By Bello Mustapha
When I saw calls coming to my phone from my sister and brother, Mariya Babayo and Sadeeq Babayo Mustapha all at once, and despite not picking up because I was in a meeting, but kept calling back, I knew something was wrong. I immediately went outside the room and asked Sadiq what was wrong. My heart was already heavy. He asked whether I heard the bad news? I said what bad news?
At that moment, my heart was already beating faster than usual. He said Durbi is dead. I asked who is Durbi? He said Durbin Katagum. I said haba this is not true. He said it was true because it was his wife who broke the news to him and she was crying. His wife is a close relative of the late Durbi. That minute we spoke was one of the worst moments of my life.
I immediately felt like I had been hit with a sledgehammer on my head. Then calls started coming in confirming my fears. It was the first time in a long time that I cried like a baby. I locked my office door and spent close to 30 minutes crying on my visitors’ chair.
When I went down to pray Asr in the office mosque, I was performing ablution and crying profusely to the amazement of staff and several visitors who were wondering what happened to me. I cried during the prayers as well that the person praying next to me was virtually holding my hands comforting me to take it easy. The tears were the only thing making me feel better at that material time.
I immediately went to inform my boss of what happened and the need to take some days off to travel for the funeral. I was crying profusely as I spoke to her, she consoled me offering me tissue paper to wipe my tears away.
He was not only my senior brother and mentor, but I also was his confidant and he had confidence in my judgement and valued the respect I had for him. I came to understand the depth of his heart and he came to appreciate the depth of my loyalty to him. Whenever i was free, I drove to his office to pay my respect to him and his close friend, Tata Shekarau Omar and we usually spent hours talking about how our societies had deteriorated and the role we could individually play to ameliorate the terrible situations of our people. His office became the secretariat for our meetings, all in an effort to play our part to the benefit of our society.
He mentored me on how to be our brothers and sisters’ keepers and how our late elders had placed our community on a high moral pedestal of integrity, dignity and mutual respect, and the need for us to sustain and be the keepers of such a beautiful legacy.
He retired last year from public service, but he transited to the next service of philanthropy, generosity and humanitarianism that is unprecedented of any human being that I associated with. I can confidently say this, Alhaji Muhammad Gambo Muazu (Durbin Katagum) is one of the most humble, down to earth and accessible personality that I had ever had the privilege of interacting with in my life.
His infectious humility and good character, his ever smiling face and patience, his friendly disposition to his elders and subordinates, his charisma, his voice of moderation on issues are usually not attributed that are associated with people of his standing and disposition in a contemporary society like ours. No wonder people alleged for so long a time, that he was too good for this our current times and people like him don’t last long.
He played a major role in trying to see that everyone no matter the person’s background, creed or tribe was given a fair shot in life. His death jolted our community that everyone both the young and old were crying and consoling each other with everyone telling their stories of their experiences with him, and the interventions he had in their lives with a smiling face no matter how many times you came back dangling your problems to him.
He was intelligent, resourceful, well endowed in terms of material things, the ultimate Good looking fellow with Greek god features, but one of the simplest individuals and the best father anyone could wish for and have.
Our community had lost a lot of our committed and revered personalities, but they mostly died at old age, due to old age related ailments. Durbi’s death was more shocking and devastating because of the circumstances it happened (A fatal car accident) and the fact that he was relatively young and was not known to be suffering from any illness.
He was seen in good spirits at a wedding in the Emirs Palace less than two weeks before his death. His death is excruciatingly painful because people like him come once in a generation. He was the full package whose childhood friends attested that they couldn’t remember the last time they saw him angry no matter the level of provocation.
His funeral attracted thousands of people from far and near, with people crying profusely over his loss, confused and wondering when they would ever see someone with such attributes and exceptional qualities from the community again. You can only try your best to enumerate his contributions to the well-being of the people, but it is impossible to cover or list his crucial and critical interventions in one single material.
The people you fed without knowing who they were, will be the witnesses of your goodwill in this world inshallah.
The people you sheltered and provided decent accommodation for so that they live with dignity and pride will attest to your benevolence spirit on the day of judgment inshallah.
The widows and vulnerable children that you bought clothes for to enable them to celebrate during the Sallah celebrations, will bear witnesses to your intervention at their distressing moments on the day you will need it most inshallah.
The hundreds of sick people that could not afford to pay their medical bills but you paid for them, will be there for you on the day when only your good deeds are relevant inshallah.
The testimonies of people at your graveside with people of all backgrounds supplicating to God to have mercy on you because of the positive impact you made in their lives, had been recorded in your good deeds inshallah.
My condolences to the Emir of Katagum, his family, the people of Katagum, Bauchi State and Nigeria as a whole for this incalculable, immeasurable and irreparable loss.
May Allah The Giver And The Exterminator of life grant Gambo Muazu, Durbin Katagum, eternal peace accorded the best of God’s servants and give us the fortitude, though painful, to bear his permanent absence in this world, until the time when our contract with this ephemeral and transient world has come to an end and we join him inshallah! Ameen!!!
Bello Mustapha is Kogunan Katagum