Tribute: Muhammad Ibrahim Zango, 20 years in mind (1966 – 2004)

Mai Ali Madu and Family

Muhammad Ibrahim Zango, of blessed memory was my childhood friend, who died 20 years ago on January 14th, 2004 when he was 38 years old.

We grew up together in Unguwan Sarki ward, near the Emir’s Palace in Biu local government area of Borno State.

According to Wikipedia, the name of Biu was initially called Viu which in Babur and Bura Language means high. The Biu kingdom became established around 1670 in the reign of Mari Watila Tampta. King Mari Watirwa (1793–1838). It is an ancient town on top of a hill

Biu people consists of farmers of beans, maiza, guinea corn and groundnut.

People of Biu intermarry with people from other parts of Nigeria.

From Biu City, Maiduguri is to the East, Gombi to the South, Mubi, Garkida and Gombe to the West and Damaturu to North

Our childhood and primary school classmates were Honourable Mukhtar Aliyu Betara, Alhaji Usman Dawi, Sani Hassan Mustapha Yapati, Adamu Kyari, Audu Dan Fulani, Abdulahi Salisu, Dija Usman, Halima Alhassan Zara Dubanaka, Saidatu Mohammad, Patum Sarkis and many friends.

In those days, we commence education with Quranic studies, as there was no kindergarten or nursery schools then.

During our teenage years, we commenced western education with Primary education, we were enrolled in 1971 at Biu Central Primary school.

The Headmasters were Alhaji Bemi Biu, Alh Maina Mamman amongst others who were on transfer from one school to another with few years intervals.

We passed with flying colors and proceeded to Government Secondary School, ( GSS ) Biu, between 1979 – 84 as boarding students.

My friend, Muhammad Ibrahim Zango, of blessed memory was in Galadima House and I was in Sokotuma House and at different classes ranging from A, B and so on.

When observing our duty schedule, we used to either fetch water from the river to water the school garden or we draw water from the school well.

When resuming school after the holidays, we hire a Taxi from home to convey us with our provisions and essentials to school.

Most of us that completed primary school with flying colours secured admissions in either Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges of Education respectively.

My late close confidant, Muhammadu Ibrahim Zango later started working with the Ministry of Agriculture, Borno State.

We were very close with the deceased because he was honest, dependable, diplomatic and cheerful.

While growing up and especially during holidays, we meet in the morning, play, assist each other in going for errands from morning till Dawn.

As adults and family mem, he was transferred from Maiduguri to Biu zonal office and we continued relating well, even though it is said that twenty children cannot play for twenty years, we were engaged in other things, but have time to meet and joke about the past.

I married in 1992 and he in 1996.

I joined the federal civil service in 1998 and have being working with the Federal Housing Authority, FHA in Abuja while he was in Biu.

Living Biu for Abuja was full of challenges because I was living my ancestral comfort zone, family, friends amongst others for a different environment that was developing as the cosmopolitan Capital with people from different backgrounds with the zeal to develop Nigeria.

We write and reply letters via Nigeria Postal Service which took weeks and get reply in a month.

We meet physically during December breaks, remind each other of our youthful exuberance and exchange pleasantries.

When GSM or mobile handsets were introduced, we subscribed, exchanged numbers and continued communicating though far apart until his death.

Communication was instantaneous because of the GSM connection, when I received a call and was informed of the death of my close and bossom friend in a brief illness at the youthful age of 38 years, I sobbed and prayed for the repose of his soul.

I will always remember and pray for Muhammad Ibrahim Zango.

Fondly remembered by Mai Ali Madu and Family.

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