of what the Britons foisted on us administratively at independence. And perhaps that is why my friends from these parts don’t feel/think they Northerners, apart from being also trying to distance themselves from the image the single story you mentioned project to others. Apart from, just for the sake of nitpicking also, I think you view on ethno-religious scuffles in Benue is not entirely right also.

    That said, I am must commend you for writing this piece though it took 3 years for me to find it. I have often found myself trying to explain this to some of my Southern Nigerian and and now mostly my non-Nigerians friends when discussing Nigeria, its politics and ethnicity because of this same single story – Muslim North, Christian South – being projected by the International media. Now, with this, I will just refer them to this article to read whenever it comes up again. Thanks once again for that.

    Finally, as one is wont to belatedly find out when one travel to different places that many stories perpetuated about different peoples are lots of times half stories or misconceptions, I hope many young Nigerians will endeavour to travel more and that this generation, with all the tools at our disposal to understand the truths and scale over common/cheap misconceptions, will tend to reinforce what unites us and embrace our diversity for the overall good.

    Bunmi Ajilore / Reply
    • Thank you for your comments. To be honest, I also struggle to call Benue, Kwara and Kogi Northern states, but if we have to divide Nigeria into North and South, we can’t also put them in the South. It is the reason why the geopolitical region called Middle Belt is here to stay.

      Mark / (in reply to Bunmi Ajilore) Reply
  103. Nice one Mark! I think the country needs more of your likes

    sultan / Reply
  104. Your presentation is ok, and many of us have shared many of your experiences. In fact, while doing my masters in the University of Ibadan many years back I was amazed at the extent to which most southerners knew very little about (especially) the north. My amazement even grew when I realised that many of them knew even very little about their own states of origin, but knew so much about the US and the UK. Most of their knowledge about the north has been passed down like fairy tales from friends and family. Someone even asked me that he had learnt that the north is a very vast, hot, extensive and barren, unproductive land, stressing to me the phrase “unproductive land”, which I found very amazing. I then asked him if he believes that all the tomatoes, okra, beans, soy-beans and corn brought to them from the north had all been grown from an “unproductive land”, he was very shocked and dumbfounded. He just realised then that it all sounded stupid, and I left him standing there. Most of them have never crossed the river Niger, and thus have some outrageous opinions about other parts of Nigeria. When I told someone one day that I was Hausa and from Kebbi State, he spent days asking me if I was just joking. Another day many of us were cooking in the kitchen and they started a discussion on topics in my bachelors degree course. I joined in the conversation and then realized that some of them were astonishingly amazed. Someone then asked me, Malam, did u not say that u schooled in the north? I answered “yes” and he said “How comes u know all these things”? …. and I replied “well, I never knew that NUC had two different university curricula, one for the north and one for the south, I thought they were all the same”, and again they realised they sounded stupid. I had so many of such experiences, to much to recount here. One thing u have left out, though, which I came to realize is that most southerners also see the north as a “single village” I remember when a lady asked to see me because she was told by a friend that I came from Kebbi, she wanted a message to be delivered for her in Kaduna. I told her I was sorry, that I myself had not visited Kaduna for a very long time. She was surprised and asked me “but Kaduna is in the north”? I said “yes, but the north is not a small place”. U cannot, however, blame them since they live in a very small expanse of land. I even encountered a Muslim friend, a masters student, that when I told him I graduated from Usman Danfodio University, had asked me whether Usman Danfodio was a professor in that University. Amazing! …… amazingly, also, I came to realise that trust was not easily given to strangers as it is in most parts of the north, people were somewhat afraid and cautious of each other (my apologies to my southern friends).

    Hassan / Reply
  105. Mark, nice piece. I used to have the South belief’ until I moved to live in the North. Living in the North for about 12 years exposed me to these facts, having travelled to all parts of the North (NE, NE & NC). and meeting a varied class of people across these regions. However, it is necessary to note that the general misinformation is (and always being) championed by the minority Hausa Leaders over the years. It had been a propaganda and it is still being feathered by the same group of people.

    Muyiwa / Reply
  106. Mark, am really amazed @ this treatise, it is very very educative! Before reading, I had believed 98% of it to b true and sacrosanct! Infact I believed d fear and avoidance of the North was d beginning of wisdom for any Southerner. Thanks and may d good Lord bless u richly for this write up

    Charles Eyong / Reply
  107. This article is well put together. However, what Mark is writing about the South’s general insufficient knowledge of the North, is also applicable to the North’s incomplete knowledge about the South. How else should a Kalabari man from Rivers State feel, when lumped together with the Ibo peoples of the South East? I have a number of friends and colleagues from the north who still feel that I am an Ibo person, even years after the clear delineation of the regions of South-South, South-West and the South-East. I don’t know how History and Geography books in Nigerian schools are written, but a lot of work need to be put into this. Thanks anyway, Mark!

    Igon Dokubo / Reply
  108. I think some people carry these propaganda to steer up unnecessary sentiments rather than engineering bridges of unity among we Nigerians. Otherwise how can someone whose name is Mark and is a christian from Borno raises an eyebrow while a Yaya from south-west who also is a christian does not. Educated people should act and behave as such so that the less educated will not be misled.

    iJohn / Reply
  109. Mark, this is very educative indeed. However I would not blame majority of Southerners who have this wrong perception that the North is backward. I am from the East but schooled in Bauchi. While in school I encountered several highly intelligent professors and students who were from the North. So I know that there is something good from there. But when an educated Northern friend of mine came to Lagos for the first time, he was appalled when he saw that many of his fellow northerners were beggars on the street or at best, ‘Abokis’ who sell sweets/biscuits by the roadside. That is the picture we Southerners all grew up with. There is a saying that whatever name you call yourself, that is the name others will call you. Its just like when we Nigerians look to the white man as superior to us in all ramifications. This is because of the picture America has painted about itself. But when you actually go to America you will find some white men who are not up to you by any standards. So in summary, its all about branding, how you package yourself. The North needs more people like you to not only talk, but indeed show that you are a force to be reckoned with in all sectors of the economy.

    Innocent / Reply
  110. This is very educative. However, we need the perception of the south from a northerner too. Anyone?

    Femi Kolawole / Reply
  111. God bless u Mark for this beautiful and factual piece for all to know. I had the same experience when I was in Calabar on a study tour. My fellow muslims went to pray but myself and Solomon stayed at the reception waiting and the receptionist asked why we have not join them in the prayers. when I replied that we are Christians, they were all astonished and said” Christian in the North”? I had to enlighten them about the north in terms of religion, culture etc. Well done mark.

    Fidelis Daboer / Reply
  112. Thanks as said very educative …. most of the area known as the North was conquered by Usman Dan Fodio during the Jihad (1809 – Fulani War), forming the Sokoto Caliphate. They conquered the Hausa States, and other states, right pass Ilorin in the South West. When the British took over the territory in 1903 the Northern Nigeria Protectorate the fact it was easier for administrative proposes to lump everything together as one. Because of the fact that the Emirs were a bit hesitant on Christian missionaries, they were restrictive, which was unfortunately, because it was the missionaries in most cases who brought schools and hospitals.

    Hence the reason why some of the Southerners believe that the North is backwards as regard education. This ideology is not totally baseless and is based on facts. This was realised at the time of independence by Sir Ahmadu Bello, who started the process of Northenisation and maybe the Quota system. This I felt in a way contributed to one of the causes of the first military coup and was responsible for the problems since. As seen from JAMB results the highest number of applicants are from the South, which has hundreds of thousands while in the North it is just a couple of thousands. Also there was a time which there was a different A level exam for University entry for the North appeared less complex than that of the South. It is unfortunate that the desire of our first Northern Premier that the North will eventually catch up with the South was not successful.

    But you can realise why people do have some biased. As regulars population since we are resources and split on the population number. It is understandable that will think that the North is falsely inflating its population, while cluster analysis of VAT, income tax etc. is not proportional to that number. However, data is always wrong in Nigeria.

    Tunde Ajao / Reply
  113. Thanks as said very educative …. most of the area known as the North was conquered by Usman Dan Fodio during the Jihad (1809 – Fulani War), forming the Sokoto Caliphate. They conquered the Hausa States, and also other states, right pass Ilorin, Offa in the South West (Yoruba Land). When the British took over the territory in 1903 the Northern Nigeria Protectorate was easier for administrative proposes to lump everything together as one – under the Sultan of Sokoto. Because of the fact that the Emirs were a bit hesitant on Christian missionaries, they were restrictive, which was unfortunately, because it was the missionaries in most cases who brought schools and hospitals.

    Hence the reason why some of the Southerners believe that the North is backwards as regard education. This was also realised at the time of independence by Sir Ahmadu Bello, who then started the process of Northenisation and maybe the Quota system. This I felt in a way contributed to one of the causes of the first military coup, the civil war and was responsible for the problems since. As seen from JAMB results the highest numbers of applicants are from the South, which has hundreds of thousands while in the North it is, just a couple of thousands. Their past rates are lower and it is felt that as we are all in one Nigeria, the past rate should be the same. Also there was a time which there was a different A level exam for University entry for the North, which appeared less complex than that of the South. It is unfortunate that the desire of our first Northern Premier that the North will eventually catch up with the South was not successful. The high number of dissatisfied, uneducated, disillusion youths provide recruits for Boko Haram, and in the past Maitatsine.

    But you can realise why people do have some biase on the bases of population. As our population determines the number of resources we are allocated. It is understandable that some people will think that the North is falsely inflating its population, since cluster analysis of VAT, income tax etc. does not reflect the official population. But this will always be a problem of a high resource low income state.

    Then not to think the High Infant Mortality Rate, Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Rates. The high incidence of Vagina Fistula which has a disastrous effect on the ladies. In general there are very poor medical facilities in the North as compared to the South. I worked as a NYSC doctor in the Northern part of the country, together with poor social care, general lack of information and people with their wrong beliefs, superstitions and fears , this is a cocktail for a health disaster.

    But one thing I have notice is that the North is very productive here there is very good soil when compared to the South. The North is the bread basket of the Nation and most of the time we have trucks filled with tomatoes , yams, etc. making its way to the South. There are cows which provide meat making their way to the South also. The North has a lot of resources and when a large proportion of the population is educated it would be wonderful, as we all make a great Nation.

    Tunde Ajao / Reply
  114. Well, I am yoruba but I was born in and lived in kaduna for half my life and while I agree with the fact that we must join hands together and bring Nigeria together by caring, I agree with the person who said that due to the violence, a lot of people are tired and have just given up on the north and would rather not know anything and just stay away and I used to think that way too and couldn’t just wait to get admission and cut off ties with the North…but with everything I realised that even if the north were another country, their woes should bother us and their joys gladden us and in our own little ways even just getting to.learn about the North and it’s cultures we make things better. I pray Christ places this love in our hearts…btw I don’t agree that Zamfara has not had its share of violence, as a matter of fact the first religious crises I witnessed in Kaduna started in Zamfara. just saying 🙂

    ogungbemi bunmi / Reply
  115. What an excellent piece, Sir. I wholly identify with this. You can’t blame the Southerners, who have been deliberately misinformed. I used to think the same way until I went to the North 20 years ago for NYSC and ended up marrying a beautiful lady from Borno State. Nigerians need to travel around a bit and see things for themselves rather than believing everything they are told.

    Victor Ordu / Reply
  116. I did not see any Igbo man’s comment here, and scarcely did a south- sothern commented. Mr writer, your circlulation of viewers are exclusively, likely from the North.

    Chike / Reply
    • First, there is nothing wrong with one’s audience being from one religious, ethnic or regional group. It happens all over the world – Ebony and BET has an almost entirely black audience. Even within Nigeria, Tribune’s circulation is largely within the South-West, Champion in the South-East and Daily Trust in the North.
      Secondly, you are wrong to say that you did not see any commentator on the article from the South-East and South-South. I think you need to read the comments again, maybe with a pair of glasses this time.
      Lastly, I get you are trying to insinuate that the lack of diversity in my commentators means that only people from the North have read it. However, this article has been syndicated on many sites, such as ThisDay last year (http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/re-introducing-northern-nigeria-not-as-you-know-it/176756/) and Nairaland as far back as 2012 (http://www.nairaland.com/905002/re-introducing-northern-nigeria-not-know).

      Mark / (in reply to Chike) Reply
  117. This is wonderful Mark. Please don’t be discouraged by the mischievous response from some diehard Southerners who nurture a pathological hatred and deep seated contempt for anything Northern. On a number of occasions I found myself trying to convince some Southerners on social media that it is impossible to “Islamize” Nigeria by the North as they believed and feared without success. I told them by way of logic that it’s impossible to Islamize even the North itself, considering the fact that the ratio of Muslim /Christian in the region is about equal. In any case I’m glad that there are millions of Southerners residing in the North who know the truth. I hope they’ll replicate your effort in enlightening their colleagues back home about about the North. Once again, we’ll done Mark.

    Lawal Jibrin / Reply
    • I’m quite surprised comments here turned into ‘stylistic’ hausa bashing. Although Mark’s writeup was brilliant and reasonably balanced, the theological/ethnic biases behind it are inescapable to an objective mind (his above comments support me). To paraphrase Chimamanda’s words ‘it is no less a single story than the stories it set out to refute’. I’d name it ‘Introducing Northern Nigeria: Perspective of a man from the minority’

      Why not write about the causes of violence in Northern Nigeria? Think it will present a more balanced report. The supposed ‘victims’ might just realize how guilty their ‘brethren’ have been.
      To prevent misconceptions of my comments as a hausa defence, I must sound it clearly that I’m not of hausa ethnic extraction. My native town is Offa, Kwara state.

      Chocoboy / (in reply to Lawal Jibrin) Reply
      • I am lost as to where the ‘stylistic Hausa bashing’ is. Please point it out to me.

        Mark / (in reply to Chocoboy) Reply
  118. Nice one. I hope to add my voice on your next article. I have seen quite intelligent views here. Having lived in the North, though from the East (south in your context). I tend to agree with you on your views.
    Though I doubt if it’ll ever be gotten right. I am not a pessimist, but I have seen this issue go on and on with a lot of persons sticking to their own view.
    Thumbs up once again Mark.

    Christian Chime / Reply
  119. Well, only those of them that work, school or serve in the North will know that. The rest of them care very careless about it. I’ve never been to the south, but I know there’s way more than just Igbo and Yoruba in the south.

    Dzarma / Reply
  120. Finally! Someone explains this! Don’t even get me started on the debate that always ensues when i say I’m yoruba from Kogi state (which ppl think is really up north but actually southward geographically) sigh! Nigerians should read this!

    Dunni / Reply
  121. This is highly educative piece.
    It is only those psycho-emotional warped minds of Southern-Nigeria extraction that would twist this article to fit their distorted and perverted religio-tribalistic induced views of some phenomena in Nigeria.

    OLABODE OLANIPEKUN / Reply

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