The Sweep with Hassan Alhaji Hassan: Yerwa: The Return Road to Glory


The capital of Borno State, symbolises the over 1000 years of Islamic scholarship, socio-economy and political administration systems of the Kanem Borno history. The final administrative city of the Mai and Shehu Dynasty has sat once on the great plane of world’s history and will last all the times of this world.
Nothing can unseat it. Our elders once said that if anything is capable of unseating Yerwa, it must be flood and the geo-climate of its location makes that unlikely for now and impossible like you will say the same thing about the great, barren, historical desert giant Timbuktu of the Songay Empire in Mali.
Maiduguri lived its name, its glory and its purpose. Coming out of a long experience of history of every good, humane aspect of human life, the city has earned more than a name and stood against all the odds of history – wars, calamity and loses of many aspects of its culture , including a flood experience as recent as 1994.
Maiduguri had a large, expanded chest. It accommodated people of all sorts, from all places of the world who came on short visits for the two purposes renown to it – scholarship and trade – but they ended up as indigenes and leaders of its affairs. I have never seen a place as liberal, and on that liberty for individual reinventing sits enduring peace and hospitality – care. Trust and all that humans crave for.
Its story will take a thousand page book accounts and to no finish – almost impossible for this mind which can only give this mere reminder, based on, mostly, personal accounts and from the crux of a pride of a place in history. But I know one compelling fact to tell: the liberty, hospitality and peace of the place made all the glory and fame of the city and attracted a number of other interests every day. But in the extension of history, the same glory, peace and liberty turned against us.
We will keep telling the story that Maiduguri’s recent experience was the result of its goodness. It has received many persons and ideas. But it never gave away its own, traditional ideas of life. So everyone that found reason to be there can only give their ideas up and conform to the values of love, peace, hospitality, care and tolerance.
It is the political economy of the world and the conspiracy of the indigenous cohorts that gave up our values to interim, foreign principles. Even at that Maiduguri, Borno and every true person rooted there would not give up what is their true culture and values. Reason: they are values rooted in the cardinals of Islam – the practical living according to the Qur’an and Sunna, at least in their original sense.
What followed in the years as antidotes to the Qur’an and Sunna were fallouts of same conspiracy by visitors and the corruption of the weak, illiterate elements among indigenes. They were malpractices of bad elements which were used to generalise about the lives of an entire human race. These sorts of stereotypes have been reason for many other types of fallout of the history and systems of ancient, renowned and popular places in other parts of the world.
But that is all history now. We will not talk much about the darkness of the past, much as we will use the torch made out of there to illuminate into the future of an enduring place. But first the present and the truth about it is the giant is coming back. In most aspects of life here, change is the permanent, possible thing you can say about the place.

Borno state governor Kashim Shettima

I have come back here a number of times since I left the land shortly before the insurgency. My attendance of the media reports – national and international – has raised occasional jumps to rejoin to response or to contribute to many misrepresentation and lies told about what is happening there. But I kept my words until I can speak from my own accounts about the empirical evidences of life here.
Maiduguri is reforming. The mother of the six states of the northeast geopolitical zone is gradually regaining its lost glory as the most accommodating, most cosmopolitan northern city. The Home of Peace was also an economic giant, making the second turnover after Lagos, owing to its three-boarder international trade routes leading into west, central and North Africa.
Those routes were cut for a long time, with a long of consequences on our lives here but also with lots of dues payment for persons and systems across central and North Africa. The story now is that those routes changed over the time but they can never be the same. What is of Maiduguri is just like that. You cannot change it and get it better. You have to refer back. There is no choice to the place.
The routes are back, even with days and nights on a 150 km roads linking to the gates of that part of the world, many are rushing to take the time and the risks of possible insurgents attack to travel and do business. Raw human faith, will and determination are the driving forces making the business routes to Gamboru daring. Thanks to the change that brought the security agents to some level of responsibility to allow for that.
The human spirit is the single element reworking the renewing life in Maiduguri. The influx of persons increases the population and the roads all over the city are crowded day and nights. With all the possibility of the enemy within and next, people walk next to each other, talk to each other and believe in each other, without thinking anything about the past or the scary elements therefrom like tribe, religion, sect or class.
The economy is picking up and it is doing so out of thriving private business enterprises as in the past. And it is here that, again, that Maiduguri is going to surge ahead of many cities in Nigeria which economies are hinged on public enterprises. The forge of private businesses and the thrives of exchanges resulting from the renewed international trade exercises are expanding the economic frontiers to empower the locals too.
The dark days prevented farming, crumbled businesses, disempowered the bale and the willing, dealt our people heavy blows and rendered many idle, poor and dead. But all that is reforming. Small, medium and large scale businesses are all over. Local, national and international products from fruits and nuts to mobile phones are on rampant exchanges with hands of the naira and the neighbouring CFA and the foreign dollar.
The forming of businesses outlets, the raising of shops and buildings, the influx of persons, the crowding of the roads and the streets, the mingling and exchanges among the different persons here are promises for a promising future but they are also features for public concern.
When society grows into that size and form, a number of fallouts become outright characteristics of lives, which are negligible to personal or individual concerns but are becoming worries for the patriots of this great place we cherish and to any responsible human with public spirit.
The signs are readable in most of the reforming in the city. One feature is the number of Keke Napep brought into the city, complemented by the growing number of residents and visitors, and to the dearth of cars on the road owing to the misfortunes of the past. You need no count. The kekes outnumber the cars. And they are also intimidating the cars. They are the strangers of this life. But they are behaving and acting more resident than the cars.

Yes. After all, it is a matter of money which purchases each. How much is my type of old-fashioned car which second hand value is poor? And how does it look? The local growing needs for the Napep make it expensive, costing as much as N700, 000, or more. That is the price of most cars around or even less. So what makes your car more important and its claim to road use fundamental?
Besides, the Napeps are united by common yellow colour and they ride all around you on the road – some are behind, others in your front, more are on your right and this one passes you by the left, almost scratching your car off. What can you say? What can you do. Nothing. They are the road rulers. Always and anyhow right. Car users are the secondary users of the roads and be wrong at the slightest attempt to complain about any Napep misdemeanour.
And they are owned, mostly, by women or housewives whose husbands were crippled by misfortunes and they sold their room wares to buy the asset-ted Napep to make for the daily needs of the family. Good, excellent gesture of the local women. And their acts can only be complemented by men of society. After all, what have the men of fortunes done to help the needy and the helpless men?
The bulk of or men – able bodied, promising men – were lost to the dark years. There is also a general gap of youth. The future’s only dim in the hope of our people is the fact that women outnumber and will double or even triple men in the years ahead. They suffered the horror, the pains and every tragedy. They lost husbands, fathers, brothers and kinsmen. They endured trauma and danger.
I feel and hold a strong sympathy for them here. And their business with the kekes is legitimate exercise in the recovering economy, which is great complement. There is nothing we can do now but to encourage it, whatever the fallouts of their use of the roads. If there is anything Government can do is to open, expand the roads to accommodate the side rides. These roads were not built with the kekes in concept. They came after the roads were laid and took them over.
We are looking forward to a great future. All pointers show into that direction. But the making of that future is in the present’s fallout. And to safeguard the both the making of the future and the future itself, we need to think ahead. Maiduguri is coming back. It is in fact back. Here. This observation is as valid as it is with the results of what it becomes in the next few years.
This observation calls for thoughts from everyone. We all have a responsibility. We all must do what we can do to give this place so it can give us much back in the future. The larger responsibility of planning and expanding rests with the government. But what you and I need to do now is to be selfless, accommodating and tolerant.
People come in everyday to compete with us for meagre and limited social amenities like roads and water. And they do so only when things are good. At the worst of time, they ran away, leaving us behind to endure to safe the place for them, now they are coming back because the hardship is over. Yes. That is it. True.
But it is not their habit and not their making. It is human nature. Take heart. Be patient. God has everything to give enough to everyone. But He wants to see how you can live true your creed, to your values and culture of which you are so proud. He wants to see how you can justify your legitimacy of the place which everyone one seeks and dreams to come to.
Are you worth the origin of such a place? Are you one of the large-hearted, who can expand their breast through prayer to God, to accommodate others who find reason to come to them? Are you? You are. You can be, if you look and think back at the long way you have come and how you lived it. Take the best parts and the good lessons from it and look ahead with hope.
We have to reason that every human needs to walk and to drink much as we want that for ourselves. So be responsible and humble user of the roads. Be careful you do not touch, let alone damage a petty woman’s keke – her only source of living. Be a man? But most importantly, be a host, a great host of once a great place coming back great.
.Hassan Alhaji Hassan
08032829772/08050551220 (text only with full names and address)



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