Pages

Friday, March 9, 2018

DEAR HAJIYA (DR) AMINA NAMADI SAMBO (2)








How your predominantly black, modest attire riled her! Remember how she would often insult you publicly by telling people you remind her of death because you were always in mourning. Your Excellency, in your shoes, I would have asked her why her husband also mourned, since he also wore black attires most of the time. You showed fine breeding, and it cannot be acquired merely by being catapulted to lofty positions. In the end, the foundation will reveal itself in the manners and comportment of the occupier of an underserved position. Indeed, “what got you here won’t get you there” as Marshal Goldsmith put it in his book of the same title.


The point I desire to make is, for a vice president as loyal as your husband - loyal to a fault, I must add - to concede your refusal to dance with him at the behest of his boss, President Jonathan, he deserves accolades for respecting and appreciating the fact that his authority over his wife cannot encroach Allah’s sanctuary; and eternal honour goes to you for stubbornly sticking to what is right, and, at the same time, reverently walking shyly behind her husband, the archetype of the Muslim wife,   supporting him within the limits imposed by Allah. You did not grant a BBC interview, for instance, as is the vogue in the era of change, to expose your husband’s political weaknesses, if there were any, in order to make his adversaries triumph over him, Allah forbid!  

Doubtless, working with Dame Patience must have been a very hard enterprise especially for you, who have chosen to adhere to the Divine Proclamation of not appearing in public like a coquette, but in a decent manner to be recognised as a Muslim lady in hijab (al-Ahzaab, 33:59). What psychological torture and denigration you have endured, because of your raiment, from Mama Peace, who is, to be fair to her, of different culture and creed, in which black is associated with death and mourning periods. One could argue, as I have earlier pointed out, that her husband was often seen wearing black clothes. The fact that you have worn myriad hijabs of diverse hues was lost on the hater of ‘people from that side’.


I imagine how it must feel to be in that very contracted situation where you could not get any succour even from fellow Muslim sisters within the State House or female members of the cabinet at that time. I can only imagine what passed through your mind when shockingly, one of your fellow Muslim sisters advised you to take off your hijaab to fit in and avoid Mama Peace and her barbed tongue. The throng of women hovering decorously around Dame Patience looked similar in attire, as if they deliberately dressed in a way that would not offend Mama Peace - in gyale, ashobi, and tayani gantali - except for the then Minister of Education, Prof. Rukayyah Ahmad Rufa’i, and a few others, who remained firm and proud of their black abaayahs




Your ordeal at the hands of your tormentor reminds me of the recent event of December 12, 2017, when a citizen of this country, Firdaus Abdulsalam Amasa, was denied the Call to Bar by the Body of Benchers for exercising her constitutional right to don her religious garment; something she has worn all her years as a Law student and at the Law school without incident. The irony of lawyers violating the law which protects one of their own is sad. The purported hearings on the matter at the National Assembly did not happen. Injustice against one of us is an injustice against the rest of us. Precedence has been set; the seeds of deeply rooted hatred and ill-feelings have been sown.

This country may not reap the fruits until a generation after ours. In Firdaus’ case, as in yours, we saw not just the haters of our religion coalesce into a front against her, we also saw ignorant Muslims wondering why she could not remove the hijaab for just one day. The right question should be why should she be required to remove her religious garment at all? How does wearing hijaab affect anything in the training of a lawyer? How did it affect her ability to collect her certificate on that day? What slave mentality gave birth to such narrow-minded, bigoted and outright stupid adherence to a tradition? How would they feel if the roles were reversed and Firdaus’ faith dictated the dress code on that day?

In the circumstances like the one you found yourself in, Your Excellency, where some Muslims were advancing reasons why the hijab should be jettisoned because "you are a leader for all, so it is not fitting for you to display a commitment to religion”, you must have felt lonely in the midst of minions of the froward boss who abhorred dichotomy between decency and impropriety in dressing. You did not hearken to their noxious talk as you remained, gracefully, the moving emblem of the Muslim dress code throughout your husband’s tenure both as the governor of Kaduna State and as the Vice President. Even now, I see you have not altered in the least. 

I often marvelled at the way you were able to refrain from stretching out your hand to shake that of ‘foreigners’. Often times the cameras would beam a male dignitary reaching you for a handshake, but you would politely stay your palms over your bosom and at the same time smiling as if to say, “Sorry sir, my hand is reserved for my consort only”. I have personally been moved by this obduracy in spite of the apparent pressure exerted on you from every direction to relent.

Even Baba, the letter writer as well as his estranged “political son” did not find a way of approach to that hidden hand of yours. Anyone who deems this a mean feat should think of the endless emissaries from foreign missions, ambassadors, members of the Federal Executive Council, and heads of state and leaders from around the globe coming into the State House, and having a handshake with everybody except the wife of the Vice President of Nigeria at the time; it is not a position for the faint-hearted. I ardently hope to hear what people like Barrister Abdul-Raheem Adebayo Shittu, the Minister of Communication, Malam Adamu Adamu, the Minister of Education, and Sheikh (Dr) Isa Ali Pantami, the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), who are the three known as the “Mallams” appointed by the current administration, will have to say about the difficulty of refusing to have handshakes with women.

Whatever difficulty they are now encountering in that regard, what Your Excellency faced was twice as great because you resided in the Villa, the powerful centre and seat of government. You saw and came into contact with quite a number of people in a single day that Adamu, Shittu and Pantami put together cannot meet in a month. Not only that, they are males and heads of their offices; you held no political office as the wife of the Vice President, who was answerable to President Jonathan! Yet, you drew a distinct demarcation between what you could do as a Muslim woman, and what to avoid in spite of the animadversions of Mama Peace! 

After the first Umrah or Hajj (I cannot remember which it was exactly) that you and His Excellency, the former Vice President performed, a friend,  one of the officials in the Holy Ka’bah assigned to foreign dignitaries during their tawaaf, called me. His name is Sheikh Muhammad ‘Abd Isah, and he is also charged with the enviable task of perfuming the Ka’bah itself. ‘Abd Isah said that of all the VIPs he had served “from numerous non-Arabic speaking nations, I have not seen anyone like the wife of your Vice President, Hajiya Amina. She was virtually reciting, with the Sheikhs attached to them, all supplications during tawaaf. She knows by heart all the supplications to be said at every point and in every position. Moreover, she conversed with us in Arabic….” 



Sheikh Muhammad ‘Abd Isah is accustomed to those VIPs and heads of government who know nothing about Islam besides its name, and whose wives are as ignorant; who only don the hijab when they are going for Umrah or Hajj. However, my Dear Sister, you answered the call of Allah’s Summoner, the late Sheikh Abubakar Mahmoud Gumi, (may Allah forgive and have mercy on him) for women to seek knowledge about Islam, as well as Boko.





No comments :

Post a Comment