Saturday, 31 March 2007

Komai lalacewar waina ai ta fi kashin shanu!


Today is end of March. We are getting into April in the next few hours. April is a critical month in today's Nigeria because the general elections will begin within the month. It's a make or break month.


Is Nigeria going to experience a smooth civilian-to-civilian transition? The fabled moment is also important to the survival of the country's 'democracy.' Thank God, President Obasanjo has been reiterating his commitment to hand over power. And the electoral commission (INEC) also keeps saying it is ready to conduct the elections in spite of the doubts being harboured by most Nigerians. Let them hold the elections, kawai!


Mu dai burin mu shi ne mu ga mulkin nan na dimokuradiyya ya na tafiya; ba mu son a ce ya karkace ko ya lalace. Domin komai wuya gwamma mulkin farar hula da na soja. Wai! Hausawa sun ce komai lalacewar waina, ai ta fi kashin shanu.


Our prayer is for Obasanjo to go, democracy to thrive, and our pathetic living condition to improve. Let's pray!

Friday John Abba, writer, detained


This is Friday John Abba, chairman of Kaduna Writers' League and vice chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). He has been detained by the Nigerian State Security Services (SSS) since his arrest on February 2. Members of the association, led by the national president, Dr Wale Okediran, have been holding meetings with the security chieftains in order to secure Mr Abba's release from detention. International NGOs, including PEN International, have been intimated about the issue. The SSS say they are charging Mr Abba and a friend of his for gun-running and terrorism-related activities in Nigeria's volatile oil-rich Niger Delta region.


A delegation led by Dr Okediran, who is also a member of Nigeria's House of Representatives, have finally met with Mr Abba at the weekend and reported that except for a visible weight loss he was in good condition.


My prayer is that Mr Abba's case is disposed of soon. Holding someone incommunicado for this long can be traumatic, especially in Nigeria where detention centres are in appalling condition.


I believe that ANA must not be too optimistic about the assurances by the SSS. It should maintain the pressure. All writers should work for the release of Mr Abba. This type of incarceration could happen to anyone.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Shots from 'Sitanda'




These photographs are from a scene in 'Sitanda,' ace director Izu Ojukwu's award-winning movie starring Ali Nuhu and Azizat Sadiq.
Don't mind that they are upside-down! That's the way they are in the movie shot; inginious, isn't it? One of the defining moments in the movie is where Sitanda (Ali Nuhu) and Sermu (Azizat Sadiq) adore each other at the slave camp (pictured here). No wonder the film won prizes at the AMAA award held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on March 14.
More grease to the elbows of our own Ali Nuhu.

Ali Nuhu Targets Hollywood!


It was Ali Nuhu's night of glory on March 14, 2007 when the AMAA Awards took place in Yenagoa, the capital of Bayelsa State. Ali won the Best Upcoming Actor slot for his role in 'Sitanda,' directed by Izu Ojukwu (see review on page 27). For a northern superstar, this is has crowned the actor's ambition in the Nigerian film industry, best known as Nollywood. Ali has won the Best Actor prizes on several occasions in the Hausa film industry across the years.


Back in Kano after the Bayelsa outing, an ecstatic Ali (pictured here holding his prize) spoke to Frontline's SANI MAIKATANGA on his recent success and his future ambition. Excerpts:


FRONTLINE: How do you feel now that you have clinched this award?

ALI: I thank God. This award is not only a thing of joy to me but also to every Hausa person and our (Hausa) movie industry in the north and Nigeria in general. I am ecstatic.How did you feature in the awards?It was the producers of 'Sitanda' who got it in, and the judges considered me the winner.


How many of you vied for this particular prize?

Four of us reached the final stage, but more than ninety-nine movies participated from various African countries... They included Hamzat Abdulhakim in 'Abenie,' Umbok Udungide in 'Amazing Grace,' and a Burkinabe in 'Mokili.' When did you know that you were nominated?About twelve days to the day of the awards.


Did you ever hope to win?

Oh sure. In truth, I had watched 'Amazing Grace' and 'Sitanda', though I didn't see the others. And I realised that I was the main star in the movie, and that encouraged me to hope for the prize.What did the judges consider as your winning point in 'Sitanda'?(At the award ceremony) they showed where the princess commanded that I be brought to her palace, and she was questioning me over my disobedience to her as was done when anyone was brought to her. That's the scene I saw shown there.


Who else went to the awards ceremony from the north?

I was escorted by Saifullahi, and the Sokoto State government sent a delegation of three people. We met there, and I was glad to see them, especially the way we all dressed up as typical northerners.How did the ceremony go?It was as if I was in a foreign land because the glitz looked like the Oscars. Right from the airport at Owerri there was a jeep waiting to convey you to Yenagoa, with a security detail. You would be taken to your accommodation, and after you were ready to go to the venue they would convey you in the jeep.


Where were you accommodated?

At the newly built Katsina State suite.How did you feel when your name was announced as the winner?I told you there was a delegation from Sokoto. They didn't even know that I was in the audience until when I got up to collect the prize, and they also got up, cheering. Surprisingly, when 'Sitanda' was released it had become a hit in the south, so when my name was mentioned everybody cheered and hooted. All of us that worked on 'Sitanda' were seated in the same section in the awards hall, and they all escorted me to the stage.


How did players within Nollywood take it?

I was amazed. See, the big players within the industry such as RMD, Kanayo Kanayo, Bob Manuel, Ejike, Francis Duru, Andy Amenichi, Amaka Igwe, all congratulated me. As I walked back to my seat Kanayo caught my hand and said, "Hey, this is a good outing!" He had thought that this was my first appearance in an English film; I had to tell him that I had acted in 'Mounting Blues,' which has not yet been released, and I was the lead actor. And he replied, "Ah! That is good. If you keep it up like that in the next two years you and I would be really competing," and we both laughed.Were you aware that the events were being aired live on television?Yes, we had been told beforehand. I told my friends and family to tune in.


Any text messages following your success?

I had to switch off my phone when I was announced as the winner, knowing I would be inundated with messages. When I switched on later I received fourteen text messages. Ishaq was the first to congratulate me on text, followed by my father, who had been watching on TV. And my wife and younger ones and many other actors also sent messages.


What happens after 'Sitanda'?

When I came out of the hall, watching 2-Face's performance outside, a producer met me and said he had been trying to reach me after he had watched 'Sitanda.' I gave him my number. He explaned the role he would like me to play for him in a movie. I'll be going to Lagos soon, where we will talk some more on the project. At least two other producers contacted me over their upcoming projects. I was really excited. Now that's where accomplishment is valued; if it were here (in the Hausa industry) people would be back-biting, saying why should so and so be given the award again? In Bayelsa, many filmmakers said since that's the kind of films wanted these days they would also gird their loins.


What are going to Lagos for?

(Smiles) I am going to collect my reward for the award.


You're talking about money.

(Laughs) That's right.


How did it fare for the director of 'Sitanda'?

He has simply made it. He has got two things because of this film. He has got another movie project worth N4.2 million from a foreign company. The producers of 'Sitanda' have given him another movie project. It's all due to his hard work. I really congratulate him. He's such a nice and easy-going fellow, and so hard working. Directors are usually hot-headed; like me, I'm a hard man when it comes to directing. But Izu is hardly mad at anyone on location. Now see what his sense of compassion has brought to him.


Does that mean you will emulate him?

Definitely I will. In fact, from now on I have stopped directing movies. I will concentrate on my acting career, because I am targeting Hollywood.


Do you wish to advice the filmmakers in the north?

I want to draw their attention to the fact that I have received accolades from friends and family over this award. It is a thing of pride that it's someone from the north who won the award for the best upcoming actor in the whole of Africa. It's a great thing. I want us to take our profession seriously, because from amongst us (Hausa actors) there are people who can win prizes better than those that have participated in AMAA. We should be taking our films to this award, please. The southerners are saying they don't see our films even though they are very popular up here.


More grease to your elbows.

Thank you.

The train that got stuck

By Ibrahim Sheme

I LOVE trains. Remember those halcyon days when the trains in this country were really moving right on track. The crowded railway stations, the hooting of locomotives, the chuck chuck of the wheels on the tracks, etc., have an immense nostalgic value. And the ride across the country, with the train hurtling through the hamlets and villages, over narrow bridges, stopping once in a while to pick up passengers. It was lovely. Somehow, somewhere, all that stopped, gradually at first, until the trains reached a station from where they could no longer roll. Of course, once a while you hear the hooting of train passing somewhere, but it’s not like the old days. Big problems have made the Nigerian Railways Corporation to merely exist without offering its requisite service – the rolling trains conveying passengers and goods – the main purpose of its being. The problems are said to be due to corruption, negligence and misplacement of priorities.

Somehow, there is an uncanny comparison between the Nigerian trains and the Nigerian democracy. During the long interregnum of military rule (1983 - 1999) Nigerians had yearned for democratic rule. During the hey-days of the Abacha regime it was foolish to even hope for it; it was better to pretend or act for it. Many prayed for it. Many were hounded into exile because of it. Many, such as Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, were imprisoned on account of their struggle for it. Many even died for it. Then God intervened suddenly. He took away some of the characters that constituted a stumbling block in the path of the march to democracy. And democracy came on May 29 1999, with Chief Obasanjo, a former military head of state, as president. His inaugural speech is a document I still love to read. It, together with his initial actions, gave folks like me hope that a new nation would be built. The promises he and his lieutenants made were legion. After his natural demonisation of the Abacha regime, he vowed to fight corruption, restore confidence in government, alleviate poverty, resuscitate manufacturing industries, etc. He even promised to bring the railways back to glory, among other things. Water, electricity, petroleum supply, health care, security, etc., would be adequately catered for. He vowed to appoint only “good men and women of proven integrity and record of good performance” into his cabinet. Please go back and read that speech, the title of which was “A New Dawn.” You would then see that we have been living in a fool’s paradise these past eight years, imagining an Eldorado that is yet to materialise.

To be fair to the president, he didn’t underrate the task ahead of him. “The entire Nigerian scene is very bleak indeed. So bleak people ask me where do we begin? I know what great things you expect of me at this New Dawn. As I have said many times in my extensive travels in the country, I am not a miracle worker. It will be foolish to underrate the task ahead,” he said on that bright day at the Eagle Square, Abuja. The situation was grim. But Obasanjo was not let down by God or by Nigerians. To begin with, he was opportune to have at his disposal an unspeakable quantum of human and natural resources to use to take the country out of the woods. God also made it possible for him to retain power in 2003, thereby giving him chance to make amends where he made mistakes in the previous four years. But what happens? The last eight years have seen more noise than substance. A lot of the promises the president and state governors made have not been fulfilled. You might cite some road and water projects executed by your governor, for instance, but what happens to the vast sums of money collected by your administrator with the responsibility of making life better? Is quality of life better today than in 1999? Are the roads no longer full of potholes? Has insecurity reduced? Are Nigerian masses richer? Is potable water available everywhere? Is education more accessible and cheaper? Are electricity, fuel, medicine, food and shelter available as promised? What of the trains? Are they back in their glory?

The truth is that Nigeria is back to square one in its hope for progress under a democratic rule. There is more despondency and uncertainty among the citizenry. Worse, political violence is back with renewed ferocity reminiscent of the latter days of the first republic. The great hope ignited by the prospects of civil rule in 1999 has vanished. Governance has been reduced to a deadly Tom and Jerry game of personal vendetta and attrition. We are at the crossroads where almost every Nigerian wants Obasanjo to just go away under whatever form of arrangement in order to try and see another “dawn”. If the president had fulfilled his election promises, he would be greatly missed. The furious opposition to his bid for a third term was instructive. Now a ‘Obasanjo must go’ spirit has consumed the nation just like the ‘soldiers must go’ campaigns of the IBB/Abacha days.

In concluding his first inaugural address eight years ago, Obasanjo said: “I shall end this address by stressing again that we must change our ways of governance and of doing business on this eve of the coming millennium. This we must do to ensure progress, justice, harmony and unity and above all, to rekindle confidence amongst our people. Confidence that their conditions will rapidly improve and that Nigeria will be great and will become a major world player in the near future.”

Well, well, well... We didn’t “change our ways.” Progress, harmony and unity have eluded the country. Nigerians have lost confidence “that their conditions will rapidly improve” because it didn’t in the Obasanjo years. Nigeria is still not a major world player, with US forces stationed in our ocean to oversee Africa.

On 5 June 2003, in his inaugural address (titled “Fast Forward into the Future”) to the joint session of the new National Assembly after “securing” a second term in office, Obasanjo simply rehashed his 1999 promises. He said, “Let us thank God that the hope is still alive as manifested in the enthusiasm in the last elections. The expectation may even be higher, now that allowance has been made for the lessons of the past four years, that the National Assembly and the executive, working together, should deliver dividends of democracy.”

Please, for how long should Nigerians live in hope and expectation of the so-called dividends of democracy? Can’t there be better food on the table than mere hope?

Frontline, the dream


At last I have published my dream newspaper, Frontline. The preview edition, which was printed in Lagos on Monday, was distributed yesterday. I have been receiving congratulatory messages.

With Fim, my glossy, all-colour monthly magazine (which has been published every month without fail since March 1999), you could say I'm on the road (or path, better) to becoming a mogul (!!). Move over, Murdoch!

My poem ignored, but...

Yahoo! Today I posted my poem, "She is Here," on the krazitivity listserve. But nobody has commented on it yet. Rather, some guys are more interested in the debate over the unfortunate killing of the schoolteacher in Gombe. I am being skewered again for expressing, strangely, a view that is similar to that of my opponents. My argument is that I am being judged for being a Muslim first, rather than on what I say. Someone from the Guardian (I knew the chap) even charged that I never contributed to the group. Ah! What of my poems, comments, etc of the past? I wonder when Naija would ever be correct, with people like those, who cannot see beyond their sectional noses.
Sigh.

Sunday, 25 March 2007

VI by John Haynes


I enjoyed the following poem, with its northern Nigerian theme. In fact, I remember meeting John Haynes some time in 1998 (I think) at the house of Dr (now Prof) Abubakar A Rasheed, then managing director of the 'New Nigerian'. Rasheed, a former HOD, English at the Bayero University, was my lecturer. And I think he was Dr Haynes' lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, where Haynes had taught for decades. Haynes was in Kaduna that 1998 on a visit; he had retired from teaching at ABU many years earlier and was (is) living in England. I was an editor at the newspaper house. I interviewed Haynes and had a photophaph with him (That's me and the big man). I shall find the interview in due course and post it here, especially since it has never been published till date. Meanwhile, here's the poem:


VI
by John Haynes

"The bar is what you’re going to miss," you said,
"not me," but that’s wrong isn’t it, to draw
lines around people (even if they’re dead),

as if I’d miss the place you live in more
than you, when there’s no line between at all
and that's something that you kept saying, your

philosophy, the sense of floor, mud wall,
dust road as who we are, the kites’ long cry
at harmattan, the beggar's rhythmic call

outside Alhaji Kowa’s store, this I
that floats and enters you from just as far
as ever, dear one, shapeless as the sigh

that lifts out of your mouth, out of the bar,
out of the rusted corrugated zinc
and mixes with some wailing armoured car

out on the road, and then the first tink-tink
of birds, the cockerel’s call, none of it you,
except that when I think of it I think

it is and not the old femme noire, femme nue
‘Afrique’, no, something shared in spite of skin
colour, and Lugard’s maxim gun, or through

just those, is it?

--------------------
* From Letter to Patience, by John Haynes, published by Seren in 2007. Prof Haynes taught in the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, from the 70s through to the 80s before retiring and returning to live in his native UK. To order a copy of his book of poems for £7.99 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0870 836 0875 or go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop

The Good and the Ugly








Finally, I have brought myself to reviewing Maryam Ali Ali's novel ('The Faces of Naira') after a long time of her waiting for me to do it. I entitled it "The Good and the Ugly" because that what I think summarises the plot. The review will be published on Tuesday on Frontline, my newly formed newspaper (more on this later!). Meanwhile, here goes:


The Faces of Naira, a novel by Maryam Ali Ali, published by NNI Publishers Limited, Ilorin, Kwara State, 2006, 99 pp.

By Ibrahim Sheme

Four young friends decided to stop their layabout life and give their lives a sense of direction. They came up with an ingenious idea: each should leave town on the same day, go into the world and try to become rich, and then return after ten years to an appointed rendezvous outside the town at an appointed time and date in order to see what each had become in life.

The young men – Shu’aib, Tijjani, Imran and Alhassan – vowed to adhere to the arrangement. Thus they left their city and went in search of wealth. Imran and Alhassan went together, while the others went separately. None knew where he was going, but each was drawn to his destiny, which he seemed unable to control. Tijjani got a hike in a truck and ended up joining a criminals’ gang in which the truck driver was a member. The four hoods in the gang received him warmly, especially the boss, Jimina, who liked the young man’s gregariousness.

When Tijjani came up with the idea that the gang should try and live a normal way of life while perpetrating its criminal activities, Jimina agreed. Tijjani, however, swindled the boss of all his money, a whopping N80 million. He ran away to another city with the loot, with the connivance of unscrupolous bank managers. He changed his name and other forms of identity. The world was at his feet to enjoy.

Shu’aib was the other character consumed by materialism and desire to make money at all cost. At first, he found a decent job as shop assistant in the city that he went to. However, he met a wealthy man, Alhaji Ya’u, who introduced him into a secret watering hole where the affluent lived a hedonistic life.

Shu’aib’s curiosity and greed led him to press Alhaji to introduce him to sources of incredible wealth. Assured of the young man’s commitment, Alhaji Ya’u took him to a dark house where a mysterious old man headed an evil secret cult. It is here that Shu’aib was fed the philosophy of wealth-making, which involved dark rites and murder. Alhaji Ya’u informed him (p. 35 - 36), "Most of the time it’s the face of the naira that does the trick. The power of money, when it speaks, everyone listens. Even in our own mother’s sight, you are the best if you can speak the language of money. You’ll be regarded as the eldest, though you may be the last born and your word is final. And for that, for power and for glory, we do all this. For the three irresistible things in life: wealth, power and women. For these three, we do this and we do that."

Therein lies the fulcrum of the novel’s message. Even though this should sound as a warning to anyone bothered about morality, Shu’aib’s greed blinded him into following the dark path. Eventually, he murdered a girl he knew, at the behest of the cult, and she was sacrificed for the "prince of evil." For his reward, Shu’aib became stupendously wealthy. He married a graduate and they had a son. For nine years and five months, he enjoyed whatever good things life could offer and awaited the appointed date with his childhood friends.

The tie seems to be evenly divided between good and evil. The other two young men, Imran and Alhassan, represented goodness in this gripping tale. After leaving their hometown, the duo started as porters in a garage, after being introduced to the head porter by the Sarkin Tasha. They started life from a scratch, therefore, with firm commitment to go all the way up. They engaged in several menial jobs: car wash, filling of potholes, driver’s apprenticeship, etc. In a spirit of modern day company building (the fabled "grass to grace" success), they persevered. Their business expanded into refuse disposal, dairy and poultry farming. Imran was able to marry a beautiful girl from a good background, as opposed to the one Tijjani got through a matchmaker. And as fate would have it, Alhassan inherited millions of naira and a chain of businesses from his uncle, who had swindled Alhassan’s father years back.

Meanwhile, the D-day was approaching fast. The four friends, wherever they were, prepared to travel back home. Nemesis, however, began to catch up with the dishonest and wicked ones. Shu’aib unintentionally ate a fried liver, which broke his vow to the cultists, who had warned him never to eat liver again. As a result, he lost his sanity and was sent to a psychiatry, where he was being tortured by images of his past misdeeds whenever he slept. Tijjani was found by his former gang, who came to extract their pound of flesh.

But in order to fulfil their promise, the four friends managed to travel back home. Shu’aib escaped from the hospital, and Tijjani was pursued by the gang. Only Imran and Alhassan went in peace. The four met at the crossroads and assessed the good things and the evil things each might have committed.

The novel is centred on the ancient theme of struggle between good and evil, personal will and predestination, as well as the evil of materialism. Maryam Ali Ali proves, with this, that another female voice is around on the scene of creative writing from the northern part of Nigeria. Zaynab Alkali and a few other women have made a mark on the scene. Maryam is here to score a niche for herself in the realm.

The Faces of Naira, the evidence of this, is however marred by typographical mistakes, ‘Nigerian English’ and other errors that a very good editor and publisher should have corrected. The book was based on an earlier Hausa version. It should have been better publicised.
Maryam, who hails from Kano, graduated from the University of Jos and is undergoing postgraduate studies at the Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto. She is a well known face at the meetings of Nigerian authors all over the country, whch she hardly misses.

Friday, 23 March 2007

Bilkin Sambo ta Mamman Shata!


Ana yi wa Dr Mamman Shata kirari da
"Sarkin wakar Kanawa,
Duna na Bilkin Sambo.
Warga-wargan namiji
Mai daci kamar guna..."

Wai shin Bilkin Sambo, matar sa ce, ko kuma k'anwar sa ce? Kuma meye tsakanin su da Yalwa? Wannan ita ce tambayar da Fatuhu ya yi a Majalisar Marubuta kwanan nan. Ni kuma na ba shi amsa kamar haka:


Malam Fatuhu,
Lallai ka yi tambaya ga d'an gida.
Tambayoyin ka su ne:
1. Wai shin Bilkin Sambo, matar Shata ce, ko kuma k'anwar sa ce?
2. Kuma meye tsakanin su da Yalwa?

BILKIN SAMBO
Wata mata ce a garin Funtuwa, Jihar Katsina, wato garin da Shata ya yi rayuwar sa, inda iyalin sa su ke. A farkon zuwan Shata Funtuwa, bayan ya taso daga Bakori (wanda shi ma gari ne kusa da Funtuwa) sai su ka shak'u da Alhaji Nagoya, wani d'an kasuwa mai cinikin auduga. Nagoya ya d'auki Shata kamar d'an sa. Don haka ne ya had'a shi da wasu 'ya'yan sa biyu mata, Indon Dutsen Reme da k'anwar ta Bilki.

Akwai kuma Sambo, wanda shi ne babban d'an Nagoya d'in. San da duk aka yi haihuwa a gidan Alhaji Nagoya, ya kan kirawo Shata ya ce, "Ga uwargida!" ko "ga ubangida na yi maka!" Da aka haifi Bilki, Shata ya na makad'in gidan, sai maigidan ya ce masa, "To ga sabuwar uwargida na yi maka." Daga nan ne ita Bilki, wadda akan kira Bilkin Sambo, ta zama Bilkin Shata, sa'annan shi ma Shata ana ce masa Na-Bilkin Sambo (har marokan sa su kan yi masa kirari da "Mai tambura Na-Bilkin Sambo!").

Abin mamaki, Shata bai yi Bilki waka ba (a iya sani na), amma kuma ya wak'e Indo da wakar "Indon Dutsen Reme Lambawan." A yanzu ita Indo ta na auren Magajin Garin Musawa, Alhaji Abdullahi Inde. Ita kuma Hajiya Bilki, ta nan da ran ta a Funtuwa, inda ta yi aure har ta hayayyafa. Ga hoton ta nan tare da d'an ta (amma tsohon hoto ne, domin na ke jin kila ma wannan yaron ya girme ka!)

2. YALWA
Akwai Yalwa guda biyu a rayuwar Shata. Ta farkon ita ce kanwar sa mai bi masa, wadda ta rasu tun tuni. A garin su Musawa ta yi aure, har ta haifi d'a wanda ake kira Umbaje (ka san ana yi wa Shata kirari ana cewa "Uban Umbaje").

Yalwa ta biyu kuma ita ce Hajiya Yalwa Bature, wadda matar sa ce da ya fi so a rayuwar sa. Sun dad'e da rabuwa, har ta auri marok'in sa Alhaji Bature Sarkin Magana (wanda shi ma ya dad'e da rasuwa, tun kafin Shata ya rasu). Hajiya Yalwa ta na nan zaune a Kaduna tare da 'ya'yan ta, cikin su har da 'ya'yan da su ka haifa da Shata (Umma, matar Kanar Bala Mande wanda ya tab'a yin gwamna a zamanin Abacha, kuma ya yi ministan Obasanjo), da Bilkisu Shata wadda d'aliba ce a fagen Political Science a Jami'ar Abuja, da kuma Nura).

Da ka ji ana kiran Shata, "Shata na Yalwa", to k'anwar sa din nan ake nufi, ba matar ba, domin tun kafin ya auri Yalwa ake ce masa hakan.

Da fatan ka gamsu.

She is Here

The following poem was written for my wife. But something funny happened last year when I presented the poem at the annual conference of the Association of Nigerian Authors at the Arewa House, Kaduna. Members present thought the poem was for a girl who sat in the audience, dressed in blue. Being writers, they kept laughingly teasing the girl, who was so bemused that she disappeared during break!

SHE IS HERE

She is here
She is right here
She is here with us
She is light in skin
Deliciously painted like the colour
Of sunfall
She is half tall
Dressed in crying blue.

But you cannot see her
Only I can see her
From behind my eye
Even if I was blind
I would still see her.

Her history?
Her history is stuck in mine
In tantalising symmetry

Have you ever been in heaven?
I have.
Not once not twice
She took me there
First when I was in hell
And more after she had freed me.

In heaven she gave me a sweet gift
A cute bundle who looks just like me
Whose footsepts fall where
I etched mine.

Would you like to see her?
Look into my eye
And beyond my eye
She stands there
Half-tall
Light-bodied like the retiring sun
Hidden in a blue veil
Blue veil - the colour of our love.

Many Sides of Yar'Adua

My head swam last December when a friend drew my attention to the article by another friend, Mahmud Jega, in the Daily Trust in which the writer (Jega) recalled MY experience with Nigeria's to-be (?) President, Umaru Yar'Adua. Let's share it again. WARNING: It is rather loooooong!!

Many Sides of Yaradua

By Mahmud Jega
mmjega@yahoo.com

The fourth transformation in five decades of Nigerians’ understanding of the meaning of“Yar’adua” is in the offing. For many generations until the mid-1950s, Yar’adua was synonymous with the old Yar’aduwa quarters in Katsina town. But for 20 years from the mid-1950s, the name was most associated in Nigerians’ mind with Alhaji Musa Yar’adua, the Tafida and later Mutawallen Katsina, the powerful NPC chieftain who was Minister for Lagos Affairs in the First Republic. From 1976 until two weeks ago, most reference to Yar’adua in Nigerian politics and the news media referred to the late Major General Shehu Musa Yar’adua, Tafidan Katsina, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters in 1976-79 and, more seriously, one of the greatest politicians to walk the Nigerian soil in 1988-97. Now, beginning from yesterday and for the foreseeable future, most references to Yar’adua would refer to Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua, Mutawallen Katsina, Governor of Katsina State until May next year and, most probably, President of the Federal Republic afterwards.

In the wake of yesterday’s rather efficient conclusion of the PDP national convention and his victory over 11 other aspirants in the first ballot, many Nigerians are likely to see Alhaji Umaru Yar’adua as a stooge, who was picked out of the blues, very late in the day, and was railroaded to the nomination with a combination of EFCC threats and other hard tackling of his opponents and other party chieftains. The corollary to that is that, if and when he makes it to the presidency, Yar’adua is expected to reign while Obasanjo and his greedy cabal continue to rule.That is many people’s fear, but for me, having reported on the politics of the Yar’aduas in the last 15 years, the reality could turn out to be very different from the appearance. Many people like to think of Umaru Yar’adua only as General Shehu Yar’adua’s taciturn, soft-spoken, low profile junior brother. Certainly, it is doubtful if Malam Umaru could have achieved so much prominence in politics if he was not the son of Mutawalle Musa and the brother of Tafida Shehu. However, anyone who thinks of Umaru as a passive, pampered passenger on the bull-dozing Yar’adua political train in the last 5 decades has got another thing coming.

In the late 1970s, when General Shehu, as Chief of Staff, was busy meddling in NPN affairs and [according to Alhaji Umaru Dikko] was negotiating to become Shagari’s Defence Minister, Alhaji Umaru was a die-hard PRP supporter in the old Kaduna State, and he built up a strong personal following of his own among zealous PRP cadres. I know this for sure, because in 1990-91, my editors at Citizen Magazine sent me to Katsina many times to report on the heated SDP gubernatorial primaries and the subsequent elections. Unknown to many people outside Katsina, there was a lot of tension within the state SDP, caused by General Shehu seeking the presidency while Alhaji Umaru was seeking the governorship. While the party’s elders were more keen on the General’s presidential aspiration, the younger, rank-and-file members were much more keen on Alhaji Umaru’s guber ambition. They said if one of them must give up, it was the General who should give up. Most of them were old PRP men who couched their position in ideological terms, but their most important reason must had been that a governor is nearer to them than a president would be.

Besides, they told many stories about Alhaji Umaru’s extreme dynamism in politics. Unlike the General, who mostly operated in smoke-filled board rooms, Alhaji Umaru was a tireless grassroots mobiliser in those days, who easily outpaced all his coterie of zealous campaign workers. I reported in Citizen that time a story I picked up about how Umaru led one 72-hour non-stop operation to visit every hamlet in one remote corner of Katsina State. At about 4 o’clock in the morning on the third day, according to the late Alhaji Ali Ruwa, with the campaigners near collapse, they pleaded with Umaru to end the tour because the only hamlet they had not visited had only a dozen people. But the SDP candidate said he must visit it, and he ploughed through the sand in the night, alone, while the rest of the team sat down to rest. He had not slacked a bit by 1998, when PDP was formed. That year, I reported in the New Nigerian Weekly about the gruesome one-month operation leading to the formation of the K-34 organisation. Some of the participants told stories of how Umaru Yar’adua led them to visit almost every important political figure in any locality throughout Katsina’s 34 local governments, thousands of people in all, often going for days without sleep. In the end, he put together the powerful K-34, which teamed up with Alhaji Lawal Kaita’s PDM to form the state PDP, and to overwhelm it. An interesting coincidence in this story was that it was General Aliyu Mohamed Gusau who, not long after Abacha died in 1998, told Alhaji Umaru to prepare to reclaim the gubernatorial mandate that he controversially lost to NRC’s Alhaji Saidu Barda in 1991. There is no doubt that Yar’adua, not Barda, won that election. Don’t forget that the election petitions tribunals in 1992 admitted that the vote tally was falsified in one local government, corrected it and lowered Saidu Barda’s winning figure to only a few thousand. The only reason why the whole result was not upturned was because when Umaru’s lawyer Chief G.O.K. Ajayi applied to contest the results of two more local governments, the panel said he did not so apply before the deadline.

In any case, a year later, I personally overheard two Katsina NRC chieftains arguing about who claims the credit for rigging Barda into power. At issue was Governor Barda’s heavy political dependence in those days on Alhaji Wada Nas. So one of the NRC men said, “Barda listens to Wada Nas more than us because he thinks it was Wada who rigged the elections in Funtua and earned victory for him. What he does not understand is that we were the ones who actually did the rigging in Funtua, not Wada”.

Last week, Umaru Yar’adua made a statement during a campaign visit to Damaturu. He quoted the Qur’an and said, “Allah gives power to whom He wants at the time He wants”. It is a favourite phrase of his. In the course of an interview in 2001, when I asked him about the 1991 elections, Umaru Yar’adua said, “In 1994, my daughter was admitted to the University of Maiduguri, so I took her to Maiduguri and stayed overnight in Alhaji Maina Ma’aji Lawan’s house. [Maina won election as governor of Borno in 1991, on SDP’s platform, the same time that Umaru was defeated]. Something happened in the house that day that made me to wake up in the middle of the night and offer two raka’ats’ special prayer to Allah, to thank Him for not allowing me to win the election of 1991”. What was it that he saw, Alhaji Umaru refused to say. Someone should ask him again before he disappears into the State House.

When he finally became governor of Katsina in 1999, Umaru Yar’adua promptly introduced his rather severe sense of humility, simplicity and openness to the state’s governance. I know, because in 2002, he hosted us to a dinner at the Government House. We were served plain white rice with two pieces of meat, and I could not help thinking that the food in my own house was tastier than the governor’s food. The following day, when I interviewed him for two hours at his official residence, there was power failure. To my surprise, no standby generator was started, and both the governor and myself were sweating profusely as we did the interview. At one point, Alhaji Umaru was so drenched in sweat that an aide handed him a handkerchief.I therefore seized the opportunity to ask him why he had no generator, why he was seen at the Friday mosque praying under a tree and not inside the mosque, near the Emir of Katsina, why his food was not tasty, and why he was seen driving a car and stopping by the roadside to buy a cigarette. Alhaji Umaru gazed at me closely, perhaps wondering if I was as foolish as I looked. Of course he knew me a bit, because in 1995, I was the editor of the Sentinel magazine when our publisher, General Shehu Yar’adua was arrested by Abacha. Umaru Yar’adua then took over overseeing the magazine for a few months, before it collapsed.

Anyway, he gave an answer that I reflected on for some time and which, when it was published, drew several remarks on the internet. He said, “You see, I have been praying under that tree for the last 18 years, and I am not about to change now just because I became the governor. As for the other things you mentioned, my concern is not really for myself, but for women and the children. I do not want them to get used to something, only to lose it some day. As for me, even if I wake up tomorrow and there are no cars or anything, I can adjust, but women and the children find it very difficult to adjust to such changes. This is what makes many public officers to steal money in order to be able to maintain such facilities for their wives and children when they are no more in office”.

He did many other things, such as forcing the state Finance Ministry to reveal its accounts on radio and television every month and to listen to public comments on it. In 1999, Umaru Yar’adua made public his declaration of assets; I remember he mentioned a house in Katsina and another in Kaduna that were both given to him by his senior brother.

It was around that time, in August 1999, when we were part-time research assistants at the Shehu Yar’adua Centre, then based in Kaduna, that Malam Ibrahim Sheme told me the story of what happened when center’s director Jackie Farris gave him thecentre’s cheque book to take to Governor Yar’adua in Katsina with a request for him, as aco-signatory, to sign “two or three” blank cheques so we could be paid. It must had been traumatic for Alhaji Umaru, to be asked to sign blank cheques. He silently pushed away all the files on his desk, began to furiously sign the cheque leaves until he finished the whole book, then turned over the last leaf and said, “Is that all?” He then pushed the book back to Sheme.

In Katsina in those days, Umaru Yar’adua also began the controversial policy of accumulating money in state government coffers before any contracts were awarded. For nearly a year into his rule, he did not initiate any projects, saying he must have the money in hand to pay first. Of course some people alleged that he was only accumulating the money so as to shore up Habib Bank’s reserves. When I interviewed him about this in 2002, he said it was because governments in Nigeria had greatly helped the spread of dishonesty in the society by not living up to their own obligations. He said if government signed a contract with a citizen, he did his own part of the bargain and government failed to pay him in time, it sent a very bad signal throughout the society for others to follow. Hence his resolve to award contracts only when he accumulates the money to pay. That is why, during this PDP campaign, I saw some Yar’adua ads saying KTSG has N6 billion in its coffers today.

Still, when he finally started to embark on projects, he did some wonderful ones, especially in the educational sector. An NTI Kaduna review team that inspected educational facilities built in Katsina under Yar’adua flatly stated that they were amazed by what they saw and that it was the best in Northern Nigeria. That’s in one sector; I don’t know about any others. Yar’adua often has some down-to-earth explanations about projects he embarks on. In 2001, when he rebuilt one broken bridge without repairing the road that led to it, he said it was because all his predecessors said they could not repair that road because of the cost of doing the bridge. He therefore resolved, he said, to do the bridge, so that some future governor would have no excuse not to do the road!

I am not sure that Alhaji Umaru Yar’adua has sustained the very high moral and ethicalstandards that he set for himself and for Katsina State nearly eight years ago. I have not been visiting or reporting from Katsina in recent years, and some of the stories coming out of there are not sweet. Let’s mention two. Many Katsinawa tell stories about some of the business moguls very close to Alhaji Umaru Yar’adua, and they are controversial, to say the least. He also got very negative publicity in recent weeks inthe manner he handled the state’s PDP governorship primaries. Yar’adua at firstsupported, then unceremoniously dumped Speaker Aminu Bello Masari, who is very similar to Alhaji Umaru in simplicity, humility and relative honesty. Was it an order from Obasanjo, as many people now allege?

Anyway, when all is said and done, many Nigerians are not going to vote for Alhaji Umaru Yar’adua because of his own personal qualities and weaknesses, but according to their perception of whether he will be an Obasanjo front. Which is just as well, for when the Yorubas rose in unison and rejected Chief Obasanjo’s presidential aspiration in 1999, they did not do so because they thought the man had no qualities, but because Northerners selected him. Obasanjo did not turn out to be a Northern stooge. With luck, if Alhaji Umaru Yar’adua also makes it to the State House, he may not turn out to be an Obasanjo stooge.

WANENE MU'AZU HADEJIA? Amsa ga Sheme

Ina da tarihin Malam Mu'azu Hadejia, amma dan takaitacce ne. Na san dai ya rasu yana da Shekara 38, domin acikin 1958 ya rasu. an haifi Malam Mu'azu Hadeja a garin Hadeja, cikin 1920. shine Bahaushe na farko da ya fara rubuta Wakokinsa da rubutun Boko. Wannan kuwa ya faru ne, saboda acikin marubuta mawakan Hausa, shine wanda ya fara samun cikakken illimin boko. Dan gidan Sarautar Hadejia ne, shine dalilin da wakokinsa suka fi maida himma wajen yada akidun NPC a madadin NEPU. Kila wannan ne ya janyo takaddama tsakaninsa da Malam Mudi Spikin. Bayan kammala karatunsa ne, ya fara aikin koyarwa a birnin Kano, har kuma ya rasu aikin da yake yi kenan.

Nayi ta kokarin in san ko ya bar baya, amma har yanzu ban samu abin kamawa ba. Na kuma yi kokarin in san ko yana da iyali a birnin Kano, shi ma dai ban samu abin kamawa ba. Sai dai na ji Shata na yi wa Inuwa Mai mai kirari da "Baban Mu'azu, wanne Mu'azu? Mu'azun Hadeja. Haji Inuwa Baban Yahaya" Na kuwa so hakan ne don ko zan sami wasu wakokinsa da ba'a buga ba. Na ji ya kan yiwa kansa kirari da V T mai neman albarka.

Da fatan wannan zai zama wata kafa ta fadada bincike akan mawakin. Allah ya jikansa ya rahamshe shi, Ya sa Ya huta, mu kuma ya kyauta namu zuwan.

Muhammad Fatuhu Mustapha

WANENE MU'AZU HADEJIA?

Na dade ina tunanin shin wai waye Malam Mu'azu Hadejia? Tun mu na firamare na fara karanta littafin wakokin sa, mai suna "Wakokin Mu'azu Hadejia" wanda kamfanin NNPC Zariya ya wallafa.

Ko akwai wanda ya san tarihin wannan bawan Allah? Sau da yawa za ka ji ana maganar asalin su Malam Sa'adu Zungur, Malam Akilu Aliyu, Malam Aliyu Namangi, ds., to amma shi Mu'azu Hadejia da wuya ka ji tarihin sa.

Ga aikin gida nan (homework), na bayar. Sai a taimaka a yi.

'YARTSANA - A window into the oldest profession

A window into the oldest profession

’Yartsana, a novel in Hausa by Ibrahim Sheme; published by Informart, Kaduna, 2003; 272 pp.

By Moh-Srajo Abubakar
srajo88@yahoo.co.uk

My reading of Ibrahim Sheme’s Hausa novel, "’Yartsana," reveals a heroine unjustly treated by the trio of her society, her family and her creator – the writer. In response, I attempt here to discuss the forms of injustice meted out on her; point out a careless error (inconsistency) in the book and commend the author’s style and narrative technique.

Let me begin by arguing that Zainab/Asabe is a victim of circumstances, perhaps beyond her control. First, her father sets her on the path of prostitution by refusing to marry her to the apple of her eye – Tijjani Ahmed - out of sheer sectional sentiment. And when she habitually flees from the husband’s house, he (the father) refuses to take any decisive action about it. Eventually she takes refuge in the home of her grandmother who, unfortunately, is avaricious and thoughtless enough to endorse her extramarital affair with the sick but lecherous Alhaji Maidogonsoro for some material benefits. And when, as a result, she becomes pregnant, he practically disowns her instead of showing her understanding. The villagers ridicule her right from this moment to the time she gives birth. Upon seeing this, the father throws her out of his house and unto the streets. Surely, most teenagers caught up in this mesh can hardly maintain their cool. So, Zainab opts for a French leave and ends up being a prostitute!

Against this background, Zainab/Asabe ought to have married Tijjani, if anything for her deep affection for him. We are given an instance of her love for him when she agrees to elope with him when it is clear that her father is marrying her to Abubakar Jauro, a man related to her but whom she does not love. Another instance is that throughout her ignoble and wayward life, the loving thoughts and sweet memories of Tijjani never leave her up to the moment she is rescued through his design. This love sticks despite her being taught one of the fundamental survival strategies in prostitution, namely, making a prostitute’s heart impervious to emotion. And even her involvement with Lado Acibilis, Basiru and Tahir on one hand; and her sleeping with innumerable clients on the other hand, cannot obliterate or shake her love for Tijjani. Yet, in spite of all this, the writer denies her the happiness of becoming Tijjani’s wife – even for a second! One would have loved to see her re-united with Tijjani at the end, perhaps to celebrate the triumph of the human spirit, but the writer thought differently.

This injustice, as I see it, becomes more pronounced when the author not only denies Zainab this privilege but also makes the more promiscuous friend of hers, now reformed, a wife to Tijjani. This lady, we are told, teaches Asabe more thoroughly the art of prostitution and in the process takes her to Mararraba, a place more famous for its notorious prostitutes than for anything else. Here, Asabe dives more deeply into the murky ocean of this unwholesome trade. Not only this, Bebi Sai-Tumoro (for this is the name of the ‘teacher’) exposes Asabe to harmful drugs like marijuana and also encourages her to carry out an abortion.

In fact, Bebi is the last person we expect to be reformed because of the curses heaped on her by the elders of Kurkudu for her detestable role in initiating young and innocent men into sexual misdemeanour. In spite of this sordid history, this accursed prostitute is given the enviable status of Tijjani’s wife. Nothing can be more unjust in my eyes. Of course, the injustice is not in reforming her. Far from it. It is rather in placing her above Zainab. This I find disagreeable. The writer might have done this to show how bad people can be reformed and reintegrated into a morally upright society despite their immoral past. But then what stops him from demonstrating this fact of life with Zainab/Asabe?

Then comes the AIDS question as another form of unfairness to Asabe. Undoubtedly, the book has an overdose of veteran promiscuous characters like Fati Gidauniya, Bebi Sai-Tumoro, Magajiya Dije and Abu Maijigida who could be afflicted with and killed by the dreadful disease. But only Asabe is killed by the disease, though Gidauniya too is a victim.

Another curious thing about the author’s treatment of this heroine, which I find objectionable, is that whenever she becomes remorseful, she doesn’t pray for reformation but only hopes for it. The only instance of her closeness to God is the night of her death when amidst prayerful devotion she is cut short by the traditional medical vendor advertising his herbal concoctions and boasting about their efficacy, which naturally makes her to call him in.

The serious inconsistency in the book is found in the educational history of Zainab. In a flashback, it is revealed that Zainab finished her secondary school (p.52) though with a bad result evidently due to the psychological torment she was in then. Then at a point further in the book, we are told that she was withdrawn from school in form four (S.S. One) and married to Abubakar Jauro. Do we then see Zainab as a school leaver or dropout? I hate to think that the author, a very experienced writer, has fallen into the abyss of what Dul Johnson described recently as the rush to be published resulting in unqualitative products. Similarly, as if to prove Johnson’s theory, my copy of the book has many corrections in form of words typed on small pieces of paper and glued to appropriate places. Whatever the case please we eagerly await the revised edition.

There’s, in addition to the above shortcomings, a wrong impression capable of thwarting the effort of the writer at campaigning against AIDS. This impression is that only sophisticated loose/free women contract AIDS. This can be seen in how all the veteran but ‘low-classed’ prostitutes like Magajiya and Abu Maijigida and people of their rank die ‘naturally’ while the sophisticated ones like Asabe, Gidauniya and their even more sophisticated, polished and enlightened clients become victims of the disease. Is the author saying that the disease is for the latter class of people only? Otherwise why hasn’t he afflicted the former class with even the commonest sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea and syphilis?

However, the book is far from being poor all through. We can see its literary richness in how the author builds the heroine from a na├»ve prostitute of 20 years to a seasoned one of 34 years. Surely, only an experienced writer of Sheme’s calibre can give a progression of events lasting 14 years in a book of "’Yartsana"’s volume, and in the most interesting way, too. Then, his drawing from classical Hausa singers like Dansaraki, Garba Supa, Mamman Dankashi, etc., is quite unrivalled in our day. Hardly can one find a recent work of fiction which has drawn so vastly from oral literature.

Again, the author’s use and handling of the flashback technique is quite unique and interesting; he sandwiches it between ongoing events in the book, thus ensuring that the reader does not get bored.

And the most interesting aspect of the book is how the writer let us learn the life style of prostitutes from the culprits themselves. By their brazen and lewd nature, among others, we are sometimes shocked by what they say or do in carrying out their illicit duties, but there is no better window to see through them than this. No doubt, the author has done a good job of opening this window for us to peep through.

In conclusion, the author should consider "’Yartsana" as the beginning of his effort to educate our society through literature, especially in this era when qualitative indigenous works are lacking. The participants in the Great Soyayya Debate should redirect their focus to producing something of "’Yartsana"’s nature – educating, exposing and entertaining. To readers like me, the book is a veritable reference material. So, we hope our national examination bodies and our tertiary institutions will incorporate it in their Hausa literature syllabuses.

Abubakar is of the Sunnah High School, P.O. Box 329, Bukuru, Plateau State.

’Yartsana vs the "soyayya" novels

The following is a review of my Hausa novel, "'Yartsana", by a female reader. It was published in the Weekly Trust some time in 1994. (NB: I don't know the reviewer). I love the review largely because very few women reviewed the book when it was published at the end of 2003 even though the theme centres on an aspect of women's predicament in northern Nigeria.

’Yartsana vs the "soyayya" novels

By Safina Garba Isa
safina@darussalam.net

It is an accepted fact that Ibrahim Sheme’s novel "Yartsana" is a harbinger of a new dawn in Hausa literature. Indeed, prior to its appearance, many had wondered why the likes of Sheme had not deemed it fit to save the day, leaving the field of Hausa literature instead to the much debated upon "soyayya" novellas of the Kano-market literature genre. Much has been said for and against these books and much continues to be said. But all said and done, it cannot be denied that these novels appear to be fully entrenched and enjoy a huge readership.

There are many revolutionary things about Sheme’s book, and these include the volume (the average number of pages of a Hausa novel is hardly up to a hundred), the quality of the cover, the publishing company and yes the price. But what immediately sets it part, the great signifier of change, is the style of writing. One could argue that there is nothing to make an issue out of considering the caliber of the author but in a literature where writing skills are nil or non-existent, it becomes something to sit up and take note of for disparity which it creates is great. It is true that the writer of "Yartsana" has many things to his advantage, too many in fact, when compared with the writers of the soyayya novels. And so it is understandable that the book reads like a Thomas Hardy or a Daniel Defoe or Charles Dickens. The wonderful subtlety in terms of the handling of the plot becomes easier to explain and so also the exquisite tragedy and the mellifluous diction. Interestingly, however, it is in these that the problem lies.

There is no disputing the fact that "Yartsana" is a great work of art. But the question which arises is how ready is the Hausa reader, the one who for a long time has subsisted on the "soyayya" diet, to appreciate it? The majority of the Hausa novel readership is not oh so intellectually inclined. Made up mostly of married women and young girls who are secondary school leavers, it has for a long time identified strongly with the "soyayya" theme and the kind of writing it has invoked. The finer points of "’Yartsana" then tend to be lost to it. Not for these readers the masterful handling of language, or the irony that underlines the book from the first page to the last or even the massage it seeks to project. Why a book on prostitution? Many a reader would ask.

It is significant that "’Yartsana" is the first Hausa novel to be critically acclaimed upon publication. No novel of the "soyayya" genre can boast of such a feat. The recognition which such early works as Hafsatu Abdulwaheed’s "So Aljannar Duniya" enjoyed was more because of their contribution towards the encouragement of literacy in the North than for their creative and or stylistic techniques, in a period when the North was trying to catch up with its Southern and Eastern counterparts in terms of literacy, hence the various competitions and certain publishing companies that were set up in that period. Again it speaks volumes that "’Yartsana" is enjoying an attention which such earlier works as Balaraba Ramat Yakubu’s are only just enjoying, thanks to the ongoing attempt to elevate the Hausa novel to the level of serious literature. One reviewer termed "’Yartsana" "a valuable handbook for students of sociology and social works," while in another review, entitled, "The Ways of the Wayward," the writer says the book "… displays the existence of dialectology in the Hausa language …" Obviously, then, this book is headed towards the academic alter.

Then there is the price factor. It goes without saying that the book is worth its three hundred naira price. But to the average Hausa novel consumer, who is used to the price of the "soyayya" novel of forty naira or so, such might not be the case and this could hinder the availability of such quality books to the majority of the Hausa reading populace. One then wonders if it will not follow that with subsequent works written in the style of "’Yartsana", the Hausa literature will not, like the English literature of the Augustan age, be divided into two: on one hand a popular literature made up of the "soyayya" novels, and on the other a literature that will cater for the elite.

Stylistically, the choice of theme tends to create an anticlimax, thus rendering the beautifully structured tragic end almost lost. There is a tendency for the reader to feel that "ai da ma karshen alewa kasa" with regards to the end which befalls Zainab. For this is a period when many are aware of the HIV/AIDS consequence of prostitution. Besides, Zainab could have not become a helpless victim of circumstance. She had the opportunity of putting her life back together after her divorce instead of flirting with and getting pregnant for the rich Alhaji in her village. Again in the city, she could have met someone who would have helped her pick up the pieces and do something meaningful with her life, thereby showing the many victims of forced marriage like her know that with determination, all is never lost (remember Abu of Balaraba Ramat’s "Wa Zai Auri Jahila?"). But perhaps more important is the fact that at a stage, Zainab had the freedom to choose to leave prostitution but she did not.

SHATA IKON ALLAH - A Review

Here is a review of our book, "Shata Ikon Allah," a biography of the late Hausa musician, Alhaji Mamman Shata. It was written by a journalist I respect very much, Adamu Adamu, and was first published in his Friday Column in the Daily Trust newspaper.


Shata Ikon Allah - A Review

BY ADAMU ADAMU
maikjad@yahoo.co.uk
June 23, 2006

On June 18, 1999, Alhaji Mamman Shata Katsina, the songbird of Hausaland, died, aged 76 years. His death in many ways marked he end of an era that began with him and ended with him—the era of plebeian, as distinct from royal, praise-poetry. It was an era that he almost created out of relative obscurity and came to dominate in the fashion of an unbeatable colossus. With more than 3,000 compositions, Shata had to his credit more than the entire recorded output of all Hausa praise-poets put together. He had sung to the praise of the high and mighty, the lowly, even the outcasts, of Hausa society; and he had sung in praise of Nature and natural phenomena. It had even been said that there was nothing or no subject that Shata had not sung about.

He was an idol to millions, an irreverent artist to many; but to the end of his life, he remained an enigma to everyone. Most of those who would read this book grew up to find Shata a permanent feature of Hausa-Fulani popular culture, and a major presence on the cultural scene; and a rendition of any of his famous classical compositions, which the authors define as the pre-1980 pieces, would almost instantly throw them back into nostalgia. It is impossible, for instance, to listen to Magaji Mai Ido Daya or Mallam Baba Na Hannun Dama without going back to the North of Ahmadu Bello’s time. Even in that era, Shata never hid his love for women—in every sense of the word; and in Kilishi Jikar Dikko, Mai Kyautar Doki Na Farko Sai Ummakati Kanwar Amarya, Delun Kunya and Jikar Mairo Maimuna, Jikar Mairo Munari, among other compositions, we saw Shata at his best as the poet-chaperon for the public women of his time.

In "Yawon Duniya Mafarki" and "Gulbin Bahar Maliya" he came across as an oral travel writer; and in Kadan Musawa, Dajin Rugu and Dawa Da Giwa the maestro turned wildlife expert. He could be whatever he wanted to be. And most of these classical pieces differ in melody, in decorum and in poetical propriety from Shata’s later compositions. In his depiction of his own greatness the former Shata was more poetic and his language more elevated than the often gutter language of his later Bakandamiya:

"Warga-wargan namiji,
Mai daci kamar bula,
Mai santsi ya dan-zago,
Mai kaikai kamad dame,
Mai kaushi kamak kafa,
Na Bilkin Sambo—Shata,
Muhammadu ikon Allah."

Yet while there was this marked deterioration in his compositions in later life, it was not as a result of a failure in his ability, because it was in these later years that Shata composed what to many was his greatest composition. And it was also in later life that Shata would sing Lafiya Zaki, when for a moment you thought he was a royal kotso musician. The deterioration was perhaps the result of a change of attitude by him to this profession, which he neither inherited nor formally learnt; a descent from the seriousness of a practiced paragon to the abandon of a master who now sets the rules, and, without doubt, it was also the result of the toll that inebriated intemperance was fast taking on him. It would indeed have been such a pity if this great artist of dogon zamani would finish his term and leave the scene while his rich and interesting life was not captured by any one. Because, besides scattered attempts and some unpublished university degree theses, there was no definitive biography of the legend.

And then suddenly there appeared Shata Ikon Allah!: Rayuwar Alhaji (Dr.) Mamman Shata Katsina by Ibrahim Sheme, Yusuf Tijjani Albasu, Aliyu Ibrahim Kankara and Ali Malami. In its 600-odd pages in three parts, comprising of 12 chapters, transcripts of interviews with the associates of Shata and 11 appendices, the book has attempted to fill this void. The writers must be congratulated for their courage in believing that amateur biographical writers could take on this most accomplished of artists, a personality the complexity of whose life would have challenged even veteran biographers. Yet, the result is a well-researched and eminently readable book.

Part One is the biography proper of the artist sympathetically drawn by the authors, but not necessarily in chronological order. Part Two is a record of the interviews with those who were close to Shata. The interviews were rich and revealing, and the readability and richness of the book would have been greatly enhanced if these had been worked into the main biographical narrative.

But what they gave us was a sanitized and laundered Shata in whom we saw nothing of his famous infractions and aberrations, and how he had often traduced upon cultural sensitivities. Even if mentioned, it was with only a quick gloss. We therefore was nothing of the irreverence and indiscretions of a tipsy artist and his sacrilegious disrespect bordering on blasphemy as in Asha Ruwa, Ba Laifi Bane,in which the purist would see God forbidding liquor and Shata giving license to it. Or, in his unacceptable and unpardonable graphic depiction of the sex act using the chant of "Wash-Shamsu" as supporting rhythm in Gagarabadau Namiji Tsayayyen Dan Kasuwa, perhaps his greatest song, itself a libelous defamation of the traditional ruler of his village.
All this, however, will not be excuse enough for those who, on getting to temporary power, descended heavily on artistic expression in general as a reprehensible thing. In implementing what they said was the Shari’ah, some myopic religious zealots took serious exception to Hausa praise-poetry and temporarily attempted to ban it. If they had understood the Shari’ah not only should they have preserved and promoted the practice of praise-poetry; they should have, among other options, for instance, funded even the study of Itshekiri popular culture, for the sake of the advancement of knowledge and possible use of the language for future da’wah work. But to them even the praise-poetry at home is anathema.

Even if some aspects of Shata’s personal and professional life would be indefensible, what he represented—an artist at work—must be defended against all shortsighted prejudices. But there was no attempt in the book to situate Shata within the intellectual legacy of Hausaland praise-poetry. It was not just an issue of fame. There is no question about it: Shata was the most famous of all makadan Hausa and would remain so for a long time—perhaps forever. This was obvious and had been stated several times by the authors, by Shata himself and by his admirers.

But this narrative of his life should have gone ahead to pose and answer the other side of the question; that is, whether he was also the greatest in the possession of intellect. No biography of Shata should have left that question properly unanswered. Yet even without the book asking the question, His Highness Alhaji Muhammadu Bashar, the Emir of Daura, had answered it, in his Ta’aliki (Foreword) to the book where he said, "Kamar yadda aka sani a ciki da wajen kasar nan, Alhaji Mamman Shata mawakin Hausa ne wanda ya fi kowane mawakin Hausa hikima..." And the authors themselves have asserted, "Littafi ne wanda aka rubuta game da rayuwar mawakin Hausa wanda ba a taba yin irin sa ba, kuma babu irin sa yanzu, ya Allah ta wajen basira ne,…"

These assertions are indeed difficult to sustain in a society where Narambada flourished. Shata himself was once asked this question in a Radio Television Kaduna interview, I think, in 1974, as to who was the greater of the two—between him and Narambada. And even with Narambada dead, Shata wouldn’t concede ground; and he answered, "Dukkan mu mu na da fasaha, kuma mun shahara; amma na fi shi shahara," meaning, ‘We are both talented and famous; but I am more famous.’

This last of course was true, but Shata never came round to saying who was the more talented. It would have detracted nothing from Shata if he had acknowledged that Narambada was by far greater than him in talent. In the book, a little of Shata the egotist is in evidence, in particular where he was quoted saying he was a miracle by God, which was true, but the world didn’t want to hear it from him.

In some aspects others always bettered him, but his greatness was so supreme that any one-upmanship against him was never more than a drop in the ocean. For instance, Shata’s starry-eyed admiration of America’s Apollo space programme contrasted sharply with Gawo Filinge’s more cautious and more critical standpoint. And Filinge’s question to Shata was never answered. Shata enjoyed three distinctions not enjoyed by at least the three classical greats—Ibrahim Narambada, Salisu Jankidi and Aliyu Dandawo. Shata had greater clarity of phonation; he had spontaneity and he had the greatest number of compositions to his credit. One could hear and accurately catch everything he said. This could not be said of Narambada, perhaps the most difficult of them to decipher. And because of the nature of "amshin Shata" spontaneity was possible for Shata; and, for the same reason, it was out of the question for Narambada and the others, in oblique reference to whose genius—including his own—Musa Dankwairo said,

"In na kulla waka, a kara min;
Mu hudu duk azanci garemu,
Kaka mutum guda za ya zarce mu?"

Though Shata could spontaneously sing compositions, the fact remains that all subsequent renditions of his impromptu songs showed considerable and continuing improvement, attesting to the fact that in the end, even for Shata, it was practice that made perfect. The three greats had fewer compositions than Shata chiefly because they were no "makadan gayya," as Narambada put it. They performed for only one man, or one institution; and Shata was there for whoever paid or took his fancy, especially those who were genuinely interested in him, and they were in their thousands. Though in their humility the authors have not forcefully put forward the many merits of their book, though this has been done for them by Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, the reader will not fail to realize that this is a very important and potentially great work.

The book can claim the pioneer status of the definitive Shata biography; and, this must be stated, because it is, in this case, a merit, that it is the authorized and untampered official biography that has the approval, cooperation and blessing of the subject. But it was a disservice to their own cause to have published the book privately. While there might have been convenience in the fact that the publishing company belonged to one of them, the authors should have considered several factors before settling on vanity publishing. First, this is a work that will have been readily taken by any publisher approached. And, it can not be unknown to them that today publishing is more than delivering material to printers. Second, the class in which Shata belonged as a subject for biographical writing is such that it requires only the very best of publishers. The picture reproduction and display and general finishing of the book, for instance, can do with a lot of improvement. There is also the question of aesthetics, facts-checking and proper editing; and, above all, there is the all-important matter of publicity and marketing and the wider international connections of the more established publishers which would have been used to good advantage.

What Sheme and Company have given us is an affectionate portrait of Mamman Shata. After reading the book, you suddenly realized that despite all his eccentricities, Shata was human after all. Besides his talent, the other qualities that came out most forcefully were his generosity and his antipathy to any hints of indignity and disrespect to his person. The book is rich in instances of the faithfulness of his friendship, the non-discriminating patronage of his generosity and; though he would be remembered as a friend to many women of easy virtue, he believed strongly in the marriage institution. It was a sympathetic—perhaps too sympathetic—treatment of the maestro; no one could finish reading this book without an overwhelming feeling of empathy with its subject, with feeling that one wished he knew the master well.

Using Shata and his life the authors have spun a true yarn—an interesting, detailed, painstaking and accurate reportorial that is in reality the story of contemporary Hausa language and its speakers. Billed for public presentation Saturday, July 1, 2006, the book will, no doubt, miss the presence of Shata and Jarman Kano, who would automatically have been the Chief Launcher; but the legion of Shata lovers, the beneficiaries of the outpourings of his genius over the years, and the lovers of Hausa language and linguistic scholarship in general should do this event proud.

It was a long life that ended well. Shata was a man who believed in self-reliance and who depended on his intellect and talent and on his hard work and luck. Though he depended on the proceeds of praise-poetry in the initial stages of his life, and to the end he was beholden to patrons, he was, in fact, a fiercely independent spirit. And despite his many sacrilegious eccentricities, Shata was at heart a believer and perhaps even a fatalist. As a disappointed would-be benefactor, his acerbic barb, here thrown reportedly at a powerful, non-forthcoming royal patron, represented Shata at his previous best:

"Kai mai son ka yi alheri,
Allah ba ka abin alherin,
Ka yi alherin mu ji dadi.
Kuma kai mai son kayi mana rowa,
Allah ba ka abin yin rowar,
In kai rowar mui zafi,
Iyakat ta dai mutum ya yi rowar,
Ba ya hana mu shiga aljanna."

Yes.

JOHN FLETCHER'S MORAL REASONING

The following poem by John Fletcher is one of my favourite poems written in English. It connects to me in a special way because it is based on a religious pedestal, more so these days when people are running away from religious and moral teachings. I enjoy it. Hence it is the opening tract in my collection of short stories published in 1999 titled "The Malam's Potion."

"Upon An Honest Man's Fortune"

You that can look through Heav'n, and tell the stars,
observe their kind conjections, and their wars;
To those men honours, pleasure, to those ease:
You that are God's surveyors, and can show
How far, and when, and why the wind doth blow;
Know all the charges of the dreadful thunder,
And when it will shoot over, or fall under,
Tell me, by all your art I conjure ye,
Yes, and by truth, what shall become of me?
Find out my star, if each one as you say,
Observed my fate, next fall into your dreams,
Sweep clean your houses, and new-line your schemes,
Then say your worst! Or have I none at all?
Or is it burnt out lately? Or did fall?
My star, like me, unworthy of a name?
Is it, your art can only work on those
That deal with dangers, dignities, and clothes?
With love, or new opinions? You all lie!
A fish-wife hath a fate, and so have I:
But far above your finding! He that gives,
Out of His providence, to all that lives,
And no man knows his treasure, no, not you!

JOHN FLECHER (1579-1625)
KANGARARRE

Guntun labari

Daga Ibrahim Sheme

Su uku aka kawo daga k'auyensu, to amma yanzu su biyu ne suka rage a makarantar. Gudan, wato Rabeh, tuni aka maida shi gida bayan ya k'i zama a makarantar; kuka ya dinga yi a kullum, har ya fara ramewa, ya kod'e sai ka ce mai ciwon yunwa. Tun su Malam Mai Dorina su na dukan sa har su ka gaji suka koma suna rarrashin sa, amma duk a banza. Da alama dai Rabeh ya saba da dukan, domin kullum abin nasa k'ara ci gaba yake yi. Ran nan dai Alaramma Malam Usman ya ce wa su Malam Mai Dorina, "Kai, ni na gaji da fitinar yaron nan! Ku shirya gobe ku maida shi gidan uban sa."

Haka kuwa aka yi. Su Mai Dorina suka shirya, suka d'auki Rabeh a motar haya, suka maida shi k'auyen su D'anrafi, can cikin k'asar Katsina. Shi ke nan, aka bar Khalid da D'ankawu su su yi karatun allo da aka kawo su su yi a unguwar Gama Tudu, a birnin Kano. Haka kuma aka bar su da kewar Rabeh, har suna ganin kamar ya fi su morewa. Hasali ma dai sai D'ankawu ya sa rigima shi ma, wato ya ce shi ma ya na son a kai shi gida, wai ba zai iya zama a Kano ba. Amma ina! da su Malam Mai Dorina suka fara jibgar sa, ai sai kawai ya karyo, ya ce ya tuba! Alaramma ya ce, "Wad'd'aren gulya’e! Da, mu za ka yi wa shashanci? Wato kai ganin cewa Rabeh ya sha, shi ne ka ke ganin kai ma za ka iya latsa mu, ko? To, ahir d'in ka!"

Shi ke nan fa, D'ankawu ya nabba’a, suka duk'ufa karatu shi da Khalid da sauran yara.

Makarantar tasu babba ce, domin za a samu yara sama da sittin a cikin ta. Alaramma Malam Usman ne ya ke da ita, to amma shi ma ya gaje ta ne a gun mahaifin sa Alhaji Namakka, wanda aka ce bai dad'e da mutuwa ba. Amma su su Khalid, Alaramma suka sani, domin lokacin da suka zo Kano shi Alhaji Namakka ya dad'e da kwanta dama.

A makarantar akwai yara iri-iri, kuma an kawo su ne daga garuruwa daban-daban. Wasu daga wajen Sakkwato suka zo, wasu kuma daga can wajen Bauchi suka zo. Wasu iyayen su ne suka kawo su da kan su, wasu yayyen su, wasu malaman wad'ansu makarantun ne suka kawo su, wasu kuma ganin su kawai aka yi a makarantar.

Tun da Khalid yake bai tab'a zaton zai shiga rayuwa irin wannan ba. Shi da ya d'auka a boko za a sa shi, kamar yadda aka sa abokin sa Murtala a can D'anrafi. Amma lokacin da malaman boko suka zo d'aukar yara tare da Mai Unguwa, shi Khalid b'oye shi aka yi a k'ark'ashin gado, kakar sa ta wajen uba tana ta cewa, "Wa zai yarda a sa d'an shi a makarantar mishan, inda ba a koyar da addinin Allah? Sam, Haladu dai Gabas za shi!"

Yana ji yana gani aka gama d'aukar ’yan makaranta, shi ko ba a sa shi ba. Ran nan sai ya ji baban sa na gaya wa k'anen shi baban nasa cewa, "Su Malam Ayuba sun zo daga Kano za su yi Babbar Sallah a nan. Idan za su koma zan ba su Haladu su tafi da shi, ya je can ya yi karatu."

Malam Ayuba dai shi ne Malam Mai Dorina a yanzu; su Khalid ba su san shi da wannan sunan ba sai da suka iso Kano. Kuma ba su san cewa mutum ne mai tsanani ba sai da suka zo makarantar. Ranar da ya fara hora su, ai sai suka ga kamar ya manta da cewa shi fa D'an garin su ne! Ya nuna musu cewa ba sani ba sabo! Don haka suka shiga taitayin su. Khalid yana jin cewa k'ila ma hakan ne ya sa Rabeh ya tubure, ya ce shi tilas ne a maida shi gida.

*

"Daga yau sunan ka Khalid, ba Haladu ba."

Abin da Alaramma ya gaya wa Khalid kenan kwana biyu bayan isowar su Kano. Amma bai gaya masa dalili ba. Kuma Khalid bai san abin da ya sa aka bar Rabeh da D'ankawu da sunan su na asali ba.

Mahaifiyar sa ta gaya masa, ana kamar gobe za su baro D'anrafi, cewa, "Duk abin da malaman ku suka ce ka yi, ka ce masu To kawai. Yi na yi, bari na bari – ta raba da kowa."

Don haka sai ya ce, "To," a lokacin da aka sauya masa suna.

Irin wannan biyayyar tasa ta sa ba a jima ba ya yi farin jini a wurin malamai da manyan ’yan makarantar, wato gardawan da ke kula da yaran. Kowa shi yake son ya aika sawo wani abu ko yin wani aiki. Ya kasance yaro mara k'yuya. Amma kuma wad'ansu sun yi amfani da wannan damar wajen musguna masa, suna d'ibga masa aiki mai yawa a yayin da suka bar wasu tsararrakin nasa suna hutawar su.

D'aya daga cikin masu irin wannan hutawar shi ne D'ankawu. Shi D'ankawu, tuni ya zama wani irin yaro, har ana ganin kamar shi daban yake da sauran almajirai. Na farko dai, shi duk irin barar da ya yi, a cikin sa take k'arewa; ba ya ba kowa abin hannun sa. Ko me ya samu sai ya b'oye abin sa. Idan an ce, "D'ankawu, me ka samo ne yau?"

Sai ya amsa, "Ba komai. Ni ma da yunwa na wuni."

Akwai wani harajin ranar Laraba da Mai Dorina ya sa a kan kowane yaro, cewa a duk Laraba kowa ya kawo masa naira biyar, idan ba haka ba kuwa jiki magayi. Khalid ya kan kasance na d'aya wurin kawo wad'annan kud'i. Yadda yake samun su shi ne ta hanyar yin dako ko sharar shaguna a bakin kasuwa. Haka kuma wasu bayin Allah kan ba shi sadaka idan ya je bara. Hasali ma dai ya fi kowane yaro samun sadakar kud'i da ta abinci a duk sa’ilin da suka fita. Shi ya sa ma maimakon ya rik'a kawo naira biyar, har naira goma ya kan kawo wa su Malam. Ya kan sha yabo a kan haka.

Shi kuwa D'ankawu, ya tsani yadda ake nuna wa Khalid k'auna a fili, ya manta karin maganar da ke cewa duk irin shimfid'ar da mutum ya yi a kan ta zai kwanta. A gaskiya, shi yana ganin cewa ya fi sauran yara wayo. Bai damu da kirarin da Malam Mai Dorina ya ke yi masa ba, wato da ya ke ce masa, "D'antsako samu ka k'i dangi!" Tuni ya samu wata uward'aki wai ita Ladi Lallausa, wadda ke da rumfar saida abinci a bakin kasuwa. Ita dai matashiyar karuwa ce. Jinin su ya had'u da na D'ankawu tun a ranar da ta lura da shi idan yana yi mata wanke-wanke. Duk da yake dai yaro ne, amma kuma k'ato ne, dogo, mai alamun k'arfi. Ko wani aike za ta yi, shi za ta tura. Daga baya ma sai ta k'ara masa girma, maimakon ya rik'a wanke mata kwanonin da mutane suka ci abinci a ciki sai ya koma yana taya ta mik'a wa mutane abincin. A kan haka ma ta d'inka masa kayan aiki, riga da wando da hula 'yan kanti masu kyau, wad'anda yakan sa idan ya zo aiki kuma ya tub'e su idan zai tafi gida.

Malam Mai Dorina ya yi ya yi ya hana D'ankawu yin wannan aikin, amma a banza. Har bulala ashirin ya tab'a ba shi, duk a wofi. Ya kan ce, "Mu ba mu hana ku bara ba, amma ba mu yarda ku je kuna yi wa karuwai hidima ba."

Habawa, ai wannan maganar ta bayan kunnen D'ankawu ta bi ta wuce. Kafin a ankara, sai ya b'ace daga makarantar, aka neme shi aka rasa.

*

Sai da aka yi ak'alla mako biyu ana cigiyar D'ankawu sa’annan aka zo aka ce wa Alaramma ai Ladi Lallausa ce ta tafi da shi ganin gida can cikin k'asar Bendel, wai yana rik'e mata jaka. A ranar, Alaramma da kan sa ne ya yi wa D'ankawu bulala har ana rik'e shi. Alaramma ya harzuk'a, yana ta cewa, "Allah wadaran ka D'ankawu! A ce ka zo karatun Muhammadiyya amma ka b'ige ga bin karuwa yawon banza! Sai na aika an gaya wa uban ka!"

Ashe shi ma Alaramma aikin banza ya yi. Domin kuwa D'ankawu ya zama kangararre. Tun daga wannan ranar, bai ma k'ara kwana a makarantar ba. Ya kwashe inasa-inasa ya koma gidan Ladi. Da ma akwai wata k'awar ta da ke ta hak'on sa, don haka shi da ita suka bud'e sabon shafin rayuwa, suka shiga karatun shed'an. Alaramma ya aika da sak'o D'anrafi, aka fad'a wa mahaifin D'ankawu. Shi kuma ya garzayo wai ya tafi da d'an sa. Ina! Ai wanda ya yi nisa ba ya jin kira. Haka nan ya koma gida shi kad'ai, domin D'ankawu ya nuna masa cewa shi fa ya samu aikin yi yanzu. Ya zama karen mota.

*

D'ankawu dai bai koyi wani abin kirki a makaranta ba saboda bai zauna ba. D'an karatun da ya iya bai fi cikin cokali ba. Ya kan ce, "Na dai samu na sallah, don haka me ake bid'a kuma?"
To amma da wuya ka ga ya yi sallar. Tuni ya iya shan taba da giya, da zuwa silima, ban da neman mata da ya gwanance a kai. Ya kan bi ubangidan sa har cikin Kurmi, suna safarar kayayyaki. Ya aje wata k'asumba babu ko kyan gani, idanun sa sun ja jawur sai ka ce wanda ya fito daga cikin gobara. Haka dai ya ci gaba da rayuwa har aka yi shekaru masu yawa. Ko ganin gida bai damu ya je ba, yana cewa wai sai ranar da ya mallaki tasa motar ta kan sa sannan zai je gida. Har uban sa ya mutu, aka dad'e bai sani ba.

*

A cikin wad'annan shekaru, Khalid ya yi saukar karatu har ya shiga littattafai, ya yi zurfin gaske. Ban da karatun da ya yi a makarantar Alaramma Malam Usman, ya rik'a zuwa wasu makarantu biyu - d'aya a kusa da gidan Sarki, d'aya kuma a Gwammaja – inda ya koyi karatu mai zurfi a wurin wasu shaihunnai. Daga bisani ma Gwamnati ta biya masa kud'in zuwa k'aro karatu a Alk'ahira, ya je ya yiwo ya dawo. Larabci a bakin sa sai ka ce rak'umin Madina. Kai, har Turanci ma yana ji rad'au, domin ya tsaya ya koya. Sunan sa na da ya fara b'acewa, sai dai Ustaz Khalid. Bai jima da dawowa ba sai Alaramma Usman (wanda tuni tsufa ya lank'wasar da shi) ya fitar da shi daga gandu, ya ce shi ma ya tafi ya nemi rabon sa. Kamar an yi shiri, sai Alhaji Murtala D'anrafi, wannan wanda aka sa a makarantar boko a D'anrafi lokacin da aka b'oye su Khalid, wanda kuma ya zo Kano har ya bunk'asa, ya sa aka kira shi, ya nad'a shi shugaban wata sabuwar kwalejin Arabiyya da ya kafa a unguwar su. Kuma ya ba shi gida da mota, kuma ya had'a shi da wata d'iyar abokin sa mai ilimi mai kunya, aka d'aura musu aure. Ai fa shi ke nan, Khalid ya zama d'aya daga cikin manyan garin. Cikin k'ank'anen lokaci sunan sa ya koma Shehi Khalid. Kuma duk wani taro na malamai sai ka gan shi a wurin, kuma su ne suke zama a kujerun gaba-gaba. Ya aje gemu da saje mai kyau, jikin sa ya yi sumul ba k'urarraji, kuma ya kan sakaya idanun sa cikin wani farin gilashi wanda ke k'ara masa kwarjini. Ga shi dai matashi mai matsakaitan shekaru, amma idan ya shige cikin manyan shaihunnai da k'yar ake iya bambance shi. Da ma an ce yaro da gari abokin tafiyar manya.

*

Wata rana wajen goshin la’asar, Shehi Khalid yana tafiya a motar sa, shi da d'an sa d'an shekara uku mai suna Adamu, daidai wani gosulo sai ya ji an tunkuyar masa mota daga baya. Ya waiga sai ya ga wata mummunar tifa ce ta kusa markad'e su yayin da burki ya shanye mata. Ya tsaya ya fito domin ya duba irin b'arnar da aka yi masa. Shi ma mai tifar ya fito.

Malamin ya fito kenan sai mai tifar ya shiga yarfa masa bak'ar magana, yana cewa, "Malaman nan ba ku iya mota ba sai fitinar son yin tuk'i. Rik'e sikiyari fa ba jan carbi ba ne! Wallahi ka taki sa’a, da tuni na bi ta kan ku na wuce!"

Shehi Khalid ya dubi direban ya ce, "Maigida, ai kai ne ka tunkuye ni ba tare da ka tsaya ba. Tun d'azun na lura ka na ta bi na a gindi a gindi a guje. Don haka kai ne za a ce ba ka iya tuk'i ba!"

Jin haka sai direban nan ya hassala, ya shiga kwarfa wa Shehi zagi. Jama’a ta taru, ana ta ba su magana, kuma ana mamakin yadda direban ke zagin malami haka.

Shehi kuwa ya ma kasa magana. Can da direban nan ya sauko daga kujerar fushin sa, ya kama motar sa zai hau, sai Shehi ya ce ya dakata tukuna. Ya dube shi ya ce, "Ka san ni?"

Direban ya ce, "Na san ka kamar yaya? Ina ruwa na da in san ka? Kud'i na ke nema, ka ji, ba lada ba!"

Shehi ya yi kamar bai ji abin da direban ya ce ba, ya ce masa, "Ba kai ba ne D'ankawu yaron Alhaji Inusa Sarkin Taya? To, idan ka kasa gane ni, ni ne D'an’uwan ka Khalid, wanda ku ka zo karatu tare daga D'anrafi. Allah ya ba ka hak'uri! Ka ga tafiya ta."

Da fad'in haka, sai Shehi ya hau motar sa ya yi gaba, ya bar D'ankawu a nan bakin sa a bud'e galala, mutane na ta yi masa dariya. Bayan kamar minti d'aya sai D'ankawu ya yi wuf ya d'are kan motar sa, ya shek'a a guje ya bi hanyar da Shehi ya bi.

*

A gidan Shehi, D'ankawu ya yi ta ba malamin hak'uri, ya na cewa wallahi bai san shi ba ne. Almajirai da gardaye suka yi ta dariya.

Shehi Khalid ya yi murmushi ya ce, "Maganar ita ce, ba lallai ba ne sai idan wanda ka sani ne za ka raga masa." Nan take ya kawo masa ayoyi da hadisai don nuna masa kuskuren sa tare da neman gyara su. Kuma ya ce ya yafe wa D'ankawu.

Gogan naka bai san lokacin da hawaye suka zubo masa ba. Kuma nan take ya shiga nadamar irin rayuwar da yake yi irin ta ashararai. Ya tuno da yadda suka zo birnin Kano, har ana ganin kamar zai fi Khalid samun karatu. Ga shi nan ya zama bankaura kawai, ko izifi d'aya bai iya kawowa da ka. Ya yanke shawarar cewa daga yau ya tuba, ba zai k'ara neman mata ko shan giya ba. Kuma ba zai k'ara zagin kowa ba. Ya yanke shawarar cewa daga yau ya sauya rayuwar sa baki d'ayan ta, don yin koyi da halayen mutanen kirki. Wato dai mutane irin su Shehi Alhaji Khalid.

TAMAT
SECRETS
(For M.)

My star fell on the shore, where
Two rivers screw
From atop the hill with digital flash
A secret longing burned

The wet city with graveyards
Of violent history, and fish under
The cold slush of
Recall

Nights and days flitted
Until the pyramids appeared
Holding the star
In secret crevices

Wetting the city
The cries echoed the confluence of
Longing, as sinful flashes
Of pain burned

One got to hear more
Thro’ pear-shaped instruments of
Secret chants, under grey moons
And bluish suns

When will the star fall again? Must
It be in yonder hills
Or hither where asphalt and zinc
Make a heaven for the rich?

Abuja, 3 July 2005

MAMMAN SHATA - BA RABO DA GWANI BA...!

A yau ga wata 'yar waka da na yi wa marigayi Alhaji Mamman Shata. Rasuwar Sarkin Daura Bashar kwanan nan ce ta tuno mani da wakar, wadda an buga ta a littafin tarihin Shata da muka yi ni da wasu abokai na. Bismilla:

GA MU NAN ZUWA!
(Wak'ar Ta'aziyyar Mamman Shata)


Ya Rabbi k'aran da ilmi na shirya
'Yar wagga wak'a da yau zan karanta.

Na shirya wak'ar yabon nawa gwarzo,
Dakta Muhammadu Alhaji Shata.

Kun san shi ko da fa ban bayyana ba:
Sarkin Mawak'a na dukkan k'asa ta.

Shi yai wafati gabanin na shiryo
'Yan wanga baiti da yau zan tak'aita.

Rok'o nake Jallah bud'an k'wak'walwa,
Da za ni wak'ar fasihin mu Shata.

Mannanu, K'uddusi, ar-Rahamanu,
Shi bai da farko da k'arshen sarauta.

Sarkin da ba d'a garai ko aboki,
Shi ba iyaye garai ko ko mata.

Shi yay yi kowa da komai ku gane,
Shi yah halitto fasihin mu Shata.

Na shaida Manzon Sa Mamman na Dija
Ya zo da sak'o da duk mun karanta.

Ya ce ga Allah mu zam sujjadawa,
Ko wak' k'i lallai ku san ya yi wauta.

Shata a farko na wannan bayani,
Musawa kakan sa shi yak kafa ta.

Sannan a nan ne garin haihuwa tai,
Iroro Yaro uba ne ga Shata.

Nan yay yi wargi da kiwo da noma,
Kakan sa Idi, uwa Lariya ta.

Shi ba ya doko a layi ga tsara,
Hatta a jeji ciki yai bajinta.

Shanu, awakai, tumakan sa kwata,
Su yai ta kiwo da sandar sa Shata.

Yai kasuwanci na goro a baka,
Hatta alewa ya na, "Zo ku sha ta!"

Baban sa bai so ya zam rera wak'a,
Shi ya fi son sui ta noma da Shata.

Hangen sa d'an Fillo irlin sa noma,
Ko yai ta kiwon bissai har farauta.

Amma a ce yai rawar dandali kam,
Kai, ya yi hauka, a nan bai da gata!

Balle a ce d'an taro har da sisi
An ba shi, kunya a nan ya ko sha ta.

Amma bisani ya ce, "Kai, su Shata,
Iko na Allah a nan an k'adarta!"

Ya k'yale Mamman ganin ya yi nisa
Can gun rawar duniya shi ya taka.

Muryar sa zak'i ta ke yi Mahamman,
Tamkar zuma in ka saurari Shata.

Sam ba fasihi kama tai a wak'a,
In dai kid'a za a sanya shi kwata.

Na gode Allah Ta'ala da yay yo
Wannan fasihi cikin nan k'asa ta.

Domin raha ne ya ke shirya baitin
'Yan dambe hatta giya wai ku sha ta.

Ya nuna illar mashayi ku gane
Don gargad'i, ya fi k'aunar ku bar ta.

Ai ya yi wak'ar b'arai don a dara,
Can ya tab'o masu lale ta karta.

Dukkan sarakan k'asar nan ta Hausa
Yai musu wak'a Muhammadu Shata.

Shi yai yi wak'ar fatake da tela,
Bai bar manoma had'a har masunta.

Mai sanya khaki da mai d'aura k'irgi,
Mai kama biro da mai tuk'a mota.

Ya k'era wak'a ta Malam da gardi,
Hatta kadoji a domin bajinta.

D'an kasuwa mai saye don ya saida,
Ko karuwai masu aikin k'azanta.

Bai k'yale gurgu, makaho da kurma
In ya yi wak'ar su zo don su ji ta.

Hatta su Manzo, Sahabbai, waliyyai,
Ya rera wak'ar su mun ji ta Shata.

Ya burge kowa a birni da k'auye,
Yaro da babba maza har da mata.

Sun ji shi sun so shi sun so ganin shi,
Sun bai Muhammadu dubbai na kyauta.

Sun ba shi kurd'i, gidaje, dawakai,
Gona, tufafi, da mata da mota.

Arna, Musulmi, had'a majusawan
Kurmi gani nai su ke sun k'agauta.

Jarman Kano D'ankabo ya rik'e shi,
Yai mai dubun arzuka duk na gata.

Sarki na Daura Bashar kar ku manta,
Tamkar uba ne a gu nasa Shata.

K'auna da yarda tsakanin dukkan su,
Mamman da Mamman a rayin su kwata,

Ai ta yi kauri da k'arfin dad'ewa,
Har ma ya koma ga Allan sa Shata.

Sarki Bashar ne ya sanya shi hanya,
Mai kyau da dad'i a domin ya bi ta.

Jarma ya d'auke shi ya sa shi jirgi
Sun je Amurka da London su Shata.

Can ya yi kallon Baturai tsanake,
Ya k'ara wayon zaman ran sa Shata.

Har ya yi wak'a a birni na L.A.,
Hausar sa Modibbo ne ya fasarta.

Sai ga Baturai a tsuke da wando,
Sun sanya naktaye rigar su kwat ta.

Amma kalangan Muhamman amon su
Ya sa su zarya da juyi ga Shata.

Mamman hali nai ya na nan da kyawu,
Don ba ya sharri ga me mai mugunta.

Ya tsaida sunna ta aure hak'ik'an,
Ya haifi 'ya'ya na sunna da mata.

Mata ta farko da am ba shi aure,
Auren budurwar sa sunan ta Binta.

Bakori nan ne akai wanga aure,
Dangin sa sun je su shaida ga Shata.

Shi gaskiya ce ya ke so Mahamman,
K'arya garai ta fi d'aci na gauta.

Ni na fa zauna da Mamman a zaure,
A Funtuwa k'wag gida nai da kwalta.

A kan kushin nan sarakin ka hard'e,
Nan ko gaba nai mutane ka kwanta.

Ga shimfid'u an baje mun ko zauna,
Mun bud'e kunne, idanu ga Shata.

Zance ake yi kawai kan siyasa,
Ko kan mutane da ke rafka wauta.

Ko ko a zanta a kan masu himma,
Ko masu k'arfin hali 'yan bajinta.

Shi ma garai mun ji dad'in ruwaya,
K'walwar sa kullum batu ya cika ta.

In an ka zauna da Shata a zauren,
Shi ba ya ~oyon batu mai bajinta.

In ya yi arba da insu da jinnu,
Take a nan gun ya na ko baje ta.

Zai ma ruwayar ka san ba ya tsoro:
Ko da wuta ce katsam zai shige ta.

In tsamiya ce da jinnu a kan ta,
Bai waiwaye take ne zai haye ta.

Ko ko ruwa wanda manya ka shakka,
Mamman ciki za ya afka da mota.

In ya ga ramin kumurci da zurfi,
Hannu ya kan sa ya shak'o wuyan ta.

Ran nan Aliyu na K'ank'ara ya ce
Bai yarda Shata mutum an halitta.

"Kai shi fa Mamman a kai nai da motsi,
In an gaya ma ka zan gaskata ta.

"Shi ga shi tsaf d'an'adam ne a fuska,
To aljani ne a zuci da hanta.

"Ai an yi sa'a da bai ba da tsoro,
Sai dai a so shi Muhammadu Shata."

An so shi Najeriya kewayen ta,
Hatta k'asashen da ak kewayen ta.

Don ya yi yawon k'asashe ku duba,
Har Ghana, Burkina ma ya shige ta.

Har Saliyo, Kamaru da Chadi,
Ya san su sun san shi Alhaji Shata.

Ai ma Nijar san da Mamman ya lek'a,
Babban gida sun ka baishe shi mata.

Lallai Hurera uwa mai biyayya,
'Yar malamai Inna mata ga Shata.

Tun ran da Allah ya sa ta k'asan sa,
Ta bi shi rayin sa duk ta wadata.

Uwargida ce gidan nan na Baba,
Su su uku kun ga sun mai wadata.

Domin akwai 'yar sarauta gidan sa,
Ta-Falgore wadda an ba shi kyauta.

Lallai Khadija fara kin yi kirki,
Allah ya zan sa ki Firdausi kyauta.

Ke ma Ta-Dukke fara kin biyayya
Gun Baba Alhaji Mamuda Shata.

Ba haihuwa gun ki Yaya Amina,
Ke cimma Mamman a Aljanna kyauta.

Ran nan fa tsufa ya karyo wa Mamman
Ga ciwuka rayuwar sun rufe ta.

Don ya yi ciwo na k'oda da zafi,
Har Jidda an kai shi baban mu Shata.

An samu sauk'i sa'annan fa ciwon
Yay yo kwana ya ko banke shi Shata.

Duk d'an'adam ajizi ne ku gane,
Shi rayuwar tasa an rurrubuta.

Farkonka k'arshen ka komai a tsare,
Ai ba tsimi ko dabarar gudun ta.

Domin hakan kun ga tilas Muhamman
Ya kai gaci babu sauran bajinta.

Birnin Kano inda Mamman ya haska,
Can ne a k'arshe a dama ya kwanta.

An mai kushewa a Daura a ranar,
Sarki Bashar ne ya sallaci Shata.

Na gode Allah da naz zan sanin shi,
Ya san mu sosai da baban mu, Shata.

Ai sun yi huld'a uba na da Shata,
Ni ma na zo na ci duk moriyar ta.

Taro mu zauna mu na mai du'a'i,
Mannanu gafarci Alhaji Shata.

Allah jik'an wanga babban fasihi,
Yafe kure nai da shi d'in ya lafta.

Sanya shi Lambu na Firdausi, Jallah,
Kafin mu cim mai a can baba Shata.

Mu ma ka yafe mu laifin mu, amin,
Domin amincin Muhamman na Binta.

Zan sanya aya a nan kar na zarce,
Ai alk'awar nay yi kan zan tak'aita.

Baiti d'ari ne cikin wanga wak'e,
Alhamdu lillahi don na gama ta.

Malam ka k'irga da kyau don ka gane,
In nai kure sai ka yafe ni wauta.

Ya Rabbi rok'o na ke yi da k'ari,
Saka wa Shata da Lambun Ka kyauta.

Amin da amin da amin da amin,
Nai fatiha 'yan'uwa na dire ta!