See what social media did?

Hawwah Gamgo Abdullahi

For you to succeed where ever you are going, first learn from those who had been there before you
– Anonymous

As a student of mass communication in the late 1990s, I was already a guest writer in some national dailies, especially the New Nigerian. Even though my eyes, ears and interest were in broadcast journalism, I had always had a flair for writing.
One person, whose column and commentary I never missed in the New Nigerian, was Abdulkarim Albashir, whom the Sunday Sun, described as ‘a veteran journalist and one of the few northerners with a leftist bend.

Therefore, as an aspiring writer/journalist, I seldom missed his write ups. It was therefore a pleasant surprise when I met his daughter Saa Albashir at Kaduna Polytechnic, in the same department as I was; training to take pick up where her father left. Time passed, and the children became youth; while the youth have become full grown adults in the same shoes as their parents were in those good old days. We all grew up and went our separate ways, facing our individual struggles.

Time passed, and internet came in, which gave birth to social media. Being the serious minded person that I am, I never gave it any head until my sojourn to Germany in 2011. Facebook was what kept me in touch with my home and loved ones. It was what gave me solace anytime I got homesick. And it was then that I discovered the impact and power of social media; and that was when I discovered the power of activism.
Social media reconnected me with Saa Albashir in 2012 at the inaugural meeting of the Almajiri Tsangaya Foundation in Kaduna.  The foundation is a brain child of patriotic Nigerians who came together to champion a cause for the almajiri. I said ‘Patriotic Nigerians’ because there are active members of the foundation who are not from the North.
I knew I would most likely see Saa again, because she is also a practising journalist. What I never envisaged was the possibility of meeting her father, the legendary Albashir.

Regardless, I continued to follow his wisdom and intellect on social media because he and another elder, Timawus Matthias, happen to be members of a facebook group ‘synopsis’. Synopsis is an intellectual discuss group which draws membership from all parts of the country as well as the Diaspora and the brainchild of one of our very own Auwal Sani Anwar.
Then, in April, I came across one of the harshest realities of life, which is that, so long as you are alive, you never know what destiny has in store for you. I read an update on Albashir’s status stating that his right leg had been amputated.
I felt sad and unhappy, because even though we had never met, I had always looked upon him as my father; after all he is Saa’s father. Life continued, and then Anwar initiated a visit to the recuperating Albashir even though he was out of the country in the last few days of May. And a lot of people jumped at it.

I knew it was not a visit I was going to miss for all the oil in Naija. We made a convoy to his residence in Kinkinau, Tudun Wada, Kaduna, on Sunday, June 1, 2014. That visit turned out to be a life turner, a life changer, an inspiration, a motivation and foster of relationships for both the visitors and the visited. We were all enriched by words of wisdom from the two elders, Albashir and Mathias, who came all the way from Abuja.
We left the residence of Albashir as better individuals, more patriotic Nigerians and brothers and sisters. I recall in 2012, when Jennifer fell victim to assassins in Lagos whom she met and interacted with through facebook and how the whole country was awash with news of how dangerous social media is; and I thought ‘certainly there must be some good in it.’ I always knew I am right, but this visit proves so beyond doubt.

There are always two sides to everything in life – good and evil, black and white, male and female. Life is a balance. Basically, it all depends on the person’s intent and the side he tilts more to as well as the guidance and protection of God.
And to all those southern religious bigots on social media who keep beating the drums of religious bigotry to our Christian brethren in the North, this single visit by a team of Synopsites to Albashir, exposes your mischief.  Uncle Tim (Timawus Mathias) was not the only Christian on that team, and  all the lessons he and his childhood friend (Albashir) taught us that day was that whatever your religious orientation; you are either a Nigerian or you are not. We are one people sharing a common destiny; regardless of whether we like and believe it or not.
We are wishing our fathers and mentors, Albashir and Mathias, more and better health and a very prosperous long life to enable us enrich more from their wisdom.