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Remembering Usman Baba Pategi (Samanja): Pioneer of Kannywood

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Remembering Usman Baba Pategi (Samanja) Pioneer of Kannywood

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Usman Baba Pategi, popularly known as Samanja Mazan Fama, was a retired Nigerian soldier who played a crucial role in introducing the Hausa comedy genre to the Northern Nigerian audience.

Born on May 20, 1942, in Pategi, Northern Nigeria, Pategi hailed from the royal house of Pategi Emirate.

He started his education at Pategi Primary School and later attended Ilorin Middle School.

Afterward, he moved to Kaduna to live with his uncle, Alhaji Audu Bida, and eventually joined the Northern Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in Kaduna.

In the 1960s, when an Army captain came looking for volunteers in Northern Nigeria during the Nigerian civil war, Pategi left his job at the Broadcasting Corporation and joined the Nigerian Army.

He trained at the Signal Training School in Apapa and served under General Sani Abacha and General Sani Sami. Pategi retired from the Army in 1985 and pursued a career in acting.

Pategi’s acting career began at the FRCN Kaduna, where he directed and wrote movies. He became widely known as Samanja Maza Fama, which translates to Sergeant-Major, due to his experience in the army.

In 2010, Pategi underwent heart surgery in India, with financial assistance of N1.5 million from Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the Chairman of Dangote Group.

Pategi, along with Chika Apala, known as Zebrudaya, was one of the notable Nigerian actors in the movie industry.

They were honored guests at the dinner of art theatre in the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP).

Despite being the heir to the Etsu Pategi Emirate, Pategi chose to pursue his acting career instead of ascending the throne.

He often portrayed police or soldier roles in movies, drawing from his experience in the army. Pategi’s performances were particularly memorable during the Army Day Celebrations, including those held in General Ibrahim Babangida’s Lagos residence and the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja.

Pategi gained popularity for his role in the Hausa film, Samanja, directed by Yusuf Ladan.

The movie showcased the unique blend of Hausa, English, and Pidgin English, mirroring the way Nigerian soldiers communicate.

Baba Pategi was a family man, having three wives and twenty children.

Unfortunately, he lost one of his wives, Hajiya Maryam Baba, at the age of 46.

Pategi died on Sunday November 12th, 2023 at the age of 81.

This article was updated 5 months ago

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