By Ummu-salmah Ibrahim Garba
Our father Alh. Lawal Garba has served his term in this world and departed in the early hours on Thursday 2, September 2021.
A loss so great that it can only be suppressed by the knowledge that every soul must taste death and everybody’s appointed day cannot be deferred or even be brought forward by even a second. Another consolation is being witnesses to the exceptionally spiritual life that he led, as much as possible according to the dictates of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the prophet (SAW) .
An exemplary life worthy of emulation, still the loss is great. He was a supporting pillar for the whole family both close and extended, providing guidance, advice and keeping the links of kinship and family alliances alive. It was from his ready texts and calls that one gets information about weddings, births, deaths etc of cousins, uncles, friends and neighbours, making sure that he attended the occasions himself. Many times he visited these relations and friends even without any ceremony, using his meager resources.
Baba attended the prestigious Sokoto Teachers College and Ahmadu Bello University where he graduated with a degree in sociology.
Baba spent his whole working life in the service of Kaduna State, first as a classroom teacher, then school administrator in the ministry of Education. He later was transferred to Kaduna State Housing Authority and then to the State Pensions Board, where he retired as a director.
He was director of finance and admin in both the Housing Authority and the Pensions Board. He left both establishments without an iota of scandal or anything resembling it. He used to sign payment vouchers without asking or expecting any gratification from benefiting contractors.
Baba was a stickler for doing and saying the right things at the right time. Baba was a man who was patient, I can count the number of times I’ve heard him raise a voice at someone, he was a man who does everything right, Baba does not break the rules, I remembered so many times while he was driving, he made sure to obey traffic rules even if he had the opportunity to break it. I also remembered how often he wanted us to speak Hausa the appropriate way, he was always correcting our mistakes, using the right syntax and gender. Ditto for English. He was also well reserved in the Qur’an and Islamic knowledge and Alhamdulillah, his progeny has inherited this religious trait. His first and second sons are refutable Ulamas of no mere standing in Kaduna.
The news of his death was a shock to all that kñew him. He passed on in the nature that he lived his life without constituting a burden to anybody. Just two days suffering from stomach pain and Baba is gone. Everybody was full of praises and prayers for him.
Two days before his death, I called one of our mothers (Inna) to greet her. She told me Baba was not feeling well, he was suffering from stomach ache. My mind was not calm, I was very worried because I’ve never heard him complaining of any sickness except for the leg pains he suffered with for quite awhile.
On Wednesday, 1st September 2021, we were informed that he’s been admitted as a result of constant vomiting. Inna called some of his children that were in town to go see him, while Mama the older wife called some of his siblings to greet. He spoke with my father, and even told him that he was getting better. This act of calling relatives informing them of this short illness made me worried. But Allah knows best what he has planned.
While I hope you never have to experience such a life-altering loss, the truth is, we all will die at a particular time. Death is a part of life. And once it strikes someone dearly close to you, your existence will never be the same.
He was the most sincerely altruistic person I have ever known with no attachment to material things. He did everything in his power to support the less privileged even when he didn’t have enough. Our Father left an impact on every person he met, even strangers, even the little ones (his grandchildren) felt his death.
The love and kindness our Father spread on this Earth will continue to grow and will live on, and that is the ultimate measure of any human being.
Baba used his last days to worship Allah. In his last days, despite his deteriorating leg issues he suffered, he always made sure to go to the mosque often. While at home, he either recites the Qur’an, says his nawafils (supererogatory prayers), listens to the radio, or has family time.
Baba was not only a father to us (his nephews and nieces), but also to our parents, and to all. We have certainly lost a good father, and our prayers will always be with him until we arrive.
As you come across this, please say a prayer for our late father as his was a life well spent, worthy of emulation.
Ummu-salmah Ibrahim Garba is a Presenter/Producer with LibertyTV/Radio