By Olivia Obijiaku
The deaths of pioneer Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Zaria, Most Rev George Jonathan Dodo and his father, Pa David Dodo on Friday, 8th and Saturday, 2nd July, 2022 respectively threw so many into confusion until the Mass of wake keep held in honour of Pa Dodo at Christ the King Catholic Cathedral (CKCC), Sabo Gari Zaria on Friday, 14th July, 2022.
Pa David Dodo
Presiding over the Mass, the late bishop’s first cousin and the Archivist of the Catholic Diocese of Zaria Very Rev Fr. Lawrence Bakut recounted how Bishop Dodo delegated him to stand in for him at the wake keep and how he asked other priests from the family to perform some other functions relating to the burial.
“Bishop Dodo fixed this day and time for this Mass himself.” Fr. Lawrence revealed. “He was the one who fixed Tuesday, 19th July for us to go to and he deliberately said to me and to those of us in the family that he knows that not all of you will be able to go to Zuturung Mago and the Mass should be here. Before bishop ‘left’, he told me to get myself ready for today and if he is not strong enough, one of us in the family will be able to preach and celebrate the Mass. Interestingly, we are eight priests in the family and we have shared the work. This is his cathedral. This is his chair and now it is empty.”
From left, Very Rev Frs Peter Ogwuche; Lawrence Bakut and Samuel Ameh
“I call Pa David Dodo my father because he was the immediate senior to my father. If there is someone I have ever admired all my life, it is David Dodo, Bishop George’s father. He was a man who never sided with anybody. The truth is truth for him. He told us that he became a Christian and was baptized on the 25th December, 1953 he was about 28-30 years old. Our father, grandfather and great grandfather was a great missionary because through him, my village was evangelized to the Catholic Church. When he saw the women waxing strong in Zumuta Mata, he founded the Zumuta Maza in Northern Nigeria and refused to be the president but accepted to be the treasurer to ensure that the money was safe. He was the first treasurer of the Bajju Development Association in Nigeria and no kobo was ever missing. Interestingly, he was the first Laity Council Chairman of Zuturung Mago parish, the first parish in Southern Kaduna after St Peter Clavier, the Cathedral of Kafanchan Diocese. He was the first treasurer of Zumuta Maza. And he did it faithfully. Barely three-four hours before he died, he addressed all the youths in our village, telling them not to do something bad. On Thursday before the Saturday that Pa Dodo died, the bishop entered the hospital and his father that has not left the bed for about three – four days jumped up and embraced him and said ‘thank you for coming, now I can go.’ Shortly before he died, he said, ‘I don’t want to see my son’s dead body’ which means he knew bishop was coming. The last thing bishop said to me was ‘keep praying for me. I will pray for you.’ Little did I know that they were his last words to me. To God be the glory. I thank God that they both died peacefully.”
Zumuta Mata choristers at the Mass
On his part, the Diocesan Administrator, Very Rev Fr. Michael Kagarko who was with the bishop on the day his father died but did not “know how to ask whether he has heard the news, so I sat down quietly with him. After about ten minutes, he said, did you hear that baba has died? I said yes, I learnt about it when I was with you this morning and I asked him ‘I hope you are not disturbed about baba’s death? And he said, he’s already aware that Baba would die but as for when, that’s what he didn’t know,’ which means he was aware that Baba was going to die.”
A cross section of priests at the Mass
Fr. Kagarko thanked the family for cooperating with the diocese and announced plans to bewail the late Chief Shepherd as a diocese during which period “there will be no more playing of drums; no more dancing in the Church for the entire period of mourning until our bishop is buried.”