In late 1920s, Late Alhaji Fasasi Adams, a young Islamic scholar embarked on a trip to Mecca via road in what many earlier thought was an impossible feat.
In those days, there was no major means of transport. The only popular means of transport in and out of Lagos Island was by camels and horses.
However Fasasi, whose father and mother were indigene of Ado settlement in Lagos, managed to find his way around and moved to Egypt. He was a young adventurous man in his late 20s. It was from Egypt that he crossed over to Mecca where he spent six and a half years before heading back home.
In fact, people thought he was dead. If you fully understand how people reasoned back in those days when there was no means of communication, you will get my point. There was no means to write home because things like postal office or post masters were not yet in existence.
So how did young Fasasi fare in his controversial journey? City Pulse Nigeria paid a visit to his hometown (Ado) in a quest to find out two things – authenticity of the story and what his people thought about him.
Fare enough, there were a handful of people who confirmed it was true. Some gave us an incomplete version of how this Holy Sojourn impacted on the town. Not until we bumped into two detailed versions from his nephew, Alhaji Mohammed Adams, a former assistant director with Lagos State Internal Revenue Service and the other source, a revered community leader and former Lagos State House of Assembly member, Hon. Yahya Adeniyi Dosunmu.
Adams explained that, in truth, the swash-buckling Fasasi was the first Alhaji in the entire Eti Osa.
“Alhaji Fasasi Adams who happened to be my uncle was equally from this town. My parents used to tell me about how he brought fame to this family when he trekked to Hajj from Lagos with a group of people in 1920s,” he enthused.
Hon. Dosunmu continued the story from where the latter left off.
“I may not be sure about the exact year, but I think he returned from his Mecca trip around 1935 or 1936. It was about that period people like us were about to be born (laughs). I was born in 1939 precisely. Ironically, I learnt that it was this same Alhaji Fasasi who officiated at my naming ceremony.
It is also imperative to note that he was one of the first few privileged educated folks who had access to Arabic education. It was Arabic that brought the first glimpse of civilisation into our society. Then it was a sight to behold seeing somebody who had sojourned for seven years, coming back and speaking Arabic fluently as well as reading the Holy Quran and interpreting it.
I recalled that some Alfas would cross over to Lagos to visit him. He had then established an Arabic school before the establishment of any primary school in Ado. He even went as far as bring in so many people from far and near in Eti Osa to come and learn Arabic. That was why we had people like Adewale, the former missioner, who died in Jammat Islammiyah; Muri Olufunmi, who also became a great teacher and Alhaji Imam Alimi. These people were his products who later became teachers too. These people went to school at adult age and became useful especially when the colonial masters came, taught and converted them to teachers in their classrooms.
He went back to Mecca in early 1980s where he later died. Prior to that time, he had always dreamt of dying at the Holy Land in the far Middle East. That has always been his wish ever since I knew him. Luckily for a man with such desire, he travelled to Mecca that same year. However he has a phobia that the people around him were not holy enough to carry his body. He had this obsession that many of them were sinners and not worthy enough to carry his body.
Fasasi’s character was not that weird before, not until he learnt about the death of the only man he ever trusted and whom he thought would eventually bury him when he die. He became a different person and started dreaming of dying in Mecca one day. There was a time I tried dissuading him from repeating such mantra, he remained adamant.
He died at the age of 80 a fulfilled Muslim.
Many scholars and historians had made painstaking efforts to get, at least one of, his photographs to no avail. Fasasi was someone who never took delight in taking pictures. He was such a conservative Muslim cleric who believed that since nobody has seen the image of Prophet Mohammed, it would be an anathema to dare to snap one.
Another reason was possibly because he knew humans, once given such privilege, may resort to start idolising such photographs. You recall that Osama Bin Laden was drown by the United States Marine in the deepest part of the blue sea. They knew if the body was allowed to be buried, his followers may gather round his graveyard and turn it to a worship centre.
On why Fasasi was not immortalised…
“The society we are, particularly Eti Osa, was hardly given such recognition. We can only say that we are somewhat lucky now that we are getting closes to the government.
Until now, Ado and all the villages in Eti Osa were mere settlement. People went about their farming, fishing and petty trading businesses. You tend to hear the cries of pap and akara sellers in the wee hours of each morning. Some usually returned late in the evening fagged out. The only thought on their mind as at that time was just to get something to eat and sleep.
Tell me, who out of this lot did you actually think had the time to talk about immortalising supposed heroes?”
What a legend! Interesting, isn’t it?