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Dad wouldn’t feel fulfilled that Nigeria has derailed — Aminu Kano’s daughter

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Maryam is a daughter to the late notable northern politician, Mallam Aminu Kano. She talks about her father’s life and ideals with TED ODOGWU

Tell us more about yourself.

I am the daughter of the late Mallam Aminu Kano and Hajiya Zahra Bala Sani. I am a teacher.

How was life growing up with your father?

I must confess that it was indeed inspiring although I was at a young age when my father was neck-deep in politics. His mission in politics was not to accumulate wealth but to defend and protect the interest of the downtrodden in society. That was why he was nicknamed until his death ‘the hope and pillar of the Talakawas.’

Why are you not into politics like your late father?

I am teaching as well as involved in politics at my level and capacity. I will in the near future aspire to step into the big shoes my father left behind.

Did he persuade you to toe his career path?

During his lifetime, my father allowed and guided me toward choosing a career of my choice, which I must have flair for. It has never been in his character to impose a career on me, he rather allowed me to choose the career I wanted.

How did his family view his roles during the activities of the Northern Elements Progressives Union which he co-founded?

We were really proud of his roles and activities in the Northern Elements Progressive Union because it was a movement based on ideology and ideas that reflected the aspirations and yearnings of the common man (Talakawas).

What was his idea of discipline?

He always advised me to be of good behaviour as and be disciplined. He did not use the cane or whip on me. He employed pieces of advice to mould my character and conduct.

How did he discipline you when you did wrong?

He would let me know that what I did was wrong and asked me to apologise and promise never to misbehave again. He lacked the appetite for using the cane.

What rules did he outline for you when you were young?

Some of his rules were particularly meant for elders in society that they should not relegate their juniors and for young ones to respect their elders and not be selfish. They should have a heart of forgiveness and be patriotic.

Your father was an accomplished teacher and politician. What can you recall about his political activities?

It is interesting to recall that his political activities reflected his teachings and ideologies. The majority of his followers and supporters were the downtrodden (the Talakawas) and they were always with him during his political career.

Would you have wished he were anything else but a politician and teacher?  

I am happy he lived and died as a teacher and politician. These were his dedication and chosen career paths.


What values did you imbibe from him?

They are too numerous to mention. But the most important ones are, discipline, patriotism, self-reliance, compassion and contentment. He led by example and practised what he preached. He had great concern for women and children.

How did he relax?

More often than not, he was always reading and listening to radio.

What songs did he listen to?

My father enjoyed listening to traditional Hausa folk songs.

How did he like to dress?

My father liked to dress in his usual simple white agbada (voluminous attire) with a red cap to match.

How do people relate with you knowing who your father is?

People are always happy to meet me. They are always willing to pray for him and praise him for his outstanding contributions to the development of the country.

How do you feel being his daughter?

I am so happy, proud and fulfilled that I am the daughter of a man who lived and died for Nigeria. I am also glad to be the daughter of a man who championed the uplift of the common man and a promoter of democracy and good governance.

Would you say he had been honoured for his contributions to Nigeria, with the naming of an airport, a college, a teaching hospital and streets after him in Kano?

Yes, he was honoured in a way but the honour we would love to see and which we yearn for is for the current leaders and politicians to imbibe his ideologies which include selflessness, patriotism and the compassion.

What did he tell you about Nigeria and its leadership?

He always expressed his views on how Nigeria was being governed at the time. He noted that the interest and aspiration of the people were not the priority of the leaders.

What was his favourite food?

He enjoyed traditional foods such as tuwo de mayan kuka or kukpawa (Okoro).

Where were you when he died?

I was at my uncle’s house close to Mallam’s House. As the only child of my father, I was devastated when the news was broken to me.

Who were your father’s friends?   

He had numerous friends. Some of them included the late President Gamal Abdulnasir of Egypt,  the late President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, the late President  Kwame Nkurmah of Ghana,  the late Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, the  late Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the late Premier, Sir Ahmadu Bello (Sardaunan Sokoto),  the late J. S. Takar, President Shehu Shagari (Turakin Sokoto), the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the late Dr, Nnamdi Azikiwe, the late Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, the late Mallam Sa’adu Zungur, Alhaji Aminu Dantata, Alhaji Amadu Trader, Mallam Lawan Danbazau and Alhaji Shehu Satatima among others.

Do you think he would feel fulfilled about his dreams for Nigeria with the state of the country now?

He would not be because the system has derailed from the foundation, teachings and ideals he built it on. Members of the political class are no longer servants but rulers to their subjects. There is decay infrastructure all over and economic hardship is prevalent everywhere. Corruption is also rampant in public and private sectors.

Your father was a Minister of Health during the administration of Gen. Yakubu Gowon. Did he share his views about the civil war with you? 

He did not tell me because I was young at the time to appreciate the reasons that culminated in the 30-month civil war.

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