Sir Ahmadu Bello
Hajiya Aishatu Marafa Danbaba daughter of the late premier of Northern Region and Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, speaks with Mohammed Aminu in her residence in Sokoto, on her late father’s legacies
Aishat Marafa Danbaba was born in 1945 in the Sokoto Province. She was enrolled in an Arabic school in Sokoto by her late father, late Sir Ahmadu Bello. “I was a small girl and was already in an Arabic school when my father took us to Kaduna. But after four years he brought me back to Sokoto to continue with the study of the Quran and Arabic. So, the search for knowledge had been a continuous process and even now I am still studying the Quran.”
She got married in 1956 to the late Magajin Gari Sokoto, Alhaji Marafa Danbaba, a prominent businessman in the North and as a housewife, Aisha did not engage in politics and never worked in the civil service. “I have never engaged in politics but a dutiful housewife, who take care of my children and grand children.”
Aishat revealed that she had three brothers and three sisters, adding that all her brothers including one sister are dead.
“We were six in the family comprising three male children and three girls. All my brothers are dead while my elder sister, Hajiya Inno, died few years ago. The only sister I have is Hajiya Lubabatu, who is the wife of the former Director General of the defunct National Security Organization, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi.
“I had a very close relationship with my father. He showered us with great love and we will continue to cherish those moments. My dad was a simple man despite being an aristocrat. He was temperamental but easily forgets after sometime. He doesn’t bear any grudges against those who offended him and forgives those who wronged him. My father was kind and just to people and never discriminated against anybody based on his ethnic group or religion.
“He was a man of the people. He always sat on the floor in his house, to eat food with his bare hands, from the same bowl with his drivers and relatives. He maintained an open house, and anybody who wanted to see him got audience. He listened to people’s problems and helped both the high and the lowly.
“My father was generous and loved to give out gifts to people. He never had material accumulation instincts, did not accumulate wealth and gave out whatever came into his possession. He was scrupulous and prudent with public finance but generous with his own money.
“His happiest moments were always when he was in the company of people. He constantly toured the length and breadth of the Northern Region, always on the move persuading, cajoling, mobilizing, urging, inspiring people to be disciplined and law abiding, to work hard for common goals, to measure up to their potentials. My father had the desire of transforming the North so that the country can attain its true potentials.”
She described the pursuit of wealth and material things in the country as very sad. “What we are witnessing in the society, especially the pursuit of wealth is very sad and unfortunate. People no longer respect their elders but worship money. We are really in a deep mess in this country, as things are no longer at ease for the masses. Everybody is struggling to acquire wealth. What is happening in the country is a source of concern. We have lost our values as a people. People are only after material things. In fact, the pursuit of money has become the order of the day and people worship those with money irrespective of how they acquire the wealth. Also, people engage in all sorts of illegitimate activities to get money.
“The poor quality of education in Nigeria is a source of concern to both parents and government. What we had in the past cannot be compared to what we have today, especially in our public schools. We have many schools but the quality of education is low. You see a secondary school graduate in the 50’s and 60’s communicating better in English than our present day university graduates, so I believe the standard of education is diminishing in public schools and government should do more to rescue the education sector because it is the bedrock of development of any society.”
Hajiya Aishat has five children and her fourth child is the Magajin Gari of Sokoto, one of the 11 kingmakers in the Sokoto Caliphate that appoints the Sultan of Sokoto. “I currently have five children. My first daughter is married to Nigeria’s former Ambassador to South Africa, Alhaji Shehu Malami, a scion of the Sokoto Caliphate. The Magajin Gari Sokoto, Hassan Danbaba Marafa is my fourth child. I am always in the company of my grandchildren whenever they are around but they have gone to Islamiyya school now.”