Boer believes that he attempted presenting descriptions that are representative of the ”facts” viewed through the lenses of the two religions. (His promise is that the second and third volumes will examine Muslim and Christian analyzes of the riots). In the first chapter, the introduction, he identifies two major problems which are facing Christian spirituality in Nigeria. The first is corruption which has penetrated every level of society. The writer holds both Christians and Muslims responsible. The second, Christian-Muslim relations, is the subject of the book. If corruption has demonized Nigeria, Boer argues that Christian-Muslim relations have bedeviled it. The essence of his message to Christians and Muslims is respectively wholism and pluralism. Christians need to repent of their flirtations with the language and concepts of secularism in an environment shared with Muslims and move away from it by developing a more comprehensive worldview. Muslims, on the other hand, need to update their sense of pluralism. Nigeria is now marked by a pluralistic situation that no longer allows the domination of one religion over all the people. Conversions from both traditional religions to Islam and Christianity have produced a Christian community that at least numerically equal to that of Islam. Such a situation calls for new inter-religious relationships. Both religions have to affect changes in attitude towards each other. They need to move from hostility to respect.

Boer discusses the Kuyperian perspective which is often referred to as Neo-Calvinism/ Kuyperianism. Kuyper”s form of pluralism would allow for the unfettered development of all world views on their own terms and not necessarily defined by secularism. Boer introduces Kuyperiamism to Christians and Muslims as a legitimate interpretation of the Christian gospel that simultaneously is one that should make it easier for Muslims to live and work. It would enable Christians to withdraw the red flag of secularism they are constantly waving before Islam that evokes so much passion in the hearts of Muslims. The second chapter is a discussion of the long series of religious riots and related activities that have affected the nation. Boer observes that in the aftermath of the Constitutional Assembly debate on the sharia in 1977, a long series of riots occurred that started in the early 1980s and is a present reality. He quotes a government source that lists over thirty major violent riots. In his analysis of these riots, Boers notes that they had a number of different motives. Muslims initiated most while Christians sometimes started later riots. Others were intra-Muslim affairs while some were initially directed against the government and eventually diverted to Christians. Among the riots studied include the Maitatsine Series (1980, 1982, 1984 and 1985), Kano Series (1982, 1991, 1995), Kaduna Series (1987, 1992, 2000), Katsina (1991), Bauchi series (1991, 1994, 2000 and beyond), Potiskum (1994), Plateau Series (1994, 2001 and beyond) and Borno-Maidurguri (1998).

Six very important documents are included in the appendices providing supportive evidence of some of the statements made about the riots between Christians and Muslims. The headings of these documents are suggestive: The violent politics of religion and the survival of Nigeria : Press statement by Ahmadu Bello University Lecturers 1987 (Appendix 1), Submission to the Kaduna State Commission on enquiry into the recent disturbances in Kaduna state, Chief Daniel Gowon 1987 (Appendix 2), Death and destruction at Baptist Seminary, Kaduna in 2000, Yusuf Gwadah (Appendix 3), Kaduna”s killing fields?, Bala Abdullahi and Kayode Kolade 2000 (Appendix 4), Escalation of rage, Onimissi Alao 2000 (Appendix 5) and Avoidable carnage in Kaduna, Umar Sanda 2000 (Appendix 6). The subject index in this first volume makes it relatively easy for one to trace important topics and the footnotes and eventual bibliography testify to the amount of sources consulted giving the work the credibility it deserves. Boer admitted that he did not tell everything but the evidence presented is enough to have a picture of the situation. Boer agrees that several accounts are incredible and is not surprised if any one sees it in this vein. Upon seeing the ruined city of Kaduna, he quotes President Obasango of saying “I could not believe that Nigerians were capable of such barbarism against one another” (p. 78).

REFLECTION

It must be stressed that Boer”s intention in this text is not to discredit Christianity and Islam but to steer these two religions into positive channels for national building. Few Christians will echo Boer”s statement that he is a Christian with a very high respect for Islam. This is an example all Christians should emulate. Christians and Muslims in Nigeria need to respect each other. Boer suspects that there is a great risk that Nigerians will grow tired of religious riots and either return to a sanitized form of traditional religion or to an African version of secularism. Every Christian should read this text and note that Christians in western nations are now fighting the very secularism they produced through their infighting.

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