Thursday, April 10, 2014

The life of a Soldier: Kabir Salisu, a Candle in the Wind

I don’t recall when I first met Kabir Salisu. It is very difficult to put dates to when you met people that you encountered when you were a kid. For Kabir Salisu, I could mention any date in the late 80s and it would be true. This is because at the time I was a student of Army Children School, New Cantonment ‘A’, Kabir was in Government Day Secondary School, a school that shared the same land with Army Children School and Command Children School. However, the more definite meeting came later when he was courting the lady that later became his wife. The then Miss Ofuoma Obruche lived at EB 2 Dutse Close, Angwa Shanu, Kaduna, the same house where I and my siblings were raised and which tend to find ample mention in my fiction and nonfiction.

I still recall, like it was yesterday, the group of dashing cadets that hung around the compound waiting to see Miss Obruche—I think a friend of his was at that time also courting another lady in our rather large tenement building.

I also recall that we danced all night when Kabir and Ufoma finally tied the knot in a simple ceremony that rightfully took place in Eb 2 Dutse Close.

So celebrated was the love the 2 couple shared that even when many of us moved away from Kaduna as life happened, we still kept in touch, still looked out for news of births, of marriages and… deaths.

With the coming of gsm and social media, keeping in touch became easier and one by one we all somehow reconnected on Facebook. Of the several success stories that this rekindling of contacts highlighted, Kabir’s growth as an army officer was the least surprising. A man whose humility and intelligence was obvious as first glance, his high flying career was no fluke.

I recall communicating with Kabir on Facebook when he was serving in Sudan and jokingly requesting for a Janjaweed scarf and him laughing and telling me: “ok, if that’s what you want, you will get it”. I recall him sending me his phone number when he returned to Nigeria, without my asking, and asking that I come and see him. It is to my eternal regret that I never took up that invitation, that I stayed away, luxuriating in the semi-closeness that is social media connectivity.

I can’t claim to be close to Kabir Salisu—his wife, family, colleagues and a host of others rightfully holds that distinction—but I knew him and followed his career keenly and fully expected him to reach the pinnacle of his profession.

I believed him to be one of the bright lights in a nation fighting to beat the encroaching dark. It is this light that has now been extinguished.

The much I know about him tells me that this humble man was a patriot and if we had more like him in Nigeria, we will do better as a country.

Kabir Salisu was killed fighting for his country on Monday, April 7 2014. He was a Colonel in the Nigerian Army. The last post under his name on Facebook was on the same day he died, it read: ‘The life of a soldier’.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Danfo Chronicles: When masquerades go to church and gays become criminals

It was a few years ago, at the time citizen news reportage was gaining traction across the nation, that news of masquerades meting out corporal punishment on miniskirt and trouser wearing young ladies somewhere in the Nsukka  axis reached social media.

As usual, the Nigerian social media reacted true to type with that outpouring of anger that occurs whenever vestiges of the ‘devilish’ past of our ancestors appear to be in conflict with the sacred untouchable manifestations of the new religion.

Caught up in outrage, most of us missed the big story, which was not that masquerades enforced a dress code, but that this dress code stemmed originally from the Christian church.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Old Van in a New Bus

Most people who use the danfo or any other yellow bus for commute through the mad dash that is the average Lagos route are not unaware of the fact that the cars served as a goods conveyance van in Europe, this hardly registers. However, even if they don’t know what for sure, they know the tokunbo cars must have served another purpose in its previous incarnation, especially when they contemplate the dress ripping makeshift seats and rough hewn windows that just about serve the purpose they were meant for. They know that the iron-rimmed seats are not standard issue, at least from whence they car came, and that the chance of bodily injury if an accident occurs was amplified by their addition. They know the drivers are largely reckless—early morning shot of paraga and Igbo reckless—and the buses disasters waiting to happen. They know this, but throw their lives into the arms of in-time-of-trouble-and-need-gods as they clamper aboard the buses every morning, afternoon and night. The need to transit overshadowing fear, caution, and whatever sense of impropriety they might feel.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The other war we are not talking about

Photo from
Back in the university, I was a politician; and like all politicians I had to form alliances—another way of saying I manoeuvred to be on the good side of other student politicians or popular students—to improve my chances at the polls.
I never had enough money to go beyond contesting—and winning (thank you very much) my Departmental Presidency—but after contesting for this and that, I knew most of the movers and shakers in my school—Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka. One guy I knew was Obiadada—a nickname, coined from his first name, Obi, and adada, Igbo for ‘one who does not fall’. Obi was the Director of transport when we were in third year.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The gang wars no one is talking about

There is an on-going gang war on the streets of Lagos that the media is ignoring.
I choose to call it a silent war, but this classification – my attempt to stress the media’s seeming disinterest in the matter – is false. The war is by no means silent; it is loud and, as anyone who pays attention to happenings on the streets of Mushin, Bariga, Oshodi and affected parts of Lagos know too well, bloody.
I became aware of this war when I moved from Ajao Estate to Mafoluku, Oshodi, in 2008. Armed robbery and other associated crimes were at that time an issue in Ajao Estate, a town once considered prime real estate by the 419 dons of the ’90s (Eze Ego’s house still stands impressive and imposing opposite the CPM chapel). Ajao Estate later became a magnet for Yahoo-Yahoo boys and the Pentecostal preachers that are ever drawn to owners of easy money.