I had the singular privilege of visiting one of the most prolific and intelligent poets in Nigeria today, Malam Sambo Waliy at his residence in Sokoto this afternoon.
Malam Sambo has a 68 years career in poetry. Yet, he could remember his poems, even the first, and those the Sokoto Caliphate triumvirate, Nana Asmau etc, with astonishing precision. At 82, the voice, though shaking a bit, is still sweet to listen to.
I learnt a lot about past Hausa poets including those who came before Danfodio, like Muhammadu Na Birnin Gwari and Bawa Bazamfare. Nothing can compare with the 2 hrs I spent with him. Fortunately, I recorded 53 minutes of his answers, most of it in poetry.
The most interesting were two: the first song of Danfodio which he sung in Fulfulde, actually a prayer, when he was meeting with the forces of Gobir for the first time. The Shehu took the tune and rhythm of their drums and turned it into a long song. I must learn to sing that song. Must!
The second was the "Bicycle" song of Adamu Koko, the teacher of Shehu Shagari, a poet that came before Muazu Hadejia's generation. He fell from his bike while riding to his vet station in Kasarawa. The wordings were so funny especially the last prayer against "basukur".
Kai! Poetry is great. But it is greatest when it flows from exceptionally intelligent brains like those of Malam Sambo, and sounds pitiable when it escapes the terrible ones like mine.
Picture: Mal. Sambo Waliy and me, Aliyu.