Lagos Crescent Bearers celebrate 80 years of impacting modern Muslims
The Crescent Bearers, Lagos, founded on November 11, 1939, is celebrating the 80th Anniversary of its founding this year, between November 11, 2019 and December 8, 2019.This follows the celebration of its 50th, 60th and 70th anniversaries respectively in 1989, 1999 and 2009.Highlights of the 80th Anniversary celebration included a special anniversary prayers and luncheon for bearers and their wives, a group Jumaat at the Lekki Central Mosque, visit to the Bab Es Salaam Home, GRA, Ikeja, visits to Ansar-Ud-Deen College, Isolo, and Anwar Islamiyah Model College, Agege; and lecture titled: Education as a Resource for the Growth and Development of a Nation-the Nigerian Case, to be delivered by Prof Mahmood Yakubu at the Yoruba Tennis Club tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.
The primary objective of the Crescent Bearers (CB) founding fathers was to promote the acquisition of western education by Muslims for their collective improvement and upwardly social mobility in a colonial society, in which Muslims not only experienced marginalization, but were also typically held up to ridicule and suffered social opprobrium for their religious beliefs and cultural attachments.
It was from these schools with low enrolment of Muslim students that higher cadres of administrative and professional staff were recruited into the colonial civil and public service, and into expatriate private and merchant companies in colonial Lagos.
It was also from the schools that admission was secured by qualified students to undertake higher education in professional fields such as Accountancy, Banking, Journalism, Law, Medicine and Teaching. That there were few Muslims in the professions in the 1930s underscored the low enrolment of Muslims in these places of higher learning, and the urgent need to address it.
In moving to address this low enrolment problem, the CB (1939) founding fathers were part of a rising movement among the Muslim Ummah in Lagos to take the issue of Islamic and Muslim education seriously.This was the background to the emergent movement in Muslim circles in Lagos for the reform of the colonial educational system, to take into account their concerns.
It was also to provide the stimulus for Muslim sects in Lagos to set up their own primary, secondary and teachers’ training colleges to provide access to western education, in an environment where the pedagogy of teaching would be informed by Islamic epistemology, ethics, and metaphysics.
The Lagos society of their time was by and large a religiously tolerant and inter-faith one, characterised generally by the peaceful coexistence of all religions. Many, perhaps all, of the CB founding fathers, as indeed many of their Muslim contemporaries then, were alumni of Christian missionary schools.
Looking back to the 80 years since 1939, one is struck by the remarkable extent to which the founding fathers’ foresight in embracing education and deploying it in the service of Islam has been achieved, as witnessed in the considerable expansion in Islamic education and in the education of Muslims in Lagos, and in the evident high profile positions now occupied by Muslims in state and society in Lagos.
In recent years, the CB has moved more self-consciously to promote mutual understanding, interest and co-operation among its member and the wider Muslim Ummah in Lagos State and beyond through religious and community-centered educational, religious and socio-cultural activities.
The major activities fall into the following four categories: First, the maintenance and refurbishment of CB Mourners’ Pavilions in some cemeteries, The pavilions were built several years ago by the CB at the Atan Cemetery, Akoka, on the Lagos Mainland, and the Abari Cemetery and the Okesuna Cemetery, both specially reserved for the burial of Muslims, on the Lagos Island. Second, charitable support to facilities in Muslim-owned schools, and facilities for the poor, elderly and those on the margins of Lagos society. Thirdly, the on-going building of an Islamic Centre (Masjid) at the Abijo GRA, Lekki/Epe Expressway, Lagos; and fourthly, Muslim education support.
The CB education support activities stand on two planks. The first is the CB-commissioned Ninalowo / Olurode Report on the declining state of Muslim Education in Lagos State, which has provided a firm empirical basis for CB action designed to arrest the decline and stimulate efforts to improve the education of Lagos Muslim students on a sustainable basis.
The second plank is the CB Education Endowment Fund, wholly funded through levies imposed on CB members. Under the endowment fund, the CB Scholarship Award program, between 2010 and 2018, awarded N9,450,000 to 131 undergraduate and graduate students of Lagos State origin in various faculties at the Federal College of Education, Akoka, Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos, the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, and the University of Lagos, Akoka.
Looking back as it celebrates the 80th year of its founding, and looks ahead to its 90th Anniversary in 2029, the CB faces the core challenge of adapting the direction in which it has moved from where the Founding Fathers left the CB. This requires that it moves towards connecting more firmly with the poorest and least privileged of the Muslim Ummah in Lagos, and towards more vigorously providing the leadership within the Muslim Ummah in Lagos to address the current decline in Muslim education in Lagos, as detailed in the Ninalowo / Olurode Report to the CB.