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Abubakar Gimba: And The Literary Excursion In Niger

Posted: Jun 7, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Abubakar Gimba’s death was an expected surprise to everyone aware of his deteriorating health conditionduring his last days. True, we do not wish death upon our loved ones but by divine ordination, death is the prerequisite for the hope of afterlife. Therefore, as human beings, we must at all times expect and anticipate death’s call. Our perpetual existence on earth long after our physical death is dependent on the impact of our influence on the society. It is with great nostalgia that I write this eulogy about a man whom providence afforded me the privilege of knowing. My first encounter with Gimba was through his books and the first one, I had the privilege of reading was the “Sunset for a Mandarin,” a book I found fascinating and intriguing even though at first I didn’t quite understand nor appreciate the travails of the protagonist, until years after, and it was indeed after several years of quality reading and scholarship, that I came to understand the moral conflict that characterises works- the preponderance of the themes of morality which my dear friend and Poet, Gimba Kakanda faulted, as the renowned novelist’s greatest weakness.



But perhaps, what my dear friend and I didn’t realise then was that, the concept of moralist literature propounded by the late novelist is paradoxically, Gimba’s most profound asset as a writer. Unlike many Gimba was conscious of his purpose in literature, perhaps he viewed literature as a medium of character modification and societal regeneration. He wrote his works with a psychologist mind-set and I should think that he achieved his aim of shaping the personalities of his readers, who are always eager to review the moral angle to Gimba’s novels. Most importantly and worthy of note is that Gimba allowed his writings to be ruled by his environment and in particular, religion. The Islamic religion to which he belonged played a major role in the kind of things he wrote and how he wrote about those things. He was a modest writer.

As I read his other works, I began to understand that Gimba saw the advancement of morality as an inescapable responsibility, perhaps of every writer. He once and indeed always emphasized this point at his Okada Road, home in Mina, where he lived. Once, the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Niger State paid him a courtesy call, I was then an ex-officio member of the executive. The team was led by Almamum Mallam, who was the then chairman, after we had been introduced and the intent of our visit stated, in his characteristic genial manner, he had submitted that the writer’s duty is to modify the society. There was the need for writers to be seen as decent and responsible people.

He also opined that, one couldn’t teach what one doesn’t know or practice. He viewed writers as models that society should emulate and was particularly opposed to the Marxists life style that permeated the 90s, a thing he said, he triwed to correct when he became the President of ANA in the late 90s. He had said, he wanted people to look at writers as dignified people and wretches of the society. But of course, to a certain degree his exorbitant belief about how a writer should look especially in terms of social stratification could easily be attributable to his middle class background. He became a Permanent Secretary at a young age and eventually became a Financial Executive in one of the top banks in the country.

Gimba’s works are synonymous with his personality, religious and moral view, to him, only individuals who are morally upright can upturn the bad fortunes of any society for the better. He practised what he preached and lived by the values he espoused. During another visit of ANA Niger members to his home, where I was also fortunate to be around, and I was honoured with the privilege of saying a prayer at the meeting. When I had finished, he commended my praying prowess and referred to me jokingly as “Pastor Paul” and that incident is one, I will never forget, I was honoured that he could find my prayer worthy of his commendation. I also remember him single out,Aminu S. Mohammed as the person of after his heart, the one in whom he was pleased. He posited that Sheik was his replica and, I think he jokingly referred to him as his private secretary, with whom appointments must be booked before, he would be seen. But of course,he also said that, ANA Niger didn’t need an appointment to see him and it was always so, whenever the association needed his counsel, he was always available it.

The interesting twist to Gimba’s influence is that he influenced a great army of word soldiers, who took after him and indeed exceeded him. This league of touch bearers and whom, for want of scholarly coloration may be referred to as “students of Gimba” because they practice what Gimba preached. For example, BM Dzukogi’s prose and even poetry assume the moral modesty characteristics of Gimba’s novels. Dzukogi appears to be the most pronounced literary replica of Gimba. A review of “Potholes in My Dreams” shows that Dzukogi writes with the same moral consciousness that Gimba is known for. Dzukogi’s engagement of sensuality in the story “Dry Tongue in Wet Lips,” attests to the same conscious morality that Gimba would have employed in writing the same story. The “Dry Tongue” clearly represents an infertile penis that cannot fertilise while the “Wet lips” represents a fertile vagina or womb. Throughout the story, Dzukogi deliberately avoids calling a dog by its true name. Dzukogi, KamarHamza, Baba Akote, Almamum Mallam, Aminu S. Muhammed, Ismaila A. Abdullahi are students of Gimba. Their actions, speeches and mannerism re-echo the moralist philosophy, they are the writers of conscience, the redeemers of our morally bankrupt society.

Indeed, they exemplified this philosophy vehemently vituperations on what constitute the formation school thought they propounded as the “Fourth Oder” which I am also analysing in a separate exercise. Their belief did not end in theory alone, they implemented it and it is what is now known “literary Regeneration” in the state. ASCAFS, Read to A Child Campaign, Teen Authorship Scheme, Hilltoparts Centre, Minna literary Series and the Niger State Book and Other Intellectual Property Development Agency are all practical results of the philosophy of societal regeneration, they had hitherto espoused in theories over the years.