Hajiya Hamsatu Allamin is a remarkable woman – an educator, gender activist, author, human rights defender and a peace maker.
She is also the founder and chief executive of the Allamim Foundation for Peace, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Maiduguri in Borno State.
On Sunday, October 10, Allamin launched her book, Boko Halal, a manual that promotes peace and tolerance.
Allamin, in an interview with RNI reporter Amina Abbagana, said the book specifically targets young people in primary and secondary Islamic schools.
In it, Allamin encourages pupils to set up peace clubs in their schools.
But, she said, even older people would benefit from reading it and following the guidelines on how to live in peace and harmony.
The Hausa word “boko” means Western education and the Arabic word “halal” means not forbidden. So boko halal is the direct opposite of boko haram, which means Western education is forbidden.
Allamin said the book was first developed in 2016 and reviewed by the foundation in partnership with the Makeiyya Association and with funding support from the International Civil Society Action Network under its Inclusive Peace Fund.
“I wanted to challenge the narratives of extremism in our society.”
The vicious insurgent group, Boko Haram, had caused such terrible conflict in northeastern Nigeria and people were terrified of them, she said. “Just the words boko haram make ordinary people scared.
“I hope the book will demystify Boko Haram ideology and extremism, both of which have brought untold hardships to people in Borno and the northeast at large for almost 12 years,” Allamin said.
“The title of the book means Western education is allowed and not forbidden as misclaimed by the Boko Haram ideologists. I want the book to disabuse the minds of young people, who have been brought up to know the Boko Haram ideology. They are our future leaders and I want to redirect their thinking so that they focus on the right path to take in life.”
She said peaceful coexistence needed to be promoted in whichever way it could.
“This will enable communities, especially those affected by the persistent attacks by extremists, to thrive,” she said.
“I have worked on other books, for example, books that share quality knowledge and that give guidelines on how to live peacefully with neighbours, especially those from different religious backgrounds. When people are in hardship it guides those who are not affected on how they can help the people in trouble.”
The 160-page book, with 10 thematic chapters, presents a well thought-out manual of peace education, promoting tolerance and harmonious coexistence.