Meet Malam Umaru Altine, first mayor of Enugu

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Malam Umaru Altine, a Fulani man from Sifawa in the Sokoto Caliphate, was elected as the first Mayor of the city of Enugu, the capital of the old Eastern Region of Nigeria, the heartbeat of the Igbo nation, in 1952, and was in office till 1958.

Altine was a cattle dealer who had left Sokoto to sojourn in Enugu, where he married an Igbo lady, named Esther, and was president of the Enugu branch of the youth wing of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC).

He is a direct descendant of Uthman Dan Fodio and could have equally emerged as Sultan of Sokoto one day, but he preferred travelling and adventure.

Despite the change of environment and cultural differences, Altine wore the popular babariga, with a turban, and on some occasions wore suits, as the functions of the office, demanded.

As his duties demanded as Mayor in Enugu, he went to church, without losing his identity, he loved the native Igbo nsala soup with fresh fish and fufu, a great sense of personal hygiene and good command of English, Fulfulde, Hausa and Igbo languages.

He had earlier joined the Army and worked briefly with the Railways, his elected and re-elected as Mayor was overwhelmingly by the people of Enugu, he was a product of Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe’s political nationalistic and cosmopolitan outlook.

His tenure as Mayor recorded so much peace and development in the city of Enugu, he was a pan-Nigerian.

Azikiwe wanted his entry into Enugu politics, to tell the story of a Nigeria that could only grow without ethnic, religious or tribal divides.

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