About Yusufu Bala Usman

Yusufu Bala Usman was born at Musawa, Katsina, in Nigeria, in 1945. He worked in the Department of History, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, from 1970 until his death in September 2005.

In his numerous historical writings Bala completely changed the paradigm of the study of African history, from one based on “tribal” studies, to a dynamic perspective which shows how present identities and structures are a product of historical processes, and are not fixed, permanent categories.
He is the author of For the Liberation of Nigeria (New Beacon Books, London, 1979); The Transformation of Katsina, 1400-1883: The Emergence and Overthrow of the Sarauta System and the Establishment of the Emirate (A.B.U. Press, Zaria, 1981); Nigeria Against the I.M.F.: The Home Market Strategy (Vanguard, Kaduna, 1986), The Manipulation of Religion in Nigeria 1977-1987 (Vanguard, Kaduna, 1987);and is one of the authors of The Nigerian Economic Crisis: Causes and Solutions (ASUU, Zaria, 1985): co-author with Olusegun Osoba of The Minority Report and Draft Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1976 ( Zaria, 2019) and of numerous articles in newspapers and journals.
He has edited Studies in the History of the Sokoto Caliphate, (Third Press International, New York, 1979), and co-edited with Abdullahi Augie, Cities of the Savannah (Nigeria Magazine, Lagos, 1979); with Nur Alkali, Studies in the History of Pre-Colonial Borno (N.N.P.C., Zaria, 1983); and with Femi Kayode, The Economic and Social Development of Nigeria (Panel on Nigeria Since Independence, Ibadan, 1986).
Bala was a political activist who played an important role in sensitizing the Nigerian people to the liberation struggles going on in Africa and elsewhere, and was a major influence in forging a progressive foreign policy stance for the Nigerian government in the late 1970s and 1980s. He was an active participant in Nigerian politics, playing major roles in founding and supporting political movements with a radical agenda aimed at liberating the peoples of Nigeria and all of Africa from the bonds of colonial and imperialist oppression. He was a public intellectual, whose writings and lectures were designed to expose to the Nigerian public the ways the existing political and economic system operates to exploit and oppress the vast majority of the people of the country
While he was the Director of Research of the People’s Redemption Party, he edited Tarihin Gwagwarmayar N.E.P.U. da P.R.P. (The History of the Struggles of the N.E.P.U. and the P.R.P.), written by Mallam Lawan Danbazau (Zaria, 1981); Who is Responsible? The Nigerian Workers and the Current Economic Crisis (Zaria, 1982); Political Repression in Nigeria, 1979-1981: A Selection of Documents: I, (Zaria, 1982).
Yusufu Bala Usman was a member of the Committee for the Review of Nigerian Foreign Policy, October 1975-May 1976; of the Constitution Drafting Committee; of the Nigerian Delegation to the People’s Republic of Angola, January 1976; was also a Special Adviser to the Nigerian Delegation to the 31st and 41st Sessions of the U.N. General Assembly, in November 1976, and November 1986; a Trustee of the Nigerian Labour Congress, 1978-80; Co-ordinator of the Transition Programme and Secretary of the Kaduna State Government, 1979-82; member of the Awoniyi Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Contract Awards in Niger State, in April-November 1984; Chairman of the Political Committee of the All-Nigeria Conference on Foreign Policy, Kuru, April 1986; and a member of The Analyst magazine collective, publishers of The Analyst, Fitila and Analysis magazines.
On his death he left behind his wife and six children.
Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman was undoubtedly one of the most brilliant minds that Nigeria has produced. Aside from his impressive intellectual achievements, he stands as an individual whose courage, honesty and integrity served as a shining example for his colleagues, students and in fact all those who came in contact with him. Years after his death in 2005, he remains an inspiration to all Nigerian patriots and Africans everywhere.

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