Saturday, October 4, 2008
Chief of Kagoro Dies
On January 1st of this year, Kristel and I attended the Kagoro Festival, presided over by the chief of the community, Chief Gwamna Awan. Chief for 63 years, he was one of the longest serving rulers in the country, and his death at the age of 90, while not unexpected, has deeply affected the community. What follows is his obituary from the Nigerian Daily Trust newspaper.
The longest serving traditional ruler in Northern Nigeria, Chief of Kagoro Malam Danladi Gwamna Awan, died in Jos on Tuesday after a protracted illness, the Kaduna State Government announced yesterday. He was 90. It said Awan died at the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) Hospitday.
Malam Gwamna Awan was born at Kagoro in 1918. He started school with evening classes in 1928-32, before he went to the Elementary Teachers Centre, Toro in present-day Bauchi State in 1933-35. Awan started teaching at the Sudan Interior Mission [SIM] Elementary School, Kagoro in 1936, and was transferred to the South Sudan Mission Elementary School, Kafanchan in 1938, where he combined teaching with Christian evangelism. He returned to Kagoro in 1939 to teach at the Elementary Teachers Centre.
In 1940, Malam Gwamna Awan joined the Zazzau Native Authority as an Assistant Scribe. His contemporaries said his acumen greatly improved the tax collection system in those days and led to the execution of many development projects in the area, including the building of a modern palace for the then Chief of Kagoro, his uncle Malam Biya Kaka, in 1943.
When Malam Biya Kaka died in August 1944, Gwamna Awan was appointed the acting Chief, and he was formally installed as the 5th Chief of Kagoro by the then colonial Resident of Zaria Province on April 11, 1945. Many eminent citizens yesterday described the departed Awan as a bridge builder and a pillar of support whose long reign was characterised by peace and progress in Kagoro Chiefdom.
Former three-time chairman of Kaura Local Government in Kaduna State and current House of Representatives member for the area Mr. Barnabas Bala Bantex said Awan was an icon of peace and development who ranked alongside the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello in leadership vision. He also described him as a fair and just ruler who wished the best for his people and for Northern Nigeria. Awan was deeply interested in Western education and empowerment of the youth, Bantex also said.
For his part, member of the House of Representatives representing Kaduna North, Alhaji Muhammadu Sani Ibrahim, Wakilin Jema’a, said Awan was a detribalised Nigerian who shunned all ethnic and religious bigotry and worked very hard for the upliftment of his people, his state, country and all mankind. al in Jos. He had been the Chief of Kagoro since 1945, and had outlived colonial rule, three republics, three phases of military rule and dozens of presidents and state governors. Kaduna State Governor Muhammad Namadi Sambo said Chief Awan’s death was a great loss not only to the people of Kagoro chiefdom but to the entire people of the state. He described the late monarch as “one of the greatest elders of our time”.
The statement, which was signed by the Director General, Media and Publicity in the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Alhaji Umar Sani, said, “With a heavy heart, total submission to the will of the Almighty God and deep sense of loss, [Governor Sambo] regrets to announce the passing away to glory of the oldest monarch in Africa and the Chief of Kagoro Malam (Dr) Danladi Gwamna Awan, Member of the British Empire (MBE) and Officer of the Order of the Niger(OON), which sad event occurred in the early hours of 30th September, 2008 at the ECWA Evangelical Hospital, Jos, Plateau State after a protracted illness”.
The governor prayed for the repose of the deceased’s soul and is expected to pay a condolence visit to the family at Kagoro.