Headline News Nigeria Special Report

Imperatives of History as Catalyst for Greater Intergroup Relation in Nigeria

The History of the world is generally a trajectory of interactions between individuals, groups, communities, and the society at large. This is why the late reggae musician, Bob Nesta Marley said in one of his hit songs, that “if you know your history then you will know where you are coming from”. 

By extension, when people know where they are coming from, they will know their present position before moving ahead. 

History as a concept and a discipline, no doubt represents a central part of human survival for its significance in defining humanity and the direction of the world. As it is defined differently by different scholars, History is generally simplified as the records of past events.

This simplistic consideration of the concept and understanding of History accounted for why the subject was recently relegated to the background and completely expunged from the nation’s education curricula. 

However, more than just records of the past, History has over the years demonstrated enormous significance as the mother of all disciplines in life. There is no gain-saying the fact that no aspect of human life on earth is not driven by its fundamental past as defined by history. 

This is why the definition of History by British Philosopher Edward Hallet Carr, as a continuous process of interaction and unending dialogue between the present and the past with the historian at the heart of this interaction, is considered very incisive.

Unfortunately, the continuous relegation of this salient aspect of human existence to the background has led to deteriorating values in inter-group relations among Nigerians. This is simply because people and societies across the country are increasingly losing touch with their pasts. 

More often than not, it is common to hear people say, ‘History has repeated itself or History is about repeating itself.; Some even warn that care must be taken so that History should not repeat itself.

It can be argued that a number of the myriads of communal and sometimes sectarian conflicts of crises dimension in the country are partly traceable to either poor understanding or, the total absence of the knowledge of History.

 History to be given pride of place

This is why it is imperative for the discipline of History to be given pride of place not only in the education sector but also among community people so as to create more awareness of the pasts for Better communal understanding and cooperation. 

It is not out of nothing that peoples of preceding generations had lived peacefully with one another and interacted more meaningfully to bequeath a harmonious society of the immediate past. Today, such a humane sense of eventful historical ties which largely defined a strong sense of feeling and harmonious direction among Nigerians have been jettisoned.

In its place, a massive lacuna has unfortunately been created by rising ignorance of past positive events occasioned by misinformation and evil machinations of self-seeking members of society. 

This is why there is an urgent need for a reconsideration of the position of History not only in school curricula but also in the community through different activities such as the promotion of traditional folktales and storytelling.

The media as strategic agents of mass mobilization and influencers of public opinions should also consider the promotion of History through news and programming so as to erase endemic stereotypes that promote mutual suspicion and enmity amongst the people. 

There is no doubt that through sustained and aggressive promotion of deep historical knowledge, the current trends of communal and ethnic misgivings and hatred can be reduced for Better Intergroup Relations, peace, and collective growth of Nigeria.

Writing by Musa Abdullahi with our News Directorate HQ, editing by Abdullahi Lamino