It was a convergence of academics and culture aficionados at Bayero University, Kano, recently, to celebrate late Ibrahim Narambaɗa Tubali, who brought the Hausa oral tradition to the limelight through his songs.
Held in honour of former Nigerian Head of State, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, the international conference was organised by the Centre for Research in Nigerian Languages, Translation and Folklore, in collaboration with the Department of Nigerian Languages and the Department of Linguistics and Foreign Languages, BUK.
Professor Aliyu Mu’azu, the Director of the Centre, in his address of welcome, noted that the conference was organised to commemorate the artistic sagacity of Ibrahim Narambaɗa and also to honour Nigeria’s “most outstanding, incredibly smart and longest-serving Head of State, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.”
In honouring IBB at the conference, Mu’azu stated that, “despite his pedigree and successes in life, General Babangida is one of the addicted lovers and listeners of Narambaɗa’s music, even during the nine years he served as our Head of State. Who else, then, is worthy of associating with any kind of music or its players other than those who found peace, love, and joy in that music?”
In Babangida’s goodwill message presented by the President of Nigerian Folklore Society, Bukar Usman, who also chaired the occasion, he appreciated Nigeria’s cultural endowments.
He said: “It is common knowledge that Nigeria, a country of great linguistic and cultural diversity, is endowed with notable musicians of the likes of Ibrahim Narambada Tubali, popularly known as Narambada, the subject of this conference.
“We all in our separate ways appreciate the melodies and lyrics of their songs sung in many languages. Some of the songs, video, and audio recorded have been played on the airwaves, on the television and online. Many had performed live to our admiration. Some had become the idols of many fans who relish their performances and the recital of their songs.”
While lamenting the dearth of documentation on the lives and times of Nigerian artistes and the need for a deeper study of the philosophical contents of their works, he commended the initiative taken by the Centre for Research in Nigerian Languages, Translation and Folklore to convene the conference for the sole purpose of studying and documenting the life and times of Ibrahim Narambada Tubali who passed away nearly six decades ago.
“I sincerely hope that the resource persons and other participants in this conference will unravel more about the personality and legacies of this notable musician, Ibrahim Narambada Tubali, for the benefit of present and future generations,” he said.
The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who gave the keynote speech through a representative, Prof. Ismaila Junaidu, welcomed the conference, partly because Narambaɗa was his most favourite Hausa singer of all times, who had given him pleasure in appreciating life and understanding the myriad complicated issues in the society.
“However, while I understand the significance of Narambaɗa in the Hausa traditional music sphere, it immediately occurred to me that the iconicity of this profound singer has been somewhat neglected in our cultural discourse and the academia, compared to some of his peers in the industry,” he lamented.
He commended the literary style of the music icon as astonishingly encompassing., “Although he focuses on specific themes, he had unimaginable abilities to merge topics and issues, relating his discourses with sufficient descriptions and comparisons. His mastery of the Hausa verse and rhymes, the coordination of stanzas, his metaphoric use of heavy-weight vocabularies make his songs a suitable example of a professionally sophisticated Hausa poem.”
Welcoming all to the conference earlier, the Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, Professor Muhammad Yahuza Bello, described the convergence as another milestone achieved by the university under his watch. He also considered honouring President Babangida as an appropriate, fascinating and most deserving event.
Professor Aliyu Muhammadu Bunza, who presented a paper on “Who is Narambaɗa?”, selected 51 verses from his 40 popular songs to demonstrate who Narambaɗa was in the world of Hausa oral songs. His paper also raised twelve research questions handled by Narambaɗa in the philosophy of his songs.