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Late Khadi Azare: One year after

It heralded the beginning of a precarious scenario characterized by fear of the unknown, loneliness and the state of being orphaned. I never wanted to…

It heralded the beginning of a precarious scenario characterized by fear of the unknown, loneliness and the state of being orphaned. I never wanted to experience that, but Allah (SWT) in His infinite mercy had beckoned on him, and there was nothing anybody could do to delay nay stop it.
The last time I saw Baba was in December, 2011 shortly before I left for New York, United States on a national assignment. I had gone to Azare, Bauchi State with my wife and two kids just to say bye to the family. For the first time since I was scheduled to travel out, I felt a kind of numbness that I couldn’t understand; leaving one’s relations for such a long time and knowing that certain things may happen and one would never be there. At the time, my mother was ill and had been in and out of hospital, and I always feared for her. On the day we were leaving, they all came out of the house and saw us off; including Baba. As usual with him, he gave my children the usual sweets and some money. He prayed for us and waved his hand to discharge us. That was the last time I saw him.
After we arrived in New York, we spoke with each other at least every other day as we used to when I was in Abuja. He liked to call frequently just to know how we were doing, especially during the first few weeks after we arrived. He was very fond of the children, especially my first son, Abdullahi whom I named after him. He used to speak to them directly using my phone or their mother’s.
It was on Monday, September 3, 2012 that I called him as usual to exchange pleasantries and know how everyone in the family was doing. The tone of his voice appeared very low and he was just struggling to communicate with me. I inquired whether anything was wrong and he answered negatively. I was not convinced, knowing who he was, and therefore immediately called my younger brother to ask what was happening. He confirmed my suspicion that Baba was sick since the day before. That prompted me to call my elder brother, Mu’awiya to know whether he was aware of Baba’s condition, and he was confused as I was when I told him what I just learned. It was the next day that I was told that Baba’s condition had further deteriorated and he was taken to the hospital very early in the morning. I became very worried over the next three days and started to make frantic phone calls to my siblings to ascertain how he was responding to treatment in the hospital. What I later realized further compounded my problem and my mental state of mind began to diminish. Everyone I called assured me that Baba was doing well and that his condition was improving. When I asked to speak to him on phone, they were all dodging my demand and giving one excuse or the other on why he could not talk to me at that time. I never bought any of that stuff. The pictures and video I received of him on the hospital bed further compounded my situation.
The shocker came to me on that Friday, September 14, 2012. I had just returned from the mosque within the premises of the United Nations Headquarters and stopped by on my way to the office to buy lunch. My younger brother, Umar sent me a message through BBM that Baba was not breathing and that he was also motionless. I asked him to call the doctors on duty to inform them and he told me that they were already there, including my younger brother, Dr. Salim. Hardly had I settled down in my friend’s office to eat my lunch when Umar sent me another message that Baba had died! A cold chill ran up my spine, I felt totally weak and disoriented. I then called one of my brothers on phone two times, but he didn’t pick any of the calls, which prompted me to call Dr. Salim. His voice was faint and almost inaudible, he whispered that Baba was no more, and that we should take heart. There and then, my whole world came crashing; my legs were wobbling and couldn’t seem to carry my weight any longer, my eyes were wide open, but couldn’t see anything ahead of me. It was totally devastated.
With the help and comforting words of my colleagues in the office and my wife at home, I gathered some courage and tried to calm my frayed state of mind. I left New York the next day for Nigeria and arrived at Abuja the following day in the evening. On the third day, I arrived home to face the grim reality; I won’t see Baba anymore again! My eldest brother, Dr. Abdull immediately called me and offered the soothing and calming words that still linger in my memory. I extended messages of condolence to all my relations, and my friends came from far and near to sympathize with me and the family.
Baba was indeed a great man. He was born on March 12, 1940 in Azare, Katagum Local Government Area of Bauchi State. While undergoing formal education, he attended the Shahuci Judicial School, Kano from 1957-60; Arabic Teachers College, Sokoto from 1964-66; Institute Of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 1970-71, where he obtained advanced judicial qualifications. He served as an Arabic Teacher, Court Clerk and rose through the ranks to become a Khadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal in 1997, a position he maintained until he retired in March, 2003. He lived a fulfilled life privately and while serving the public as a teacher and a Sharia Court Judge.
He was a gentleman, a religious scholar, a farmer, a philanthropist and a strict disciplinarian who followed the right path. His record in the Judiciary was unblemished. Typical of many of his contemporaries who were inclined to corrupt practices, he dared the odds and remained an incorruptible judge like the character in D. Olu Olagoke’s 1972 play: ‘The Incorruptible Judge’.
The unprecedented number of people who trooped daily to see him on his hospital bed before he passed on and the mammoth crown that participated in his funeral procession, attests to the fact that he was well loved and appreciated by the people of Azare, many of whom he never personally met but have heard of him.
As a family, we have accepted Baba’s demise as a fulfillment of Allah’s promise that every soul must taste the bitterness of death. We are however, consoled by the Hadith of the great Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be with him) who said   when a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqahtul jariyah (ceaseless charity); knowledge which is beneficial to others; and virtuous descendants who pray for him (the deceased). Allah (SWT) has granted Baba all these three qualifications and we have no doubt that he will continue to reap the blessings  in his grave and in the hereafter.
We miss you greatly Baba; the last one year without you was indeed unlike any other thing we have experienced in our lives. We shall continue to abide by your admonishments and counsel until we all come to join you when we are beckoned by the Almighty. May you continue to rest in peace, Baba.
Abdull wrote from Tatari Ali Quarters, Azare, Bauchi State.
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