‘Jose and the Death of the Field Marshal’ – A Small Tribute!

The ‘Field Marshal’ died in the early hours of March 13, 2023.

I woke up that morning to the sound of a barrage of messages on my phone.

The first came from my former classmate and childhood friend, retired director general of the Nigerian Television Authority, and captain of our football and athletics teams at St Murumba’s College, Jos, Mallam Yakubu Ibn Mohammed. ‘Planner the Dazzler’The man who dazzled the school with his legs as well as his brain.

With his message came a flood of memories of Jos and the field marshal.

I spent the first 17 years of my life in Jos, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Anyone who knew Jose before the internal crisis of 1966 and even in the 1980s will tell you exactly this – tin city It was the best place to be born, grow up, work and live life in search of real happiness. The city had everything good as a sample to offer to the world.

Its climate was, and still is, one of the best in the world – cool for 2 months before the rains each year, cool for 2 months, mild for 2 months and hot for two months. Snow falling hail is not an uncommon occurrence.

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Scooped up with a spoon by some natural cataclysmic event (a meteor or asteroid) in the distant past, the Jose ‘sits’ in the resulting trough, a plateau surrounded by dark rocky hills, some 2000 feet above sea level . The city and its surrounding villages are a fascinating landscape of rock formations, ravines, gorges, springs gushing from huge boulders, and artificial lakes from old mines.

Some rare earth minerals can be found around the city. That is why the city was a great attraction for foreigners to search for the rich minerals in that environment. It was a town of miners who dug the earth along meandering streams and riverbeds that often revealed the presence of tin ore. That part of Nigeria used to have the largest deposits of tin and columbite in the world. All of them have been mined and deep abandoned holes in the ground have been filled with rain water. The result is a mixed blessing. These deep and dangerous lakes of water have now irreversibly changed the landscape. At the same time, imaginative business adventurers have ‘tamed’ some of them and turned them into holiday resorts with warnings never to swim.

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The combination of rare minerals, good weather, a large railway terminus for trains to and from the east, west and north of Nigeria, and a small airstrip (now expanded into an airport) that could accommodate small aircraft, made Jos a major tourist destination. The attraction made foreigners, miners and traders from all over the country. At one point in history Jos had the largest walled market in Nigeria.

The city was a melting pot of ‘immigrants’ from all parts of Nigeria. the real owner of the land, the biomeSwere ‘invisible’, the smallest of the population in the metropolitan city, quietly, happily and peacefully living their sheltered lives in their villages which are rich in exotic forums, fauna and arable land, gifted to them by Mother Nature Are.

Then one day in January of 1966, politics came to the surface and disturbed the peace of this work of the Creator. The destruction of this ‘Garden’ began with a massacre that became one of the darkest chapters in the history of Nigeria. This model metropolitan city in the heart of Nigeria became the theater of some of the most brutal revenge killings, a region consuming the blood of thousands of innocent Nigerians in a senseless orgy of political, ethnic, tribal and religious differences.

Jose has been nursing this existential threat for decades, hurting and distressing without treatment, even until now. Like a volcano, terror erupts from the bowels of hell again and again, making attempts to cauterize the wounds ineffective.

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I grew up in that city seeing and experiencing both sides of the coin, the good and the bad.


ismaila mabo

Incidentally, what Jos has never lost during his long stay in the dark tunnels is its production line of some of the best footballers and long distance runners in Nigeria. The tradition of breeding exceptional football players lives on and remains a reminder that this could be one of the ‘soft tools’ to deploy in nursing the city back to good health. For those leaders who can see past the superficiality of sport as a simple game or pastime, and see its unifying, engaging and enriching strengths, all they need to do is to note that the fire still burning in Jose How to use this resource to extinguish. Trust me, it can be done.

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Jos has been producing some of the finest and highest numbers of exceptionally talented football players in the history of Nigeria.

It has produced more players for Nigeria’s national teams than any other city except perhaps Lagos. He is a great ambassador.

I have been surfing through the names of football greats who have passed through Jose’s ‘tutelage’ – Erewa, Majeli, Tunde Abeki, Hudson Papingo, Fabian Duru, Christopher ‘Ajilo’ Udemezhu, Godwin Ogbueze, Emmanuel Egede, Leiwola Olagbemiro, Gabriel Babalola, Peter Enike, Tony Igwe, Samuel Garba, Amusa Shittu, Tijani Salihu, Joseph Agbogbowia, Atuegbu Brothers, Sunday Daniel, Bala Ali, Wole Odegbami, Mikel Obi, Sam Ubah, Sam Palm, Patrick Mancha, Ali Jeje , and a whole new set of players in the immediate past and Nigeria national teams.

That tap is not dry. Jos is still breeding an endless stream of players who are immune to the city’s damaging reputation as a center of ethnic, tribal, political and religious differences.

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as i remember life, that’s what i remember field marshal, He was a Hausa man whose parents were originally from Kano, but spent all his life in Jos. His dream, which he often shared with me, was for the government to find a way to return old Jose to the city where we all grew up, loved and lived happily ever after.

his nickname, ‘field marshal’ Him aptly captured on the football field; how he played like a general giving orders to his troops from behind; how he initiates most attacks with his smooth and elegant runs and passes over the top; How he played with unusual composure and calmness, a page from the book of the great German freedomFranz Berkenbauer.

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field marshal A joy to watch on the field, always cool and confident in his neat interceptions. Never wasting a tackle, always calculative, and a great organizer of his team, especially his defense line. He was therefore always made captain of his various teams – captain of St. Theresa’s Boys’ School, Jos; Captain, Academy Institute of Commerce, Jos. Captain of Mighty Jets FC and Plateau United FC; and, very briefly, the captain of green eagles,

He turned to coaching after his illustrious playing career and became as good a coach as he was as a player. Her best achievements were her tenure as head coach of the Nigeria women’s national team. Falcon, His records speak for themselves. He is regarded as the most successful coach in Nigeria women’s football history.

That’s why the whole country mourned his death last week at the age of 79.

He was felled by a freak domestic accident, a broken hip bone. He called me a few weeks ago and assured me that he was feeling better. Then, the news of his death hit me like a hammer in the head, again a humbling reminder that none of us have any right to live while others die. Life is a privilege bestowed by the universe for which we should always be grateful as we wait our turn at the gates of eternity.

Ismaila Mohammed Mabo, Field MarshalThe national team was one of the last surviving members of the era of footballers who went on to represent Nigeria at the 1968 Olympic Games and nearly won Brazil.

May he well go back to his creator!

Dr. Olusegu Odegbami Mon, OLY

Photo credit: Fabong Jemchang Yildem on FB

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