Thursday, April 10, 2014

The life of a Soldier: Kabir Salisu, a Candle in the Wind



I don’t recall when I first met Kabir Salisu. It is very difficult to put dates to when you met people that you encountered when you were a kid. For Kabir Salisu, I could mention any date in the late 80s and it would be true. This is because at the time I was a student of Army Children School, New Cantonment ‘A’, Kabir was in Government Day Secondary School, a school that shared the same land with Army Children School and Command Children School. However, the more definite meeting came later when he was courting the lady that later became his wife. The then Miss Ofuoma Obruche lived at EB 2 Dutse Close, Angwa Shanu, Kaduna, the same house where I and my siblings were raised and which tend to find ample mention in my fiction and nonfiction.

I still recall, like it was yesterday, the group of dashing cadets that hung around the compound waiting to see Miss Obruche—I think a friend of his was at that time also courting another lady in our rather large tenement building.

I also recall that we danced all night when Kabir and Ufoma finally tied the knot in a simple ceremony that rightfully took place in Eb 2 Dutse Close.

So celebrated was the love the 2 couple shared that even when many of us moved away from Kaduna as life happened, we still kept in touch, still looked out for news of births, of marriages and… deaths.

With the coming of gsm and social media, keeping in touch became easier and one by one we all somehow reconnected on Facebook. Of the several success stories that this rekindling of contacts highlighted, Kabir’s growth as an army officer was the least surprising. A man whose humility and intelligence was obvious as first glance, his high flying career was no fluke.

I recall communicating with Kabir on Facebook when he was serving in Sudan and jokingly requesting for a Janjaweed scarf and him laughing and telling me: “ok, if that’s what you want, you will get it”. I recall him sending me his phone number when he returned to Nigeria, without my asking, and asking that I come and see him. It is to my eternal regret that I never took up that invitation, that I stayed away, luxuriating in the semi-closeness that is social media connectivity.

I can’t claim to be close to Kabir Salisu—his wife, family, colleagues and a host of others rightfully holds that distinction—but I knew him and followed his career keenly and fully expected him to reach the pinnacle of his profession.

I believed him to be one of the bright lights in a nation fighting to beat the encroaching dark. It is this light that has now been extinguished.

The much I know about him tells me that this humble man was a patriot and if we had more like him in Nigeria, we will do better as a country.

Kabir Salisu was killed fighting for his country on Monday, April 7 2014. He was a Colonel in the Nigerian Army. The last post under his name on Facebook was on the same day he died, it read: ‘The life of a soldier’.

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