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As he pays homage to her graveside

By Our Reporter

Former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has penned a tribute to a Catholic nun, Sister Katherine Devane, who had a strong impact on his life by shaping his values and worldview from a young age.

Devane was the headmistress of Sanusi’s alma mater, St Anne’s Primary School in Kakuri, Kaduna State, and Sanusi credited the late nun with instilling in him a love for learning and appreciation of people of all faiths.

According to Sanusi, he recently visited Ardfoyle Convent in Cork, Ireland to pay his respects to Devane who passed away in 2021 at the age of 95.

Reflecting on his time as an 8-year-old pupil under Devane’s guidance in 1971, Sanusi recounted her quiet tenderness, care and love that transcended religious boundaries.

He recalled when he took ill with malaria, and the Catholic nun went out of her way to wrap him up, drive him to the hospital, and nurture him back to health.

“It may sound like a small thing but for a young boy the love and care at that point was so touching, and the care continued until I left. She did not have to do that herself.

“Now why is all this important? Sr Katherine was a catholic sister who showed so much love to a Muslim boy. She showed me the kind of care and concern I would expect from a mother.

“I learnt from an early age that there are wonderful people in every religion. After Sr Katherine no one could ever tell me all christians were bad people and only Muslims were good. No one could teach me hatred or enmity for someone simply because they were of a different faith, or stop me from loving those who love me and being kind to those who are kind to me simply because they are not Muslims,” he wrote.

Sanusi said Devane’s act of compassion made an indelible mark on him as a young Muslim boy, saying she “taught- and gave- me LOVE at an early age. And in this she influenced my life, my world view, even before I went to King’s College. She gave me an open mind to other faiths, and I have had the fortune since then of having many friends- brothers and sisters- who are christian. They have in some cases shown me more love and loyalty than many of my blood-relatives.”

He further expressed gratitude to Our Lady of the Apostles (OLA) sisters and the SMA Catholic missionaries who established quality educational institutions like St. Anne’s in Kaduna without attempting to convert Muslim students.

He lauded their acceptance of pupils from all faiths and accommodation of Islamic practices like Ramadan fasting.

Sanusi stressed that Devane’s kindness opened his eyes to the inherent kindness in people across religions which shattered prejudices and allowed him to embrace the Quranic teachings of being “kind and good and caring and just to all those non-Muslims who did not fight us for our faith or persecute us Q60:8-9 for instance).”

He said his visit to Sister Devane’s grave was to express his gratitude for the moral foundation she helped build in him from a tender age.

He prayed for peace and understanding in Nigeria, that “we learn that love and mercy are what we need, not hatred and bloodshed.”

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