Life and Times of Usman Baba Pategi (Samanja)

by Duchess Magazine

Born on May 20, 1942, in Pategi, Northern Nigeria, Usman Baba Pategi, also referred to as Samanja, was the son of the Pategi Emirate’s royal dynasty. He was the late King of Pategi Etsu Usman Patako’s son. Samanja was a well-known actor, broadcaster, and retired military.

After attending Pategi Primary School, he continued his early education in Ilorin Middle School. Later on, he moved in with his uncle Alhaji Audu Bida in Kaduna, where he became his house assistant. Prior to joining Northern Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in Kaduna, he continued to work for the public works department in the mechanical store.

In the 1960s, Pategi enlisted in the Nigerian Army during the country’s civil war, after an Army captain contacted young people in Northern Nigeria to volunteer. He joined the army after quitting the Broadcasting Corporation and received training at the Signal Training School in Apapa. He worked for both General Sani Sami and General Sani Abacha. He subsequently retired in 1985 and pursued a career in play acting at the FRCN Kaduna, where he also wrote and directed films. Due to his experience gained throughout his army tenure, he was mostly known as Sergeant-Major (SerMajor), or Samanja Maza Fama.

Known for his roles in theatre, Samanja was honoured as one of the guests of honour at the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners’ (NANTAP) art theatre dinner.

Pategi, who was born into an emirate’s royal family and was the heir to the Etsu Pategi Emirate, chose to focus on his dream job of acting after it was revealed that he was the front-runner for the throne that his father and great-grandfather had held as Etsu Pategi, a Nupe town in what is now the state of Kwara. His father was the Etsu Usman Patako, the king of Pategi, and his grandfather had also been a king whom his father succeeded to after his death. He abdicated to make way for his younger brother Etsu Umaru Chatta, who passed away in 2017 and was succeeded by Umaru Bologi.

Pategi became well-known for his speech in the movie Samanja, which was a combination of Hausa/English and Pidgin English, the language used by Nigerian military.

On November 12, 2023, Usman Baba Pategi passed away in Kaduna at the age of 81. He is survived by two wives having lost his third wife Hajiya Maryam Baba at the age of 46 and children.

According to a tribute signed by the Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, shared on X on Tuesday, “The late Pategi chose to obey the call to national duty when the country needed his service. His television show, Samanja, was a must-watch entertainment for decades.

“Through the show, he taught young citizens national values and respect for our service people. He was a patriot who left behind several indelible impressions, the President said.

“President Tinubu encouraged the Pategi family, the people and governments of Niger and Kwara states, the Pategi Emirate Council, and members of the Nigerian entertainment industry to take comfort in the worthy legacy of the deceased.”

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