Professor Isa Hashim (1933-2020) was a unique personality. He was not ordinary. He was the only person I know that reached the peak of his career in three domains or institutions.
He started his journey in the civil service where he rose from the lowest status of temporarily uncertified clerk (TUC) to the highest position of Permanent Secretary. He moved to the academia where he rose to the highest level of Professor of Political Science. And finally he retired as Jarman Kano and Member of the Kano Emirate Council almost 100 years after the relegation of his family.
Isa Hashim’s trajectory is not unconnected with his noble background and the circumstances he found himself. He is a descendant of Malam Jamo the elder brother of Sarkin Kano Ibrahim Dabo (1819-1846). His paternal grandmother is sharifiyya (a descendant of the Prophet SAW) hence his father was called Hashim. His wife is from the Sokoto aristocracy. Malam Jamo his ancestor led the Sullubawa during the Jihad in Kano, he was the custodian of the flag of the Jihad hence his descendants are referred to as Sullubawan Tuta. When he died Sarkin Kano Sulaiman (1807-1819) appointed Ibrahim Dabo his younger brother to succeed him in the Emirate Council. Ibrahim Dabo was one of the few who remained loyal to Sulaiman hence he left a Will to Sarkin Musulmi Muhammad Bello that Ibrahim Dabo should succeed him.
Ibrahim Dabo consolidated his rule after battling with rebels and using diplomacy in some instances by placating contestants to the throne. He established his dynasty by allocating Kingmaker titles to the clans that posed threat to his authority. He therefore allocated the title of Sarkin Dawaki Mai Tuta one of the Kingmakers to the descendants of Malam Jamo his elder brother. This is the family of Isa Hashim. Apart from the Kingmaker title of Sarkin Dawaki Mai Tuta they also held the titles Dan Maje and Dan Kadai in the nineteenth century. The family lost the title of Sarkin Dawaki Mai Tuta in 1913 and since then they were not represented in the Emirate Council until Isa’s appointment as Jarman Kano and Member of the Council in 2007.
Isa Hashim grew up in Magashi quarters in Kano city now Gwale Local Government Area. Many of his relatives still live in this area. His father Malam Hashim lived there with our grandfather Malam Muhammadu Barau. They were very close friends and they traced their lineage to Mahmud father of Mallam Jamo, our grandfather through his mother and Malam Hashim through his father. They always interacted almost everyday along with Malam Yusuf the father of Malam Aminu Kano who was more elderly. He always stopped by, when he returned from the court where he rose to become acting Chief Alkali.
Isa Hashim had his early education in Kano city from Magashi up to Dala Hill. He always visited the hill for revision of textbooks because of the solitary nature of the environment that was the reason for the title of Essays from Dala Hill his collection of essays. His prominent teachers: Imam Muhammadu Dan Amu lived in Marmara and Shaykh Nasiru Kabara lived in Kabara, which is very close to Magashi. Both teachers were great poets this certainly influenced him and he became a very creative poet. Some of his poems have been studied at the University of Wisconsin Madison USA. His educational journey started in this cluster.
He did not attend elementary school or even secondary school but proceeded from informal school to Shahuchi Judicial School. This school was primarily established to absorb students from informal Islamic schools and offer them opportunity to get certificate and even proceed further to Law School, which later became School for Arabic Studies. Shahuchi Judicial School was established in 1928 with Mallam Sulaiman (who later became Walin Kano) as the first headmaster. It was the first experiment in the integration of Islamic education with Western education in Northern Nigeria. It had so many celebrated alumni who became Islamic Scholars for example Imam Muhammadu Dan Amu, Wazirin Kano Shehu Gidado and Professor Shehu Galadanci.
Every individual is a unique personality however Isa Hashim is rare because no one ever followed his trajectory and there may never be any in the foreseeable future. Many scholars and technocrats in Kano attended Shahuchi Judicial School without going through the elementary school but thereafter they proceeded to Law School or School for Arabic Studies. Isa Hashim was the only one who did not attend elementary school before attending Shahuchi Judicial School and did not attend any secondary school after it. He did his ordinary level studies through correspondence. He was able to secure a diploma but not a bachelor’s degree and it was with the diploma he got admission for a master’s degree. He added another master’s degree before proceeding for a PhD. Many will agree it is rare to have such an academic path especially in Nigeria today where there are no such opportunities.
Another uniqueness of Isa Hashim was his public service career. There were many people who started as clerks and then reached the peak of their careers moving from Native Authority to the Government Service. He started as a temporarily uncertified clerk. He was resilient and he continued to study unlike most other people. Certainly his aristocratic background helped him with the networking especially when he moved to Kaduna and was working with the regional ministers. He returned to Kano and served in the civil service with distinction before joining the academia. He excelled as one of the pioneers in Local Government studies. There are some personalities who moved from the academia to civil service and vice versa and even retiring as traditional rulers but few followed the same path strode by Isa Hashim.
In 2007, Sarkin Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero (1963-2014), turbaned Isa Hashim as Jarman Kano and Member of the Kano Emirate Council. He was the second Jarman Kano. The first was late Alhaji Muhammadu Dankabo who was the District Head of Kabo. Isa Hashim was not a District Head but a noble descendant of Malam Jamu the patriarch of the Sullubawa Clan hence he was elevated to the status of Member of the Emirate Council. Because of his vast experience and knowledge he handled many matters relating to religious affairs and Local Government issues. He headed committees on intellectual contributions for example the Committee on the launching of Shehu Abdullahi Danfodio’s book on tafsir and another on Kano’s contributions to Sokoto intellectual tradition.
Isa Hashim was both a Professor in the modern university system and a Shaykh in the traditional school, which was also rare. His teachers: Shaykh Nasir Kabara, Imam Muhammadu Dan Amu and Mallam Salihi (father of General Magashi) were all erudite hence he became an outstanding scholar of Arabic and Hausa. His poem “Bushiya” was translated by the University of Texas and presented at FESTAC 77 in Lagos. One of his last actions was visit to Kasuwar Kurmi in the city to purchase Arabic books before the lock down of Corona in Kano.
He was a man of great humility and concern for the people always enquiring about the progress of his mentees. Always involved in community affairs he served in several committees and Islamic organizations including Islamic Foundation of Nigeria.
May Allah bless his soul and grant him paradise.
Mr. Ado-Kurawa is familiar with the history of Kano Emirate and has a number of works on it. He writes from Kano.