An Abuja Village where Bill Clinton’s promises still echo strong

By: Light I. Shedrack

“A white man came here with his daughter.  He shook hands with us.  He carried the children on his own arms and played with them.  He has a ‘pointed nose’ and spoke smilingly as he played with us.  There was an interpreter because we could hardly understand his “oyibo” accent.  He showed us love and promised us a world where peace and harmony would be pursued.  We cried as he left.  We escorted the car that took him away.  We waved our hands and bid them farewell.  In appreciation, our District Chief Mallam Mohammadu Baba gave him the highest honour and title unique to him alone – “Danmasani”.  We availed him a space among us where if he so wished, he could build or farm on.  We named our place after him “Bill Clinton’s village”. He promised us a place in history. Those promises still echo in our hearts till date”.

Those were the very words of one of the young people who had the opportunity of having a hand shake with Bill Clinton, the former President of America.  He is one of the rural dwellers in a mountainous remote village in one of the Abuja outskirts where Bill and his daughter Chelsea visited during his maiden visit as 42nd President of the United States of America on August 27, 2000 in company of the former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo.  There have been visits of other notable world figures since former President Bill Clinton visited.  Former President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, former Swiss Vice President, ruth Metzier, a UN Under Secretary General and Executive Director of UN women, Michelle Bachelet amongst others have visited Ushafa village.

Ushafa village is endowed with resources, many touristic and aesthetic elements which when fully harnessed could become a veritable source of income to both the government and the people of Ushafa.  The people are predominantly farmers and potters.  There are other crafts such as mat weaving, wood carving, painting and sculpting popular among the people.

Till date, time has not erased the memory of that white man whose accent stirred much laughter and who lavishly smiled as he spoke.  The youths danced to welcome him in their village.  This white man shook hands with them.  He challenged them to affect their ‘world’ positively by obeying the leaders and becoming inventors and great people in history.  He promised to aid them in any way he could towards achieving those dreams he challenged them on.  Above all, he promised to aid in bringing their crafts and pottery skills to international limelight. Although years has elapsed and seasoned passed, his promises still echo even as they wish to see that “Whiteman” face again.

That man is the former President of America Bill Clinton when he visited a remote village called Ushafa.  Ushafa is one of the outskirts villages with the Federal Capital Territory.  Most of the residents are farmers and potters.  Ushafa village also known as Bill Clinton’s village is in Bwari Area Council, a mountainous peaceful village where everyone sees each other as brother irrespective of differences in religion, tribe, political and other social affiliations.  Everyone spoke almost in unison as regards the visit of Bill Clinton.  They made a moonlight song from his visits and the accent of that white man whose palms were so soft, softer than theirs.  His stay with them was brief.  They wish he could come visiting again.  They would take him to the farm to display their skills and strength to him.  They would beat their drum of love again and dance their dance steps for him.

Although America is thousands of kilometers away from Ushafa, the residents of Ushafa see another America in their small village.  A President of America walked on their land.  He sat with them and shared beautiful stories with them.  This in their thought has brought a far continent to their own very reach.  Above all, a village has been named after their ‘visitor’ – Bill Clinton.

Their Hero is till date celebrated as a sage and a well lettered man who challenged them on the need for education; on the need of self-empowering crafts.  Bill is possibly the very first ‘white’ President who walked on their plain and shared a memory that will linger.  The people of Ushafa celebrate Bill Clinton every day.  They celebrate America while holding on to the dream of a new America in Ushafa village as promised them by their hero.

 

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