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Thursday, February 22, 2024

A Profile Of The ‘Baikies’: A Prominent Hausa Christian Family

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Adamu Baikie, a seasoned educationist and former vice chancellor of different Nigerian and foreign universities, is one of the prominent members of the Baikie family. The family has other members in all walks of life and in different parts of Nigeria and the world. The history of the family is one of the attributes that makes it unique.

The name Baikie was adopted from a European missionary-explorer who was in Nigeria around the 17th Century. Many Nigerians who embraced Christianity through the missionary work of the ‘white’ Baikie adopted his name and one of such Nigerians was the patriarch of the Zaria Baikie family.

Aside from the European connection, the family is proud to be the first Hausa Christian family to have strong ties with the famous Kano Palace. Its patriarch, Batson Bangbhayiga Abdallah Baikie, had worked with the Kano Native Authority, where he served different titleholders like the then Galadima and Madakin Kano. The diligence of Pa Baikie to work endeared him to the then emir. This tie between the Baikies and the Kano palace still exists, as only recently, the Sarkin Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, paid a visit to the Baikies’ family house in GRA, Zaria.

According to 87-year-old Professor Adamu Baikie, who is now the eldest in the family, his father was born in Lai town in the present Chad Republic between 1889 and 1890. At the age of seven, Pa Baikie was captured by warriors from Sudan-Wadai on the outskirts of Lai town where they were guarding their farm against bird attack.

Pa Baikie was taken to Masena Bagirmi, a village in the Sudan-Wadai where he was handed over to the king of the village as a servant. Because of the trauma of losing his relatives, Pa Baikie become stubborn to his master despite the nice treatment he enjoyed from the king and his wives. As a result of this, Pa Baikie was around 1900 given out and his journey to Nigeria began through Dikwa in the present day Borno State.

Dikwa was then under the occupation of France and Britain. Along with about 24 other boys and girls who were lucky to have survived the perilous journey to Dikwa, Pa Baikie was freed and handed over to a chief in the town. He was later moved to Mafoni through Maiduguri.

At Mafoni, Pa Baikie was accepted by the European masters hence he was given opportunity to work in the doctors’ houses, hospital and other privileged places. He was also among the first set of captives to learn the English alphabets.

Having spent some time in Mafoni and Gaidam, Pa Baikie was among the set of captives moved to southern Nigeria through Yola and Rivers Niger and Benue around 1905 and 1906. After many stopovers at Mokwa, Zungeru, Kutigi, and Bida, all in the present Niger State, Pa Baikie was placed under different European masters and tutors. In 1911, Pa Baikie, along with other boys of his age, was returned to Kutigi under the guardianship of a European master, Mr. J. O. Baikie.

Pa Baikie was In 1912,  baptised by Rev. J. J. Williams and Mr. J. O. Baikie adopted him because of the love he had for him. In 1913, Pa Baikie passed his Standard IV, equivalent to Primary 4 examination and was sent to Lokoja in present Kogi State. After series of assignments as a teacher and secretary to the missionary officials, Pa Baikie passed his Standard VII examinations and was posted to Kpata under the missionary.

Besides being an evangelist-teacher, the journey of his public service took him to the Nigerian Railways between 1923 and 1933 before he joined the Kano Native Authority in 1933 and left in 1948.

This, according to Professor Baikie, marked the beginning of the family’s relationship with Kano palace.

Prof Baikie added; “My father was very hard working and served diligently at the Kano Native Authority with a high degree of commitment. Baba was the only Christian in the central administration of Kano Native Authority. He was never pressured to become a Muslim. He worked very closely with the Galadima and Madaki of Kano, as well as the then emir, Alhaji Abdullahi Bayero.

“He was a man of remarkable patience, tenacious, a respectful and highly skilled administrator. I would not credit my father for being ambitious; if he were, there was nothing he could not have been in Kano. This is because he enjoyed the trust of many in the inner circle of the emir’s counsellors. The peaceful stay that my father had in Kano made the late Audu Bako to formally recognise us as indigenes of Kano. This is how we are till today.”

Pa Baikie got married in 1925 and died in 1983. He had nine children who include Rabi, Fatima, Adamu, Hauwa, Azumi, Garba, Audu, Nasiru, and Ramatu.

Professor Baikie, the eldest member of the family now, said the perseverance of his father and the training he got influenced the achievement he recorded in his life, adding that his children and grandchildren are also following suit.

He added; “I am now enjoying a peaceful life in retirement at above 86 years. Some may mistake me for a young man. I was born here in Zaria when my father settled here. After our stay in Zaria, we resettled in Kano, which we made our home and it was there I grew up.

“I started primary school there in the late 1930s and by that time I was about nine years old. At that time primary classes were known as Infant 1 and 2. After that, I started what was then known as Standard 1 up to Standard 5. So, primary education at that time was up to eight years.  When I finished primary school, I came to Middle School in Wusasa, Zaria, where I finished in 1948. In 1949, I moved to the newly established Anglican Teacher Training College. Needless to say that Wusasa was a Christian community, so I belong to the Anglican Communion, where my father was.”

After his Grade III in 1950, Professor Baikie was posted to Gusau, Zamfara State. He taught there between 1951 and 1952. In 1953, he came back to Zaria where he had his Grade II. In 1954, after his Grade II, he was posted to the same school. He taught there for three years as the headmaster.

He added; “I was awarded a scholarship by the Northern Nigerian government in 1957 to study in the Nigerian College, which was the only tertiary institution that we had in the North then. I was there for five years where I finished my Diploma in June 1962 because the college was not running degree programmes then. When I finished my Diploma, I was recruited by the newly founded Ahmadu Bello University, which was founded in April 1962. Through the USAID and ABU, I was recruited as a graduate in training and sent to America. I think, without exaggeration, I was the very first graduate in training from the North then, at least attached to ABU.”

In the US, Professor Baikie did his masters degree and came back in June 1964 as an Assistant Lecturer. He taught for another three years and left for the US again for his doctorate degree, which he finished in December 1969. He came back to ABU and became the head of Education department in 1970.

In 1971, he was made a professor. ABU was the only university then in the North; therefore, he became the first professor of Education in the whole North, but not the first professor from the North.

He continued to rise through the ranks in ABU and in 1978 he was appointed Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin.

He said; “That was a very emotional situation for me. I didn’t know Benin and I didn’t want to go to Benin. At that time, Professor Iya Abubakar left the ABU and his position was to be filled. Three of us were shortlisted and I happened to be one of them. Instead of Obasanjo, who was the Head of State then, to select one of us, he posted all of us out of ABU. I had the fortune of being sent to Benin in October 1978.

“I did two terms in Benin; from October 1978 to October 1986. I came back to ABU, because that is my home. I started working as a lecturer and at that time one of my students was the Dean of Education. Sometimes, they didn’t know how to handle me as their teacher. Anyhow, I remained calm.”

In 1988, Professor Baikie was appointed Vice Chancellor of the University of Lesotho without applying for the job. This appointment turned out to be hard to accept by Baikie because Lesotho shares long border with South Africa and at that time South Africa was under apartheid.

“It was very tough for me to accept the appointment, because I was being looked for all over. But I think the government of Nigeria shortlisted me and Lesotho accepted, so, I had to go there where I served as Vice Chancellor for eight years. I came back in 1996.

“I was approached by ABU again and appointed the Director, Institute of Education. By the year 2000, I was approached to serve in the planning committee for the establishment of Nasarawa State University and I was travelling from here to Keffi all the time for the meetings. After the conclusion of the work, the then governor Abdullahi Adamu asked me to serve as Vice Chancellor in 2001. So, I remained there until 2009. I retired in December 2009 and came back home,” he said.

Professor Baikie said one of the greatest and most memorable experiences of his family was the treatment by the Premier of Northern Region, Ahmadu Bello, Sardauna of Sokoto. He said in the North then there was no single disagreement on the basis of religion, tribe or any other sentiment. He said the leaders then were after the unity of the country.

He added; “Another very interesting story of our family was my father’s stay in Kano. When my father joined the Kano Native Authority in the late 1920s, he was known to be a Christian. He had his tribal marks, and as such the people he was working with knew his tribe. Despite that, he turned out to be one of the best workers that the then emir had. He spoke Hausa and English fluently. He was well known and liked at the same time. Because my father worked under the Galadiman Kano who was in charge of the city administration, he encouraged his children to go to school.

“My father lived in Sabon Gari, but there was no nook or cranny of Kano that he didn’t know. Besides, he walked the long distance every day to his office in the emir’s palace. He did that trekking every day until he was able to get a bicycle. They know his religion, but never discriminated against him. My father didn’t go to work on Fridays, but he went on Sundays and never complained. Friday then was a holiday in the Kano Native Authority. He went to work in the morning on Sunday and to Church in the evening.”

Professor Baikie said visiting their father in the palace was always very interesting because nobody ever discriminated against them based on their religion.

“Because of our visits to the palace, we know some of the Hakimai (District Heads). In fact, we even visited the emir himself, because our father usually sent us with Christmas cake to the emir. There was a time my father was ill and couldn’t go to work, the Galadiman Kano drove from the palace to Sabon Gari (Kano) to see my father. The Galadima knew that he was a Christian. My father knew the culture of the Hausa from top to bottom. Therefore, he gave his bosses all the necessary respect in accordance with their culture.

“Not only that, my father had juniors under him and they respected him. I remember when we were to have the first commemoration of the death of Alhaji Ado Bayero and I was one of the guest speakers. The present emir was there among other personalities. Sarki Sanusi II spoke, Maitama Sule spoke and when I spoke, one of the Hakimai, Alhaji Muntari Sarkin Bai, stood up and spoke about my father. He said he was my father’s clerk. I was shocked because the Sarkin Bai was one of the firebrand politicians in those days; he was tough in the legislative council. I never knew he was my father’s clerk until that day,” Professor Baikie said.

The Baikies still maintain a cordial relationship with the Kano palace. The ties of the family with the palace that started over 70 years is still a thing of pride to the Baikies.

“His Highness Abdullahi Bayero, the then emir knew us. I remember one day when we went to the palace as children, we were not afraid of the traditions. We entered the palace as if we were entering any other place. We saw Emir Abdullahi Bayero feeding his horse with grass. When one of the Dogarai (guards), with his red eyes and big koboko (cane), saw us he shouted at us and attempted to cane us with his koboko, but the emir stopped him and asked: ‘what have they done to you’? We didn’t know he was the emir, so, we greeted him. He mentioned our father’s name and gave us gifts and we left.

“During my stay in America, I always wrote to the emir. In 2007, late emir Ado asked me to come to the palace with my family. We had a nice time, including pictures with my entire family. In those days, some of the royal family members visited my father in Sabon Gari. Up to now, we’ve kept our relationship intact,” Professor Baikie said.

Another unique character of the Baikies is the composition of the family. The family comprises adherents of Islam and Christianity.

He said; “In my house, there are rooms for my Muslim brothers and sisters to pray when they visit us. We have kettles for them to perform ablution. When my wife passed on, there were more Muslims than Christians that came for the burial. So, there was no question of being bitter with ourselves because of our faiths. There was nothing like that in this family. Every Sallah, the Emir of Zazzau sends me something and of course every Christmas or Azumi (fasting) I send him something.”

The Baikie of Zaria now has about 20 members. Professor Baikie is the leader followed by his sons and daughters, as well as grandchildren.

Muhammadu Baikie is a retired Army major, while Ado Baikie works with the Industrial Training Fund, ITF. Tanimu Baikie is an architect working in South Africa. He is followed by Jummai Baikie, a civil servant in Jos, Plateau State. The last child is Ladidi Maimuna Baikie, a banker.

The Baikies, under their leader, Professor Baikie, are also prominent in the works of the community and the church, and the goal of the family is “to make a difference in the thinking of Christians regarding their relationship with others.”

Read more at Dailytrust

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