23 February 2013

Nigeria: A Family's Great Loss - 'Only Prayers Will Help Us Overcome the Pain'

The wave of infernos raging across the country claimed the latest of its victims in Kano last Friday- 6 children, 5 of them from just one family. Still grieving over the loss, the parents spoke with ABUBAKAR SALIHI on how life has been since the tragic incident

One cannot imagine a greater pain than losing a child that one had carried for nine months, nurtured and watched growing up. Now, imagine losing five of them at once. Where does one start to grieve? How does one start a new life? These and many more are questions begging to be answered. But only the Creator has those answers.

"This is one tragedy that will change my entire life as a mother and as a human being who has great affection for children. I am afraid this will go a long way in breaking my heart; it is demoralizing," said the emotional and traumatized mother of five, Hajiya Hussaina Magaji. One cannot but feel her pain.

She laments how this tragic happening will affect her life. She also puts it as the redefining moment of her life, whether she will think of restarting her life all over again or live with the sadness of what fortune has brought to her.

Hussaina, who couldn't hold her tears, hardly spoke loud enough for the next person to grasp what she was saying. She was also a source of emotional concern. Notwithstanding, she described her children as well behaved, lovely and had paid attention to their studies.

"After all, Allah SWT is who gives life and takes it whenever He so wishes. I will continue to be the devoted servant of Allah, because this is how he wanted me and my children to serve Him". She said.

While speaking with the father of the deceased on how the tragedy has affected his life, the Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Kano University of Science and Technology, KUST, Engr. Tambaya Magaji said, as a Muslim, one must believe in predestination and take it in good faith as the basic principle of Iman.

"I think what will last for a long time in my memory is that, although I am not the type of father that my children used to force to do things for them, on that fateful Friday night, my daughter, late Maryam, forced me to tutor her in her school work as if she was asking me to do one last thing for her. The others too did similar things to me at different times." Tambaya revealed.

The university Don described the loss as painful and only prayers and words of encouragement from family and colleagues could hold him to continue doing what he was doing besides the strong belief in Allah's wishes.

Recounting the incident of the fire outbreak, Engr. Tambaya said he was not at home when the fire that killed his five children and Humaira started. Humaira was their neighbour's child who came to spend the night with her friends because her mother was not in good health.

"I was at the scene when the fire razed down the whole of my house and my five beloved children." Tambaya said.

Tambaya described in heart -wrenching details the last moment he had with his children and his first wife before he left for his second wife's house nearby where he intended to spend the night.

According to him, the fire started as a result of an electrical spark shortly after the resumption of power. He said light was brought and taken in quick succession, which led to an electrical fault.

"The fire started near my children's room which was near the electrical connection box of the house which is the main entrance of the house; hence the children saw the fire before their mother and went to her room to inform her. Together they hid in the sitting room looking for a way out of the fire." He narrated.

Engr. Tambaya, in an emotion-laden voice said his wife told him that the confusion that ensued thereafter prevented them from finding their way to the exit door and as such, they all became trapped, while the fire extended to other parts of the building.

"She told me she did not know that one of her children was following her, until a neighbour cut open the building's burglar proof and let them out." He explained.

He also added that she explained to him that she had almost given up when neighbours broke open a place and they were out and the whole house burst in flames and consumed the other six children trapped inside.

The slain children were Nana Amina who was four, Ibrahim 15, Mustapha 10, Aminu 12, Maryam 7, and Humaira, a neighbour's daughter.

Public relations officer of the Kano Fire Service headquarters, Kassim Musa confirmed that their men had put out the fire and brought out the six dead children.

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