Re­mem­ber­ing my father Ndamed Adam Ibrahim two years af­ter

Sunday Trust - - TRIBUTE - By A.A Ru­fai

Kind­ness begets kind­ness, it is said. In the iron ore town of Ko­ton-Karfe, lo­cated in the prov­ince where River Niger meets River Benue, my father, Ndamed Adam Ibrahim, on 11th March, 2016, ex­actly two years to­day, re­turned to his maker, leav­ing be­hind lit­tle or noth­ing of worldly ac­qui­si­tion. But at that mo­ment the an­gels came for him, he was sur­rounded by fam­ily, who cared and re­spected him. It was amidst these loved ones that he breathed his last, his hon­our un­scathed, on a blessed day - a Fri­day!

In the late 1970’s through the early 1980’s, I grew up wit­ness­ing the in­nu­mer­able kith and kin that came from the vil­lage, whom vis­ited my fam­ily in Jos, back then. These re­la­tions ranged from young job seek­ers; those that needed aid for their school­ing or sup­port for med­i­cal at­ten­tion or cousins, aun­ties, neph­ews, grannies and the likes who sim­ply came to visit, “Un­cle Jos”, “our brother” in the city. Father was kind to them all, he never had the heart to turn any­one away. This was at a time when it was com­mon place for a vis­i­tor to show up at your doorstep unan­nounced.

In the so­cial strat­i­fi­ca­tion at that point in his­tory, “Un­cle Jos” could ar­guably be la­belled a suc­cess­ful mid­dle class man among his peers. I re­mem­bered when­ever the oc­ca­sion called for it, father usu­ally took us out, his kids, just to catch some fun. He had this blue bee­tle that came in its brand new chas­sis. As a kid I used to imag­ine this au­to­mo­bile as a tor­toise, it was in it he took us, Ab­dulQadir, Abubakar, my­self and mum for a ride (Salma was not born then). The main tourist des­ti­na­tion at that time in the Tin City was the Jos Zoo­log­i­cal Gar­den and the Jos Wildlife Park. The yummy ice­cream and the choco­late whis­tle sweets we used to lick and blew like the Boys Scouts whis­tle, were some of our favourite good­ies. Father al­ways came along with his Ko­dak cam­era and took shots. It fas­ci­nated me the way the cam­era printed out the pho­tos in­stantly and in ex­cel­lent colour. In one of those shots, I had on this coat of many colours, like the plen­ti­ful ex­pen­sive cloth­ing and toys he bought for us in those good old days. Father sure knew how to take care of him­self. He kept an afro hair style, his wardrobe was lined with im­ported branded suites, ties and as­sorted shoes. We were liv­ing the life, but all these changed. Father lost his job af­ter the com­pany he had worked for, owned by ex­pa­tri­ates, folded up.

Father was not born with a sil­ver spoon. He was from a very hum­ble back­ground. My father was the el­dest son to his own father but not the el­dest child of my pa­ter­nal grand­par­ents. The death of father’s half-brother, Ibrahim Gambo in 2008, saw him be­com­ing the only male heir in the midst of fe­male si­b­lings and half­sis­ters. Father was of royal linage, for he was a mem­ber of one of the four rul­ing clans in his an­ces­tral home of Ibidun. His po­si­tion in the fam­ily was there­fore cen­tral.

Per­haps it was be­cause of this rea­son that he had that zeal to see him­self ex­cel against all odds. And for him he had con­sid­ered ed­u­ca­tion as the ve­hi­cle to at­tain great­ness. His jour­ney to ac­quire the pre­req­ui­site western ed­u­ca­tion started out at St. Pius Catholic Pri­mary school, Ko­ton-Karfe. It was this jour­ney that took him to a com­mer­cial col­lege in Okene in the 1960’s where he rose to be­come the Se­nior Pre­fect (Head boy) dur­ing his days there. Father stud­ied hard, ac­quired qual­ity knowl­edge and left school with­out a cer­tifi­cate. In as much as he had the pas­sion to study, get that pa­per qual­i­fi­ca­tion and set out for great­ness, fi­nan­cial en­cum­brances frus­trated his no­ble ef­forts. Words soon got round to some Chris­tian mis­sion­ar­ies that a bril­liant stu­dent had un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously dropped out from that col­lege. These men of God ap­proached my father one day with an of­fer - ac­cept the faith, and you’ll have your school­ing and more all paid for. It was a tempt­ing of­fer. A hard de­ci­sion, a life defin­ing one, had to be made. When father ar­rived at a de­ci­sion, it was a de­fin­i­tive one - noth­ing, not even what he most cher­ished, was go­ing to make him sur­ren­der his Is­lamic faith. It was not as if father was a Sheik or any­thing of the sort. But he was a man who was grounded on meeting what­ever fate be­fell him with ex­tra­or­di­nary per­se­ver­ance. This at­ti­tude was to be the shield he will per­ma­nently adopt against the nu­mer­ous tides of haz­ards he was to later en­counter in life. I was a teenager when father said to me one cold morn­ing in Jos, “Son, if you have a prob­lem, face it. Run­ning away from it will not make it go.”

Be­ing the de­ter­mined young man he was dur­ing those years, father left Ko­ton-karfe in search of a job. The job he se­cured took him to Zaria, Kano and Maiduguri (where I was born). This job also took him to Kwakwi in Plateau State and fi­nally to Jos.

When the whirl­wind of hard­ship came knock­ing, with all the dust and de­bris, af­ter father lost his job, it was not a swipe that hit him alone. It hit us all as a fam­ily, and the winds came knock­ing us from left and right. Father tried his hands on en­trepreneur­ship. He had his own com­pany, Fa­ti­maco Global En­ter­prises, registered. He pur­sued small con­tracts. Some­times he suc­ceeded in se­cur­ing a pro­ject. But the pay­ments came too far apart. It got to a time, dur­ing the years of Gen­eral Ibrahim Ba­bangida’s Struc­tural Ad­just­ment Pro­gramme, when even the me­nial con­tracts he used to ex­e­cute stopped com­ing al­to­gether. Father could hardly make ends meet. And the ship wrecked.

Some­times we went to bed on empty stom­achs. It be­came im­pos­si­ble for father to pay the rent. So one day the land­lord kicked us out from his house; a bed bug in­fested house, and the third house we stayed in a row as Be­ing the de­ter­mined young man he was dur­ing those years, father left Ko­ton-karfe in search of a job. The job he se­cured took him to Zaria, Kano and Maiduguri (where I was born). This job also took him to Kwakwi in Plateau State and fi­nally to Jos ten­ants. And to think that father built a solid four bed­room flat in Jos dur­ing those hey­days which we never moved into, and for rea­sons he never told mum, and which I might never know. Father was an in­tro­vert, a very reclu­sive per­son who kept lots of things to him­self and took a lot of them to his grave.

One evening father came back with the re­liev­ing news that he had got­ten us a new apart­ment. We the boys were ex­cited and fol­lowed him to see our new abode. And be­hold, it was a garage, of­fered to him by Baba Yunusa, father’s child­hood friend.

In all of those years of storm and ad­ver­sity, father re­ceded into his shell of per­se­ver­ance. Even though he was down, but armed with a shield, father had a sober view of life that saved him from run­ning into in­san­ity.

And it was in­ter­est­ing to note that, all the kith and kin that came vis­it­ing when the times were good, stopped com­ing al­to­gether save for one - Hon. Osune, father’s nephew. He is more of an el­der brother to my si­b­lings and I than just any other cousin. He watched us grow just the same way as father had watched him grow. He along with his mother, Ha­jiya Maryam Shaibu Tutu, father’s el­der sis­ter, were the duo that asked father to re­tire back home. But father was re­luc­tant. It was the ethno-re­li­gious un­rest that started in Jos in 2001 amongst other fac­tors that even­tu­ally forced father to re­turn to Ko­ton-Karfe. He ac­cli­ma­tized in go­ing back to live in Ko­ton-Karfe, the very town he was born, much faster than he had ear­lier en­vis­aged. Those kith and kin he never turned away when they came vis­it­ing in Jos, were the same peo­ple he min­gled with, who re­turned the kind­ness he once of­fered to them.

A golden op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self in 2010 while father was liv­ing a quiet life in Ko­ton-Karfe. The tra­di­tional king mak­ers from his an­ces­tral home of Ibidun, pre­sented him with an of­fer of a sec­ond class chief­taincy ti­tle, af­ter the demise of the pre­vi­ous oc­cu­pant of the of­fice. It was the turn of his clan to rule the king­dom, they had told him. All was set and the seal of ac­cent from the state gov­ern­ment was be­ing awaited. It was dur­ing this pe­riod that a mon­ey­bag with vested in­ter­est in the stool, in the cover of dark­ness, con­nived with po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests and through the back door, stole the ti­tle right un­der my father’s nose. Yet again, father swal­lowed this in­jus­tice with pa­tience. But I could tell he went to his grave feel­ing cheated of his right to as­cend the throne.

The mes­sen­ger of Al­lah (peace be upon him) said: “No Muslim dies on the day of Fri­day, nor the night of Fri­day, ex­cept that Al­lah pro­tects him from the tri­als of the grave.” My beloved father, may Al­lah cher­ish you in the grave and make Al­janatul Fir­d­uas your fi­nal des­ti­na­tion.

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