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Elegy For Usman Gezawa – First Class In Jannah In Sha Allah

On August 6, we lost yet another of our talented young people – Usman Gezawa, that wheelchair-bound student of Computer Science at Bayero University, Kano…

On August 6, we lost yet another of our talented young people – Usman Gezawa, that wheelchair-bound student of Computer Science at Bayero University, Kano (BUK).

He died after a brief illness, just shy of 22 years.

Flood of tears, as homes, farmlands get washed away

Reminiscences with Alhaji Usman Ayuba Gumel

Though physically disabled, Allah gave him an almost impeccable brain and acumen, running a perfect 5.0 CGPA on a 5.0 Scale (CGPA meaning ‘Cumulative Grade Point Average, university jargon for a potential First Class graduate or, in secondary school, ‘a perfect A’ student.

Alas! Usman died before we could crown him, and may Allah admit him to that First Class Jannah; Firdaus.

Last year, Usman was one of the most impactful speakers at TEDx Aminu Kano Way where he narrated the story of his condition in his presentation titled ‘Ability in Disability’ (available on YouTube and ted.com).

This Column on October 11 last year had celebrated Usman, restating how God compensated him with a superior comprehension of things from the mundane to the complex, and how he could do with only his hands what many of us can hardly do with our whole bodies.

Usman’s speech that day was touching and electrifying, and drew not only a standing ovation, but tears from the eyes of the audience. Allahu Akbar!

Before his departure from this world, Usman, aptly nicknamed ‘Brain on a Wheelchair’ or ‘Kano’s Stephen Hawkins’ by his friends, had been topping his classes from early in his life.

He had been a young man with ambition, advancing towards his dreams and making positive impact on the lives around him.

Usman’s best friend, and son of our good friend, Nour Bashir Galadanci ([email protected]), student of Medicine at BUK, wrote to this Column to tell us more about the late young genius:

“On the 8th of July, Usman Gezawa and his family paid us a visit.

“We had a good time. But little did I know…

“Usman(Halifa)Abdulkareem Shehu Gezawa was born October 8, 1998 (Jumada Akhir 17, 1419).Months after his birth, he walked a little, and then couldn’t.

“He was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy(SMA), a genetic disorder characterised by weakness and wasting(atrophy) of skeletal muscles.

“Some of its symptoms and complications include general muscle weakness, poor muscle tone, limping, difficulty sitting/standing/walking, scoliosis, and so many others depending on its type and severity.

“Usman started out at Kano Capital Primary School in 2003.

“In primary 4, he got a wheelchair which assisted him with his movements.

“He moved to Kano Capital Boys’ Secondary School in 2010.

“After a year, he was transferred to Crescent International School where we met.

“The whole school was talking about the exceptionally-brilliant but physically-challenged boy.

“I remember seeing his mother drop him off at school with his brother Ahmad; or some of my colleagues pushing him on his wheelchair.

“He was in A while I was in B. Luckily for me, we were in the same class the following year.

“We soon became the best of friends. Usman was a genius; always ready to explain to anyone who didn’t understand something in class.

“His character was outstanding.

“He was amazing, friendly, nice, patient and strong.

“He never complained about his condition.

“He was never embarrassed of who he was. Always grateful to Almighty.

“He was the best graduating student of their set; the best in almost all subjects.

“Usman got admission into BUK’s computer science.

“He loved it so much, especially mathematics and programming.

“As first semester exams approached,I told him we wanted nothing less than 5.0 GPA from him.

“When the results came out, he called me and I asked him his GPA.

“He said ‘Guess’. I started‘4.8, 4.7, 4.6, 4.9…’and finally said ‘I give up’.

“Then he said ‘5.0’.

“I was so happy.

“After every exam, I would ask‘5.0’? and he would always say “Yes”.

“But he was never boastful.

“We hoped he would graduate with 5.0 and be the best graduating student the university ever had.

“But we never knew that that day would never come, Allah had other plans for him.

“Usman was not only good in western education, but knew so much about his ‘deen.

“He was called ‘professor’ or ‘sheikh’ by many.

“He attended many Islamiyya schools– Izazudden, Sabilur Rashad, Hidaya, Madrasatul Ri’ayatul Umma, and more.

“He also read so many Islamic books.”

Many more of Usman’s friends – Imam Az-Zubayr, Naseeba Babale, AbdulQawiy Ahmad, Aisha Mahmoud, Maijamaa Mukhtar – also contributed in this tribute:

“A memoriser of the Qur’an. A life well lived.

“An inspiration to so many.

“Loved by all who met or heard about him.

“A role model to many.”

“Such a brilliant soul; whenever you posted something on our Islamic WhatsApp Group, he would almost always be the first to reply, just to encourage you.”

“A good soul has passed on; a good man has gone up to heaven.

“With a heavy heart, we part with our beloved brother.

“Usman was an inspiration to the whole world.”

“He was extraordinary, dedicating his whole life to knowledge.

“A brilliant young man living with disability but a perfect inspiration for other physically-challenged people.”

“Thought of a lot of possibilities, but none of them had to do with Usman dying now.

“I didn’t see him dying, now, at his prime, with his future neatly arranged before him.”

“Can’t find words to describe the kind, strong,beautiful soul he was.

“Words just can’t do it.

“From the first day I met him, I always looked forward to seeing him again.”

“Most humble, intelligent and kindest person I ever met.

“He never dwelled in sadness thinking about things he couldn’t do.

“He always had outstanding performances.”

“Though his life was short, it was rewarding.

“He was passionate about learning and knowledge.

“His brother Ahmad was his pillar of support.

“They were inseparable.”

“He loved those subjects which gave normal mortals goosebumps and nightmares –  mathematics,algebra,calculus programming.

“He was just extraordinary!”

“You left us too early/But death doesn’t differentiate between the young and the elderly/I miss you daily/Regretting not visiting you frequently/I pray we’ll meet again in gardens which are decorated beautifully/And palaces which are lofty/In Jannatul Firdaus where we’ll live happily/Where there will be neither sickness nor death for eternity/May Allah forgive you and shower you with His Mercy.”

Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un! We are from Allah, and to Him shall we return. First Class in Firdaus for Usman, in sha Allah.

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