Why Grandpa Aminu Dantata gave away in 1967 Nigeria’s first Mercedes Benz 600

What is it about giving that gives givers the edge? What is it about giving that gives givers the top crest of pleasures? Does it have anything to do with what they know? That the best fruits are often plucked for us by others?

Grandpa Aminu Dantata has given quite a lot away over the years but why he would give away the first Mercedes Benz 600 that was brought into Nigeria in 1967 still fascinates me. Here is the story: The Shehu of Borno, Umar Ibn Muhammad had died and plans were afoot for his funeral. General Hassan Katsina, who was governor of Northern Nigeria had made arrangements for the Sultan of Sokoto, the Emir of Kano, Emir of Zaria, Emir of Katsina, who happened to be his father; and other leading traditional rulers, to be flown from Kano to Maiduguri for the burial of late Shehu. The different traditional leaders had converged in Kano from their different domains for the flight to Maiduguri.

After the burial, the rulers returned to Kano and met the governor, General Hassan who suggested that the Sultan of Sokoto and Emir of Katsina join the Emir of Kano at the palace in Kano, to break the Ramadan Fast, which was going on at the time. The Emir of Kano then yielded his Rolls-Royce to take the Sultan of Sokoto and Emir of Katsina to his palace, after which he looked around, saw Grandpa Aminu and called him in Hausa, ‘You are going to take me home,’ he said. Grandpa Aminu then asked his driver to bring up the Mercedes Benz 600, which he had bought only a few days before.

When the driver delivered the car, he got into the driver’s seat, the Emir sat at the owner’s car while one of the dogarai, the traditional palace guard, sat in front. He drove the Emir to the palace. And left the car there. As a gift for the Emir. The Emir had sat in the car. He was not going to take it back. He had earlier asked his driver to bring another car to the palace to take him home.

It was big gift but the more important bit was not its monetary value or historical value for that matter. But its symbolic value. Its honour value. Grandpa Aminu was giving honour to whom it was due. As we all should.

But is honour reserved only for kings? Certainly not. Honour and dignity are two sides of the same coin, which is minted within every one of us on a daily basis. Meaning that we have loads of these coins banked up within the vaults of each individual. The raw material for producing them are received daily through the many openings in our bodies, including our noses, mouths, ears, the countless pores on our skins and others. We are required to give to everyone we encounter daily, regardless of any qualifier we might want to associate with the ‘beneficiary,’ these coins. Of course, these coins do not have to be physical or material. That those we encounter everyday share an undeniable part in humanity, just as we do, is reason enough to give them honour and dignity, as Grandpa Aminu showed us.

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