Central Nigeria’s Jos city, is known for accommodating people of all tribes and religions, most of whom are attracted by its spectacular rock formations, waterfalls and temperate climate.
Just recently, the city hosted the National Festival of Arts and Culture, nearly melting all 250 tribes in Nigeria into one.
The love here is contagious. Plateau people are reckless with it. They trust without reason. Whether Christian or Muslim, a typical Plateau man wants the best for a visitor, even if it costs his comfort.
Jos, the capital of Plateau State, has past records of religious violence, a reason many fear to visit or site businesses in it. However, unlike many communities, it takes minutes, after violent conflicts, for people in Jos to resume mutual relationship, transacting without fear or bitterness as though nothing had gone wrong.
Even during conflicts, stories have been told of how people shielded their supposed enemies in their homes and worship centers. One would expect that an ‘enemy’ falling into one’s hands would face instant sentence. But it would appear that most people who hurt their neighbors in the name of religion in Jos are mostly driven by conformity, compliance and obedience to crowd mentality, superior orders or some other social influence outside their real selves. But deep inside, most people who have stayed in Jos, have one way or another, been influenced by the tradition of kindness in the city, which naturally shows in them, consciously and unconsciously.
Such mutual love and dependency manifests in almost every community, but the Old Airport roundabout seems to be more prominent, after the terminus area.
Adorned with colorful lights and designs, the NASCO company branded roundabout brings people from different tribes and religions to socialize and transact. Other streets shutdown by 10pm, for fear of external invasion, but “Old Airport”, the link-point to the State’s Government House, Game Reserve, terminal and Airport stays busy beyond 2am.
Churches and Mosques are distant from the spot, but people freely pray in the open. What matters to people who visit the spot is what they will benefit from meeting another person, regardless of his Creed or tribe.
At Christmas, Muslim vendors sell wears and Christmas decorations, and literally join in the celebration. The same occurs during Muslim festivities. The spot is simply unique for religious Harmony and tolerance. No violence has ever occured there in the history of religious conflicts in the State.
If all towns and communities would be like Old Airport, the world will be a better place.