Friday, June 4, 2010

STILL ON THE RETURN OF GEOGRAPHY

By Tijjani Abubakar

The piece written by my Lecturer Dr. Yusuf Adamu on ‘’For the Return of Geography’’ on Weekly Trust of April 10, 2010 has prompted me to write on this subject-matter. Geography as a discipline has been relegated to the background at the early school days in the past few decades. The repercussion of this, has manifested on our national life in a negative way. Yet the rudimentrics of geography at the Primary School and Junior secondary is sacrosanct both in developing our economy and the corporate existence of our dear country – Nigeria.

Geography will help to expose the Primary School pupil to the economic potentials that can be found in the various mineral resources that abound in large quantities at different locations of his/her country . This knowledge will tickle the child’s imagination and thought and ultimately lay a solid foundation for a rigorous research at higher level on how to harness these resources for a virile economy. Obviously, this will set the pace for revamping the quest for studying science courses at the higher level by our young ones – a development that has the propensity for more scientific creativity that will put Nigeria’s name among the best producer as opposed to consumer nations of the world. A viable economy cannot thrive in an atmosphere of confusion, lack of respect for one another and chaos. Human geography from onset is a viable tool for integrating well over 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria cum offer panacea to the ethnic chauvinism that has recently became a major cause of violence in this country.

The disappearance of geography from the Primary School and Junior Secondary School syllabus in Nigeria in recent times have played a salient role in producing graduates and intellectuals who despise against their fellow colleagues that hail from the other part of the country and regard them as second class intellectuals or citizens. This stereotype is obviously a bad omen for our nascent democracy as well as the corporate existence of our great country. It is a common knowledge that when the learned amongst us despise one another, the common man (who are the vast majority) loses focus and be plunged into confusion and despair. This is corroborated by the popular saying ‘’when two Elephants fight, the grass suffers’’.

The Creator of Mankind and the Universe Has told us about the importance of geography more than 1400 years ago in the Holy Qur’an when He said ‘’O mankind ! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is knower, Aware. Qur’an 49:13

It is interesting to note that almost all the five themes on which geography can be understood featured prominently in the verse mentioned above, namely; Location, Human/Environment interaction, Movement, and Region. Location provides answers to the question ‘’where is it’’? both in terms of absolute location of a place which can be explained both by latitude and longitude of a place, as well as relative location which seeks to describe a place relative to other places. Place (as a theme) provides answers to ‘’what is it like there’’? both in terms of physical features and economic activities that characterizes that area. Human/Environment interaction provides answer to ‘’what is the relationship between people and their environment’’ ? in terms of exploitation of the resources such as rivers, lakes, forests sunshine etc and other interactions with their environment. The theme ‘’Movement’’ offers an explanation to ‘’how are people and places connected’’’? in terms of both migration and daily movements in search of jobs and other means of livelihood. The theme ‘’Regions’’ provides a detailed explanation on ‘’how is a place similar to and different from other places’’ ? both in terms of tribes or ethnic groups dominating the area or the physical characteristics such as soils or climate of the area. Geography can make us understand that no place on earth is an island, in other words everyone of us cannot live independent of the other, just as the places we live.

Let us teach geography to the Primary school child to promote development of Science and Technology in Nigeria. Let geography set the pace for Space exploration and Space sciences in Nigeria. Let the Primary school pupil in Ijebu Ode (Southwestern Nigeria) know that the harmattan dust prevailing in the plains of Kano, Kaduna and Zamfara (Northwestern Nigeria) is good for the flourishing of wheat and many other crops in Nigeria. Let the Primary school child in far away Maiduguri (Northeastern Nigeria) know that the palm oil his mother use in cooking comes from Onitsha, Enugu etc (Southeastern Nigeria). Let that child growing in Ekeremor (Bayelsa in the South- South) know that fish, also abounds in large quantities in River Niger and Benue as well as Tin in Jos (North – Central region). Let our younger ones in Ganye (in Adamawa), Gboko (in Benue) and Hadejia (in Jigawa) know that most of their Clothes, Shoes as well as the Cars they see around them were imported through the tin can island Ports in Apapa (Lagos) and Onne port in Port Harcourt (Rivers State). Let us inculcate sound Environmental Management techniques in the minds of our younger ones through geography so that we can create a safe haven for living through sustainable development in all facets of human endeavor.

Let the Federal Ministry of Education and other stakeholders strive to ensure that geography is taught at both Primary and Junior secondary school level in Nigeria. let us refrain from alienating geography at these levels because the land we live on, the sea that dominate our planet as well as the air around us are better understood through geography.

Tijjani Abubakar is the Managing Director, Wholesome Environments Limited Gwarzo Road, Kano.

tijruu@yahoo.com 08029096035

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Kano, Kano, Nigeria
Dr. Yusuf M. Adamu is a Professor of Medical Geography at the Bayero University Kano. He is a bilingual novelist, a poet, and writes for children. He is interested in photography and run a photo blog (www.hausa.aminus3.com) All the blogs he run are largely for his hobbies and not his academic interests. Hope you enjoy the blogs.