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As far as Hausa literature and northern Nigerian literature is concerned, Alhaji Abubakar Imam is one of the pioneer writers whose writings have reflected the northern customs and traditions. However, it is no surprise that he comes from Niger State, a state with a long history of supernaturally endowed writers. He wrote several didactic books that have lived on even after his demise.
For one to understand his personage, one needs to read through the alluring pages of his books to see for himself what an erudite scholar he was. He was a teacher, who was passionate about seeing his people acquire knowledge. Also, he understood that North missed out on education, thus, it became an impetus to educate them to stand up for themselves in the face of any challenge.
Also, Abubakar Imam was ardent and keen about seeing a better northern Nigerian society where education shall become the order of the day. More so, he is a man with an exemplary perception and wit was how many people described him to be.
This article shall embark on a historical excursion and assessment of Abubakar Imam, a famous northern Nigerian Author.
Early Life and Education
Abubakar Imam was born on 1st February 1911, in Kagara, a locality in erstwhile northern Nigeria. The teachings of Islam positively influenced his gracious growth. . Moreover, his early education can be traced as a student of secular education. At an affordable advantage, he was tutored in an orthodox Arabic school. These became a good impact on him later on in his life.
Furthermore, Imam’s yearning for beneficial knowledge took him to Katsina Training College, where he, based on mastery and merit, became a certified teacher in the year 1927.
Consequently, he furthered his search for knowledge at the University of London’s Institute of Education. It was there that his first-ever work of literature, Ruwan Bagaja, came to the limelight.
Writing Career and Works
In 1933, Imam entered a literary contest with his famous work of prose fiction, Ruwan Bagaja, where his work scored the heart of Rupert East, who was the judge of the writing contest. Ruwan Bagaja is a masterpiece novel that revolves around a hero who sets out on a journey to find the water of cure. Also, the story encapsulates the adventures of the protagonist as he searches for the latter.
Rupert East expressed his admiration for such a refined work of art, because it was interwoven with the lore of indigenous traditions, and marked by artistic dexterity of wit. The two eventually work together for the prominence of the book.
The book caught a lot of people’s interest, subsequently elevating Imam’s status in the literary sphere. Later on, he forfeited his teaching role to work for Translation Bureau, where he wrote his second book, Magana Jari Ce.
Magana Jari Ce is a trilogy that portrays the story of a rich king who had no heir. After some prognosis, he eventually gets an heir. Ultimately, he wrote Tafiya Mabudin Ilmi which summed up all the books he composed in his lifetime.
He also wrote other books, like Tarihin Annabi Kammalalle, which is the biography of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W)
A List of Alhaji Abubakar Imam’s Books
- Ruwan Bagaja
- Magana Jari Ce Part I
- Magana Jari Ce Part II
- Tafiya Mabudin Ilmi
- Magana Jari Ce Part III
- Six Hausa Plays
- Karamin Sani Kukumi Part I
- Karamin Sani Kukumi Part II
- Ikon Allah Part I- Dr. East da Imam
- Ikon Allah Part II- Dr. East da Imam
- Tahirin Annabi (SAW)
- Sayyidina Abubakar (R. A)
- Tahirin Muslunci
- Hajj Mabudin Ilmi
- Hausa Bakwai (7)
- Tambaya Goma Amsa Goma
- Auren Zobe
Abubakar Imam’s Service to Government and Politics
In the year 1939, Alhaji Abubakar Imam was made the editor of Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo, a journal that was owned by the Nigerian government. It was the first notable Hausa newspaper that came into existence. Furthermore, Imam visited England in 1943 as an envoy of the West African Press.
While on this trip, he requested the administration for learning equipment to school the Hausa people of northern Nigeria. In 1945, together with Rupert East and some of their ilk, paved a path for the creation of Gaskia Corporation. Gaskia Corporation became a publication house for northern Nigerian writers.
It was because of Abubakar Imam’s competence and capability that awarded head of the book department, thereby earning him the position of senior service, a position reserved for colonial masters alone.
Abubakar Imam was a proficient writer whose writings were enjoyable in his eloquent Hausa, English and Arabic. Because of his steadfastness to the doctrine of Islam and spreading its words, people chose him unanimously to be their voice in the House of Representatives of the 1951 constitution.
It was the culmination of his adeptness that made popular Hausa poet and activist, Sa’ad Zungur nicknames him as the “pilot of Northern Nigeria”.
Entry into Politics
A lot of Northern writers too crucially influenced his political participation. Immediately after the creation of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC), with the team of Umaru Agaie and the likes of Nuhu Bamali, they formed the managerial centre of the party. Shortly after some progressive years in the House, Imam forfeited politics to preoccupy himself with the betterment of civil service and push northern Nigerian literature towards greater heights by supporting it.
As he continued to maintain his meritorious reputation, Alhaji Abubakar Imam became part of the Public Service Commission in the Northern region from 1958-1966 during the Nigerian Civil War.
Abubakar Imam’s Death
Shortly after the unforgettable civil war that almost saw Nigeria tear apart, Abubakar Imam became ill. He nursed his indisposed health until 1981 when he finally surrendered to death.
He passed away in Zaria where he mostly spent his life.
Achievements and Legacy
Abubakar Imam was a teacher, a teacher who was a shepherd. A shepherd who wholeheartedly cared a lot about his sheep. He stood out amongst his contemporaries simply for his selfless sacrifice towards humanity. Because he understands the tenets of his religion, he tries to pass it on to his students as well. He often stressed the relevance of living a modest life and also being hardworking. His principles greatly emphasized being prudent with earnings.
Abubakar Imam Urology Center in Kano was named after him.
Northern Nigeria has produced some of the finest authors that have walked on the face of the earth. The literary Colosseum has agreed that Abubakar Imam is one of the premier pioneers of northern Nigerian literature. More, so, his fictions are a source of inspiration to many budding northern Nigerian writers because he made northerners understand what you can do with western and secular education after attaining both bits of knowledge.
Today, he is a literary icon, a teacher and a politician that many northern Nigerian intellectuals are forever grateful to for his efforts towards a greater northern Nigeria.