Remembering Sir Usman Nagogo , 40 Years After – By Mummuni Hassan
Sir Usman Nagogo Mai Turawa, CBE, KBE, CMG (1905 – 18th March 1981) wearing his characteristic smile. He is 40 years gone today. He was Emir of Katsina from 19th May 1944 until his death 37 years later.
He succeeded his father Sarkin Katsina Muhammadu Dikko dan Gidado, undoubtedly the greatest Emir that Katsina had. He continued on the foundation laid by his father in building modern Katsina, bringing it in line with modern administrative structure. The foresight shown by the 2 rulers during these formative years was responsible for making the then Katsina Province arguably the foremost among all the provinces in colonial Nigeria and soon thereafter.
Education stood out among their numerous achievements, such that the 1st government secondary level educational institution in the Northern Region- Katsina Teachers College was situated at the extreme end of the region, when all normal considerations would have favoured a more central location.
Although western education was despised and feared in most parts of the Muslim Northern Region then, Katsina Emirs started with their own children and made it compulsory for the children of those in traditional authority all over the province, such that it wasn’t difficult to enforce it on those they rule. Of course, one result was that all those who were advantaged in getting western education inherited the positions left by colonial masters when they left from 1960 onwards after independence.
In Katsina unlike in some of the other provinces the educated elites were distributed evenly all over province. Another result was that Katsina Emirs sent their children to join the army and police.
They introduced modern agricultural practice, such that 3 new towns came into existence- KafinSoli, Daudawa and another one that I cannot remember now.
One effect of this was the fact that central part of the province- Malumfashi/Kankara/Funtua districts became the centre of commerce in agricultural produce in the northern region. This was the main source of income during this period.
In terms of security or insecurity, the western part of the province where it borders the present day Zamfara State, with the Government Reserve Forest between them- Dajin Rugu inhabited by large wildlife like elephants, hyenas, lions etc, and bandits, yes bandits!
The most outstanding warriors in the province were made districts heads in these areas in order to keep the bandits in check. The legendary Dan Waire was one such warrior, who was in Batsari. It’s on record that he succeeded in this important assignment.
Muhammadu Dikko, Usman Nagogo and Dan Waire are all long gone and bandits have returned to that part of Katsina. Now, it seems our present day rulers are just as helpless as ourselves, the ruled on how to deal with this problem of banditry.
Sarki Dikko played an important role during the 2nd World War II, by contributing troops to British colonial army who fought in the Far East Asia. This was partly responsible for setting up the Army Training Depot in Zaria, which still serves this purpose. Alhaji Isa Kaita one of early educated elites from the province was sent to Ghana in 1940s to prepare radio broadcasts. Through rediffussion service the colony was informed in English and Hausa on the war efforts and its progress.
Sir Usman Nagogo was sent to the war theatre in Burma soon after succeeding his father in 1944, as to strengthen the moral of the soldiers in the Royal West African Frontier Force who were from colonial West African countries. The sea voyage took 2 months just to get there!
They were well rounded, as they were keen sports men and hunters. They brought the sports of Polo and fives to Katsina, which are now played all over the country by elites. Fives is a game similar to squash but the tennis ball is played with hand instead of racket in enclosed wall arena.
Katsina people can never forget the tremendous contributions by the 2 Emirs, as they laid the foundation that we enjoy today.
One thing intriguing is how Sir Usman came across his surname Nagogo. Earlier documents in his life referred to him as Usman na gwaggo dan Dikko, written in vernacular, (likely using Arabic script which does not have lower and upper case letters). Who is gwaggo? In Hausa tradition it means maternal aunt.
Importantly, useful lessons can be learnt by those in leadership positions now on good governance.