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  Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was born to Yakubu Dan Zala of Gere ethnicity and Fatima Inna of Gere and Fulani descent in Bauchi (Northern Nigeria Protectorate) in December 1912.
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Balewa began to study at a Koranic School in Bauchi from where he proceeded to Bauchi Provincial School. Balewa furthered his studies at Katsina College (now Barewa College), where he was a schoolmate with Ahmadu Bello who was two years Balewa’s senior. Amidst the struggles of going to school on foot 400 kilometres away from home, Balewa completed his five-year studies in 1933. His secondary education had British expatriates tutoring the students in various disciplines which readied them for the colonialist mindset and civilisation. He finally made the return journey to Bauchi to teach at the Bauchi Middle School. Balewa quickly rose through the ranks to become a senior schoolmaster. By 1941, he had become acquainted with Aminu Kano – another vibrant teacher who would later become influential in Northern political philosophy. Having risen to the position of headmaster after an unfortunate event at the school, Balewa and a few other teachers in the Northern Provinces were handpicked to remark on a short study abroad at the Institute of Education, University of London – a major unit of the University College London (UCL) in 1944. As soon as Balewa returned to Nigeria, he became the Inspector of Schools for the colonial administration in the Northern province.
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This would become Balewa’s pathway into politics. As early as 1946, Balewa had been elected to the Northern House of Assembly, and later to the Legislative Council as of 1947. Banking on his oratorical skills, Balewa became a vocal advocate of the rights of Northern Nigeria. And despite the hesitance of the North to become independent, Balewa soon became the face of the call for independence from British colonial rule in Nigeria. Partly resulting from Sardauna Ahmadu Bello’s prodding, Balewa sought more roles for the educated members of the emirates in the Native Administration and this really endeared him to the British crown. Balewa founded the Bauchi Discussion Circle – an organization for political reform – in 1943. By 1948 he became vice president of the first trade union in Northern Nigeria, the Northern Teacher’s Association. And in 1949, together with Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Balewa started the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) before he resigned his post as headmaster. The NPC was originally a cultural organization; meanwhile, it had morphed into a political party by 1951. Featured Image Source: BBC
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This article was first published on 9th September 2021


Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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