Sent from my iPadThe hallmark of a veritable reporter is not to give in to narcissism, self-pity or maudlin. But this time this reporter is succumbing to one of these failings. I plead with our esteemed reader to grant me this rare indulgence.
On Monday, 24th April 2023, my beloved father, John Bise Dazang, joined his ancestors. John Bise Dazang was born in Dan Hausa, also referred to as Bwang’aharum(the place of the crocodiles) in March 1919. The crocodiles found abode in Dan Hausa and frolicked there because it was a confluence to several streams. His father, an influential local Chief, was Da Dazang Dukup. Da Dazang Dukup was a farmer and a polygamist. This created some tension in the relationship between father and son. Moreover, Baba John Dazang’s constant fights with the Fulani cattle rearers who tended his father’s cattle and his thirst for Western education put him at loggerheads with Da Dazang Dukup.
Thus, when the Missionaries requested Da Dazang Dukup to make available any of his children or wards to enroll in school, he quickly presented John Bise, “the trouble maker”.
In spite of his presentation of John Bise to the Missionaries, he did not support him financially. Due to his unbending determination, and having matured in age, he would go to the farm first thing in the morning; till the soil, shower and begin to run to school in Gindiri(from Dan Hausa).
His determination stood him in good stead. At the end of the day, he wrote the entrance examination to the Teachers Technical College(TTC), Gindiri, and he emerged overall best in the then Plateau Province. His running each morning from the village to the school trained him, in no small measure, to become a renowned and celebrated long distance(cross country) runner. His prowess in academics and sports of various categories endeared him to the Missionaries and won him several trophies and laurels.
Since he entered school already a mature person, he married when he was a Grade 3 Teacher. He was married to the ravishing beauty, Esther Ramatu Kwende.
After attaining Grade 2, he taught at the prestigious Demonstration Primary School, Gindiri. His trademark was harsh discipline and his passion was to recruit others, in droves, to the school using his well turned out appearance. This was attested to by one of his pupils, Setley Daze. A former National Commissioner at INEC, Daze referred to Baba as “immaculately dressed and uncompromising”. Also, a former Director of the National Population Commission(NPC), now in his late seventies, Mr. Wetkos Mutihir, referred to himself as one of Baba’s mentees. To realise this passion, he bought a Mobillete. He was the first African to ride one in the Missionary Compound.
After a stint with the Mission, Baba transferred his services to the Native Authority(N.A.) He was posted as Headmaster to L.E.A. Amper in 1965 in the then Pankshin Division. In 1969, he was transferred to L.E.A. Mangu Halle. He served in other towns and villages including Kinat, Bokkos etc.
In 1973, John Bise Dazang was admitted to read a Diploma course in Hausa at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He was in the first set of the sandwich programme. Thereafter, he proceeded to the College of Education, Akwanga for his National Certificate in Education(NCE). It is instructive that his reading at an advanced age endeared him to his school mate, the late Governor Solomon Lar, whose government gave Baba an award. The Governor also asked him to make a request which he would graciously grant. Chief Lar was pleasantly humbled when Baba requested for the establishment of a secondary school to be located in Mangu Halle where he resided. The Governor wanted Baba to be the pioneer Principal but he declined, saying age was not on his side and that he preferred to be the Vice Principal so that he could monitor whoever was made the Principal.
Shortly after, Baba retired. Since he was not tired, he proceeded to Mangu Secondary School(MSS) where he taught and served as Technical Manager. MSS was established by his cousins in the early 1970s.
Thereafter, he retired after requesting for a younger and more energetic person to take over.
In his final retirement, he limited himself to the service of his community. He keenly followed events in the media and was a voracious reader until he lost his sight. He introduced me to the READER’S DIGEST and the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. Some of the stimulating articles I read in his back copies of the READER’S DIGEST included those authored by the legendary Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and James A. Michener( author of HAWAII, THE COVENANT, THE SOURCE etc). In turn, I introduced him to TIME magazine in the late 1970s. Even after he lost his sight, the radio became a constant companion. And when the Global System for Mobile Communications(GSM) became fashionable, it came handy and facilitated his reaching out to others.
I learned four lessons from my father. A person’s life is only worthy if he serves others. One must always nourish and upgrade himself to be relevant. To add value, one must be a person of value and should always add value to oneself. A true person must live peacefully with others. He lived and practiced these virtues. Little wonder, they generated tremendous goodwill and these reflected in the avalanche of condolences that cascaded to the family, the Mangu community and the Mwaghavul nation.
May the life and times he lived instruct and inspire us.
Home Column / Opinion A tribute to John Bise Dazang, by Nick Dazang