Our today’s world has gone far in relieving itself from the ignorant days of the past. A period when humans were bought in a market place because they have been overpowered by one means or another to be forced into labour and service. It was a period of cruelty and barbarism when the laws of God have not completely been established.
It is in transition from that period that we saw the rise of great men in history, such as Bilal Ibn Rabah who was himself was born a slave by a slave mother but today counted among the greatest Muslims in history. In modern history, we know of people like Marcus Garvey whose parents were slaves but he rose up to become among the greatest African Americans in history. He influenced the philosophy of many other great African Americans such as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Thus, Civilisation has taught us not to belittle a human being considering his birth because it is nothing of his making.
In the early 18th century, Sheikh Usman Bn Fodiyo waged a war against the Hausa states of that time because of their oppressive rule. When he succeeded, he established an Islamic caliphate with the principle of non-oppression and discrimination of any person on any grounds. The rule of his son, Sultan Bello is highlighted with justice, fairness and inclusive governance. Sultan Bello’s leadership was exemplary such that he had among his officials members of the rival tribes. In recent history, even the selection of holders of traditional positions that are usually assumed to be based purely on lineage, now incorporate some eligibility criteria (competence) beyond just bloodline. That was the case of Ahmadu Marafa Danbaba of blessed memory and former President Shehu Shagari, Turakin Sokoto. Both of them were given these titles based on merit and not purely lineage. These are in fact titles which they both pioneered. They were both prominent Nigerians who have played a very important role in their respective capacities.
The title of Marafan Sokoto was previously held by Umaru Shinkafi after Ahmadu Marafa Danbaba. Umaru Shinkafi also was a prominent Nigerian whom at the height of his career was the Chief of NSO, now the equivalent of a National Security Adviser to the president. He was an in-law to the late Sardauna Ahmadu Bello. He was therefore considered for the title. After his death, another prominent Nigerian, Barr. Inuwa Abdulkadir, who had served the sultanate and beyond is now in consideration. Given the fact that he was secretary to Sultan Maccido with the title of Magatakarda alone can make him eligible, but he also served in other capacities. For instance he was the secretary and assistant secretary general of Arewa Consultative Forum, Attorney General of Sokoto State, Minister for Youth development and now Vice Chairman APC northwest. All these are among his achievements. It is also worthy of mention, that while growing up, he was brought up at the house of Ahmadu Marafa Danbaba together with Hassan Marafa Dan Baba, Magajin garin Sokoto, they grew up as friends as supposedly brothers. Furthermore, when Barr. Inuwa Abdulkadir later went into full time politics, he became a political godson to Umaru Shinkafi Marafan Sokoto of blessed memory. His closeness to both late holders of this title has made him even more worthy.
Therefore, it came as a shock to everyone when Hassan Marafa Danbaba, Magajin Garin Sokoto in a letter to the Sokoto State governor disputed the legitimacy of Barr. Inuwa Abdulkadir to be titled as Marafan Sokoto on the grounds that his father was “bought a slave at two shillings” In this 21st century? It’s such an indecent and calumnious statement that I hate to repeat. In fact, if i had not seen the proof of the letter signed by Magaji, I wouldn’t have believed it. Although, it is observed that there has been a feud between the two men which Magaji refused to point in his letter. But why such a discrimination? He has indeed taken it too far beyond reasonable criticism. Magaji, is the son of Ahmadu Marafa Danbaba and the grandson of Sardaunan Sokoto Ahmadu Bello of blessed memory. Is this the only qualification? Should we forget the fact that he himself was favoured to be given even a more important title that his father had not held? I am truly disturbed by this notion that my uncle Magaji has on this matter. My respect for him has always been for who he is not whose son he is.
Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers of the United States and an author of many great works once profoundly said “When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary”. Virtue is not hereditary? Thank God! Inspite of being born into a decent, hardworking and prominent family, Magaji went ahead with such a blunder? These kinds of messages and impressions that are being passed to our generation are unacceptable. I will forever feel guilty of not speaking out if I had not written this piece. I decided not to consult anybody when writing it before they even attempt stopping me. I would like to appeal to Magaji to give up these efforts in trying to change what God may have approved. I believe that he is in no position to question Barr. Inuwa’s worthiness as a human being to be entitled with whatever he has worked for. We can’t continue to devalue the importance and relevance of hard work. Apart from his achievements in public service, his services to the sultanate council are enough to qualify him. Magaji should also duly apologise if not to Barr. Inuwa but to the members of his family for such a blunder. I know that the children of Barr. Inuwa consider him a father just as myself. They also hold him in high esteem despite his dispute with their father. But anyone who can make these baseless discriminatory statements against any person should be corrected before the venom of such beliefs penetrates the souls of our generation.
Finally, I would like to use this medium to remind the Governor of Sokoto State and the Sultanate Council to be fair in their judgment and duly compensate Barr. Inuwa with what is appropriate. As Muslims we believe that all people are born equal, in the sense that no one brings any possession with him; and they die equal in the sense that they take back nothing of their worldly belongings. Everyone’s ancestors were at a point in history commoners until their efforts and services made them prominent. As everyone watches how the drama unfolds, the moral uprightness of our society lies in the decision you make. It will determine whether it matters for someone’s parent to be called slaves or not. Your decision will set a pace for the future, for whatever legacy you live, history will surely judge you. So help you God! Amen.
Shagari is the CEO of Barcode Multimedia