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It was in the evening, that Wednesday, when we took off with the intention of interviewing the incumbent Emir of Zazzau, His Royal Highness, Ambassador, Ahmad Nuhu Bamalli at his palace, Zazzau Emirate.
I was happy to have met Mai Martaba, Sarkin Zazzau, whose father’s name (Nuhu Bamalli), an institution of learning (Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, Zaria) was bearing in Kaduna state.
Going to Fada, otherwise referred to as Emirate or palace, to meet with an Emir should not be that easy but it was in this case.
Having had a personal appointment with the King, which one of our colleagues handled, we were quickly led into the palace. As soon as we approached the entrance, the palace guards also known as Dogarai opened the gate for us to enter without any interrogation.
As usual, the tradition was similar. We had to remove our shoes upon reaching the Emir’s garden. We were warmly received and led to the venue prepared for the meeting.
We, all sat at the garden meant for the interview, waiting for the arrival of the Emir. Soon, he arrived with his entourage who were singing songs of praises: “gyara zaki, … gyara zaki.” These praises accompanied him until he settled down. Upon his arrival, we all rouse and maintained standing until he settled down.
The first interviewer, opened the session with “Assalamu alaikum” thus introducing herself and the purpose of our presence at the palace. Without any waste of time, the interview commenced shortly after congratulating him on his emergence as the new Emir of Zazzau, being our first official encounter with him. Cameras and recorders were turned on, with the permission of Mai Martaba, Sarkin Zazzau.
Being not in the frontline of the interviewers gave me the opportunity to listen and learn more from the Emir’s responses to questions put to him by my colleagues. I was not only amazed by his answers but the manner in which he answered each and every question with due respect and humility. This reminded me of the true definition of Islamic monarchical system of government whereby everyone is important and therefore, treated with respect regardless of age, status and or gender. This reminded me of late Shaykh Albani’s advice to our Emirs. He advised them not to accept the title of traditional rulers but Islamic emirs.
He took us on a long but not too long journey of life more especially on his educational background starting from Nigeria to abroad. He told us that he studied law in Nigeria and later went ahead to do some programmes in Oxford University and Harvard as well.
Fortunately or unfortunately, moments after the interview has commenced, close to an hour or so, as we were still listening to his biography, rain started falling because the sky was heavily pregnant that very evening. Before we knew it, a palace staff had arrived with an umbrella informing the monarch that rain was about to fall.
The Emir acknowledged that and thereby sought for our permission to relocate by asking “Can we relocate?” This was another act that kept me thinking about the hospitality of the first class monarch. In amazement, we all answered “yes.”
The Emir stood and exited the garden. An umbrella was spread above him by the palace staff. The rain had already started pouring. We all followed him with the question in our minds, of where was our next venue? Not knowing it was his personal chamber which he built upon mounting the saddle of Zazzau’s throne: which he said has gulped more than one hundred million naira and yet it is not completed.
Another good looking environment and a conducive atmosphere for one to interact freely with the Emir, was where we were led to.
Zaria’s weather didn’t seem to make it possible as the sky was pregnant. But Alhamdu lilLah, we were lucky to have reached the palace and even started the chat before the rain started falling which forced us to change our first location and went into the King’s chamber.
From the foregoing, one would understand that Sarkin Zazzau is such an educated personality and/or a man with vast experience. According to him, he has worked in the foreign service as an ambassador until he was appointed as an Emir last year by Gov. Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai of Kaduna state, during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown which saw his return to Nigeria, amidst tight protocols.
His biography alone was a complete lesson on its own. The kind of life he has lived and still living can serve as a mentorship for a lot of our youths facing one or more challenges in life. Though, he was brief, a lot has been learned from HRH Emir of Zazzau’s answers.
I didn’t allow this astonishment to stop me from conducting my primary assignment. As I was listening to his beautiful and well researched answers, I was also waiting for the time to ask my question.
Suddenly, a fellow interviewer asked a question which led to an answer by the Emir that necessitated me to ask a question I had in mind since before seeing him.
We all knew that former Emir Sanusi II was seen in Kaduna and other states, most of the times. Not only that but in his full ceremonial attires as if he is an Emir in the state. With little or no change to when he was Sarkin Kano. The quest to know how a first class monarch who also doubled as the chairman of the council of traditional rulers of Kaduna state, felt whenever the former Emir of Kano, Sanusi II appeared in Kaduna, compelled me to throw a question.
It was the only question I had in mind earlier because I already read something similar to it in one article on Facebook. As the time arrived, I boldly took the mic and said: “Your Royal Highness” he responded “Yes, sir” I feel humbled and honoured. This was the best part of the interview and the part that compelled me to document this my encounter with Sarkin Zazzau for others to learn how to be kind and have respect for humanity.
If a first class traditional ruler honoured someone like me, younger than him in age and of course educational status, no one has a reason, thereby to disrespect anyone. Doing so could do nothing but portray one as dishonourable and uncultured, like we are seeing today in Nigeria. Happily, people like the Emir of Zazzau have started changing the situation.
The honour given to me by the first class Emir and a former ambassador (to the Kingdom of Thailand as well as the Republic of the Union of Myammar) who also worked as the Managing Director of the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Plc in the past encouraged me to do my job well. I put the question to him directly.
“You have made mention of the former Emir of Kano, Sanusi II, what is the relationship between you and the former monarch?”
“We are like twins,” he replied. The Emir said that the excellent relationship between him and Sanusi II started a long time ago between their fathers.
“First and foremost, our families have been together long before we were born. He is older than me. Our fathers were both in diplomatic service. His father and the late Emir Ado Bayero were both Ambassadors and my father was a minister.” the Emir said.
“So and again, Sanusi and I even though he is a few years older than me: he is 60; I am 55 now, we had an excellent relationship and also our families too. We were colleagues at the Mint. He was the CBN governor and chairman while I was the MD there at the Mint. So that is the official relationship we had together”
The Emir, however, further added that after their official relationship during public service, they were still together as one indivisible family.
“After public service, he became an Emir. I was also Magajin Gari. And now, I happened to be here (as Emir of Zazzau). So we are still together as one indivisible family. Even this week, I was the chairman of the Sanusi II colloquium that took place in Kaduna. So we are one family.”
I doubt if all of us, especially those people on the various social media platforms today, were as patriotic as Sarkin Zazzau. The kind of words of patriotism coming out from his mouth were another topic of discussion. He has encouraged and mentored us to be positive and hold one another in high esteem.
Not only that, he has encouraged us to look after our lecturers even if they wrong us or cheated us. I was surprised that the Emir knew all these. I thought that the bad habits of some lecturers were only birthed, buried and known within the walls of their institutions, until the monarch and few others proved otherwise.
He ensured that he counselled us to pay more attention to education and support educational institutions in any way we could, depending on our various capacities.
In his examples of togetherness, he showed how unity and or togetherness paid one even if it would be in the later future. He cited an example with how the renovation of his garden gate in the palace was single handedly sponsored by his colleague, without him requesting for that.
To further plant the spirit of oneness in the hearts of those, who from all indications seemed to have not been touched by his earlier remarks or were unpatriotic, he said that if you live well with people, they would be the ones to fight for you when you are attacked by someone else.
In attesting this, he gave another instance that happened to him when he was sued to high court of justice in Zaria upon emerging as the new Emir of Zazzau. he said more than 10 Land Cruiser Jeeps of his colleagues stormed Zaria from Abuja, Lagos, Portharcourt and etc just to defend him in the court free of charge.
Sarkin Zazzau told us that on the day of his turbaning, he was crying only that people could not see because of his turban (Rawani). What made the Emir to cry on a day that he should be celebrating, was seeing his former classmate who they graduated together with in the 1980s, yet was still unemployed. If there was something more than crying, every kind person would do.
I deliberately brought this to show the world that it was not only educational qualifications that mattered but skills. They were also important in a way that they can sustain one to live his life without worrying himself to secure government employment or even buy it and secondly, to inform those bragging about being first class graduates or students that, that’s not what matters but skills in today’s world.
I hope this will be understood by my readers and I pray that may Allah make it serve the purpose it was meant for.
Lest I forget, while introducing myself when the floor was opened for that, during the introductory session, I stated my full name and the state I came from, which compelled the Sarkin Zazzau to ask me again that “you are from … state?” And I answered “yes.”
This media chat with His Royal Highness, Ambassador, Ahmad Nuhu Bamalli was not only a chat but more of a mentorship session and or educative session full with words of wisdom, encouragement and fatherly advice. Like every other father will do, the father of the Zazzau Emirate gave fatherly advice to all of us at the end of our engagement that day.
An encounter with Emirs like that of Zazzau, would be a most wanted for every upcoming and hard-working youth in Nigeria owing to the King’s vast knowledge readily available for one to drink from.
The King has done what so many people could not. He came down to our level and interacted with us in a manner that was understandable and encouraging, without him showing he was above all of us and therefore, no need for a chat but anarchy.
Mai Martaba even came to a stage where joke with us. I could remember vividly during the introductory session, a colleague said she was from Kano and jokily, HRH said “I am sure she is now celebrating because whenever Kano people came to Zaria, they are celebrating.”
This joke has however made me to understand the basis of the joke between the Kano and Zaria (Kaduna in general) indigenes that I have been seeing on Facebook for long.
That was how our two hours or thereabout media chat and encounter with His Royal Highness, Ambassador, Ahmad Nuhu Bamalli went on smoothly and ended in Zazzau Emirate, August 18, 2021.
Muhammad Auwal Ibrahim is an award-winning journalist, fellow AIJC 2020, Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa. He can be reached via email@example.com