Nigeria’s entertainment industry lost a gem on Sunday, November 12, 2023, with the death of veteran actor, Usman Baba Patesi, popularly known as Samnja.
Patesi, who died at a hospital in Kaduna State, would be remembered for his commitment to entertainment, but most importantly reminding Nigerians of the virtues of good conduct and patriotism.
The octogenarian was popular with the TV series; titled ‘Samja Mazan Fame’, which brought joy and laughter to many homes in the 80s and parts of the 90s, especially in northern Nigeria.
The programme was first aired on NTA and Federal Radio Corporation Nigeria (FRCN) stations in Kaduna before it was featured on the network service of the NTA.
He was nicknamed Samnja, which was the short form of Sergeant Major, because of the popular TV show programme, ‘Samnja Mazak Fame.’ Other TV and radio shows he featured in included; ‘Malam Jato an Albarkawa,’ ‘Ka bani ka Baka’ and ‘Duniya Budurwar Wawa’, among others.
The popular programme, Samanja Mazan Fama, which brought him to limelight, was a play about barracks life and how influential his character’s wife in the play, ‘Bariki’ was running the affairs of the barracks.
The veteran actor briefly served in the military, which made him perform the role of the sergeant major perfectly after joining the FRCN Kaduna.
Samanja was a committed artiste and a patriot as depicted in the hundreds of his plays which largely centred on how to be a good citizen.
He not only entertained but educated both the young and the old through his acting even though he was not making much money from it.
The Zonal Director of Federal Radio Corporation Nigeria, Kaduna, Alhaji Buhari Auwalu, said the late Usman Baba Patesi was not into drama to make money but to educate people about barracks life.
“Making money out of drama was not his primary concern; his primary aim was to educate and entertain people on the realities of happenings in the barracks.
“If it was money he was looking for, he had greater opportunities because he came into contact with many big men through the drama. So, if it were the money he was looking for, he would have become a very rich man. But that was not his training; the training was to earn from a legitimate source and not belittle himself,” Buhari said.
Usman Baba Patesi was born in 1942, into the Patesi royal family.
He started his early education at Patesi Primary School and later attended the Ilorin Middle School.
He acquired his Quranic education under Malam Ali Bardoni in his hometown and attended Government College, Kaduna. Patesi joined the Nigerian Army in the ‘60s, and retired in the 80s. He then pursued an acting career in drama at FRCN/NTA Kaduna, where he also directed and wrote plays. Mostly known as Samna Maza Fame, he reflected on his experience in the military.
In an interview with Daily Trust in 2021, the late Usman Baba Patesi said he started drama during his primary school days.
According to him, he became popular for being a disciplinarian among his peers. It would be recalled that he declined to vie for the throne of his ancestors, preferring instead to continue public service through his plays.
In his condolence message to the family of the deceased, President Bola Tinubu described the death of the popular thespian as a painful loss, saying he contributed to the country through the various vocations he pursued in his lifetime.
“The late Patesi chose to obey the call to national duty when the country needed his service. His television show, Samna, was a must-watch entertainment for decades. Through the show, he taught young citizens national values and respect for our service people. He was a patriot who left behind several indelible impressions,” the president said.
Similarly, in his condolence message, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Jibrin Barau, said the legacy of the late Usman Baba Patesi would endure in the hearts of those who enjoyed his work and his impact on the cultural landscape will be remembered with gratitude.
Indeed, Nigeria has lost one of its committed and patriotic sons, who through the dint of hard work and love for his profession made a difference in the society. It is hoped that his legacy will be carried on and one way of doing that is for stakeholders to take the flight of moral values and citizenship education in our society seriously. Efforts should be made to infuse positive values into the entertainment industry.
We, at Daily Trust, join his numerous fans, family and well-wishers to pray for the repose of his soul. We pray that the Almighty Allah will grant him Aljannah Firdausi. We also pray that Allah will comfort his family over their loss.