By Hon. Sadiq Ibrahim Dasin
There is a saying that “the faintest ink is better than the greatest memory.” In some other writings that I read, the saying is “The palest ink is better than the best memory”. This is said to be a Chinese proverb though people are not unanimous about its origin.
Whatever or whoever is the source of this wise saying, its very meaning is that a pale or a faint ink on a paper is better than keeping it in the best of human memory. In other words, writing down things for posterity is 100 times better than keeping them in our hpmemory, no matter how good or intelligent we may think we are.
By failing to write down our thoughts or our history, we lose a lot. The person in whose memory the facts are kept may forget, he may die with the story in his memory or people that are told the story may not be able to relate them exactly to the next generation, or may remember them faintly. If any of these happened, ‘feure nastan’ or karya zata shiga zancen, (meaning that it is a window opening for liess; exaggeration or fabrication)
So we must endeavour to write so as to keep history, avoid lies about us, avoid rumours, half truths and superstitions or ‘kabbe fulo reube’ in Fulfulde or ‘chamfi’ in Hausa.
This is all the more true as while even the best memory is not infallible; a written record is indisputable.
This reminds me of Former governor Boni Haruna. I once travelled with him from Yola to Abuja some times in 2017. When I asked him about contesting election again he said to me “I am done with politics”. Being a former journalist and a prolific writer, I asked him to write his memoirs.
I recall having told him that we need to know how difficult it was for him to have taken the decision, at the time he did, to dethrone Hama Bachama, a first class chief and a Christian who was his staunch supporter, and the decision to relocate the Numan Jumu’at mosque after more than 50 years of the existence of the mosque in that location. This decision by Gov. Boni was what brought lasting peace between Hausa/Fulani and the Bachama in Numan.
Alhaji Jamilu Jibrin Lamido (Chokali Adamawa), like Gov. Boni Haruna, is one other person I wish could write a book. The man knows a lot of history off heart. Alhaji Jamilu is a man endowed with an experience of a life time. I knew this when I travelled with him from Abuja to Yola by Air some months after the death of Lamido Aliyu Mustapha. Within 55 minutes, in the air, I gained so much from his reservoir of knowledge that I wished the journey was extended for me to have gained more.
This is not just about Governor Boni Haruna and Alhaji Jamilu Lamido. It is about you and I and all our traditional, religious, and political leaders and people of knowledge. The younger generation needs our knowledge and experience; especially about how we dealt with difficult situations so that they can use our experience in solving theirs.
I hope Gov. Boni Haruna will put down his thoughts and immense knowledge of politics of Adamawa and how he arrived at the decision that stabilised Numan. I hope the stories I heard from Alh. Jamilu will not go down with him. The knowledge of not only these two, but the knowledge of the old brigade will always assist the generation yet unborn.
There are many Jamilu Lamidos and Boni Harunas in our midst. But they hardly document their life experiences. People in the south of Nigeria fare better in this respect.
Let us write; especially now that we have several means of storing and retrieving facts and information. The fact is that though history started with oral tradition, if not put into writing, it will, with time, suffer exerggeration or it may, in some cases, be turned into lies, as those who would want to rewrite history, (and there are many), can find it very attractive to do so, and with ease.