As if you don’t know, aluta is a Portuguese word that means “struggle”. The term, Aluta Continua (the struggle continues) was popularised by the Mozambique Liberation Front (or FRELIMO) leader, Samora Machel, who used it to mobilise people against the Portuguese rule in his country. Aluta is also the title of a 1971 film depicting that anti-colonial struggle and it gained further prominence when Machel adopted it as an unofficial motto after becoming the first President of Mozambique in 1975.
The wind of aluta blew into our lexical climate in the early 70’s due to that connection. To an average student, aluta means riot, protest, trouble or simply we no gree. It is a battle cry that had found eloquent expression during the heady days of Ali must go! in the late 70’s. Many students were attracted to aluta especially during the years of military rule and some even adopted it as a nom de guerre. Till today, aluta still fascinates some students the same way swimming in a lagoon would fascinate a child, a silly little child.
Aloha, however, in the Hawaiian language, is “affection, peace, compassion and mercy”. It has come to be used in English since the 19th century as a form of greeting meaning “goodbye” and “hello”. Just as Kwara State is the “State of Harmony”, the nickname of the US state of Hawaii is the “Aloha State”. Aloha is peace.
Fortunately at the University of Ilorin, undoubtedly the Aloha University, there has been no aluta, with its accompanying destruction, disruption and even death for a decade now and it has been aloha all through. With courage, resolve and sense of purpose, the University community has kicked Aluta out and ushered in Aloha, the beautiful bride.
The credit for this development belongs to the University students who have really come of age. As the Dean of Student Affairs, Prof. Olubunmi Omotesho, said last Monday (March 31) at the colourful Students Union Youth Leadership Summit and Journal Launch at the University Auditorium, our students have truly attained enviable heights as role models for their peers. “From the empty sloganeering of “Aluta” of the years past, our cherished students now prefer to sing “Aloha”, thereby magnetising development to the University”, he remarked.
If the students are commended, they share the credit with the University which has been forthright in promoting staff and student welfare. As one good turn deserves another, the single-minded commitment of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali, and his team to providing a conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning has resulted in students seeing themselves as partners-in-progress, organising summits, publishing academic journals and celebrating excellence as we witnessed last Monday. There would be “aluta” of course if the University increases the school fees to about N350,000.00 as a public University in Lagos did recently but the better by far University would not take such a measure, thanks to the leadership!
The Students Union programme will certainly linger long in the memory of those who attended in it especially with the quality of what the various dignitaries said on the occasion. One important food for thought I took from there was the “Clear Vision” of the Vice-Chancellor, his address in which, among other things, he shared Marshall Field’s ten guidelines for success. Thumps up for the University of Ilorin students!
Though the month of March 2014 has fortunately marched out of our lives, it left unforgettable imprints on our psyche as an academic community. This column had already featured the two deaths of two former Deans of Arts that happened last month. It was the same month (on March 19), moreover, that a former Deputy Chief Imam of the University of Ilorin and Associate Professor of Biochemistry, Nasrudeen O. Mohammed, died in Ilorin.
Until he transferred his services to the Federal University about a year ago, the late don was a hard working lecturer who rose through the ranks to become a Reader and acting Head of Biochemistry Department at the University of Ilorin. He was well known for his simplicity, devotion, dynamism and brilliance. Prof. Mohammed was the Director of Academic Planning at the Federal University, Dutsin Ma, Katsina State. He was loved by all but death doesn’t bargain. He was aged just 49. Inna liLlaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’un.
Such is life. The number of the dead is increasing. We owe ourselves a duty of waking from the Illusion. With death, like Prof. Mohammed, we shall achieve the Ideal. May Allah bless his soul and grant him Aljannah Firdaws. Aloha!