By Inuwa Bwala
If I can find a tombstone upon which I am to write an epitaph for the late Mala Kachallah, this is what I would write: “Here lies the father of peace, a man who had power but wouldn’t use it, who had wealth but chose to share it out, he resisted the temptations to trample over others, rather he chose to remain peaceful, humble, honest, patient and Godly”. If there were to be one for his wife, Falmata Mala Kachallah, I will write: “This is the tomb of the unsung heroine of womanhood, mother to all, the unseen hand behind her husband’s successes”.
I have scribbled these words on two separate sheets of papers and followed others for a burial at the Gwange cemetery in the hope that I could locate somewhere suitable to drop them in remembrance for my father, my boss, my friend and mentor, the late Mala Kachallah. I wanted to his his tomb as a point of contact for his wife, who was rested somewhere else. It could have at least given me a sense of satisfaction.
While others prayed and were scooping the sand to bury the dead, I was busy navigating the cemetery, with the hope that I could locate the particular tomb and drop the piece of paper. I discovered that so many people have died and buried in the cemetery in the last thirteen years, and locating a particular grave was rather difficult. The tombs seem to have changed positions, because of the inflow.
As we departed the Gwange cemetery that fateful Saturday, some people left for wedding ceremonies in different parts of the city. But having failed to locate Mala Kachallah’s particular tomb to drop the epitaph, I left for my room, rather disappointed. As I settled down, I began to think of how I could weave together my traditional annual tribute to the sage with another one to his wife, Falmata Mala Kachallah, who died on the 3rd of January 2020, only a few months before the 13th year anniversary of her husband. I recalled how she remained so contented, faithful and supportive of Mala Kachallah throughout their lives.
I know as a matter of fact that, marrying more than one wife, far beyond its religious injunctions, has become a vogue and a status symbol amongst, men in the north. I have been curious trying to know what could be the lure in it. Out of that curiosity, I once asked my boss, father, friend and role model, the late Mala Kachallah as to why he has not taken a second wife like other big men do. And he told me that his wife gave him all that he desired to have in marriage, and there was no need for him to play to the gallery, like others.
He also told me that God has blessed him with everything he hoped to achieve in marriage, and there was nothing he needed to add to what God had given him. He told me of several offers of brides had been made to him, all of which he declined. Since then, I have always looked at Hajiya Falmata Mala Kachallah, his wife as an epitome of womanly virtues. I have since cherished the way Mala Kachallah related with his wife and children, to the effect that I pray for God to give me that type of grace.
Receiving the news of the death of Hajiya Falmata Mala Kachallah, wife of Mala Kachallah, that fateful day in January, was no less a blow to me as was the news of the death of Mala Kachallah himself. I cried despite warning from my doctors that I should avoid any form of pressure on my eyes, which were operated upon a few days earlier. It was then I decided to, in paying my annual tribute to Mala Kachallah, I will dedicate part of it to comment on the death of his wife.
Against the background of my relationship to Mala Kachallah and his family, people might have been surprised not seeing me amongst the people who converged on Abuja for the burial and later Maiduguri for the funeral of Hajiya Falmata Mala Kachallah. I had the privilege of being one of those she considered to be her children. On my sick bed, I turned many times over, especially when it dawned on me that I was not going to be part of the funeral. Nobody has called me to enquire and I have not called anybody either. I have been with the pain of missing the event in my heart since she died.
Lying on my back that day, when her Fid au prayers were being said in Maiduguri, I nostalgically recalled the past glory of the Kachallah family. How everybody would have been falling over themselves trying to identify with the family, had she died when the husband was Governor. I also looked back at the situation during Mala Kachallah’s own funeral, when Maiduguri came to a virtual standstill. Even though I was not physically present, but I had the feeling that many of those who claimed to have various levels of relationship with Mala Kachallah will characteristically be absent.
I was not surprised when my uncle who was on ground throughout the period of Falmata Mala Kachallah’s funeral gave me the roll call of those who showed up. As usual, the State Government was fully mobilized to give the former first lady of the state a befitting funeral, but the later day associates who even feel ashamed to be identified with Mala Kachallah were nowhere near the place.
I have never ceased to acknowledge the efforts of the Borno State Government in immortalizing Mala Kachallah, who many preferred to call the Captain of Peace. I am aware that the State Government has remodeled and named a school after him. I also know that the Government had always been on hand every time his family faced challenges. I may not be in a position to mention the contributions of certain individuals, but I am conscious of the fact that so many people had identified with the family: except perhaps those who betrayed him while he was alive.
I read the outpouring of tributes on facebook and in the social media generally, and I thought that, if as much as half of those who expressed sadness at her demise were physically present to pay their respects, the funeral ground would have been filled. But I must not fail to appreciate all those who showed solidarity with the family at that trying period.
Mala Kachallah must have been saddened with the death of the wife, even when he knew that she was going to join him in aljannah firdaus someday. With the wife’s death, the second chapter is closed, happily it also opens the third, as Mamman Mala Kachallah assumes full responsibility as the head of the family. Humble, honest and business minded like the father, Mamman has promised to carry on with the good name of the Kachallahs.
May the Almighty continue to grant eternal bliss to Mala Kachallah anf his wife, and may their exemplary lives continue to water the passion of their children’s struggles.
Inuwa Bwala was the S A Media to the late Mala Kachallah.