Muhammad Sanusi

Saturday comment 

Idang Alibi commends the Emir for respecting and honouring his mother

Two weeks ago, I came across a picture story on the internet on a platform I cannot now remember featuring the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi 11 and his mother. But the story was sufficiently strong enough that it has remained firmly imprinted in my memory. Were I still an editor of a newspaper, it would have been my choice for the front page lead any day, whether weekend or weekday.

The Emir, in his full regalia, was caught on camera prostrating full length, in what the Bible would describe as ‘’doing obeisance’’ to his mother. It was not perfunctorily done or done in an off-hand psychedelic manner befitting a modern, urbane, well read, well connected and mighty king of an ancient empire. The mother, who in that picture cut the image of someone former President Goodluck Jonathan would describe as ‘’mother of all mothers’’, sat there elegantly dressed sucking in the honour being done her from her king-son. You could see pride and happiness written all over her face and her entire body language oozed out self-contentment and self-fulfillment. Nearby, sat another elderly woman who took in the honour the king was doing to his King Mother. The story was fantastic. As it is said, one picture is worth more than a thousand words.

The picture story had all the ingredients required of praise, honour, thanksgiving, gratitude and other spiritual foods which we are taught God acknowledges and richly rewards with long life and prosperity to  whoever offers them to a higher authority. These things must be done publicly, humbly and unashamedly for them to be acceptable and rewarded. When I beheld that story, my immediate reaction was to say a prayer for the Emir for doing something worthy of emulation in a land where all old positive values seem to have been jettisoned in favour of the philosophy of the Me Generation of human rights people who think all are equal and there is urgent need for a levelling up of everybody so that they can be appeased. There is the belief in this generation that if there is anyone who deserves to be worshipped above every other person, it is the me.

My prayer was: ‘’For doing this, this radical Emir who is an irritant to some powerful forces in the land, will never be dethroned and that he will never lack a seed on the ancient throne of Kano. I also heard myself say to myself, ‘’This is the type of thing we should be teaching to the younger generation in their Social or Moral Studies classes, this generation who treat parents, elders and authorities with so much disrespect and off-hand disregard.

Respect must be done respectfully for the reward of respect and honour from God to be bestowed on whoever is honest and sincere enough in offering it. And it is the Emir who showed it.

Why did this picture story make such a deep impression on me? Because I consider myself a well-brought up African child who is deeply horrified by the extreme disrespect I see all around me. And this difference, coming from a personality like the Emir of Kano, is very refreshingly different and, therefore, commendable.

I have often said that the main reason this generation may not have the opportunity to provide leadership for our country and why they will continue to be governed by people in their 60s, 70s and 80s is because they are not #tooyoungtorule or #toopoortorule but because they are #toodisrespectfultobevestedwithleadership. I cite one example and this example is not to promote myself as a good person but to show the reality of what I am lamenting here.

A few years back, Uche Ekwunife, formerly of the Federal House of Representatives and later, Senate, either won re-election to the House or gained promotion to the Senate from her constituency but I cannot remember which. Some of her friends got together and organized a party in her honour which held at a hall in Transcorps Hilton, Abuja. My friend, Chief Ogban Ebock, who is a friend to Madam Ekwunife, came from Calabar and invited me along for the fest. I was comfortably seated for the event.

 But in no time the hall was packed full and late-comers were beginning to have some challenge finding seats. About an hour later when the event was well under way, walked in the then Member of the House, Ezieuche Ubani, and I could see that he was faced with the obvious difficulty of getting a seat. Ubani is a younger colleague to me in the journalism profession but as a good African child, I instinctively yielded my seat to him to save him from sure embarrassment. In giving up my seat to Ubani, I reasoned as the soldiers and other uniformed forces do, that appointment/attainment is superior to rank. Ubani may be junior to me in journalism but he is superior to me by being a member of the House.

As I gave up my seat, I expected that many younger journalists around at the event, some of whom were reading me when they were in secondary school, will also see it fit to do me honour in the like manner I did Ubani. I wish to report here that I was sadly disappointed. None surrendered his seat to me and I had to move from where I previously sat to find an uncomfortable and very inconvenient space near the bandstand members. An indication of my extreme discomfort and the dis-enjoyment I experienced in my new abode was climaxed by the fact that when food was eventually served, I abandoned mine because there was simply no place for me to keep it and eat like a decent gentleman!

Let me also say that I am recounting this story not to portray my younger colleagues present at that event in poor light but I cannot help wondering why they could not offer me respect when in their full glare I had shown an example worthy of emulation.

Why did Joseph die before his brothers? The Biblical wise Joseph of the- interpretation- of -Pharaoh’s dream- fame was the tenth of the eleven children of the patriarch Jacob. Although second to the last born, Joseph is recorded to have died 10 or more years before the rest of his brothers. And why was this so? The sages tell us that it was so on account of an unintentional act of dishonour he did his father, Jacob, who loved him so much above the rest of his brothers.

This sin of Joseph’s that cut his life short by no less than 10 years is recorded in the well-known story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis chapter 43: 27-28. Joseph’s brother had returned to Egypt a second time with Benjamin as the ransom demanded by Joseph in their first visit. When they were ushered into his presence, Joseph asked, ‘’You told me about your old father—how is he? Is he still alive and well?’’

And his brothers responded: ‘’Your humble servant, our father, is still alive and well’’. This answer which derogated from the dignity of his father and his non-rebuke was all what nailed Joseph in the court of Heaven. The supposed Governor of Egypt who was actually Joseph was still in disguise and not known to his brothers yet and the moment also had not yet come for Joseph to reveal himself to his brothers so he could not possibly have stopped his brothers from calling Jacob, his father, his servant. Yet that was the ‘innocent’ sin Joseph had committed: he failed to rebuke his brothers from calling their father his servant! The lesson from this story is that whichever exalted position anyone attains in life, he is not superior to his parents who sired or adopted him. He must continually do them honour publicly and in private, in words and in deeds.

 Alibi is an Abuja-based journalist