When death comes calling: A tribute to Habib Sani

April, 2006

Death, that single most unfathomable and enigmatic phenomenon, which has continued to conquer men since the creation of the universe, seems to have turned around me, staring at me more than I can stare back at it, especially in the last couple of weeks.

Two weeks ago, I received the sad news of passing way of Isa, a colleague, with whom I taught at a College of Education in Gumel, Nigeria. At the same time, I learnt about the death of Amira´s mother in Lagos, Nigeria. Yesterday, Amaka, a very close friend called and intimated me with the death of her father, whom I new back in Abia State of Nigeria. Chief Nwadiugwu, or Malam Tukur, as he was fondly called during his younger days when he lived in Northern Nigeria, was a very nice man indeed. Throughout my stay in Eastern Nigeria, where I taught chemistry during the Nigerian Youths Service Scheme, he treated me like his son. Later in the day, I found out that I had just lost a very dear friend, in the person of Habibu Sani. He died in the early hours of yesterday, 12 th of April 2006.The shock, sadness and devastation that gripped me, upon receiving the news, cannot be explained. I had just returned from the Brazilian Inland revenue office, where I went to renew my security number, having lost my wallet, containing credit card, Student ID card, residence permit etc, on Sunday. Upon reaching the laboratory and opening my mailbox, I was horrified to learn about the sad passing away of Habibu Sani. According to the mail, He died of an asthmatic attack and has since been buried in his hometown, Zaria, Nigeria.

The last time death dealt me such a powerful blow was when I lost Aisha, a younger sister I dearly love. A couple of weeks before leaving Nigeria, my aged grandmother passed away after a one-month’s illness. It is one of the mysteries of death that we quickly and easily forget that it could be lurking at a corner, until it hits us home, stretching its pangs to take our dear ones, and dispatching them to the world beyond, never to be seen or heard again. Yesterday was Habib´s turn.

I first met Habib in the late 90s when he was doing a diploma program at Bayero University Kano. But we never really got close until after I had graduated and started working. We used to live in a house we rented at Kabuga Housing Estate in Kano, which was around 2002. At the time, he was still an undergraduate student of Geography. I lived in the house for over two years and through all this time, Habib had been a constant and reliable friend. He was probably the most mature young man I have ever come across. He was endowed with the natural qualities of leaders for planning, patience, calmness, piety, management and determination of purpose. He was never afraid of telling you the truth even if it was bitter and he knew how to do everything! He was never ashamed or tired of doing the dirty and tiring chores in the house. From cooking the most delicious meal, to mopping the floor, washing the toilet, watering the ornamental plants or patching a hole in his jeans. He made sure our water tank was always filled and during Ramadan, he organized our breakfast and called the prayers. He was very hardworking and always committed to a common cause. He will never shout at you, even if you made him angry.

It was a measure of our friendship that, back in 2003, when I left Nigeria for Brazil, he took me to the airport in company of my brothers and sisters. Three months later, he was there to receive me when I returned. In February of 2005, when I left the shores of Nigeria, he was the very person that drove me to the airport, once again in company of my brothers and sisters. He was always there to offer a helping hand and used to suspend all his commitments to serve a friend. To me, Habib was an adopted brother and I weep today over his death. He was such a vibrant young man full of dreams and aspirations and he was apparently on his way to success. God knows he succeeded, for he has left us a befitting legacy of exemplary life style and taught us what it is to be totally committed to a friend. As I grieve over this great loss, my heart goes to his mother, whom he always spoke of so fondly. May I extend my condolence to the entire Bamalli family, Maryam, all the guys at Red bricks; Habu, Auwal, Bakori, Ahmad, General, Dikko, etc.

Habib, wherever you are, know that we will always miss you because we will always love you. Know that those moments we shared together, will always be safely locked away in our memories. We grieve today because you left us, and to me, you didn’t say good-bye. Now I know that that handshake we had on that cold evening at the airport was the last we will ever have in this world. I pray the Good Lord grant you an eternal resting place, and us the fortitude to bear your loss. God forgive you, God have mercy on you and God bless you.

Adeus meu grande amigo

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