It was a sad day for many in Kaduna and beyond as residents in their hundreds trooped to the Wushishi Road residence of late Alhaji Sule Bako, better known as a philanthropist and the man who built the famous travellers mosque at Dankande, along the Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Road.
For decades, the travellers’ mosque provided respite for travellers who stop by to pray, use conveniences and eat along the way. Many say it has become a safe haven for all travellers whether male or female, as well as travellers of divers faith and ethnicity.
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Sule Bako, who died in a private hospital in Abuja in the early hours of Wednesday, 27th October 2021 following a brief illness, was returned to Kaduna where he was buried according to Islamic rites.
Popularly called Mai Masallacin Matafiya (owner of travellers’ mosque), the philanthropist who died at the age of 84 years was said to have touched the lives of many in Kaduna and beyond. Those he came in contact with described the deceased as an honest and religious man who made positive strides towards the development of his community, the lives of the less privileged as well as strangers through numerous charities.
As a retired civil servant who served as a caretaker committee chairman of then Kaduna Local Government Area in the 80s, the late Sule Bako was said to have sponsored the education of many youths whose parents were poor as well as helped several others secure jobs.
At his Wushishi Road home, where dozens of people had trooped in to pay their last respect to the man they called a father, brother and friend, Daily Trust heard tales of Sule Bako’s simplicity and kindness.
“When Wushishi Road was unmotorable years back, the late Bako bought stones to fill up the potholes just to make the road comfortable for motorists and pedestrians,” said Badamasi Mohammed, a resident of the area.
“Even recently, months before he fell ill, the old man noticed that motorists usually hit a newly constructed speed bump which was made to slow down speeding vehicles on the road, but because the motorists hardly notice the bump, he asked a painter to make a sign post to alert motorists of the speed bump,” the resident said.
“He was a great man who served humanity because so many lives were transformed positively through him. He assisted many youths,” another resident said.
Ibrahim Danladi Makari, the nephew of the deceased, said his late uncle’s death has created a vacuum not only in the family but in humanitarian works. Ibrahim said during Ramadan period and eid, hundreds of people usually gather at the house to receive alms from the deceased.
According to him, Sule Bako was a trustworthy and honest man who always admonished them to be truthful in all their dealings. “His death was one of the things that shocked me. I am not the type to cry easily but when I heard the news of his death, I cried. I was the second to the last person to leave his graveside where I prayed for him. I don’t know how long this pain will remain with me,” he said.
Karimah Sule Bako, one of the daughters of the deceased, broke down and could barely speak when Daily Trust correspondent approached her to speak on her late father. “It is indeed a big loss to the family and we pray to Allah to reward him with Jannatul firdausi,” she said.
“He was very religious; he loved the mosque at Dankande and he was a great father who spent his life serving Islam and the less privileged. We grew up to see him assisting the less privileged and also taking care of the mosque,” said Yusuf, one of the deceased’s sons.
Those who knew the deceased said his name cannot be mentioned without linking it to the travellers’ mosque located at Dankande – a small village few kilometres outside Kaduna town, along Kaduna-Zaria-Kano highway. While visiting the mosque at Dankande, our correspondent witnessed a melancholic mood among traders, travellers and mosque staff. It was gathered that until he fell ill, Sule Bako visited the mosque daily to ensure that the environment was conducive for travellers, including non-Muslims who stopped by to rest and eat.
Chairman of the mosque and retired Deputy Inspector General of Police, Uba Ringim, who has held the position for 15 years, said the deceased had approached him to serve in that capacity because he noticed that he (Ringim) often stopped there to pray when travelling to Kano.
The retired Police DIG explained that working together with late Sule Bako, they brought a lot of development to the mosque, ensuring that it now has six functional boreholes including those using solar power.
“Sule Bako sacrificed his money, time and his connections to raise the standard of this mosque,” Ringim said, adding that: “What I did as the chairman is to come in where he couldn’t reach certain people and I was able to reach them and talk to them on the needs of the mosque,” he said.
He explained further that a transformer was provided to supply steady electricity to the mosque and surrounding environment which made life comfortable for the inhabitants. With trees planted to provide shade and a serene environment for travellers plying the Kaduna -Zaria- Kano-Road, the mosque was built on a property belonging to Sule Bako over 20 years ago.
The Imam of the mosque, Halilu Ibrahim, who has held the position for 19 years, prayed to Allah to reward the deceased for his sacrifice for Islam. According to him, the late Sule Bako had always told them never to abandon the mosque after his demise. “His fear has always been that the mosque will cease to function after his death. He was always telling us not to abandon the mosque and I used to tell him that God willing, the mosque will not be abandoned,” he said.
The Imam said the death of Bako will not affect the mosque as, he made sure before his death that the mosque became an independent facility with a chairman capable of ensuring its continued existence and maintenance.
Speaking with our correspondent, the chairman of traders and food vendors in the area, Saleh Saidu, said late Sule Bako laid a very good foundation for them. “I have been here for 15 years without facing any problems with him, his advice to us all is to work hard to earn paradise. May Allah reward him,” he said.
The large crowd which comprised of women, youth, adults and the elderly from different parts of the state who attended his funeral, the comments and tears on their faces as they gathered to bid farewell to the man that served them for over 40 years, was an attestation to the fact that he will be sorely missed.