Today I remember him. I remember Yakubu Muhammad Fannami. He is one of our unsung heroes. He was a student of Darrusalam Science and Islamic Academy in Maiduguri, Borno State. On the 25th of January, 2017, the young boy died a hero when he prevented a suicide bomber from detonating a bomb in a Mosque. He wrestled with a messenger of the Boko Haram; he kissed death. He died in order that scores of other Nigerians could live.
Fannami was probably a Fulani who never thought of the Fulani as a colonist. He was the unpopular Fulani simply because he never bore arms. He never bore arms because he was already ‘armed’ with education. He never bore arms because he was already free. He was free of the elite, in the north and the south, who own most of the cattle been reared by the Fulani herdsmen and boys. It is the elite in the north and south who ’own’ the herd’, the herdsmen and the Kalashnikovs in their arms.
Thus Fannami died. He died a victim; he died a hero. He died without bothering to know whose soul it was that would be saved through his own death. He had been taught in the Academy that whenever a soul is unjustly killed, the punishment awaiting the perpetrator would be like that of the person who killed everybody on earth; he knew that whoever gives life to a soul, his reward shall be like that of the person who gave life to the whole humanity (Quran 5:32). That was Fannami; that was an example of the youths this nation desires; he was a hero that this nation deserved.
Yes. Today I also remember Amasa Firdaws Abdulsalam. The young Muslim lady who sought to affirm her religious identity as provided for by the Nigerian constitution. She sacrificed the prestige of the present for the dignity of the future. She decided to give voice to the voiceless; she realized that no hero is birthed without sacrifice; she knew that history is nothing but the story of the brave in the midst of the reticent and the cowardly.
I dedicate today to that young driver in Abuja who discovered a huge sum of money left in his car by a passenger and decided to return same to its owner. He probably knew such monies cannot guarantee long-lasting wealth and comfort. He probably knew that those whose riches are built on the bones and sweat of the weak, the deprived and the oppressed are only living on borrowed comforts and happiness. Such wealth never endures – the wealth that is gotten from the misfortune of the weak.
In other words, in these seasons of anomie and at a time majority of the upcoming generation appear lost in the haze of modernity and materialism, we have continued to witness extremely soul-inspiring exceptions. Our nation keeps birthing the unfamiliar among its youth – those who value dignity and integrity; those who know that the whole essence of education is the knowledge not only of facts but equally of values and the audacity to fight to preserve it; that education is the golden key with which the gated mansions of freedom could be opened; that education is all about the ability and confidence the educated displays while speaking truth to power.
But the above description and characterization of the upcoming generation represents the exceptions. Yes. Majority of our youths today, the young boys and women that I encounter every day, on the streets of our cities some of which have become refuse dumps and junkyards, this upcoming generation that I behold in my classroom and all around our campus have become, for me, sources of grave concern. They are sources of concern probably because of the way they emerged into the world. In other words, the so-called upcoming generation, the youths of today, the generation of the 21st century are children who were born with their eyes wide opened the very moment they emerged from the wombs of their mothers. They emerged with eyes opened; eyes that were opened to the world. They are children of today. Contrary to what happened when I emerged from my mother’s womb, children of today do not shudder to contemplate the carnal through which they negotiated their entry into the world. The youth of today are special beings. They grew grey hairs at birth; some of them develop hypertension at ten; some children now suffer from diabetes at fifteen. The youths of today are special beings. Boys among them constantly yearn to eat their fathers’ meal; girls among them are in a hurry to become mothers. Dear reader, I am concerned about the youth of today – those who were born in the age of the internet; boys and girls of “whatsapp”; the generation of twitter, the congregation of Instagram; of Davido, of Nice, of Bad and Ugly; a generation which does not appreciate arts imbued with eternal messages but art forms that are pedestrian, profane and arcane. I am concerned about a generation which celebrates vulgarity and adulates profanity, a generation which dances to madness in the name of fashion.