Ladi Madaki, A dirge to beloved Nigeria



I said, ‘people are with me’

      not knowing it meant mourning

      not knowing it meant tears

      not knowing it meant sadness

      not knowing it meant graves


I am not a funeral person, the whole episode as practiced is a whole contradiction for me as a person. Years back, at one in Kisumu, Kenya, I watched as a woman started singing with passionate tremolo while slow-dancing to the rhythm of her song. She scooped dust from the ground, showered it over her head, and finished by chanting the words of the dirge she had composed.

“Achopo ka osiep agoga.


Jaber thurgi cho, nyakwar Oyuko min rwathe.

Chunye ler ka pi soko.


Tho iseloyo, tho ogol! iseloyo! iseloyo!”


(“I’m here, my bosom friend. A woman’s home is immortality, granddaughter of Oyuko, mother of eminent men. Your heart is pure as water from a spring. You have conquered death, dying be damned! You have won! You have won!”)


Ladi Madaki, bosom friend to many, granddaughter of great men warriors, I told a friend you had a never-ending perpetual smile. An imperfect soul like we all are yet a heart as pure as water from springs of Plateau and beyond.


I hardly do tributes, but for Ladi, I do this and in doing this, it is not in tears but with joy that what she lived for and represented gives hope to a great Nigeria. 


For the uninitiated Ladi Agyer Joy Madaki was just in June this year promoted to the position of High Court Judge. Before then, she was Deputy Chief Registrar- Litigation, High Court of Justice, Jos, Plateau State of Nigeria where her job schedule as Head of Litigation includes: Case Management, Law reporting, Case law research and enforcement of court orders. A holder of Bachelor of Laws Degree at the University of Jos, Class of 1992, and a Master’s Degree in International Law.


She was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1993 She served her mandatory Youth Service between 1993 – 1994 in Maiduguri, Borno State in Premier Commercial Bank Plc. She practiced for four years with the Law firm of Miskom Puepet and Company and later joined Gold and Green Nigeria Limited as its company secretary. In 1999 she joined the service of the Plateau State Government as a Magistrate 11 where she presided over criminal and civil matters for sixteen years.


Thereafter, she was appointed as Deputy Chief Registrar – Area Courts.


Being an active member of Federecion Internationale De Abogadas FIDA – Nigeria, Plateau State Branch, Magistrates’ Association of Nigeria MAN, Commonwealth Magistrates’ Association CMJA, Member International Women Peace Group IWPG, Member Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria CLASFON.


Chairperson Steering Committee on Gender Violence OBSTEC, a past Chairperson FIDA Nigeria Plateau State Branch, Board member of Media Campaign against Trafficking MeCAHT. A member of Evangelical Church Winning All, Women Group ECWA. She was a peace builder, volunteer in humanitarian work par excellence.


She is the first child of Yusufu Atsen Galadima and Safaratu Akuben Galadima and has 5 other siblings in all, 2 girls and 4 boys.


In most Nigerian traditional practices like my Taroh people, we believe that life begins in immortality and ends in immortality. The cycle starts at spirit to body and back to spirit. Therefore, death is merely a rite of passage, an opening to another life. When one dies, the only variation is that the body perishes, while the spirit lives on, retaining the individual’s identity. Ladi’s death is significant as I see Nigeria dying in its current form, to give rise to a new home.


In his book African Religions and Philosophy, Professor Mbiti aptly captured my thoughts when he wrote, “Death is conceived as a departure and not a complete annihilation of a person. The only major change is the decay of the physical body, but the spirit continues to live within the community.”  


Ladi may be gone, but her legacy lives on; whether it is with the Plateau Peace Practitioners Network PPPN where she served the executive as the legal mind or the Women Peace Security framework where she was a calming and soothing mind to all engagements, she left a mark.


She sat on several boards across the Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution spectrum of the development world and played her roles effortlessly in countless numbers of them. She gave counsel, she gave in cash and in kind. She was mother to countless, sister and good daughter to many, a mentor, confidant, and friend. At her death, strong men and women cried publicly and in their closets.


In the legal world, she meandered the political fireworks that often accompanied the terrain with that smile of hers, for all of us at the council of the Plateau MultiDoor Court PMDC, she eased our worries as we took off on our mandate helping serve as a bridge in the best way she could.


Ladi reminds me so of my country Nigeria, her battles, her wins and loses, as deep down within our thoughts, we seem to lose comfort but still within our mindset, we know we can pull this through, if only we do the right thing at the right time.


We are weak with thoughts that seem not to birth any positive outcome but we are comforted that the giver of life has taken home that which belongs to Him. Same way we believe that in the affairs of men, in the affairs of Nigeria and her leadership there is an unseen hand that will perfect that which concerns Nigeria but we need to do our part. Like Ladi did her part, we all must do our part knowing that Nigeria is a stage, and our performances will count from ward level to the national level.


Ladi, in her life, navigated all kinds of madness that seeped into her everyday life. She toiled, a poisonous fog that suffocates reason. This fog, which has long been marinated in old, ugly ideas of ethnic jingoism and favoritism, and class superiority, clouding our ideas of humanity as Nigerians.


The general malady that ensues as I reflect on Ladi’s death is a deep suspicion and hatred of self, not just of our current state of leadership or even our political systems, but hatred of each other across the entire country and of our backward civilization – hatred of just about anything to do with one group against the other.


Ladi is gone, she has done her part, we that are alive need to ask how do we deal with the madness that has made it impossible to have an adult conversation about most things Nigerian. Words and phrases such as ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘they’ and ‘their’, ‘bandits’ and ‘kidnappers’, ‘terror’ and ‘ransoms’ are only a few thrown around.


How many of our leaders, how many of us, if we die, will be mourned…how many of us have touched lives. Ladi touched lives, helped brands, grew little businesses by patronizing them, Ladi was dependable. Same can’t be said of most of our leaders today. The futility of life is that once gone, no amount of fanfare, tears or otherwise can bring one back but we celebrate death by celebrating the lives that have been touched. Ladi epitomises the good that Nigeria possesses, for me, she is not gone, and as long as Ladi who gave up the ghost lives, then there is hope for Nigeria.



For Nigeria, a great woman again passed, her name Ladi Agyer Joy Madaki, she did little part, when we return, may we tell her that Nigeria finally changed, that Nigeria saw good leadership, peace and good governance, did Nigerian start well and will Nigeria end well—Only time will tell. Adieu your Lordship…