I had not the faintest clue that my last week’s article on Sir Abubakar Tafawa’s Balewa’s 1961 visit to America would generate this much interest. It’s been attracting quite a lot of visits to my blog and eliciting passionate responses from all sections of Nigeria—and beyond. Find below a sample of the reader responses I’ve received—and continue to receive— by email, Facebook comments, and reactions on my blog. Enjoy!
The video of this historic visit has been playing and replaying in my mind since I watched it a few weeks ago! I woke up thinking about this same video and telling myself that President John F Kennedy must have fallen in love with the "graceful ebony men from Nigeria waltzing all over town in their colorful robes"! And I'm now reading a note based on this same video!
Gbolahan Gbolaga Olubowale, Washington DC, USA
Farooq, I read your pieces whenever I want to learn new things, or re-learn old things in a new way. Thanks for this piece on Balewa, and the clip you shared on the almost-forgotten part of Nigerian history. I am confident you will not object to sharing your piece on my wall. Many more Nigerians have to be put on notice or be reminded that we were not always a nation ruled by the visionless, uncouth, ill-educated vagabonds like these crops of criminals in the corridor of power today. Compliments of the season to you.
Ajibola Amzat, Rhodes University, South Africa
A pensive piece. This 'once upon a time' visionary leader does not need a lot of time for one to make a pertinent assessment of his achievements from a rational perspective.
Dele Jacksolomon Mejabi, Lagos
Mahmud Zukogi, Kano
I’m always attracted to the history of the great leader of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. To me, no leader has ever done that which he has done. If for nothing, he had not gone on a looting spree. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace. Amin.
Mustapha Ibrahim, Minna
Prof., thanks for another piece. It's rather unfortunate that our present leaders who parade all sorts of qualifications make inexcusable and unpardonable blunders especially before international audiences cannot learn from legends like Tafawa Balewa. Worst, some myopic Nigerians, obviously out of misplaced sentiments, are rising to their defence.
Mohammed Allah-kayi, Jos
I almost burst into tears as I watch, with sincere nationalist nostalgia, that MOVING video! In it I saw the great but aborted prospects of post-colonial Nigeria through such compelling aura of diplomatic decorum accorded Balewa/Nigeria by a progressive leader, JFK, of a super power nation.
Samaila Yandaki Suleiman, Kano
Another interesting piece, Prof. Thanks for reminding us of what great leaders we used to have: selfless, matured, focused role models. If they were to come back and see the Nigeria they struggled and fought for today, they will definitely prefer to stay where they are. God help Nigeria, our motherland, and our unfocused leaders.
Samira Aliyu, Kaduna
Wow! Sir Tafawa Balewa was a leader Nigeria ALMOST had. It’s too bad that we lost this great man of honour too early. I wonder where Nigeria would have stood by today if it had been served and led by men of dignity like Sir Abubakar. We are grateful, Prof., for sharing this piece with us. It made me appreciate this great man’s "person," a total opposite of the so-called leaders we have now in Nigeria. May his gentle soul continue to rest in peace.
Aiesha Aliyu, Kano
I have always been fascinated by the confidence of our immediate post-independence leaders, as Balewa exuded in his American trip.
Abdullahi Sani, Abuja
Thanks for this excellent article, Prof. I hope our present-day leaders will stumble on this one day.
Yusuf Misau, Bauchi
While the Balewa era is filled by less certificated but confident, nationalistic and strong-willed officials, this era is riddled with opportunistic, certificatedly confused, parochially insular politicians who come to office by chance and innately lack the knack to act as kings!
Usman Zakari Ibrahim, Katsina
No doubt Abubakar Tafawa Balewa represented confidence, humility, and oratory par excellence. He was an amazing rhetorician of all time. Listen to him: "I firmly believe that we can make Nigeria a great country if we really mean to do so. True greatness lies in the things of spirit, sympathy, tolerance, love, humility and understanding. If our nation is to be built on a sound foundation, I should emphasise we must cultivate the habits of peace and patience." May Allah forgive him and make paradise his final abode. And may He give us the ability to SUSTAIN THEIR LEGACIES
Mubarak Sirajo Sidi, Gusau
Remember that leaders are not those with the credentials but those with the concern. Hitler, Churchill, etc. were great and had made a difference to their people not by display of PhDs but by their unwavering commitment and deep passion for the best for their own.
Prof. Farooq, every right-minded fellow knows how far our generation’s leaders are from being at par with their predecessors. Tafawa Balewa, to many victims of chauvinistic media reporting, was but a diminished regional champion, far from being a nationalist. But in actual sense when we keep sentiment aside, we would surely have no excuse for not celebrating the excellence of our past heroes, especially the first and only Nigerian Prime minister, the late Tafawa Balewa.
M.B. Saleh, Maiduguri
Nebukadineze could not have said it better. It’s no exaggeration! It could happen, unfortunately. I have totally lost hope in Nigeria...one shameless 'leader' after another.
Indeed, shameless leaders one after another....truth is we missed likes of the past leaders who can go anywhere with full of confidence to [represent] Nigeria.
Khadija Zubairu Umar
Tafawa Bakewa's Electrifying 1961 Visit to America