The Last Kantoma: A Concise Tribute to Dr Muhammad Uba Adamu (1935 – 2020)


By fatuhu mustafa kano

I don’t know if I can do justice to this heavy work, I believe is a most, as far as the person under review is concern. I first meet Dr Uba, some 16 years ago, when I was sent to him, by his son, professor Abdalla Uba Adamu, when I was looking for content, to start my online Hausa written songs blog: main concern then was to lookfor some unpublished Hausa ajami songs, and I was directed to him. The moment I introduced myself to him and informed him about my oddysey, he laughed and shook his head, (his usual way of showing he is impressed), he sat me down in his parlour and start lecturing me about history, songs, philosophy and lots more. What I was expecting won’t last for more than an hour, lasted for hours. Before I left he gave me some rare written Hausa songs, and told me about their history and philosophy behind the songs. Typical of a teacher in him, he gave me an assignment to transcribed an ajami songs, written in his praised by Malam (Dr) Aliyu Aqilu, a famous Hausa song writer, whose book Fasaha Aqiliya was a household name among northern Nigerian students, who studies in 70s through the 90s. Since then, I become one of his regular disciple and visitor, whenever I am in Kano.

Born in the Kano royal family of Daniya Unkulu, he was trained to become a teacher at School for Arabic Studies, where he finished with an excellent result. He later join public service and appointed as District officer in Dambatta, he was later promoted to become a sole administrator (Kantoma) of Kano Municipal, which now is six (6) Kano metropolis local government. It was in 1976 that he left the service of Kano Local Government and went to ABU Zaria to continue his education, where he got his first degree on history and politics. He later went to Indiana University for his Masters Degree, when he came back he joined the service of Kano State Polytechnic were he work till his retirement, it was during his time at Kano Poly that, he registered with Bayero University Kano for his PHD, which he successfully completed after his retirement from Kano Polytechnic.

Dr Muhammad Uba Adamu was not only a an administrator, a lecturer or a teacher, he was also a writer, an intellectual one for that matter. He was the first to write the history of Arabs in Kano, edited by professor John Lavers and published in a reputable and scholarly journal of Kano Studies, when he was an undergraduate student. He also write many other books on Kano history, mostly in Hausa: Kano Kwaryar Kira (A five volumes on Kano history), he redefined the origin of Hausa and Hausawa in his : Asalin Hausawa. His magnum opus: Confluence and Influence in the history of Kano, was an attempt to rewrite the anthropological and ethnographic history of Kano. He also write another on the government which served under, the history of Audu Bako (the first military governor of Kano). He was a political history expert, an anthropologist, whose work can juxtapose the works of Mahmud Kati Tarikh Fattash or Muhammad as Sadi Tarikh Sudan in African History. He was a rarity in knowledge, a great scholar and a generous intellectual of our time. His legendary contribution on Kano history is second to known. No wonder whenever he is mentioned, people will remarks: masanin tarihin nan!!!

It was during his time as Kantoma that he introduce a compulsory sanitation policy and a robust urban planning in Kano Municipal, he was also the first person to abolished a social dichotomy between Hausa and Fulani in Kano city, a tradition which he abhor and sensitized people about its danger. Most of the major roads traversing the city today, were constructed or designed during his time as sole administrator.

His family are bereaved that they lost a father, but to us his disciples, we equally lost a teacher like no other, a professor who never was, and a great mind. Dr Uba is irreplaceable as far as Kano history is concern.


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