A brilliant intellectual! A man that could shred your academic paper to bits
and leave you totally devastated, demoralized, even suicidal - but totally awed
at his brilliance and magnificent academic prowess. At the intellectual level Bala Usman
personified a'shock and awe'policy that inspired his followers and alienated his
foes. He was a fearless intellectual that you would prefer not to oppose. I was not
there when he confronted President Obasanjo last month but I know that when he was
finished with his critique of the regime the people in the high table
would have lost their clothes and become stark naked. Such was the power of elocution,
charisma and surgical incisiveness of Bala Usman. Unforgettable, but to some
I first met Bala Usman in 1979/80. He was the Head of the History Department at
Ahmadu Bello University and was looking for a historian
to teach a course in Comparative Industrialization and other history
courses. I threw in my application and got the job. For a while I was the only
female faculty in that department. The sailing was exciting,
for the next four or five years - until intellectual disputes emerged- but that's
another story, for another time and another planet.
Dr Usman was as brilliant as the African sun. His role in the Wilmot/Chreachain affair
remains unclear and even muddy. His politics did not always match his
intellectual brilliance. Even so, both friends and foes alike would testify to his
tremendous intellectual power. We have lost an intellectual giant.
May his soul rest in peace.