Friday, March 12, 2010


"They Herded Us into One Place and Started Chopping with Machetes ..."
By Daniel Howden
The Independent, March 13, 2010
"[...] Mark Lipdo, who works for the evangelical Christian organisation the Stefanos Foundation, was among the first to reach the villages after the violence. He says that at least 370 people are buried at Dogo Nahawa. Others say that 100 bodies lie in the mass grave. The state governor's office have said that at least 500 people were killed but the Red Cross puts the toll closer to 200. Sadly, in Jos these numbers matter. For Mr. Lipdo, the villagers are the face of a 'new Darfur' -- victims of a 'violent Muslim expansion.' He is among those who see this as part of a world-wide Islamic advance. But this is only his truth. Jos is the capital of Nigeria's fertile 'middle belt,' a highland plateau where missionaries converted animist farmers to Christianity. Tin deposits were later found in the area and the colonial government brought Hausa Muslim labourers from further north. Jos and its satellite villages have been mixed and metropolitan ever since. It is -- as the local police commissioner Ikechukwu Aduba says -- 'a mini Nigeria.' Like Jos, Africa's most populous nation is thought to be evenly split between the two faiths, with Muslims predominant in the north and Christians in the south, but everywhere a mixed picture. In Jos, population growth and economic decline has increased competition for land and other resources, heightening tension between communities. Politics here have been poisoned by the distinction between the longer-standing Christians, or 'indigenes,' and Muslim 'settlers.' The former are favoured in land rights, the latter denied the opportunity to stand in elections. This has caused resentment, which has erupted in 2001, 2004 and 2008, leaving thousands dead, many more displaced and the city polarised. The truth depends on where you are in Jos. [...]"

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