With his death, I may tend to agree with those who think that God takes away good people from sinful scenes before they are corrupted. It is nine years today since Mala Kachallah, former governor, advocate of peace, statesman per excellence, epitome of virtues and father of all departed this sinful world. Painful as his exit remains, I take solace in the fact that because he was so good, God will take him into paradise. I hope to make paradise when my time comes so that I can rejoin the man I cherish so much.
Nine years ago; precisely on April 18th, 2007; just a few days to the Governorship elections, fate played a cruel trick, when death snatched my mentor, my father and my friend Mala Kachallah. Although no one wishes to die, the manner of Mala Kachallah’s exit was fulfilling to him and those who admired him. This is against the background that, he would have been most pained to see how the state he so loved has degenerated to a killing field. Seeing unfolding events from yonder, Mala may have turned a million times over, wishing that he were around to counsel those in whose hands the fate of the people have been thrust.
It is ture that Mala Kachallah died at a time there was still a semblance of dignity in leadership. He died when Borno, the state he loved with so much passion had not been convulsed in this senseless war of attrition, with brothers taking up arms against each other. Mala Kachallah died without a single enemy known to the world. He epitomized humility, peace and honesty. That the people of Borno still look back to his tenure with nostalgia, is a clear testimony of how he distinguished himself as a leader. Perhaps he was lucky, that some of the events of today did not find manifestation during his time. This brings to the fore one poser I raised before: how could Kachallah have handled the events of today, had they taken place during his time?
Around every generation are found a mixture of events both good and bad. Events in Borno state have been shaped more by evil than by good in the last four and a half years. While such events unfold around the personalities of leaders, the cries have been that were Mala Kachallah around, the situation may have been managed differently. During his time citizens of Borno went to sleep with both eyes closed, In fact, people sleep with doors ajar, while youths sleeping outside their gates were common scenes. No one was judged by his faith nor his ethnic or sectional belonging. All these wove into one thing: a reminder that certain events still oscillate around the name of the man and he was still very much around.
Every time I perform yhe annual rite of writing a tribute to Mala Kachallah, I am often overwhelmed by the nostalgia of his life and times. I always imagine what he could have been saying to the angels beyond, about what has become of his once beloved state. That frozen smile on his face even in death, left no clues for his successors of what to do in the present circumstances. To me, and to those who knew him Kachallah may not be pleased with how the fortunes of Borno are being squandered. The lives of citizens have been reduced to short brutish terms, the legacy of peace he built and left has caved in to war, the population has been growing in reverse order, and reasons and morality have taken flight off the average citizen. Looking at the events of today, the man would have turned a million times over in his grave, seeing that Borno has been experiencing a rapid decline of values. The land he so adore has been converted to killing fields and the children he planned to nurture as future leaders have taken up arms against their parents and other citizens.
The joy Kachallah left on the faces of people have given way to despair, and tears now wet our cheeks. We have cried to high heavens and to the spirits of our fore fathers for an end to this curse. I will always lament the plunder of his cherished values, nine years after he left the scene. If he were to be around, he may be tempted to ask, is it the failure of leadership or the signs of the end time, that, hitherto peaceful people have become violent, and life seems to have lost its value?
It is nine years already, one year before I sign out of this annual tribute, and many people are still discussing the passage of Mala Kachallah , as if it happened only yesterday. The memories are still fresh with many, and very often, his days recur as a subject of discussions. For me in particular, whenever I look back at my days under his tutelage I recall with nostalgia, how losing one life meant a statewide tragedy. I recall an event at which quealea birds were brought in as samples for destruction, and Mala enquired if the birds have been fed since morning. He could not stand the news that the birds were actually bound to be destroyed.
Every time the month of April approaches and I begin to contemplate how to remember Mala Kachallah, I recast the day of his departure looking in my minds eyes the mammoth crowd that turned out to bid Mala Kachallah farewell, in the choking heat of the April sun in 2007. Many of them no longer remember the political differences of that era. All we remember today were his good works for the people of Borno state. We have seen the will and the zeal in subsequent leaders to return the state to that era of bliss. We have been part of the quest to put back the smiles on the faces of our people, but fate seems to be defining ours’ differently. It is my fervent prayers that the anniversary of Mala Kachallah will avail us the rendezvous to coalesce our interests for the general good.
For the umpteenth time, whenever I pass by the Gwange cemetery, where mala Kachallah lies, amongst the cluster of unidentified graves, I tremble at the sign, that we may not remember him again very soon. It is against this resolve that I plan to extend the period of my tributes beyond the ten years I initially planned. I look in all directions, hopping that I will catch a glimpse ofKachallah’s tomb, even to lay a wreath, but have always been confused as it remains unmarked amongst the multitude of tombs at that mighty cemetery in Gwange. I have learnt to take solace in continual prayers for Allah to grant him Aljannah firdaus. I know that many peop[le are praying today for the continued repose of his soul. May the mercies of God locate him even for being merciful to others.
Even those who did not quite admire him, it remains a fact that Mala Kachallah was a benefactor, a mentor and more importantly a role model to so many people. Even the worst ingrates, who enjoyed him most, but deserted him immediately he left office, still discuss him with reverence. The world too knows that Mala was loved for his simplicity, adored for his honesty, cherished for his humility and revered for his Godliness. Everybody who encountered him while he was around have something good to say of him.
Now that another year has come round, it becomes compelling upon me to not only look back, but also prick the conscience of those who hope to create impact on leadership to emulate him. I also advocate recourse to the virtues of peace which he stood for, so that Borno shall take its place as the home of peace. While we strive to make up for failing to meet his expectations, we must give peace a chance.
Bwala was the S A Media to the late Mala Kachallah.