... By Tijjani Muhammad Musa
The call came in at exactly 8:35pm in the night of Thursday 10th March, 2016. We had finished Isha'I prayers a little while back and our Kwandala Publications Sub-Committee was working on the printed publicity materials for Kwandala Foundation Annual General Meeting (AGM) 2016 and 10th Year Anniversary celebrations coming up on 1st-3rd April, 2016. Picking the phone, I saw it was from Murtala Isah Tofa of the Kwandala AGM2016 Visitations Sub-Committee.
Expecting it to be a talk on one of the many issues we were resolving about who to visit and list of invitees to the 10th Year celebrations, I clicked on the answer button of the soft touch phone and said "Murtala! Assalam alaikum" with excitement. He however responded in a sober tone that brought me down to earth. So I adjusted my voice to fall in line with his serious mood.
"Tijjani, mahaifiyata. Wacca aka kwantar din nan? Allaah Ya yi mata rasuwa dazu dazun nan. (My mother. The one hospitalized? She has just died a few moments ago)" "Inna lilLaahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un. Inna lilLaahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un. Inna lilLaahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un." was what I heard echoing from my mouth. "May Allaah Forgive her. May her gentle soul rest in absolute peace. May paradise be her ultimate abode" soon followed in a torrent.
"Amin, amin" was his intermittent responses as I poured out my supplications for the repose of his mother's departed soul. Then I heard him saying Tofa town is where the condolence would be taking place and I assured him we will be coming over soon as possible. But not before I inform the rest of Kwandala Foundation members via our WhatsApp forum. Which I did soon as I could. In fact I parked off the road to write the obituary message on the group's wall.
Soon, there was an avalanche of condolence messages in Hausa, English and Arabic languages coming from all members, male and female, left, right and center as the parlance goes. Soon Shehu Musa Doguwa independently also informed of the sad development, not knowing the house had known already. Later, he also realized the comforting messages from many Kwandalites, each full of compassion for the deceased old woman.
Next line of action was a call for Kwandalawa to rise up to the occasion of reaching out to Murtala Isah as soon as possible. It was clearly not possible that very night, because once it is dark, it is discouraged to bury the dead in Islam. This is in order to accord the dead all due respect and regards of a proper and honorable burial. So, we had to wait till the next day, which is today, Friday. Before then more well wishing du'as kept coming from our members.
Immediately after Fajr salat, one of our Kwandala Foundation members opened the forum with the usual mandatory greetings of "Assalam alaikum" to all members. Thereafter, every other member who would join the group's discussion would either repeat the greeting or answer such a greeting already said by someone else.
Then as early as 6:15am Shehu Musa Doguwa declared that he was already on his way to participate in the burial rites of Murtala Isah's deceased mother at Tofa town. Most members intending to honor the visitation had to contend with one occupation or another. Not long thereafter, Usman Shehu contacted me via WhatsApp wanting to know when we would be leaving for Tofa. We agreed to seek for members opinion as to the most appropriate time for all.
Sani Bala Tela, another proactive member called around 8:20am to declare his intention to be part of the Kwandala delegation to Tofa town and said he should be picked at his Multipurpose Tailoring Center along Zoo Road, Kano. Subsequently 11:00am - 12:00noon was fixed as the take-off time and all who were willing to be part of the condolence visit were asked to converge at Tela's business location.
Soon, Shehu Doguwa announced on the group's social media platform that they had been back from the burial ground. More condolences followed to further sooth the pains and anguish that should beseech a bereaved heart of one who has lost a dear one to the fangs of death, like Murtala had. Meanwhile, preparations were in top gears on this side of the divide to be in Tofa before Juma'at congregational prayer. Soon, all plans on our part were concluded.
Despite the scarcity of fuel hitting hard at motorists in Kano and other major cities of Nigeria, which was quite daunting on any intending to travel far, Kwandalites would not be deterred as enough petrol was purchased to make feasible the journey to and from Tofa town. My Jeep Liberty vehicle served as our means of conveyance. Cool and comfortable ride, full of soundness, the vehicle was set to swallow the miles.
Soon, Bilkisu Usman Abubakar and I drove to Zoo Road, Kano where we picked Amina Aliyu Dogarai, Usman Shehu and Sani Bala Tela and together representing the noble Kwandala Foundation, 5 of us were off to Tofa, a town about 40 or more kilometers out of Kano City. Uneventful, except for our discussions to keep boredom at bay, we soon were putting familiarity behind us and embracing unknown territories.
None of us has ever been to our destination, except for Sani Tela who once plied that route during a national assignment on population census and also Amina Aliyu who went to do one election assignment in a place called Tum. We had to resort to asking for directions. As we took the stretch of road from Kwanar Tofa along Gwarzo Road to Tofa town, we met Murtala Isah and Shehu Musa Doguwa on a motorcycle heading in the opposite direction.
Excitedly we parked off the road as the riding duo made a u-turn to return to us. The bereaved Murtala Isah was so pleased to see us in the vehicle heading for his house in Tofa, happiness drenched his countenance. Doguwa on his part, full of smiles disembarked and came to the passenger side of our ride as we commenced exchanging pleasantries. Murtala was taking Doguwa to Kwanar Tofa where it would be easier for him to get a ride back to Kano.
So we separated once again and continued in the opposite directions and soon we were in Tofa town, our first time ever. Hmm, there is always the first time, right? We parked, asked for more direction to get to our dead mother's family and without much ado we were parked in front of one of the many mud houses which defined the architecture of the town.
The two amazon members with us were taken straight into Murtala's extended family house as is the tradition in Hausa culture and we the men were led to where some mats were spread out, on which sat some men, while others laid on their sides, cooling off from the midday heat, under the veranda of a house. Courteous as always, they warmly welcomed us into their midst and immediately, Murtala's senior brother and another, the eldest son of the late grandma informed us that we were expected.
Murtala had already told them that Kwandala Foundation delegation were on their way to condole the family over the death of their beloved mother. They were smiles and grins of pleasure and happiness to see us there, despite the fact that the loss of the old woman was weighing heavily upon their minds. So, we delivered the message we took there on behalf of all Kwandalites. Thereafter Usman Shehu was called upon to supplicate for mama.
We all joined in wishing her the best rest in peace and tranquility and soon Murtala Isah was back from dropping Shehu Doguwa and with him he brought a bag of cool mineral drinks and sachet water. While the men we met rose to go and prepare for the Friday Congregational prayer in a mosque nearby, we indulged in the coolness of the refreshing drinks. Some were taken to the visiting Kwandala ladies inside the traditional house.
Sani Tela and Usman Shehu soon formed a mini congregation row after some of us performed our ablution and I led us in observing our own version of the afternoon salat. Soon, we were through with it, and the 2 women, Haj. Bilkisu Usman and Amina Aliyu emerged out of the house and we embarked upon our rjde and bid Murtala Isah farewell. Kano beckoned upon us and we responded to its call.
The journey back to the old ancient city was quicker as is usual when you travel to an unknown destination for the very first time. The trip to, seems to take too long, while the journey back seems to happen so fast. Anyway, alhamdulilLaah for journey mercy. And to the mother of one of us Murtala Isah Tofa, we pray that she finds rest in Allaah SWT's paradise, amin thumma amin.
(c) Tijjani M. M.
All Rights Reserved.
All Rights Reserved.