Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria where he has taught for decades is rolling out the drums for Prof Steve Abah, one of their grandmasters this weekend and it would not be surprising if this weekend turns out one of migration to Zaria, no one should be surprised about such a people’s movement. His many students in the diverse creative industry spaces might want to be part of the rites marking his departure from Zaria even if fuel price is over N1000 per litre.
Patrons of the good, old Drama Village at ABU, Zaria might also want to use this occasion to be see what might still be going on there. So, imagining what the weekend around the Drama Arts community of practice might look like can be consuming for some people all through the weekend.
This 70th birthday anniversary may not be unconnected to two reasons. The first one are his areas of specialisation, particularly the first specialisation which is the storytelling genre. The postmodernist critique of modernity and the emergent centrality of cosmologies means that it is even now that countries like Nigeria will begin to need a Prof Steve Abah. His second area of specialisation is Development Communication developed from a Theatre Arts lens. It is no less important.
The second is he as a generational statement. Without suggesting that the generation following theirs are all rough riders, Prof Abah is of the more patient, more tolerant and less inclined to punish those under their epistemic authority, except in cases of grave moral/ethical infraction.
Should he be leaving the university system today, ABU, Zaria’s loss will be the gain of the wider communities of practice around his two main specialisations as he may be retired but certainly not tired. It is easy to see global civil society and international organisations seeking him out, especially for his mastery of Idoma cosmologies at a time of inter-cosmological relations in a world trying to do away with the coloniality of modernity.
Intervention can only hope that whether it is Abuja, Makurdi, Otukpo or Akpa that Prof retires to whenever it happens, we would still be seeing him connected to a university one way or the other. And that is as soon as he has rested from surviving the turbulence of Zaria in the past 30 or so years which has been characterised by the volatile tendency politics of the old Faculty of Arts (FASS), violent religious riots and unorthodox university governance moments such as when ABU had a retired General as a Sole Administrator. Congratulations, Prof!