Mallam Ado Maman--A Short Nigerian Story (Tribute)
"Gods don't kill people. People with Gods kill people." Sasa Milosevic
Within the week there was a mild domestic accident in my home in Jos Plateau state. My dog bit a neighbor accidentally, while the canines were engaged in a territory fight with their own dog.
In the melee, trying to get the young girl first aid, anti-tetanus, and anti-rabies and all that, we equally needed to confirm that the dogs involved were rabies free. I had to call my veterinary doctor to be sure of the date on the green card of the dogs.
I dialed Mallam Ado's number, that's what we all call him at home. The kids, I and wiffy all called him Mallam Ado, not Dr. Ado. None of us knew whether Ado was his first name or surname. It did not matter. He was just Mallam Ado to all of us, not until death did we know, he was Maman.
I had met Mallam Ado some 15 years ago at the local Jos Veterinary Hospital, Polo Jos. He had accompanied me home to give injections to the puppies and the 'bitch' that littered and some other adult studs.
Over the years, Mallam Ado was responsible for all my dogs health needs. He was a veterinary health practitioner par excellence on the payroll of the Ministry of Agriculture. I recall several times the stipend called salary was not paid as at when due. We shared together; the little providence blessed us with whenever I was around.
He would come home, my wife Fatimah would make one of her many local snacks and any variety of Kuno available washed it down. There are times when tuwo was available; Mallam Ado was a humble guest. We would talk politics from the local government, Jos North to South, his home Kanke and then from state to national.
Very recently 'Musty', one of the patriarchs of the house had become grouchy; I dare say old age was at work. The dog bit Mallam Ado as he was injecting it. Mallam Ado had a smile even as the spot bleed and we first aid it. He said "It wasn't serious". For days Musty was quarantined, since then, he has been a good dog.
Apart from that incident, cannot recall any scare, or tale in what otherwise was a near perfect relationship knowing that there are no perfections, spanning 15 years, almost 50 dogs--Mallam and my family were one.
So what happened to Mallam Ado...As I dialed his number 080.....A woman picked--his wife, I asked after him and the wife blurted out--"Ya motu" meaning he was dead. Getting over my shock quickly, I asked what happened, why, how, the questions--to when, she answered "lokachi sallah" meaning during Sallah. The other facts sunk in bitterly.
In it all Mallam Ado was killed at the Sallah praying ground massacre last year. At this point I will quickly state the following for the records. I do not intend to open old wounds or court controversy, not that I run from the latter having got to this point in life.
On that fateful day, I was on my way from Kano to Jos, and could also have been killed at any point.
Mallam Ado was a devout Muslim; he was from Plateau, precisely Kanke Local government area, married to a lovely wife, seven kids, first 25, the last 10 years. I am Mallam Charles, I am Igbo from Abia and Christian, but what should be important is that we are Nigerians, loved each other, my home was safe haven for him and I trusted him with my life. He was around for all my kids, his state Plateau had become my adopted home.
I would send him Friday prayers at least thrice a month, he would reply at least once in two months via a call. We had not spoken in a while and I took it for granted. The dogs were healthy and lately I have been on the road.
Mallam Ado was killed by his own, either by error or on intent. He was a good Nigerian killed by Nigerians. No doubt he was killed because of his faith. I may be accused of being naive, but the sad truth is that we may have got to that point of no return.
The hatred is so intense; you can feel it in the air, Christians and churches targeted and so also ethnic groups. Everything is viewed North/South, Islam/Christianity, Us/Them. We have murdered sleep and yet we crave rest.
We are not ready to forgive, to restitute, and to reconcile; in the last few years we have activated a circle that runs round revenge, retaliation, and vengeance as a result of ethno-religious killings...natives and settlers maiming, gravitating towards at best a civil strife and at worse pockets of guerilla warfare.
It was my beloved Mallam Ado, it was religious, it could be me or you tomorrow, it could be robbery, rape, stray bullet, simply economic deprivation and off course it may be those bombs. Two short and simple sentences started this tribute and admonishment that contain a great deal of truth. Gods may become destructive weapons in human hands, trapping people in labyrinths of hatred, bloodshed and hopelessness for centuries. People tamed the most cruel beasts, but to date they have failed to tame their own passions to exterminate their "brothers and sisters" that pray, eat and dress in different ways.
May the soul of Mallam Ado rest in peace. Everyday provides us an opportunity to get it right, what we want as Nigerians--time will tell.