By Abubakar Imam
History they say, refreshes memory. To me, it is much more than that. It is justice and, I dare say, it is everything. That is why it is often asserted that “whatever a man does lives after him” or “a man reaps what he sows”; while another quote says “a good man would die but his good deeds would never be interred with him”.
Our future and the future of our communities do not just happen. It follows a law; if you like, call it a natural sequence. It is influenced by our past and; most especially, the present. Is that not why one of the most accomplished scientists of all times, Issac Newton, formulated Laws of Motion? In the first instance, he said”every body continues in a state of rest or of uniform motion unless it is acted upon by an external force”. They called that Newton’s First Law of Motion. In another, “the Father of Physics” said, “actions and reactions are equal and opposite”; which is identified as the Newton’s Third Law of Motion!
Long before the ancestors of Newton existed the Holy Quran in Chapter 41 Verse 46 says:
“Whoever works righteousness benefits his own soul;whoever works evil, it is against his own soul:nor is thy Lord ever unjust (in the least) to His servants”.
The effect of what we do or are unable to do today can be sometimes more powerful and so overwhelming on us that it influences the life of our descendants; who merely met legacies.
Despite being among those professionals who are somehow “immuned” to the total lockdown directive, I ensured that I am at home.The ongoing “confinement” affords me the privilege of ruminating on issues and even time to work harder on an Ilorin Emirate-focussed personal community development project, which I have imposed on myself.
The stay-at-home situation made me to recall a story I heard about three decades ago. It was on the Friday(10-11-1995) precceeding the formal installation of the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji(Dr.)Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, CFR, as the 11th paramount traditional ruler of the southernmost emirate.
I believe the rendition of the story at this auspicious time would not only keep interested Ilorin Emirate compatriots busy,at least for a while, but also add some values somehow to some lives.
In the 1990s, the late Missioner of the Northern States Council of the Ansarudeen Society of Nigeria, Alhaji Muhammad Sanni Ita-Ore(1949-2003), used to run a weekly Islamic programme on the network of NTA, Ilorin. On that particular edition, he invited a distinguished local historian,Sheikh Muhammad Jimoh Yimonlawon,a.k.a Alfa Anjogolo(d.2002), who was a grand student of one of the very distinguished Islamic preachers and scholars of Ilorin, Shaykh Muhammad Bello Ajongolo(d.1918),to shed some perspectives on the royal families of Ilorin and what made a particular segment of the venerable family so thick.
The learned guest,who by virtue of his obviously advanced age, then,was clearly a surviving member of the older generation of Ilorin of that epoch ,in my estimation, did not disappoint viewers on that day. He treated and entertained us to some melodius tunes of the Ilorin traditional Waka songs(of the Anjogolo School),which were enduring “verses” of Ilorin history,part of which he claimed he was an eye witness. I must tell you, I still prefer listening to such than the raving and meaningless “Koni da fun Iyalaya everybody” of these days.
While eulogising the Emir and his illustrious predecessors, he made assertions to the fact that the continuous choice of the Emir of Ilorin from the Bawa lineage of the Alimi ruling dynasty was an “historical necessity” and not a “mere occurrence”, which to him, was due to the efficacy of the prayers offered the then Prince Bawa when he was appointed by his immediate predecessor, Shaykh Suleiman ibn Aliyu(1896-1915), to administer the distribution of everyday commodities that were so scarce then to the people of Ilorin to cushion the effects of a ravaging famine, similar to what we are currently witnessing today!!
The then Prince Shuaib Bawa; one of the sons to the third Emir of Ilorin,Shaykh Zubair ibn Abdulsalam,who reigned from 1860 to 1868, was said to have delivered the task with absolute integrity and uncommon dignity that rains of prayers were consequently showered on him by everyone in the town then.
As God would have it and a few years after concluding the historic assignment; the incumbent Emir died and he was appointed as his successor. His appointment was not only expected but also popular among the people who felt that he was a round peg in a round hole.
The saying that the real characters of a man can only be truly known when he is trusted with any or all of women, wealth and power did not apply to that great leader on becoming the Emir. He was said to have turned out to be more generous, caring and lenient on the throne to all and sundry beyond expectations!!! It was even added that he displayed greater leadership and unanticipated maturity so well that he refused to be bothered or get annoyed by the attitude of a Prince who was testing and tasking his popularity with that of the Emir around the town and even within the Palace.
His reign, though short,was historic. Four years after he became the Emir, he joined his illustrious ancestors to the consternation of his appreciative subjects having reigned between 1915 and 1919.
Upon the completion of his funeral rites, the Council of Kingmakers was said to have been persuaded by the age-long practice of rotation. The Council, therefore, recommended the eldest son of Bawa’s predecessor. But the colonial authority would have none of that.They were so pleased with the performances of Oba Bawa that they insisted that a son of his must be his successor and hence the choice of the 8th Emir, Shaykh Abdulkadir, in 1919.The rest, as they say,is history, which is not unknown to you and I.
To that old man(Sheikh Yimonlawon, who said, as a young boy, he witnessed the reign of Oba Shuaib Bawa and the life and times of Shaykh Taju-l-Adabiyy as well as that of his father,the 6th Imam Imale Abdulkadir) , the belief of the people of Ilorin was that Bawa deliberately worked for his emirship and what took place immediately after his reign ended.He added that what has been happening thereafter,in which one descendant of his succeeds the other,was also influenced by his glittering attributes and outstanding attitudes that were pleasant to Allah and the people of the community. According to him, Shaykh Shuaib Bawa’s good deeds, particularly at the time of need, had been bringing his descendants goodluck here and there. One may be tempted to share that conviction even though some may say it is unscientific and mere coincidences of history.
Sheikh Yimonlawon,who hailed from Abemi/Popo-Giwa axis of Ilorin, paraphrases the career of Oba Bawa,who was undoubtedly the most influential personality in the traditional political history of Ilorin Emirate since the passage of Alfa Alimi,as follows:
Gbogbo Omo Ilu Alfa Alimi lokunrin.
Gbogbo omo Ilu Alfa lobinrin.
Ologbon aiye efi oye gbe.
Eniti oni mimon ni ikun efi imon gbe.
Ki lo o fi je pe Bawa ni ni ije arun?
Ki lo o fi je pe Bawa ni nije erin?
Ki lo o fi je wipe ohun non ni ijeta?
Bawo lo ofi je wipe ohun nan ni lana?
Eti je ti o fi je ohun non ni loni?
Ko da bo ba tun di lola ohun nani?
Janma Duka Lokunrin. Janma Duka Lobinrin.
Ohun ta ba sesile Loni.
Eyi ti a ba se sile lola.
Gbogbo e lose pataki ni tori oni.
Gbogbo e lose pataki ni tori Ola.
Bawa se anon bi oti se to.
Bawa lo anon bi o ti se ye.
Ohun lofa bi oni ti seri.
Ohun non ni owa nidi bi ola oti se je.
Eyin Janma ilu Alfa Alimi Lokunrin.
Eyin Janma ilu Alfa Alimi Lobirin.
Eje kase oni dada ni tori Ola ki afi ba leni igbeyin tio odun,
kafi Ba Alfa Alimi ni ibuso.
Ki afi Ba Muhamman wo ile Ike”.
Yes! Assuming it is coincidental, is such a coincidence not desirable and worthy of being coveted? Apart from the fact that for more than a century his descendants have successively been serving as the Emir of Ilorin, three of his great grand children are currently First Class Emirs in respected Emirates. The Emir of Ilorin and Chairman, Kwara State Council of Emirs and Obas, Alhaji(Dr.)Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, CFR, is one. The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, who is also the Chairman of the Kano State Council of Emirs,is another one, while the younger brother to the paramount traditional ruler of Kano, Alhaji Nasir Ado Bayero,the Emir of Bichi,also in Kano State,is the third from the same maternal root all from Shaykh Bawa.
That is not all. Honourable Justice Salihu Modibbo Alfa Belgore (GCON); a former Chief Justice of Nigeria; Prof.Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, one of the nation’s extremely accomplished academics, illustrious diplomats and international statesmen; and Alhaja Hanatu Nagode (nee Belgore), the mother to the current Director-General of the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN),Alhaji Ahmed Bolaji Nagode, are also among the countless outstanding statesmen and women who descended from the unforgettable 7th Emir of Ilorin.
What I am saying here is simple.Having being blessed with the power of reasoning; we are not only the architects of our destinies but that we also have a great role to play in the life of our children and chidren’s children.
“As we lay our bed so shall we sleep on it”,says an adage. We have the choice to determine our future and influence that of our children and community, positively or otherwise, right from this moment. Why don’t you emulate Oba Bawa by being good to all and sundry. This is because It pays to be good. It costs you nothing to be a blessing to others.
The pervading poverty brought about by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity for you and I (just as the famine that provided Bawa the privilege of displaying the stuff he was made of was) to redeem ourselves.While some people would be destroyed in the course of it, others would get themselves destroyed by their conducts while the epidemic lasts. Why don’t you prove to be a difference in and to your family and community as Oba Bawa did at a period when he could not have been questioned by any mortal if he had done otherwise!
In a period such as the one we are, nothing is too little to create good name and good record for yourself.The negligible fraction of the amount of money in your account, which you think is too small has never been made by someone despite his consistent hard work. The foodstuffs your wife is about to throw into the dustbin can be turned into a super meal by others.The clothes you are ashamed of wearing would be taken as customized ones by some people who might not be far from you. Please use this opportunity to reach out to such persons in your extended families and communities and by that you may be making another “Oba Bawa”out of yourselves.
Imam is the National Publicity Secretary,Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union.