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T B Mausoleum: A sight to behold.

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By Abraham Adekunle

The burial place of the first prime minister was first declared monument 1979.

The word “mausoleum” is derived from Greek from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, near modern-day Bodrum in Turkey, the grave of King Mausolus, the satrap of the Archaemenid Empire in Caria. His large tomb was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Mausolea are large and impressive constructions for the deceased leader of a tribe, race or group, or another person of importance. Soon after, smaller mausolea became common and popular with the advent of the gentry and noble class in many countries.

A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a dead person or dead people. A mausoleum may be regarded as a type of tomb, or the tomb may be inside the mausoleum. A mausoleum without a person’s remains is called a cenotaph. A single mausoleum may be permanently sealed. It encloses a burial chamber either wholly above the ground or within a burial vault below the superstructure.

Balewa’s mausoleum is one of the notable ones in Africa.

One of the notable mausolea in Africa is the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Mausoleum. It is the burial place of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who was the only prime minister of Nigeria. During the 1966 coup d’etat in Nigeria, Balewa was kidnapped and his body was found by the roadside six days later. He was consequently buried in Bauchi where he was born. The Government of Bauchi first declared his tomb as a nationwide monument on August 29, 1979 by the military administrator of the state, Brigadier Garba Duba.

In November 2017, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari declared the tomb as a national monument. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed it in Abuja at a one-day exhibition of the 100 proposed national monuments in the country. The tomb is located along Ran Road in Bauchi State. The tomb has a very large tower-like structure in front of it. With this, it is indeed a beautiful sight to behold. The monument attracts a number of people every year.

The gigantic walls of the mausoleum tower up to 17 feet.

Construction of the tomb and the building that encloses the grave began in 1977 and it was commissioned in 1979. The majestic site includes a reference library and a mosque. The mausoleum is also a museum which houses the personal effects of late Sir Tafawa Balewa, which includes his wristwatch, radio and cap which were displayed in glass cases. Some visitors go to the tomb to pray. Cameras are also allowed at the site.

This masterpiece befits the person of the former and pioneer leader of Nigeria. People have reported it to be breathtaking. The gigantic walls around it tower up to 17 feet. That is the equivalent of more than five meters. The walls enclose a modest marble structure. The monument was often referred to as the tomb of the Golden Voice of Africa. The tomb is one of the many in the country which house the remains of notable figures.

Tomb was declared as monument alongside others, including Azikwe’s.

In 2017, while the Federal Government declared the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Mausoleum as monument, it also declared the tombs of Nigeria’s first governor-general and president, Dr Nnamdi Azikwa, and that of Head of State, General Murtala Mohammed. These three tombs are also mentioned when others that house the remains of other notable African leaders are mentioned. They include the Kwame Nkurumah Mausoleum, Laurent Kabila’s mausoleum, Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania, Al Hussein Mosque (Cairo) and many others.

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