From This Day Online, Chidi Amuta interviews Nigeria's Maryam Babangida.
In a sense then, Maryam Babangida was largely the force behind the awesome power of the great General. And yet hers was the soft kind of power; subtle, unabrasive and without the usual pomposity of the moneyed class. She was sophisticated without being over adorned, elegant in simple ankara outfits and no make up and yet stylish without the kind of deliberate adornment that transforms otherwise beautiful women into mannequins and painted idols.
Between the late First Lady and the General, there was a certain utopian love that still defies precise characterisation. Each time I have stepped into the general’s office, I have never failed to take another count of the number of portraits of Hajia in that single room. At the last count there were four. Sometimes, it grows to six. Every bathroom in the guest wing of the house has towels with ‘Maryam Babangida’ monograms. This almost totemic devotion becomes more significant when we realise that General Babangida is unquestionably a devout Muslim.
As we pay our last respects to Mrs. Babangida, here is a hope that Nigerian womanhood will come to treasure her landmark strides in reminding us all of the vast humanity that lies locked away by poverty in the rural areas. But most importantly, we are celebrating the life of a woman that married power and privilege with responsibility and commitment to the cause of those that may never taste either power or privilege.