Sani Mamuda, otherwise known as Sani Dankanin Adamu Babuje, shortened for Sani Dankani, is Nupe by tribe and the son of a soldier, Mamuda Bida or Mamuda Lokoja who served in 4 Battalion of the Nigerian Army. His mother, Juda, hailed from Bebeji Local Government Area of Kano State.
Sani Dankani said, “I don’t know my exact age but my father said I was a toddler when he took me on his shoulders to watch the durbar in honour of Queen Elizabeth when she visited Nigeria in 1957. I might be around 64 years old now.
"I was born in Kontagora Road in Kaduna metropolis and attended a Quranic school in Jos Road. I was later enrolled in High Society Primary School now renamed Sheikh Abdullahi. We however relocated when my father completed his house in Rafindadi Road, Unguwan Shanu.
“I started attending Sultan Bello Primary School with my elder brother Adamu. I liked education, so most parents whose children were truants handed them over to me so I could accompany them to school because I was very strong physically and also a fast runner.
"One of my teachers called Musa kept flogging me for not doing well in Arithmetic and English, but the daughter of the Emir of Ilorin who shared a seat with me then started coaching me and I improved but the teacher’s beating didn’t abate so I abandoned school in Class 3.”
Sani formed a group of ten boys who usually go to the house of the late Premier of Northern Region, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, in search of money. When they spent some time without seeing him, they would hit one of the boys who would cry out so loud until the Sardauna emerged. They would tell him that the one crying wanted to see the Premier. He would smile and hand over some coins (kobo) to each of them.
Sani detested injustice and bullying, which was why whenever he felt someone was being unjustly treated, he intervened and which most times resulted in fights.
He said, “Four of my own fights led me to serve prison terms, and the remaining fifteen were as a result of defending others. The first fight was because of my love affair with a lady. We loved each other but her parents disapproved of the relationship. One day, I didn’t know her mother was with her when I gave her money. The woman burst into tears, with a stern warning that she didn’t want me near her daughter.
“A passerby slapped me in the process and when I remembered that I was slapped in the presence of my girlfriend, I beat up the man. He reported to the police and a policeman was sent to arrest me, but I beat him too. They sent 10 policemen and we fought for two hours before they overpowered me and I ended up in prison.”
“When I left prison, the late chief of butchers Alhaji Hussaina Sarkin Fawa held his daughter’s hand and told me she would become my wife on one condition - if I didn’t fight for the remaining 13 days of Eid or Sallah celebration. Alhaji Muhammadu Dan-Danbe said he would give me money on the wedding day and Shaiubu Naman-Gayu said he would give me clothes.
“In order to meet the condition, I went in communicado for ten days. On the 11th day, I went out in the evening and close to Alhaji Ali Gumi’s house, I saw a bully who pushed down a little boy, throwing away his food in the process. I asked the elders around why they didn’t intervene and they told me that the father of the bully owned a ‘chemist’ and has a lawyer who defended his child.
“As I bent down to assist the boy, the bully attacked him again and when I intervened, he demanded to know who sent me. I beat him up and he ran to his father. His father came and challenged me and I also beat him up. In the evening, 10 police officers came and arrested me and I went back to prison because I had no lawyer to defend me. That was how I lost the opportunity to marry the lady and the gifts associated with the proposal.”
Sani said he found himself in prison for the third time when a man accused him of offending him but he told him he couldn’t remember him or the offence.
“The man cursed my father and being controlled by the substances I was consuming and smoking then in youthful exuberance, I removed my shirt to fight but the giant hit me and I fell. He hit me repeatedly and in the course of the fight, I hit him hard in his eye and he started crying and left.
"After many days, he came with a big stick and wanted to hit me but I grabbed a butcher’s knife and threatened to slash his stomach with the knife. That ended the stand-off.”
There were times when Sani reported himself to the Kawo Police Station when he learnt that they came to arrest him if he fought and wounded someone.
Despite his daily fisticuffs on the streets, Sani never stole a kobo as he was a professional butcher. The cat with nine lives outlived all his non-aggressive brothers and sisters, as he is the only surviving member of his family. He is married but yet to sire a child, though he has adopted the nine children -four males and five females, left behind by his brothers and sisters.
It is however surprising how Sani Dankani retired permanently from street fighting. He said, “I was heading out of prison when a boy of about six years confronted me and said he had not seen me for some time. I told him I traveled but the boy said I was lying because his father told him that I fought and was thrown back in jail.
"The boy told me to desist from fighting and I told him I would not. He told him that if I did not fight that day, he would bring me his evening meal and he came and sat near me. I told the boy to run along with his errand but he refused. I took him to his family and they brought me his evening meal.”
Sani Dankani has not fought for almost two decades now; he doesn’t drink, smoke or eat kola nut. He prays five times in congregations and urges youths to try as much as possible to avoid lawlessness.
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