OUR DAY OF TEARS IN BIU: By Inuwa Bwala

“When beggars die, there are no comets seen, heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes”…William Shakespeare  .

 
The import of above quote, even if I fail to accurately get it is to the effect that, the heavy storms at the dawn on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 was not ordinary. It was the proverbial comet blazing forth the passing on to the great beyond of one of Nigeria’s revered monarch, Mai Umar Mustapha Aliyu, the Kuthi Viu, also addressed as emir of Biu in Borno state, Northeast, Nigeria.

It was the time most deaths occur and the intermittent lightening and thunder that interrupted the night, further heightened my fears as I sat at the foot of my wife’s sick bed. The rain fell with such fury seldom experienced and I was somehow worried imagining all kinds of palaver that could come to me if I loose her.
I decided to pick my phone and check some posts I might have missed and the first message was that of my friend, Ado Haruna Pashi, informing me that our emir had just passed on. That was when it occurred to me that indeed the iroko has fallen.
I made some frantic calls to be sure I will not be amongst those who rush to break the news of the death of the living, and every call drew blank. When later I saw it as a breaking news on my own medium, National Trail, I knew the matter was beyond a joke.
I was ready to abandon my wife on her sick bed and go down to Biu with others who made arrangements for a chattered flight so as not to miss the burial, as I missed his coronation in 1989. But I was not lucky enough to get a seat on the flight.

As it gradually dawned on me that I was not going to be a witness to the leader I had gotten so close to amongst all past and present monarchs, events of my last meeting with him rushed through my mind and in a nostalgic mood, I began to laments those things I failed to tell him or asked him or do at that meeting.
They were personal, and I will still keep them as such, even as tears drop from my eyes onto the screen of my phone as I write.
I monitored every event in Biu, before, during and after the burial and I could not help blaming myself for missing out of that crowd that cried and wailed as they struggled to catch a glimpse of the shroud of this great as he was being conveyed to viu kithla to join his ancestors.
Those who witnessed the burial procession and eventual rites confirmed to me, that, even those who never had any personal contact with the late emir before his death, were moved to tears.
Some sent me the video of events as they unfolded and my own grief deepened.
I was not alone in that situation as those who could nit make it spoke in grief shaken voices when we compared notes. Even the mighty ones of the emirate were in tears. Some cried openly, others in their privacies and yet others wore long faces throughout.
My mind went to the Deputy Governor of Borno State, who has been his very close confidant and with whom they share experiences. I could sense the sorrow in his voice when we spoke. I could imagine his inner rioting as he plays host to the world even as the chief mourner.
I am not good at reading faces, but one could hardly miss the sadness on the face of the Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, who missed the burial too, due to stormy weather, which could not allow the chopper that was to fly him to Biu take off.
I imagined how my emir would have felt, if he could that I was missing from that crowd for whatever reasons, that followed him to viu kithla.
When I eventually got my way to move down to Biu, I was surprised that it looks as if the incident happened today.
I have seen kings buried, but I cannot remember the king whose burial was more of a carnival than I have seen of Mai Umar Mustapha Aliyu. 
Although gone, he will be remembered for so many good things, prominent amongst which his principled stance to stay amongst his people even in the heat of the Boko Haram crisis. Most of his colleagues had to abandon their domains for safer haven, but the man preserved until and mobilized his subjects who completely routed out the terrorists.
The greatest testimony one could give about the man is his drive for peaceful coexistence and developmental initiatives.
As we mourn, we are secretly celebrating the man, who may could have wished he were exchanged with lesser others, so that we continue to progress. All heads bowed, hands raised to the high heavens for the repose of his soul. Adieu our pillar of hope.

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