A Tribute to my Uncle Maharaja!

Colonel Maharaja Mamudu

I lost my Uncle, Colonel Maharaja Mamudu on the 2nd of December, a day before my birthday. I remember the night of the 2nd as I ironed the green dress I would wear the next day, Uncle Maharaja was on my mind! I wish I had called instead of just thinking the thoughts!

It never occurred to me that he could die. LOL! He was just that kind of personality, beautiful, upright (do you see his shoulders in the photos? Spinal cord straight! Like it dare not bend!)

Honestly, I am 41 and I have never met another human as special as this man! NEVER! He called my Mum “Mayiya”, that’s because when I was a baby, he’d call her “My Sister” and I would say “mayiya”, that became her name! He was my Dad’s best friend. You know those friends that become blood! Because of him, we all went to Army Schools, from AWA Nursery in Kaduna to Command Kaduna!

My Dad was a journalist in Nigeria’s military regimes… I know that Uncle Maharaja was a source of safety to our family!

I remember how he would visit just as the school term ended when we were in primary school. We would all have to line up with our report cards in hand… he would look at them… inspect them and if you did well, he’ll give you money! Here’s Twenty Naira for that A in English. P in Maths, give me N10 back… oh another A in History… take N20 for that! When uncle Maharaja was done you could have N100 or more!!! An 8 year old in the 80’s! That was millionaire status… of course Mayiya would collect it all.

My then youngest brother, Mohammed, was his “Soldier Boy!” He had to salute and stand at attention and not relax till Uncle said “at ease” and even then, he had to stand at ease until invited to seat down!

Uncle Maharaja was a soldier, a lawyer, a sportsman (took Nigeria to the Olympics where we won 2 gold medals for the first time), a disciplinarian, he demanded excellence! Once I started to study Law, we didn’t have any conversation where we didn’t discuss a foundational legal principle… he needed to see that I was on top of my studies at all times!

Uncle gave us more family! His daughter Zaina, is the only one I have conceded my first born status to, she is my big Sister.

Uncle Maharaja gave us Modu (I thought Modu was handsome when we were growing up… but the fear of Mayiya and my Uncle didn’t let it develop into a crush o! I just thought he was handsome! I don’t think so now o! I only think 1 man is handsome now…plix 🙏🏽, LOL). And Uncle Maharaja gave us Ewelah! Ewelah who died defending this Country in Sambisa forest!

Wow! What a man! What a man! Nigeria and it’s people meant everything to him!

Uncle wrote everything down… it is thanks to him and my Dad that I journal so much.
He was busy and great in every respect but he did not stand far from our lives! He made such an impact on us! My siblings and I! He & another friend of my Dad’s Uncle Okparadike (they used to buy suya from Kaduna Club, we used to call it never ending suya). I remember laughter in my childhood, I remember joyful Saturday mornings in our home because they visited.

Uncle! You are probably the reason that my favourite colour is the Olive or Army Green…

Uncle died peacefully in his sleep. It is because death knew better than to try it any other way! Even death had to be dignified about him.

My dear Uncle Maharaja! Thank you for LIVING! Thank you for your life! Thank you for being uncompromisingly you! You made us all better! You made life better! I love you dearly! I thank God my parents met you so that I have these stories to tell! I stand at Attention Sir! I salute! And from my heart to your Sir, I release a 21 Gun Salute of gratitude into creation for your life! Adieu Sir –

Love, Ele

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