Any time one loses a relative or a friend, one feels like a part of one has died with that person, especially when that person was as close a friend as Rabiu Garba was to me. We knew each other all our lives as we were born and brought up in the same neighbourhood, went to the same primary and secondary schools in the 60s and 70s respectively.
Rabiu Garba was so many things to so many people, and the people he knew were many, and every person whose path crossed his in life has a positive tale to tell about this wonderful human being. For example, while he was being buried at the Tudun Wada Cemetery in Kano, a friend of his was crying like a baby, and it was I who consoled him. After he calmed down, he narrated to me an encounter between him and the deceased that happened over 30 years ago. He said when he married newly he had no car and his bride was a university student. His dilemma was how to solve the problem of taking her to school and back every day. He voiced this concern of his to a group of his friends, and in the end it was concluded that he had no alternative but to allow her to use the public transport. Rabiu objected to that and volunteered to be taking her to school and back every day. So every morning, he would leave his Ahmadu Bello Way residence in his Volkswagen Beetle car, go and pick his friend’s bride from her matrimonial home and drop her in school, return to his house, prepare and go to his work and later in the day, go and pick her from school and drop her at home, and this continued till the friend bought his own car.
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I want to narrate my own side of the story in my personal relationship with Rabiu, and how it positively impacted my life. First of all, it was Rabiu who taught me how to drive. Being more outgoing and more sociable than me, he would borrow a car from a friend of his elder brother’s, pick me up at home and together we would hit the streets of Kano, this mostly happened at night, when the streets were less busy.
It was also from him that I heard the news that landed me my second and final job, final because I stayed in this job till my retirement. At that time Rabiu was “squatting” with Mallam Inuwa Hassan at his Hausawa flat. Mallam Inuwa was another friend of his elder brother’s, who was then a Principal Producer and Head of Drama Unit, NTA. It was from him that Rabiu learnt that NTA Kano was looking for graduates to employ as TV Producers, and he passed the information to me
During the rainy season of 1988, many houses in Kano were destroyed including our family house where I was staying. We moved our sick mother to her brother’s house in Fagge, Quarters, and Rabiu asked me to move in with him into his one-bedroom apartment at Ahmadu Bello Way Kano. He was glad to share his one-room residence with me, that is the extent of his sacrifice to friends and relations, his willingness to share whatever he has, no matter how little.
He left me in this apartment and went back to Kaduna for a management course. It was during this course that he tried his hands at the printing business which was blessed, leading to his resignation from the employment of Kano State Government and staying in Kaduna, making it his new home.
As his business prospered in Kaduna, he was advised to buy a house in Kano by his father, which he dutifully did. He sent money to our childhood friend, Aminu Dangana who bought the house for him. Having no need for the house in Kano, he asked Aminu Dangana to hand over the keys and the title deeds of the house to me, and requested me to move in, after fully furnishing the house with everything needed in a house including air-conditioners in all the rooms. Meanwhile, he was still staying in a rented house in Kaduna. He left the Kano house completely at my disposal, and never even coming to stay in the house even when he came to Kano. He saw the title deeds of that house once in his life, and that was when his signature was required when he purchased the house. After that, the papers stayed in my possession till the time he decided to sell the house, which he asked me to take the title deeds to another childhood friend of ours, Musa Garba who helped him sell the house. However, he never sold the house I was living in till he bought another house for me in the same Housing Estate, and in my own name.
When I was transferred to the network center in Sokoto from NTA Dutse, Rabiu paid for the first year’s rent for the apartment I got. I also remember, he was the one who donated the sacrificial ram during the naming ceremony of my third child, Salma.
I will also hasten to add that he was who gifted me my first car, and donated half the amount of my second.
When I was transferred to Kaduna, he made my stay there very comfortable, he introduced me to his circle of friends which made me to settle down faster. He opened the gates of his house to me and never allowed me to buy food.
Life was never dull with Rabiu around, as such to me and all our friends, life will never be the same without him, for he was always the life of our gatherings, lively and humorous. I cannot imagine how his family would cope with his absence. My prayer is that may the Almighty give them the strength and patience to bear his loss, and may He look over them.
For Rabiu, I pray to the Almighty to forgive and have mercy on him. To be generous to him and widen his grave and wash him with water, snow and hail. Cleanse him of his transgressions as white cloth is cleansed of dirt & stain. To grant him entry into paradise and protect him from the punishment of the grave and the punishment of hell fire. Amin.
Rabiu Adamu wrote from Kabuga Housing Estate, Kano