Some years back while I was much younger my father, the late Mallam Jimoh Imam Pakata(1931-2012), used to tell me stories about Ilorin and it’s eminent people. My unforgettable oldman would tell me the historical origin of the name of our compound, area(adugbo) and community. He would even dazzled me with the stories and accomplishments some past heroes of our family, community and nation and, in fact, fixed to his sitting room was the portrait of his national hero, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto and the only Premier of the defunct Northern Nigeria. My father never turned down any question(s) from me as he was never too busy to attend to my “troubling and endless inquisitions”. He was able to do that not just because he was a teacher but because he said he enjoyed similar attention and education from his own father who he said submitted that that was an essential parental duty.
I remember the day he took me on sight-seeing to the home of the late Alhaji Sule Moito at Omolabi Compound. He didn’t convince me much as regards the wealth of the late nationalist because his “old style” one-storey building confirmed to me that the famous Moito, the founder and leader of the Ilorin Talaka Parapo, was a man of means and affluence, particularly of his time. My father would tell me stories about his (Moito) other accomplishments, challenges and travails as well as supporting and competing contemporaries whose efforts placed Ilorin in the political map of Nigeria.He would say that though he and his father belonged to a different political persuasion from that of Moito, the leader of the defunct Talaka Parapo was a populist.
Whenever I was with him watching the TV and any individual from Ilorin was shown on the Wonder-Box (as television was initially called at its invention) he would volunteer information about such a person.
It was through that medium that I first knew about Alhaji Akanbi Mahamud Oniyangi, Dr Abdulkadir Salman Oniyangi, Alhaji Saka Saadu, Alhaji Hassan Taiye Abdulkadir, Justice Abdulkadir Orire CON, Justice Saka Yusuf OFR, Alhaji Baba Akodudu, Alhaji Sanni Ade Lawal, Lawyer Aliyu Alarape Salman SAN and many others. He would tell me his relationships with each of them, their parents and family houses and other information he knew about them and which made them who and what they were. I must say that I derived wonderful inspirations from their stories, particularly that of Alhaji Akanbi Mahmud Oniyangi, the Second Republic Minister of Communication, Defence and Industries, who went back to school to read Law even when he was already established as a an eminent Education Officer and a leading elite of Ilorin of their epoch.
I was able to know and identify most of Ilorin sub-communities (adugbo) through him whenever we are driving through Ilorin as he would ask me: do you know where we are?And when I answered in negation, he would tell me where we were and the prominent people of such places and unforgettable events that made the place thick.
Nowadays, most of our younger ones don’t know as much as they should know about Ilorin and her fantastic people.
I remember a brother from Ile Alkali Ikokoro saying that when he told his children that he was going to Pakata they(the children)were surprised that their father could be traveling to the Nupeland all alone.To them, Pakata was not within Ilorin!
I also have an acquaintance,who is a daughter of the late Alhaji Ibrahim Ade Yusuf of the famous Baba-Isale family,who doesn’t know where Pakata is situated.
I am quite sure that the number of younger compatriots who were though born in Ilorin but raised outside the traditional segment of the city who are “deep illiterates” as regards the geography and history of Ilorin are as increasing and incredible.
Many from Adeta/Adewole axis may not not know where Isale Ajanaku,Isale Ajasa and Ita-Onitanganran are.It is doubtful if children of Oke-Aluko know where Oke-Ebo Alaso,Oke-Ikoyi or Oke-Aare are.
Can we blame the youngsters for this unpardonable huge gap? No, we cannot and we should not as the present system is blameable.
Most of the younger ones attend private schools at primary and secondary and even University level.And where they do not, contemporary parents are over-protective of their children and wards.
Such situations do not afford children from homes of the erudite and affluence and those from the less-privileged backgrounds to mingle and become friends which would have enabled them to visit one another at home as it was the case in the past.
That is apart from the fact that most of us who are not residing at our acenstral homesteads dislike taking our children and wards to our roots for socialization for God knows reasons.Most of those who are “movers and shakers” of our contemporary society are products of parents who were not given much regards decades back.And so,we should relax and give back to the society by encouraging our children and wards to open up and learn about Ilorin and their social environment.
Let us educate our children on what Ilorin is and not.I therefore suggest that:
If they can recite states and capitals off-hand,our children and grandchildren should also know all the various quarters of Ilorin.
If they know all the leading football clubs in Europe,they should know about our stride in sports too through Aliyufsalam Rocks Football Club,Jimoh Balogun of 1989 Flying Eagles fame and so many others.
If they know all the previous Nigerian Heads of State, our children and wards should know all the past Emirs of Ilorin.
If they know the serving President of Nigeria and his Ministers, they should know more things about the incumbent Emir of Ilorin and his Baloguns and other traditional chiefs including the Alangua suprietending your acenstral home.
If they know the stories of Herbert Macaulay,Sardauna,Azikwe,Mandela,Awolowo and Aminu Kano, they should know about our own Yahaya Madawaki, Saadu Alanamu,Sanni Okin,Amori Gidado,Sule Moito,Ibrahim Laaro, Babatunde Alanamu and,of course,Dr Olusola Saraki.
If they know about the military exploits of Benjamin Adekunle,Mohammad Shuwa,Olusegun Obasanjo and Murtala Mohammed,they should know about the military heroism of Tunde Idiagbon, Abdullahi Adangba, Balogun Ka’ara,the unforgettable “the tormentor of Offa”,Adamu Kaseta,Aliyu Inakoju,Ahmadu Biala,Jimba Dan Gwari,who eventually accomplished the destruction of the Old Oyo,and others who suffered to ensure that Ilorin was not conquered by her relentless enemies.
If they watched Pastor Adeboye,Bishop Oyedepo and the rest pontificating their beliefs on T.V, educate them about the exploits of Kokewukobere,Jekitemiodara,Kamaldeen,Oniwasi-Agbaye and Dan-Borno and their illustrious predecessors who started the conversion of most of the Yoruba-speaking people and other West Africans to Islam about two centuries ago .
If they know about the erudition of Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and Ola Rotimi, they should be told about the illuminating scholarship of our own Abubakar Lah,AbdulRahaman Salah, Shehu Jimoh,Oba Abu and Isiaka Aliagan as well as Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilory who authored more books more than the efforts of all of them put together.
If they are excited about the wealth of Dangote and Otedola, tell them about Mohammad Jimoh Omo-Olumo, Umaru Saro and Saraki, who in the mid-1970s was styled the Chief Launcher of Nigeria, because of his ability to expend part of his stupendous wealth towards the development of various communities and specifically,Ilorin.
If they discuss the musical profundity of 9nice,2face,Pasuma,Omoseyeand other raves of the moment, tell them about the enduring philosophical foundations in the music of Ajadi Ilorin,Odolaiye Aremu,Aremu Ose,Jaigbade Alao,Akanbi Baba Muniru,Rukayat Batimoluwasi and, of course,Ibrahim Alabi Labaeka.
In addition,those of us who reside outside Ilorin should cultivate the habit of bringing our children home not only during festivals but also for weddings and other family events.And when you do, take them to your relations and show them places within and outside the traditional segment of Ilorin.That was how even some of the Ex-National Presidents of the IEDPU were brought home from the places of sojourn of their parents during their formative years.
We should also encourage those in the institutions of higher learning to join and actively participate in the activities of the Ilorin Emirate Students Union in their schools.That was where someone like Dr. A. S. Oniyangi, the fourth National President of IEDPU, started his exploits in community development.
Through such participation,they will meet their brothers and sisters from Ilorin and strike lasting friendships and relationships as some us.
Above all,we must not forget to give our children the best of balanced education that we can afford.By that,I mean ensuring that our children and wards have a good combination of western,islamic and indigenous education that will enable them stand the test of time .
It is through such that they will keep the flag of your beloved family and Ilorin Emirate flying wherever they may find themselves now and in future.
I say all these because I don’t want our younger ones to be oblivious of our peculiarities.If we neglect who we are we may not be able to reinvent ourselves.
We should remember that the minds of the younger ones are tabula rasa(blank blackboards). John Locke,who propounded the idea of tabula rasa, insisted that it will be filled by whatever it is written on it.
Let us give them proper and adequate cultural education so that as they grow up they would develop affinity and love for Ilorin Emirate and it’s culture as you are.
That is the only way we can move Ilorin Emirate to the next level. —-Abubakar S.Imam.