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Alh. (Dr) Abubakar Imam O.B.E C.O.N, L.L.D (Hon.) N.N.M.C. 

(1911 - 1981) was a writer and teacher, pioneer in journalism and in the establishment of modern Hausa literature. Author of the

popular "Magana Jari Ce (The Art of Speech Is a Capital Investment)"

 

Alhadji Abubakar Imam (1911-1981), Nigerian writer and teacher, was a pioneer in the establishment of modern Hausa literature. The Hausa peoples of northwestern Nigeria and adjacent southern Niger constitute the largest ethnic group in the region. Islamic traditions profoundly influence the Hausa culture

 

Alhadji Abubakar Imam was born at Kagara, Northern Nigeria, in 1911. After a traditional Arabic education, he enrolled at the Katsina Training College in 1927 to become a teacher.

 

In 1933, the Translation (later Literature) Bureau in the Hausa province of Zaria announced a competition that led to a dramatic change in the long history of Hausa literature. Composition had traditionally been either oral or in Arabic script, but the publications from Zaria initiated the use of the Roman alphabet for creative works. This marked the beginning of prose fiction as a recognized art form in the land of the Hausa.

 

Imam won second prize in the competition for Ruwan Bagaja (The Water of Cure), a quest story whose hero experiences many adventures on his various travels. While the book was being printed, Imam left his teaching post and joined the Translation Bureau, where he composed a three-volume collection of tales, Magana Jari Ce (The Art of Speech Is a Capital Investment), for which he drew on Arabian, European, and Oriental sources, retelling the stories in typical Hausa narrative style. Thus began Iman's long career devoted to the educational, political, and literary betterment of his people.

 

In 1939, Imam was appointed editor of a government-sponsored journal, Gaskiya Ta Fi Kwabo (Truth Is Worth More than a Penny). This first Hausa newspaper proved very popular, partly because of its vivid writing style, so different from the highly formal and traditional Hausa prose.

 

He attended Katsina College and the University of London's Institute of Education. He first came to repute when he submitted a play Ruwan Bagaja for a literary competition in 1933.[2] The judge in the competition was Rupert East, the head of a translation committee, he liked his writing, usually accentuated by the vivid knowledge of native norms and vegetation and mixed with his literary style of wit and imaginative prose. In The Year 1939, together with Robert East and a few others, they started the Gaskiya corporation, a publishing house, which became a successful venture and created a platform for many northern intellectuals. The exposure of many premier writers in Northern Nigeria to the political process influenced Imam to join politics. In 1952, with the formation of the Northern People's Congress, together with Umaru Agaie, and Nuhu Bamalli, they formed the major administrative nucleus of the party. Alh Abubakar imam was also the author of Magana jari ce with the help of some collections provided by East, and Tafiya mabudin ilmi a book he wrote on his experiences after a visit to London.

 

In 1943, during a visit to England as a member of a West African press delegation, Imam asked British authorities for more reading materials to educate the Hausa people and as an outlet for public opinion in Northern Nigeria. This led to the formation of the Gaskia Corporation in 1945. Imam became head of its book section in 1951, thus becoming the first Northern Nigerian to be given a senior service post, a status previously reserved for white officials.

 

A talented and versatile writer, Iman was fluent in Hausa, Arabic, and English. His fame as a Moslem preacher and as a teacher brought about his election to the House of Representatives under the 1951 Nigerian constitution. Although a prominent Hausa poet, Sa'adu Zungur, once called him the "political pilot of Northern Nigeria," Imam gave up political activity in 1954 and devoted himself to improving the civil service and promoting literature in Northern Nigeria.

 

After pioneering in prose fiction, Imam was one of the first Hausa authors to produce formal stage drama. His non-fiction publications include works on Islam and on Muslim history, a life of the prophet Mohammed, and accounts of his 1943 journey to the United Kingdom and of his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1953.

 

From 1959 to 1966, Iman was a member of the Public Service Commission of the northern region of Nigeria. Thereafter, the country was plunged into a devastating civil war when the eastern region seceded and called itself the Republic of Biafra. Iman held public service posts over the next several years of military rule, including public service commissioner of the north central state.

 

By the time Nigeria returned to a peaceful civilian government in 1979, Iman was in ill health. He died at the University of Zaria in 1981. Two years later, Nigeria once again was plunged into a long series of military coups that successfully ended democratic rule.

 

There is no biography of Imam. Some information on his life is in Sir Bryan Sharwood Smith, Recollections of British Administration in the Cameroons and Northern Nigeria 1921-1957: "But Always as Friends" (1969). Brief mention is made in James S. Coleman, Nigeria: Background to Nationalism (1958); John P. Mackintosh, Nigerian Government and Politics (1966); and Billy Dudley, Parties and Politics in Northern Nigeria (1968).


This book (Magana Jari ce) was one of the first Hausa books to be written in the North for people to read and enjoy. It was written by Alhaji Abubakar Imam in the year 1934, when he was a teacher in the Katsina Middle School. He was then twenty-two years of age. 

It is the first book that he wrote, and it brought him to the notice of the Government. Since this book he has written nearly twenty others in Hausa, between the years 1934 and 1970, and nearly all the Hausa books now in use in primary schools are from his pen, or written jointly by him and another person. 

If the Hausa language could talk, it would say, ` Alhaji Abubakar Imam, may God reward you, for you have made me something to be read and admired like any other language in the world.' 

BY BABA AHMED 
Imam of Zaria Government College


 

OTHER REVIEWS

A Semantic Analysis of Lexical Devices in Abubakar Imam Magana Jari Ce

Muhammad Abdulwahab


Ruwan Bagaja

A cikin farkon zamanin Shaihu dan Ziyazzinu an yi wani mutum motsatstse, wanda a ke kira Koje Sarkin Labari. Dalilin da ya sa a ke kiransa haka, don haukansa ba na zagin kowa ba ne,bakuwa na dukan kowa ba ne. Shi dai ba abin da ya ke so sai ya ji labari, ya tafi wadansu kasashe, ya rika ba attajirai da Sarakuna, su kuwa suna ba shi abinci. In ya ba ka labari, wanda ba ka sani ba, in ka ba shi kudi, sai ya debi hams ya ba ka. Ya tsare ka, ya ce kai kuma sai ka ha shi wani labari, wanda shi kuma bai sani ba.


Other Books by Abubakar Imam

 

 

 

 

 

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