Last Sunday, AlhajiAbubakarLah, Shettiman Ilorin died. He was in his late 90s and was in fact, the oldest surviving alumnus of the famous Barewa College, Zaria. I think it was in 2002 that I conducted and published a lengthy interview with AlhajiLah, as Editor of DAILY TRUST; it alerted the hierarchy of BOBA, the Barewa old boys association, that he was still alive and was their oldest member. I was in Ilorin up till early Monday morning but somehow missed the story of his passing. I only discovered on Monday night, back in Abuja, as I checked a local Ilorin website for stories of happenings in the community. I had a very close relationship with the incredibly modest old man, who had played a central role in the education of many generations of people all over Northern Nigeria. He spoke many languages: Yoruba, Hausa, Nupe, Fulfulde and English, amongst several others.
The late Lamidon Adamawa was one of the oldest monarchs in the North, but had in fact been a student of the late AlhajiAbubakarLah. A few years ago, the Emir of Ilorin told me an interesting story. There had been a meeting of Northern Emirs in Kaduna and the late Lamido inquired about the late AlhajiLah. He was alive, hale and hearty, the Emir of Ilorin told the Lamido. A few months down the line, AlhajiLah was made head of a delegation to Adamawa, where he met his old student, the Lamido and other former students, after over sixty years. AlhajiAbubakarLah was a repository of the history of his times and as the famous Malian historian, Professor Hampate Ba once said, an old man or woman in Africa, was the repository of the history of our peoples, and everytime they die, it was the equivalence of the burning of a library. WithAlhajiAbubakarLah’s death, Ilorin, the North and Nigeria, lost a remarkable son who contributed, especially in those early years that we have continued to valorize as our golden age. May Allah forgive his sins and grant him Aljanna. Allah yajikanShettiman Ilorin, AlhajiAbubakarLah.