Fatima Priscilla Gana (1971 – 2014)

Fatima GanaFatima Priscilla Gana (1971 – 2014)

I remember that day so clearly. We were in Form 3, first term.

We were standing outside the classroom block under the shade of the teacher’s car park, adjacent to the admin block.

We were having a conversation; I don’t remember what about but I remember clearly telling her I was broke. It was on a Friday, if I remember clearly.

On Monday, without prompting, Fatima Gana came up to me and gave me N10!!! Almost a whole term’s pocket money…I’m talking about back in 1983!

To say I was shocked is putting it mildly; I almost threw the money back at her. Fatima Gana had gone home crying to her dad that her classmate who lived all the way in Enugu was broke! She couldn’t understand how I could cope without money in boarding school. To make matters worse, I didn’t even have a guardian! In boarding school, miles away from home, no money, no guardian! The poor girl was distressed and in that distress, she couldn’t let it rest.

Not only did her dad give her the money to give me, he invited me to spend the Sallah (Eid) holiday with them.

I went over to their house on Rimi Drive in Ungwar Rimi. Her parents didn’t know me from Eve, not to mention Adam. They asked the usual questions most Nigerian parents ask, ‘Where are you from?’ ‘What of your parents?’ and so on…but that was it. They welcomed me with open arms.

They were on their way to Niger State for the Sallah holiday but they let me stay in their house as I had no guardian to spend the one week holiday with. I could have stayed back in school but they were adamant I stay in their home.

I expected to stay the night; a day or two maximum but they didn’t even spend the night in their village. They got there alright but Grace, Fatima’s younger sister wouldn’t let them stay. She insisted that they go back home for me; it didn’t make sense to her that they left me at home with a maid or two while they travelled to their village.

And so they cut their holiday short…for me.

They drove all the way back to Kaduna that same day; night rather. They arrived at night.

They became my unofficial guardians from that day…from Form three till I left Kaduna in Form five.

That was the kind of people they were; that was the kind of person Fatima Gana was.

And now she’s gone.

I only saw her once; about three years after we left school, I went to Kaduna, heard she had trained as a nurse and was working at her uncle,  Dr Mama’s,  Lafiya Clinic. I went to see her there.

She hadn’t changed. Her gap-toothed smile…she welcomed me once again with open arms.

And now she’s gone.

Adieu Fatima Priscilla Gana!

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9 thoughts on “Fatima Priscilla Gana (1971 – 2014)

  1. Soo sorry to hear that you lost your friend. She sounds like an angel. More importantly, it seems like her family is genuinely kind and reached out to you in your time of need.

    I hate to bring in the issue of tribes, but this is a pure example of how humanity should relate to one another regardless of tribal differences (especially in light of the Nigeria Civil War and the lingering animosity between the north and east). This was a truly inspiring piece and it gives me hope that Nigeria can overcome its differences.

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    1. Thank you for your condolences. Priscilla was indeed an angel and the pain is still raw. As for the issue of tribes, my dear let’s not even go there! If we begin to talk about tribalism in Nigeria, I suspect the comments box will explode! I’m grateful for the little light I saw schooling in Kaduna and if
      we truly desire that kind of unity, it can be achieved.

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  2. Awww, what a shame. Reading this makes me so sad. Priscilla was one of our best friends at FGCK. The ‘P’ in our ‘KATAPFO Island’. The behavior describe is typical of her. I can still hear her voice sharing her mother’s words of wisdom with us

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    1. Femi!!! You remembered!!! KATAPFO Island!!!
      What wonderful days of innocence!
      I was crushed when I heard…I still feel…I don’t know how to explain how I feel, knowing that I had plans to get back in touch with her and the next I heard, she was gone. It was a very, very, very sad day, Femi.
      She was an angel.
      Thank you for visiting and commenting. I hope you’re keeping well? I’ve missed hearing about your travels!

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  3. I know exactly what you mean, I’d also have a hard time putting my feelings about those years into words.

    Sorry to have been out of touch for so long, I have a hard time keeping up with all the activities, but I’m still out here 🙂 forever counting down the days till I can hit the road for vacation again.

    I admire your work on the blog 🙂

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  4. I still cant believe what I just read.maybe not the Priscilla I know.i couldn’t stand it when I saw her picture.omG! can someone just tell me its not her,my angel,my sister, my friend.i got to this site by mistake while trying to search for her contact not knowing she is no more.oh …what a world?we were best friends in school at wusasa hospt zaria.the last I spoke to her was while she was on duty at the national hospt.abuja,i didn’t know that would be the last.pls can someone get me jummai or madu,s contact or even their parents ,I really want to talk to any of them before I can believe this story.what could have happened? what about her daughter?what of paul her husband? pls somebody help me!

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    1. Dear Tina,

      I’m so sorry you found out this way. Priscilla has indeed passed on.

      I will email you with more details.

      Please accept my heartfelt condolences. Even almost a year on, we are still trying to come to terms with her loss.

      Like

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