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Tribute to cultural broadcaster, Muhammad Salissou Hamissou

It is with much grief that I write this tribute in honour of an intimate media and personal friend, Muhammad Salissou Hamissou, who died in…

It is with much grief that I write this tribute in honour of an intimate media and personal friend, Muhammad Salissou Hamissou, who died in a motor accident on Wednesday, February 14, 2024. A citizen of the Republic of Niger, Hamissou was a correspondent of Radio France International (RFI) Hausa Service based in Lagos. 

He was first introduced to me by our common friend, Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino MON, a notable Nigerian author and dramatist whose Kano-based Gidan Dabino Publishers published my Hausa books. That was in 2009. After our introduction, Hamissou did not waste time in inviting me to RFI studio in Lagos for an interview on my literary works, particularly my folktale publications in Hausa.

I went with Gidan Dabino to the studio. The interview was focused on Taskar Tatsuniyoyi, a compendium of fourteen books I had published in Hausa. Knowing that Babur/Bura was my mother tongue, he was particularly fascinated that I wrote books in Hausa and that I chose the folktale genre, a dying and generally abandoned literary tradition. He was an interviewer who was interested in hearing the other side of an argument. He agreed with me that reviving a dying tradition should not be discountenanced, particularly when that tradition transmits immense educational benefits and embodies some of the best values and customs of a people. Hamissou later interviewed me on other aspects of my writing that centred on culture, including A History of Biu, a book in which I provided a detailed and updated history of the traditional state of Biu, my birth place; he also covered and interviewed me regarding my literary awards, which he felt would encourage more people to be engaged in cultural research.

Listeners of RFI Hausa Service will recall Hamissou’s voice and the charming zest he brought to all his programmes. He was a passionate broadcaster, a professional newsman as well as a features writer and presenter. He would be remembered for the accuracy and relevance of his Hausa news bulletins and for the validity, significance and people-interest quality of his Hausa programmes. Concerning the latter, regular RFI Hausa Service listeners would readily recall his thrilling Al’adunmu na Gado (Our Tradition) and Dandalin Fasahar Fina-Finai (Film Industry in Nigeria) programmes. He featured my interviews and news several times on both programmes. My frequent emphasis on the importance of animated folktales and cartoons in instilling moral values in our children and my quest for turning into animation some of my folktales were what prompted him to feature me on his film-related programmes. Notwithstanding his being a citizen of Niger Republic, Hamissou valued and actively promoted the Nigerian film industry. 

RFI gave a pride of place to the promotion of culture and promoted programmes that served that purpose. Some of those programmes were created and presented by Hamissou who took active interest in coverage of events on culture. As the President of the Nigerian Folklore Society (NFS), I invited him to NFS general meeting that took place at Bayero University Kano in 2014. I remember and value the initiative he took to conduct series of interviews in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja regarding the value of folktale books the Dr Bukar Usman Foundation had donated to educational institutions. The outcome of those interviews was expertly compiled and aired on RFI.

Hamissou was interested in public policies, particularly as they touched on culture and development. For example, he was concerned about the abolition of teaching of history in Nigerian schools, by the Nigerian educational authorities. He took it upon himself to conduct a number of interviews with various stakeholders on the reasons behind that decision. All of those interviewed, including Emeritus Professor Dandatti Abdulkadir, a notable historian, Gidan Dabino, and myself were unanimous in condemning the decision. We stressed that anyone who does not know where he is coming from would not know where he is going. Fortunately, following concerns expressed by many stakeholders, that decision had since been reversed.

All of the foregoing made it a very sad day for me when news came on Thursday, February 15, 2024 that Muhammad Salissou Hamissou had passed on. He was involved in a motor accident while returning to Nigeria after a visit to Niger Republic, where he had gone to see his family. I saw him last on January 29, 2024 when he visited me in Abuja and talked about political developments in the West African sub-region. I showed him my new publications, My Literary Works: Reviews and Reports and Conversations with Bukar Usman. The latter contained most of the interviews he held with me. We agreed that he would collect his personal copies of the books and those of his organization, RFI, on his way back to Lagos. Alas, that appointment would no longer hold! Hamissou is survived by his wife and children, one of whom is in military service in a foreign country outside Africa.

With Hamissou’s passing, I lost an intimate and faithful friend, a professional media correspondent, newscaster, well-informed reporter and presenter to the core. He remained open and warm to me from our first encounter till his exit from this world. My heartfelt condolence and sympathy go to his bereaved family, teeming RFI listeners, associates and well-wishers. 

May God grant his soul heavenly peace and comfort his family


Bukar Usman is a former Permanent Secretary in the Presidency and the President of the Nigerian Folklore Society


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