DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY
AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY, ZARIA
BOOK REVIEW: ABUBAKAR IMAM MEMOIRS
EDITED BY ABDURRAHMAN MORA, NNPC, ZARIA 1989.
BY: YUSUF, MUHAMMAD GABTA
SUBMITTED TO PROFESSOR. ALKASUM ABBA
The covers the life history of Alhaji(Dr) Abubakar Imam CON,CPR, from his birth at Kagara now Niger State, in 1911 to his death at his final resting place in Zaria in 1981. He took part at various governmental organizations, as teacher, author, journalist and a diplomat. The book was edited by Alhaji Abdurrahman Mora, another state man who was said to have born at Kaiama in Borgu Kwara state in 1916; he too was a teacher of English, History and Geography than a diplomat. However, the book was published by Northern Nigerian Publishing Company, Zaria in 1989. It contained fifteen chapters with 334 pages including the appendix, bibliography and index. Thus, each chapter discusses historical development of Nigerian and the life struggle of Abubakar Imam.
Chapter one; Birth and Childhood, in this chapter a brief background of A. Imam was discussed whereby, his origin from his grandfather was clearly mentioned, in such that his grandfather was a scholar called Malam Muhammadu Gajibo who was said to have migrated from Dikwa of the former Borno empire, he gave birth to Malam Muhammadu Badamasi who gave birth to Malam Shehu Usman i.e. the father of Abubakar Imam. They were very learned family, indeed Malam Shehu was the chief Imam of Kagara and also a Judge, because of that A. Imam together with his brothers and sisters learned their Islamic education through their father, before taking part in the western education.
Chapter two: School days in Katsina; A.Imam attended Katsina provincial school from 1922. On completion of the class six he was admitted into Katsina Training Collage in 1927. It was at Training school that he was opportune to meet with some great personalities of his time i.e. people like Ahamadu Bello, Alhaji Bello Dandago, Alhaji Isa Kieta to mention but a few. He held the position of the student’s treasurer and he was a very good foot ball player and hockey. It should be noted here that it was while he was at Katsina he gained a lot of experience with regard to the European treatment of local people (see page 12). He graduated as second best student of their class and qualified as teacher.
Chapter three: Life as a teacher; Malam Abubakar Imam started his teaching career at Katsina Middle School as English teacher. On the other hand he was doing a part time job as secretary to the Resident of Katsina which was selected on merit. However, work the resident exposes A.Imam into the wider public eye and drew him closer to the higher authority. It was while such development was in place, A.Imam worn a third position in literary competition of fiction story with his book Ruwan Bagaja (The water of cure), his bereaved is what drew the attention of Mr. R.M East, to invited him for further writing of many fiction stories. Indeed he was permanently transferred to Zaria in order to work news paper (Gaskiya Corporation) as editor, (see page 23 – 30).
Chapter four: Early activities at Gaskiya; On his arrival to Zaria he was appointed the Hausa editor, therefore he suggested to changed the name as Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo (Truth is better than penny), by than it was the only Hausa news paper in the region. Thus, the paper was originally established in order to minimize or to stop the German/ Hitler’s propaganda by the British colonial officers. He also invited to serve as clerk assistance during the annual conference of the chiefs and emirs at Kaduna. With the proposed issue of the colonial government on how African will became administrators, A.Imam together with the then emir of Zazzau Jafaru were invited to represent the Northern region in the committee of twelve people from various part of Nigeria.
Chapter five: West African press delegation to the United Kingdom; In 1943,the colonial government invited eight West African news papers editors in A.Imam was included to visit Britain , so that they may have the opportunity to see the war time Britain. During the visit he was opportune meet with Lord Lugar twice. At his meeting with Laggard he was able to brief him about, all issues with regard to the sitituation in the Northern Nigeria. He also had a meeting with the West African Students Union (WASU) at London he gave a lecture on Nigerian coexistence, problems and the way out.
Chapter six: Discussion and correspondences with Lord Laggard; After their meetings when A.Imam and other editors were at tour at Britain, a series of exchange of letters followed discussing all thought of things relating the way the so called indirect rule system, the way people perceived it more especially the northerners. Such kind of discussions continued up to the death of Lord Lugard in 1945.
Chapter seven: Richard constitution revision; The role I played; Due to the series of meetings and the correspondences between Lugard and A.Imam before his death, Sir, Authur Richard have been briefed about the background of the North by Lugard. However, it was based on that without hesitation Richard threw the proposed constitution to public for the comment. Hence, A.Imam used his position as editor and at the time a grumble of the north wrote an editorial at Gaskiya, in which it translated and broadcasted at BBCand drew attention of many colonial officers. In the editorial he drew attention of the colonial officers about all issues that were not clear and unfaybourable to the North, he did that based on responses he was able to gather through his news paper’s Colum from our Readers. Apart the editorial he wrote a personal letter to Sir,Richard addressing about the northern problems of education and others.
Chapter eight: Policy revision at Gaskiya Corporation; During A.Imam meetings with Lugard he made effort and requested for polity upgrading at Gaskiya. By 1946, Gaskiya Corporation underwent a kind changes, as such new printing machines were installed, construction of sprawling structure over and estate, improvement of the working condition of the African staff. Therefore when he realized Gaskiya corporation broke away from it policy and disrespect Imam wrote a resignation letter, even though it was later withdraw due to several complain from all part the colonial officers and the Northern educated people. (see page 144)
Chapter nine: First political leaders; This chapter discusses about the scholarship given to some of the northerners to study in Britain, in 1945, so that they may have an outlook about the world, in order to be enlighten. Some were taken to Britain to obtain certificate in teaching profession, while some were to undergo three month training on local government services. On one side Gaskiya did a lot on the development of political awareness in the north, because it is the medium of passing information. In segment the role A. Imam and other educated people from the north played greater role in the establishment of association like Jam’iyyar Mutanen Arewa (JMA) which transformed into political party i.e. Northern People Congress (NPC).
Chapter ten: Activities in the political arena; When the resident of the Niger province Mr. Sherwood-Smith realized that the political were getting stronger, planed to enlighten the emirs about it, so that they may changed their attitude towards their masses. In view of that he employed the service of A. Imam to serve that purpose in such a way that he visited almost the northern emirs. (See page172). He also served as member of the house of representative in which he served a dual purpose i.e. in Kaduna and Lagos respectively. After he held position of Superintendent, Northern Regional Literature Agency in 1955, also a part-time commissioner of the Northern public Service Commission (PSC), later full-time appointment.
Chapter eleven: Islamic education and pilgrimage problems; Malam Abubakar Imam was co-pounder of the Islamiyya school in the Northern Nigeria, with the establishment of Nurul-Huda Islamiyya school at Zaria. However, A, Imam contributed a lot thereby using his position being once a house member to made effort on how to ease the difficulties encountered by pilgrim at Saudi-Arabia, hence, all his recommendation and suggestion were implemented.
Chapter twelve: Membership of boards, councils and committees; A. Imam served at various board and committees bin the colonial and post colonial government. For example he was once member of the house of representative, then by 1966, he chairman of Interim Common Service Agency (ICSA), among many others.
Chapter thirteen: Thousand at home and abroad mourned Imam’s demise; this chapter focuses attention on the death of the bereaved A. Imam, he was described as a person who enjoyed satisfactory health most of his life, but for occasional minor ailment. He passed away on Friday 19thJune 1981 at ABU teaching Hospital Tudun Wada Zaria. He left behind his wife and fourteen children with forty two grand children at 70 years.
Chapter fourteen: Tributes by some friends and associates; It should noted here that, many people wrote their tribute following the death of the bereaved Imam, here are some of their title; In Active Politics with my Guardian Alhaji Abubakar Imam by Alhaji Ibrahim (Talba of Katsina), A Talented Writer by Ahmadu Coomassie, Malam Abubakar Imam as I know Him; 1939-1981 by Alhaji Baba-Ahmad to mention but a few (see page 249-291).
Chapter fifteen: Modesty and simplicity; the hallmark of Imam’s life style; this chapter is also a kind of tribute wrote by the book editor. He was able to describe his life which was guided by the religious teaching, i.e. based on modesty and chastity, simple and committed.
The book Abubakar Imam Memoirs is a good example of historical writing that was produce by an African scholar from Africanist historical point of view. The editor use both primary and secondary sources, but the is tend to be largely based on the primary source. This due to the fact that book was build based on the memoirs i.e. letters that were wrote by Abubakar Imam and the replay he received, indeed from all these sources that the editor was able to come out with a fine book of this nature, i.e. constructing historical development based on the primary source, it vital know that the editor spent more than half of the century together with A. Imam.
However, the style of writing is interesting, the book contained fifteen chapters, therefore, are inter woven in the sense that one led to the other i.e. the end of chapter on is the beginning of chapter two, he adopted such method from the beginning up to the end. Hence in every chapter the editor did his best to expose the contribution of A. Imam toward Nigerian development.
Another good thing with regard to this book ABUBAKAR IMAM MEMOIRS is that the editor was able to bring out about the good relationship and understanding that was in placed between Nigerian elite, this can be seen from the way they were in touch with another, some time using Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo as an avenue of communicating or personal letters. The book shows that they had very polite way resolving their issues.
From the we may understand that, Abubakar Imam played a very significant role in mediating between the colonial officers and the Northern people’ whereby he many cases used his skills as a good diplomat to depend the interest of his people i.e. their culture and religion.
On the other hand there are some shortcomings, as we can see here; Thus, the editor in most of his discussion focus attention much on political and social development, thereby, neglecting other aspect of human development, i.e. he talk less about economic issues while it crucial, in the historical reconstruction.
However, there are much praise singing about the life of Abubakar Imam to the extent that he was like a champion at all curse, while life is not like, some time it will be success some time opposite.
There was also little discussion about the relationship of A. Imam and the people of the Southern Nigerian, even though A. Imam played in the political arena of Nigeria, during his life time.