The most striking statement about death that I have ever come across is from an Arabian poet that had his heydays in the pre-Islamic era.
No wonder the prophet of Islam used to walk long distances just to awaken his soul and connect with his mortality by listening to the powerful and real life awakening compositions of this poet. His name was Qus bun Sa’adah. He was noted for his oft-repeated verses in the famous market of Ukaz.
In those verses about death, he called on the gathering to listen to him attentively. Took them through mental excursions on the importance of taking lessons from the alternation of the day and night, the momentous nature of the skies, the wonders of the earth and many other natural phenomena. He also established the fact that every living thing shall taste death and every dead thing will be no more and more importantly whatever is bound to happen will happen. What grips me most in the poem are these lines (the translation may not give the effect the original Arabic version gives):
“What terrifies me is seeing people leave (die) and not returning
"Were they content with that position (graves) and remained?
"Or they were left there overtaken by slumber?
"Upon the lives of the past generations lies a great lesson
"When death approached, they were in complete oblivion of its origin!
"What baffles me is that death has no source.”
Indeed death has no source. We all agree to its existence but are completely ignorant of when it will come to us. And that is what makes it frightening. It could come in the afternoon, morning or at moonlight. It could come like a thief in the night. We just cannot tell just as the renowned journalist Alhaji Bature could not when he signed the book of condolence for the late Kaba of Multimedia fame.
Indeed “there’s certainty in the uncertainty of death.”
So Alhaji Bature of Alhaji and Alhaji political talk show programme fame left and he will never return. As to what will keep him there, we can never explain with our myopic and limited mind. All we can do for him now is to pray and wish him well as he crosses over to the shores of the afterlife.
I can remember vividly Alhaji receiving my letter when I applied to be a reporter for his outfit. That day he was alone in his office doing all the typing works. Indeed, he was a monomaniac with a mission. Though he never gave me that chance, he affected my life in many other ways.
I am a member of the now seemingly-defunct organization called AVERT Youth Foundation, a platform for the youth to develop themselves. Those days when the organization was thriving and breaking all barriers of achievements, we had patrons that included stalwarts like the retired diplomat, Sheikh Usman Bary, Shamima Muslim, Alhaji Majesty etc. The most visible of all these patrons was the late Managing Editor of Al-Hajj Newspaper, Alhaji Bature. His office was just near the Legal Resources Center where we used to meet at Maamobi.
Once upon a time, together with Mohammed Amin Lamptey, he moderated a debate contest among the youth in the premises of the Legal Resources Center. I was the main debater for the winning team. When it was his turn to pass his comments, he advised me to cut my verbosity and always use simple, understandable words for even a ten-year-old. He told the gathering that his outfit is always opened and that he is ready to publish the articles of the youth of the community.
Lo and behold, he published an article I wrote in his newspaper. That was way back in 2013 when we had barely understood the role of writers in the community and nation at large. That article took our politicians to the cleaners after they unleashed the police on our youth who were peacefully demonstrating for the construction of the Nima-Maamobi drainage. Six of our youths were arrested and many more hurt. Though the piece ruffled the nerves of certain personalities who shared the same political view with Alhaji Bature, he published it in a grand style and fashion in the Al-Hajj Newspaper.
In the run-up to the 2016 elections, two significant things happened which saw Alhaji Bature interact with me. The first was when I shared certain figures about the state of the economy of the country. He sent me a message that he has a problem with those figures put out there and that I should come around to his office so that we trash things out. I never went. He later told me to get in contact because he still believes there are one or two things I still need in terms of the post I put up about the economy. I never got back to him.
Later in the year, I became bellicose and belligerent in my posts and comments on Facebook. I was constantly on fire and attacking people with dissenting views. I appeared as a lecturer described “hot-headed and an ill-mannered leader.” A lot of friends later told me they had to block me in order not to read my constant attacks. Amidst all this, Alhaji Bature sent me a message that pans out today as the last message from him to me. He wrote: “Hi bro, you can still forcefully make your viewpoints and even strongly disagree with others without the use of the words like stupid, foolish etc. Let’s be civil even in our disagreements. Thanks.”
Alhaji Abdul Gafar Bature was not an angel. He was human and may have had his faults. However, let’s all endeavour to remember his good works and highlight them. Much more importantly, let’s pray for him as he embarks on the journey to meet the ancestors.
May his soul rest in absolute serenity!
NB: The writer is a Youth-Activist and a Student of Knowledge.