Title: A Foundation of Hope
Author: Bukar Usman
Publisher: Klamidas Communications, Abuja
Reviewer: Henry Akubuiro
“The most truly generous persons,” says Carol Brink, “are those who give silently without hope of praise or reward.” I have known about the existence of the Bukar Usman Foundation since 2014, but I didn’t recognise the sheer magnitude of its involvement in philanthropy until I read A Foundation of Hope: 10th Anniversary of the Dr. Bukar Usman Foundation. The indication, thus, is that the retired, Biu-born, bureaucrat belongs to that category of humans who gives silently without the lure of trumpets and its resounding decibels.
A Foundation of Hope… is a special compilation of the Dr. Bukar Usman Foundation to mark its tenth anniversary. Though its tenth anniversary was in 2018, having been founded on April 1, 2008, and registered as a charity on the 21st day of July, 2008, the book has just been released, perhaps in keeping with the founder’s self-effacing lifestyle. At over 1000 pages, the size of the book echoes the impacts made by the Foundation. The 11-chapter book chronicles the basic principles of the Foundation, its activities, folktale research, charity to individuals and institutions, awards to the Foundation’s President and media reports on the Foundation and its founder.
The book also contains informed opinions by journalists and other readers on the publications funded by the Foundation, as well as comments by well-wishers and congratulatory messages trailing the numerous awards given to Dr. Bukar Usman by different bodies, home and abroad. The concluding part of the publication features two interviews he granted to Radio France International (RFI), Hausa Programme on Folklore, as well as songs in praise of the Foundation’s footprints in the sand.
With a mission to make life more meaningful, A Foundation of Hope…, as this book reveals, has been of immense service to humanity. From the moment it sponsored its first publication, Dreams and Realities: Issues in Nigeria’s Golden Jubilee Independence Anniversary, after its registration, the Foundation has sponsored the publication of over 50 titles in English and Hausa. This stems from the realisation that a foundation work in research and dissemination of knowledge is required for any lasting personal and group empowerment. Interestingly, these books are usually donated free of charge to individuals, organisations and institutions within and outside Nigeria. Perhaps the greatest achievement the Bukar Usman Foundation has made in literacy is its huge investments in the promotion of Nigerian folklore, with dozens of books to its credit. It’s hard to find any Nigerian, living or dead, with a similar record as the Dr Bukar Usman Foundation has done with its Pan-Nigerian Folktale Narrative Projects.
Other activities of the Foundation itemised here include: sponsorship of conferences; promotion of reading culture, creative writing and literary research; issuance of grants to universities/researchers and scholarship awards; cash and sundry donations. Among others, the Foundation has supported financially the hosting of ANA, Katina State Chapter’s Convention in 2017, ANA National Convention in Makurdi, Benue State, in 2018, and the international conference of the Nigerian Folklore Society (NFS) two years ago. It has also donated thousands of books and reading materials to schools and organisations across the country.
A Foundation of Hope… records that the Bukar Usman Foundation has funded research in language, literature and culture to undergraduate, masters and PhD students at the Bayero University, Kano, and at the Cairo University, Egypt. It has offered scholarships to some indigent secondary school students in Nigeria, education grants to Kaduna State University, to mention a few. Its donations in cash and kind extend, as recorded on pages 44-54, to over 500 organisations and institutions nationwide! Beneficiaries of the Foundation’s book donations outside the country include but not limited to Cairo University, Egypt; Ain Shams University, Egypt; Al Azhar University, Egypt; Abdou Moumouni University, Nianey, Niger; University of Leeds, UK. Its philanthropic and poverty-alleviation interventions are countless, including payment of school fees, medical bills, house rents, entrepreneurial empowerment, and relief supplies to Internally Displaced Persons in Borno. What a remarkable, selfless Nigerian!
Usman’s gestures haven’t gone unnoticed, as he has been decorated with many awards, including one given by the Nigeria-Niger Writers Association at the International Conference titled “Celebrating the International Day for Mother Language” in Niamey, Niger Republic, on February 21, 2014.
Dr. Usman understands what documentation means. Media reports on the Foundation’s President and readers/viewers/listeners and well-wishers reactions to his publications can be found on the sixth and seventh chapters. Foremost Nigerian journalist, Ray Ekpu, applauded Usman’s Voices in the Choir as “… bureaucratese that has been dressed in robes of elegance…” (p.70). And after reading Dr. Usman’s My Literary Journey, Prof. Nkem Okoh echoed: “I can tell you thousands of young people, especially, will benefit immensely from the books. God will reward you abundantly for this single gesture concerned with propagating knowledge.”