As Salam Alaikum Muttaqha Rabe Darma,
Greetings. Hope this first in a series of notes meets you well. Please take time to read, understand, deploy some of my life chilling experiences on your life and lifestyle and adjust your life accordingly. My intention is to reflect, in a series of notes, my life as a guide to you as you grow to full adulthood. I chose to serialise the notes so that, as a teacher, I provided you with an opportunity to ask questions. I will respond to meaningful questions. Read on.
I am aware you are in school and doing well, at least, academically. I was in school and did well too. In my case, from primary five (in Rafindadi Primary school) when I knew what schooling was, it was class position 1 until my form 5 (Day K/Yandaka), when I completed secondary school. I was involved in all school activities, including sporting, drama, debating, quiz and boxing. It was fun for me, particularly, when I was looked for to be part of those activities even when I was out of school. I was a truant student too. My school mates called me ‘case master’. I got flogged daily for one offence or another. In my final year in secondary school, I was made the head prefect (head boy). Although it was my first surprise in life, it was a remarkable experience.
There were things I would have done differently if only the chance to live those younger years of my life returns. I would have been a ‘hafizul Quran’ before my last year in secondary school. Beside the obvious advantages, my experience in the university (BUK) indicated that all those who knew the Quran well have smoother sail. They sleep, while we read. They skipped classes to attain other things, while we religiously attain every lecture and every lab. They went to exam hall earlier, while we went late trying to read more and muzzle out all we could. Yet, we got the same grade as they did. In some cases, they score higher grades. In essence, we worked harder by 1000%tage points and still they did as much as us or even better. I would have paid more attention to all subjects in school, including French and Arabic. I never knew, I would visit countries or meet people who could not understand any of the languages I speak. French and Arabic would have been great assets. Particularly, Arabic as it is the language of the Quran. I would have been obedient to my teachers and other school staff. Now I know they did great things to shape my learning and character. Some of these things made me what I am today! Indeed, they thought me to excel in whatever am involved. I tried their techniques, it pays.
Just like me, You will probably move to the university once you completed secondary schooling. My university (BUK) was a second generation one. Those are the ones established in the 70s and 80s. From the onset they started as tough institutions adopting ‘ba Sani ba Sabo’ posture to teaching, learning, research and training. I recall how my friend who, was a student in BUK, almost went mad during examination. He spent several days reading skipping sleep and leisure. That was how we worked hard to make our grades and eventually secure degree certificates. University was not only academic environment, it is also the most socially active one and one can learn more than the two.
For me, my university time was eventful as much as it was in my secondary school life. I would like to share, with you, a few. Beside spending time on academics and social activities, the university, especially, exposed me to much wisdom and Entreprenuership. I recall how my friend from Jos (I will call him Jibrin) taught me how to walk the wisdom talk. He made me learn, by action, how passion is distinguished from stress. I learnt that working hard to get at what does not interest me, what will not be beneficial to me and the larger society, what will not benefit the Deen, what will eventually harm me or others is called stress. JIbrin was a deeply religious person and can make meal out of what seemed impossible. The only impossible, he would say, is what the religion prohibits. He taught me endurance and perseverance. Especially, at times when you lack: we spent 9 days in school feeding on ‘garrin rogo ‘ one examination period. Through him I learnt to avoid stressful actions. I, thus, although there was heavy temptations, avoided all those evil temptations and lived happily through school. Through Jibrin I also learnt (and walked) that working for what we love and wish to acquire/appreciate is called passion. I also learnt how to crave and pursue passion: we just need to be guided by our religious values. I still hold those philosophical infusions sacred as at today. Whatever one does, provided One believe in it, be guided by passion, tailored by your religion, and you succeed both ends. If you get your desire, Allah wishes you to have it, give thanks and do the right thing. If,, you could not get it, Allah has already made other things in its place. Be thankful and prepare for what to come. Jibrin was young Islamic philosopher. He would say you are not perfect, do not pretend to be one. Learn to live with your imperfections. Learn to change and adapt to situations and conditions. Learn to make friends with those who wants and value being with and for you and not with those who want and value being with you. Those who want to be with and for you stays around and stick no matter what. Those who wants to be with you stays only when they are sure they will gain by doing so. They become the first to criticize you when they left you. If I could live those years again, I would plan well on my associations. I would know that no matter what you do, others will never appreciate you.
Another of my friends, introduced me to Entreprenuership. Although I, unfortunately, lost his dogged ‘mentoring’, he taught me that one could make use of every opportunity to earn legitimate income. I recall how we (I and him) went to ‘kwanar singer’ every Saturdays and Sundays. Kwanar Singer has a popular truck depot where several loads of trucks leave Kano to other places in Nigeria and other West African countries. Manual labouring thrives highly at the truck depot. There was work for each and every registered labourer. My friend and I and some other students (not from BUK) became regular “Yan makaranta’ labourers. Other labourers and their leaders respected us. ‘Yan makaranta kun iso ‘, they would say. Our ‘kaya ‘ were not as heavy as those of others. We (5 of us) will be asked to load some cartons on a Toyota Canter truck. I still remember we earn N2 after each completed truck loading. It was stressful to complete one truck and on a good day we could do two. With N1.50 (my two days earning), I lived the week days like a king: spending extra for me and my other friends in school. No one knew I earn from the sweet sweat of my labour. My friend who was not from a well off family saved his money. Although he was asked to drop from school due to poor academic performance, the last time we talked (more than 10 years back) he was a merchant at ‘kantin Kwari’, he followed his passion. As for me who spent my earnings on friends, those who knew me, thought my rich parents and siblings provided extra cash. I was happy for my friend who taught me how I could earn and make others happy.
My entrepreneurial spirit lived with me all through my stay in Kano. I could still recall when my father took me back to school and realized my campus was too far away from the city. That time, only Law and Technology faculties and Mass Communication department were on new campus. In addition, most students were from Kano state and had relatives within Kano city. So only few of us were on campus. My father bought me a motorcycle to ease my transportation to and from his acquaintances within the city. Particularly, as I came to “Fagge’ to collect food items (garri, rice, sugar) and money monthly. I can boldly say the motorcycle was the beginning of ‘Achaba’ in Kano. Indeed, possibly, in the country. With my new found equipment, I quit being a labourer at ‘kwanar singer’, instead I used my motorcycle to carry passengers around and about various destinations for a token. I was, as much as I could remember the only Achabe driver in Kano in the years 1986-1988. For two years, I carried passengers from “Kofar Kabuga’ to various destinations, including, ‘asibitin Murtala’, ‘Kafar mata ‘, ‘gidan Malam’, ‘Gwauron Dutsi’ and several other places. Some days, I will start from ‘Yan Kura ‘ to as far as ‘Kurna’. My earnings from this new found vocational activity far outweigh what it was from ‘laboranci ‘. And, much more comfortable as well. So, I had money to buy more wears and gadgets and thus become more popular in school. No wonder I was elected to represent my faculty in the student senate for all my life on campus. My faculty also nominated me and got elected to be the National President of Nigerian Universities Engineering Students Association (NUESA). During NUESA convention, I be friended a chap from the university of Lagos. He was a young, energetic man whose demeanour, approach to life and wisdom was an asset to me. He was later on elected one of the officers of the association. BUK was my launch pad to main stream politics. My late older brother, friend and mentor, late Alin Ruwa, will come to school and fetched me back to Katsina. Those were the times of Kungiyar manoma (1987). Late Ummaru Yar’adua met with us at filin samji or filin ATC, depending on where the meeting was scheduled. We all sat on the bare floor and discussed how to help rural farmers improved their yields. Those gatherings later transformed to a political movement and subsequently a political party.
I learnt a great deal from my life as a student, particularly, that one could cultivate fruits on weaknesses, conquer fear and threats and harvest on opportunities. The only thing impossible is what you, as an individual perceived to be that. BUK
If I will live those times again, I will still be what I was. I now know that The essence of life is to make others happy. You could only be a success if you can make others successful. Learn, my younger self, how to extend your hands and lift others. Work happily at your passion.
My school experiences became part of my later life. I will let you know how those and others acquired in the process of becoming me will be useful to you and your friends as you grow up. I will soon write to you again.
Dr. Muttaqha Rabe Darma,
PhD (industrial Engineering), DSc.