By Amir Abdulazeez
It is unfortunate that many that lived with him did not inherit his modesty, honesty and simplicity. Many of the influential people who remember him today only do so hypocritically. They were never sincere about promoting his virtues.
I became familiar with politics before the age of ten. One of the contributing factors was having family members who contested for elective positions during the botched 3rd republic in the early 1990s. I was close to people contesting positions as low as councillorship and as high as president. Whenever they are having discussions, there was one name that comes up frequently and that name was Malam Aminu Kano. At that time, his death was not even 10 years old.
I knew close to nothing about this frequently discussed man then, but I grew up striving to understand more about him. One thing I noticed is that politicians from all affiliations adore him, pray for him and then treat him like a prophet. Whenever, he is mentioned, people get filled with nostalgia. There is virtually no politician in Kano and by extension the greater part of Northern Nigeria who doesn’t want to be associated with the Aminu Kano brand.
From the over thirty years since I first heard his story, I have been struggling to understand more about him. The deeper I go, the more I realize how special he was. From 2002, when I became much keen on observing and studying Nigerian politics, up to date, I have been very much convinced that majority of the set of people we call politicians today are mere jokers without any vision compared to the likes of Malam Aminu Kano. Only a very few of them have tried to replicate the kind of discipline and honesty he was known for. During their era, the likes of Aminu Kano were in politics for a reason which was never self-centred.
Though known mainly as a politician, emancipator, reformer and activist, Malam was also a great author, orator, mentor and educationist. He is credited with establishing the modern Islamiyyah system that we are operating today. He is also believed to be one of the shapers of mass education as being practiced today. He had touched society positively in many ways other than politics. That is why, we have diverse institutions named after him; roads, schools, hospitals, airports, etc.
At the peak of his powers, Malam was literally the owner of Kano politics, yet he was humble, kind and generous even to his opponents. His honesty was uncommon even for his era, it was reported that one day, the then Kano State Governor, Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi went to visit him with a gift of an electric generator. Malam enquired whether the governor had provided a generator for all the people of Kano State? That was how he rejected it and Rimi had to leave with it. When Malam died, he didn’t leave any wealth for his family. His only house is now a research center managed by Bayero University, Kano.
Today marks exactly 40 years since the demise of this rare human being. Although his ideology, ethics and teachings had remained significant over these years, the people have never stopped mourning him. Every year, his death looks fresh; Malam will be mourned forever. A champion of progressive politics and justice, a defender of the oppressed and down trodden, a true man of the people and a dedicated ad unique statesman. He is among the greatest Nigerians and role model to millions of citizens and leaders. He will remain a reference point for a very long time or may be forever. His history will be written and rewritten severally.
His death marked the end of ideological politics in Northern Nigeria. Personally, I see him as the greatest Kano citizen of all time, at least in the modern era. He has already established a norm by living a life that any right-thinking person will aspire to lead. It is unfortunate that a society like Kano which enjoyed a solid political foundation laid by the likes of Aminu Kano is now governed by the kind of shameless and self-centred people we see today.
While some political leaders have worked hard and tirelessly to sustain the Aminu Kano legacy, many others have been anti-people, playing the politics of self-interest at the expense of the society. The bitter part is that even political crooks and criminals disguising themselves as leaders are claiming to be identifying with the teachings of Aminu Kano. Today, we have so many pretenders who claim to be disciples of the late sage and only people with historical knowledge can unearth their treachery. It is funny that some people even wear his kind of attire bragging to be like him, while in practice they are corrupt, morally bankrupt and don’t adhere to any of his teachings.
It is unfortunate that many that lived with him did not inherit his modesty, honesty and simplicity. Many of the influential people who remember him today only do so hypocritically. They were never sincere about promoting his virtues. People who claim to have him as their role models are stupendously rich beyond rationality while maintaining a questionable character. If he was alive, he will disown most of these pretenders.
Malam Aminu Kano was not rich, he didn’t hold many government positions, he didn’t force people into building a political empire, he wasn’t greedy; but yet, his name has been written in gold and nothing can erase it for the rest of history. The corrupt leaders of today will die to have his kind of name, but they can’t exercise any of his virtues. They are shamelessly hell bent on garnering wealth, wealth and more wealth as if there is no life after death.
All my life, I have aspired to become myself and carve a niche from my own view of life. I had understood very early in life that every human being is unique in his own right and there is no rigid template that everyone must follow to become great. I have been inspired by many great men though, yet I feel I still enjoy being myself. However, for every rule there is an exception; from what I’ve gathered about Malam Aminu Kano, he is that one person I can give up everything just to be exactly like him.