Today we rue with extreme ‘takaici’ the lack of medical tracking and due diligence in Africa, including Nigeria. Had ‘our’ Lassa Fever had the same international tracking, exchange of information and due diligence as COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we may perhaps not have lost our two beloved doctors of Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano (AKTH), three weeks ago – Dr. Ummu Kulthum and Dr. Habib Musa Kwalle Fagge, on whom this elegy is written.
Alas! A carrier and courier of Lassa Fever came all the way from Bauchi and, in the expected zeal of AKTH medical personnel to FIRST save her life before anything else, many lives were lost, including hers. This is then a wake-up call, if any is needed, for our medical and health systems to start the kind of due diligence evident today in the case of Coronavirus. Perhaps that should be the first assignment before our colleague, the new AKTH Chief Medical Director (CMD) Prof. AbdurRahman Sheshe, who assumed duty just before this tragedy. May Allah make it easy for him, and may Allah protect us all from Coronavirus and Lassa Fever and all other fevers, amin.
As a tribute to Dr. Habib, a young man I knew so well as an activist at the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) and the Islamic Medical Association of Nigeria (IMAN, of which he was President), I asked the late doctor’s close associate and brother-in-law Dr. Muhammad Sulaiman Abdullahi of the Department of Nigerian Languages at Bayero University, Kano (firstname.lastname@example.org and 08065846225) to tell us a few things:
“Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un! From Allah we come, and to Him, we shall return! I can’t remember the last time I saw so many people, young and old, crying as a result of losing someone. Probably the nearest I can remember was the funeral of late Shaikh Ja’afar Mahmoud Adam who was murdered while leading Subh prayer in April 2007. The death of Dr. Habib, consultant anaesthesiologist at AKTH, was a great tragedy which directly touched thousands of people.
“Habib was born around 47 years ago into the family of Alhaji Musan Kwalle in Fagge, Kano. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Maiduguri and became a medical doctor who worked for the sake of Allah the Almighty. Habib maintained his Islamic qualities in words and in action. Whenever you saw him, you saw a complete Ustaz, a medical doctor and a devoted servant of Allah. His qualifications didn’t in any way make him arrogant or feel more important than others. Throughout his academic struggles, Habib was truly a hard-working servant of Allah who devoted his time, energy, and meagre resources to the sake of humanity.
“Dr. Habib was a philanthropist par excellence. He didn’t need to know you personally before he would offer a helping hand. As a ‘government’ worker with ‘limited’ resources, Habib would go the extra mile to help and assist anyone who came his way, to the best of his ability. I heard many people narrating how he assisted them, paid for their medication and even paid their transport fare back home from the hospital. And then Habib would thank you, as if you were the one who actually helped him…Allahu Akbar!
“A famous Kano, Imam Shaikh Muhammad ibn Usman, on returning from a foreign trip around the time of the mourning, directly proceeded to Fagge, Dr. Habib’s family house, to pay condolences and pray for the deceased. The Imam narrated the good things Habib had been doing all his professional life, including a text message which showed the late doctor donating more than a hundred thousand naira for a good cause just two weeks before his demise.
“People have mentioned a lot of good about Dr. Habib. Thousands of mouths described him as ‘Mutumin Kirki’ – a good person. With all the pouring revelations, no one would ever know the complete diary of assistances Habib offered while on this earth. May Allah be witness to all this, as the Prophet had stated that the testimony of humans is confirmed by Allah in the Hadith of ‘Wajabat!’
“Dr. Habib was always very cool and calm, as the right honourable gentleman, he was. You would never see him calling attention to himself; he always chose to be on the side, hardly noticed by anyone. He didn’t want to be known unless where necessary. Someone might easily perceive him as an introvert, not knowing that he could overtake a whole crowd if there was a need. Lass Fever was wicked; Lassa Fever was evil; Lassa Fever was merciless for taking our beloved Dr. Habib.
“After he was buried, we stayed around his grave for a very long time. We just stayed and stared. We didn’t want to leave, and didn’t know what to do. I was there on his grave, praying for him to answer his questions right – Allahumma Thabbit! Allahumma Thabbit! as taught us by the Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace. It is our hope that Habib had answered his questions – from ‘Man Rabbuka’ to the end – successfully, and has been admitted to Jannah. Amin. Our stay at the grave ended only when one of Habib’s closest associates, Mallam Adamu Sarki, tearfully stood up and said, ‘Jama’a mu tafi!’
Now that Habib is gone forever, it remains for all of us who remain and are waiting, to be like him, and even do more, if we can. His life was a life full of lessons to be emulated. It was a life of a man who struggled from grass to grace and from the soil to the stars. May Allah make us copy and do more than what he did, amin.”
FROM THE COLUMNIST: Our condolences to Dr. Habib’s immediate family, to CMD of AKTH, to Habib’s other colleagues, to MSSN and IMAN families, and all those whose lives were touched by this meteor called Dr. Habib Musa, who shines no more! Allah Ya jikansa!