One may question how possible it is to achieve certain levels of development in Africa through religious tolerance, but the fact still remains that owing to the level of diversity that exists in typical African society, the need to exercise some level of tolerance can yield changes that were quite positive. This would be explained further in this post, as we shall be seeing reasons why there is an urgent need for religious tolerance in Africa.
Nigeria, which is the largest and most populated African country, will be a suitable case study to evaluate the points already made in the introductory part of this post. Owing to a poor colonial decision that has come to affect Nigerians greatly, an amalgamation of the Northern and Southern part of Nigeria, has ushered in a series of situations, one of them being of religious in nature. Now, the residents or locals of the Northern part of the country are mostly Muslims, and owing to this they practice a system of criminal law known as Sharia Law, which is distinct from that of the rest of the country. The statutes under this criminal law system are so rigid and harsh in terms of its application. Recently, a singer in the Northern part of Nigeria was convicted and sentenced to death on charges of blasphemy.
Owing to this, Nigerians and other foreigners who which to get involved economically or otherwise with the country end up taking their businesses or incentives to a rather ‘human right friendly’ part of the country which is the South. This movement has ended up boosting the economic activities in the South, East, and West, while the poverty level of the North keeps increasing. Despite the high rate of favoritism in the allocation of economic development initiatives which has seen the Federal government invest more funds in the North than in other areas of the country, people still feel skeptical about taking their businesses to the North. Then comes the issue of Islamic terrorism which has taken advantage of the religious affiliation in the North to establish its base. All these have made the Northern part of Nigeria a no-safe zone for businesses in the country.
Similar cases can be seen in other parts of Africa where the government has no tolerance for other religious organizations, thereby abandoning the principle of secularity which would go a long way in preaching religious tolerance and bringing about economic and social development. In other words, the secularity of religion is a must for a society in need of great change.
In the case of a country like Nigeria, abolishing the sharia law system in the North is a step in the right direction towards establishing economic strides in the area and in the country at large. The Northern part of Nigeria will have to rid itself of laws and customs that counter religious tolerance and replace them with statutes that advertise for a secular society where people can practice their religious beliefs without fear of death, harm, or other forms of human rights abuse. This practice will go a long way in creating an atmosphere of religious tolerance across Africa and will end up bringing about massive positive development throughout the region, and the rest of the black community at large.