Usman Baba Pategi: Meet Veteran Nigerian Actor and Retired Soldier Who Pioneered Kannywood With Samanja

Usman Baba Pategi: Meet Veteran Nigerian Actor and Retired Soldier Who Pioneered Kannywood With Samanja

  • Usman Baba Pategi may not be on TV screens nowadays but he stands tall among the priceless gems of the Nigerian movie industry
  • The retired army actor popularly known as Samanja Mazan Fama played an active role in the industry now known as Kannywood
  • spotlights this veteran entertainer who won the hearts of movie lovers with his role in the popular Samanja drama series

The movie screen nowadays is ruled by young and brilliant actors with a mix of the old veterans who are still flying their kites high.

However, it is important to remember that the Nollywood of today is a culmination of the efforts of those who started when acting wasn’t entirely a wholly accepted career path.

Actor Usman Baba Pategi
Meet veteran Nigerian actor Usman Baba Pategi. Photo: newsdiaryonline
Source: UGC

One of such individuals who crawled so that those coming behind could walk is Usman Baba Pategi aka Samanja Maza Fama. The now-retired soldier worked with the likes of Yussuf Ladan, Mamman Ladan and Idi Jibril to introduce Hausa films in the 80s.

Baba Pategi's early life

The actor was born on May 20, 1942, into the royal house of Pategi Emirate in Pategi, Northern Nigeria. His father was Usman Patako, the late king of Pategi.

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Samanja had a fairly decent education while growing up as he attended the Pategi primary school and proceeded to complete secondary education at Ilorin Middle School. Upon completing his education, a young Pategi packed his bags and moved to Kaduna where he lived and worked for an uncle.

He had the opportunity to become the Etsu Pategi but he turned down the offer when it was brought to him. His younger brother eventually took up the throne. For Samanja, his heart was more in the theatre.

“It didn’t appeal to me. My ambition was to make money through drama and retire to be a philanthropist and help the needy. Uptil today, if you see me with a lot of money today, do not be surprised if I wouldn’t have a kobo tomorrow,” he disclosed in a 2014 interview with Daily Trust.

Baba Pategi's career

The entertainer would later work at a mechanical store before he picked up an appointment at the Northern Broadcasting Corporation, (NBC) in Kaduna.

After spending some time working with the NBC, Samaja made yet another career switch in 1969 and volunteered to join the Nigerian Army during the civil war, The Net NG reports in an article titled Samanja, The Prince Who Fought In The Civil War And Made Nigerians Laugh.

Being on the battlefield didn’t stop Samanja’s quest from becoming an actor and this motivated his next move after retiring from the army in 1985.

Samanja joined the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Kaduna broadcasting station, where he quickly became a favourite for his recreation of the ways of Nigerian soldiers.

In a 2016 interview with Daily Trust, the veteran actor opened up on how he also got support from the army to make his roles even more believable.

“Many people have asked how I know so much about the army. That is because I was an active sol- dier. The army authorities then gave me 100 per cent support. Once, I went to Bonny Camp in Lagos with others to perform and the support I got from people over there was amazing.”

Baba Pategi's awards and recognitions

Samanja has bagged some notable awards and recognition for his role in pioneering the Kannywood industry.

One such notable recognition is the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) fellowship which he received in 2017.

Baba Pategi's health challenge

In 2011, the actor’s health challenge became a trending issue on social media and it caught the attention of business mogul, Aliko Dangote.

Nigerian Films reported that Samanja received the sum of N1.5 million from the billionaire to pay for a medical surgery in India.

Samanja's health also stirred public concern in 2021 after he debunked rumours of his death that made the rounds on social media. He received a N2m donation from the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Major General Faruk Yahaya, who visited his residence.

The veteran actor hardly makes public appearances nowadays but he is still alive and being taken care of by his family members.


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