Sixteen days ago, we lost Inna Kaltum, along with our lifelong family friends Farida Shehu Kaikai and Falmata Kur Mohammed; even the tears were too devastated to come out. Over a hundred and thirty other worthy compatriots also lost their lives in a plane that had no business being in the air. But I won’t bother you with a father’s teary laments and sentimental reminiscences. This is a celebration of life and a summary of the lessons I have learnt from their so sudden and so tragic a departure.
William Shakespeare got it a bit mixed up, if not all together wrong, when he wrote that “the evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” Not all the time; often enough, the good things we do also live after us as everlasting witness to our contributions to this great journey of life. Never have I been as thoroughly humbled as those first 48 hours after the crash. Literally thousands came to commiserate with us and pay their respects to Kaltum’s life and her positive impacts on theirs. I saw so much genuine love and affection along with deeply felt sense of loss. More than half came simply because they knew Kaltum and her siblings; they had no idea what I looked like. She seemed to have positively impacted on more people in her short life than I had with twice as much the time. She probably got it from her mother as I am usually more brusque and impatient. In my grief I still felt doubly honoured to have sired one so gentle, humble, honest, selfless and generous. There and then I resolved to try and live my life, whatever is left of it, as this gift of a daughter had. We should all pray that our kids would be better than us. In our case she has made us all very proud.
Farida’s father, Shehu Kaikai, came to similar conclusions, adding that while we are busy trying to organise and see how to bring back peace and unity in the North, our daughters seemed to have built incredibly inclusive and compact networks of friends and associates...
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