Women Overcoming Barriers

The moderator of the panel, Temie Giwa-Tubosun, had had over ten years of experience in global health, and is CEO of LifeBank; a company using modern means to solve blood shortage in Nigeria. Giwa-Tubosun, after introducing the writers, and delving into women’s writing and the challenges faced in putting books together asked the writers for the motivation behind their pens. Samira Haruna Sanusi whose memoir S Is For Survival raises awareness as well as educates on sickle cell, noted that she came to writing after spending seven (7) years of her life in hospitals, 6 years in a wheelchair and surviving 28 surgeries. Having spent more time in the hospital instead of a classroom like her fellow writer Maryam Awaisu, she finally drew strength from her experiences and gave voice to her stories. She confessed having more books than toys and have written her book to survive, and to see its effect on people with similar cases.

‘How did writing help your condition?’ asked the moderator. Maryam Awaisu whose fictionalized memoir was shortlisted for the NLNG Prize in 2016; discussed missing opportunities that have been denied her by the aforementioned sickness. The weight of expectations from society and the question of her survival had not only been a code of existence in real life but in her fiction as well. She narrated how her continuous health crisis shook her faith. The physical suffering and psychological ripples that had her family rallying around her left her with a tinge of guilty. To have shut down everyone’s else’s life for her survival is a sacrifice which like the sickness has no price-tag.

The intensity of the subject matter gradually gravitated away from the books to the personal. Samira recalled how her bone transfer almost failed and how she had to be brave to survive alone in a hospital in Israel. Her narrative explored instances where her father moved mountains for her and his unflagging commitment to the course of her survival. It is this faith and conviction that he had on her survival that made her to sometimes question her own capacity to do the same for someone. Or for him. When asked by Giwa-Tubosun if she did get angry, she narrated how she went to her hometown, Funtua, and was wrongly diagnosed, setting up another crisis. After sharing her years of being bedridden instead of being in school and the lies doctors maintained about her health; and the burning rage within, she was able to triumph over it all to make something beautiful and magical.

Maryam disclosed to the audience what she has chosen to fictionalize her memoir. being young and only 22 years of age at the time, she felt too young to write a memoir as though she had truck-loads of experience and had decided to blend her facts with fiction to make it interesting. ‘Your first book, whether you realize it or not, is autobiographical’ she said. Though Maryam wanted Burning Bright to be entertaining, she is convinced that at the end, readers would learn about sickle cell and create awareness.

In reacting to the question of being called a ‘sickler’, Samira said she would prefer to be called a warrior because every day of her existence is a fight against a sickness trying to consume her. Her existence and everything she did or doing right now is an engagement in the battlefield of survival because she had fought battle that people half her age had no idea of. Contrary to her view, Maryam personally had no axe to grind with labels. For her, being called a ‘sickler’ indirectly was an awareness campaign in itself. ‘I’m not going to be pissed,’ she said, ‘its what it looks like.’

The dating question was very sensitive. The moderator, Giwa-Tubosun, roused the question of genotype and asked if love really ‘conquers’ all? Though there were mixed reactions at first, Samira was quick to affirm that when it came to medical issues, love couldn’t conquer all. ‘Sickle cell isn’t a storm,’ she said, ‘its a hurricane.’ She lamented the cruelty of knowing parents who deliberately brought children to the world and into such kind of trauma. Citing herself as example, the sickness literary erased her childhood. She confessed to gradually building up happy memories in her adulthood, and advised the audience to look beyond life, genotype and good health other than mere passion or material possession.

From blood-matching samples, chemotherapy, to genetic engineering, the two writers enlightened all about the dangers and unfathomable implications of living with the sicknes, especially those who couldn’t afford daily treatments, let lone, bone-marrow transplant which at the moment is costing about 140, 000 Euros. The economic, physical and psychological scope of the disease according to its survivors had to be handled with government support, individual sacrifices, campaigns and support in the manner that HIV and AIDS was tackled. Maryam, particularly, called on government to declare a state of emergency to arrest – through researches, the snowballing situation from becoming a permanent nuisance to the well-being of all, because countries with the cure have less patients than Nigerians. It was concluded that every effort geared towards the general well-being of citizens that couldn’t be felt at the grassroots levels have failed.

Written By Dominic Aboi

 

Film Screening: Blood and Henna

Kenneth Gyang’s movie was premiered. The movie was a realistic depiction of the backlash of Pfizer experiments on children in Kano on one level. It had as a subplot an inspiring love story between two couples who have to fight for their love in spite of the social and economic tension around them. It is also a movie about the bloody days of military regime and the hardship people faced especially thinkers, writers and musicians. The movie alludes to notable historical figures like the musician Fela Kuti, writers like Ken Saro-Wiwa and annulment of the June 12 presidential election by the Babaginda regime.

Kenneth’s movie was praised for his fidelity to details, which was clearly a product of intensive research. The moderator was curious about how he was able to execute such grand project with limited funding. Kenneth appreciated the support of notable northern actors like Nuhu Ali,Ibrahim Daddy and Salihu Bappa for sacrificing their time and energy without compensation. He spoke passionately about the evils of multinational corporations in Nigeria.
He said he was inspired to write the script after reading a book and watching a movie that gave a narrative that he disagreed with. He decided to retell this story by humanising the major actors and depicting how this singular event changed their lives. Some of them lost everything: wives, children and even their purpose for existence.
The audience during the question session queried the movie for possessing a mosaic plot. A question Gyang clarified. He said the movie was like that to avoid making it a documentary.

Written by Katung Kwasu

Food Tasting: Flavours of Syria

The queue that assembled for the sampling of Syrian cuisine was a boisterous one. People were dazzled by the beauty of the cuisines before them. It was an opportunity to agree or disagree with a comment made during the panels. People ate chicken, beef and rice. This was flushed down with a special collection of assorted northern drinks, kunun zaki, kunun tsamiya and zobo. Their faces were lit with glee. It was a space for laughter and warmth.

Written by Katung Kwasu

HAUSA A FADAR TURAWA

Tun da aka fara bukin littattafai da zane-zane na farko a garin Kaduna, harshen Turanci kawai ke cikin karenshi ba babbaka. Hausa ko sai shiru ka ke ji. Amma a ranar alhamis, da aka tattaro goggan marubuta ta kasar Hausa sai kidin ya canza kuma rawan ma ya canza. Marubutan na mu su ne Auwalu Anwar, babban marubuci kuma dan siyasa wanda ya ke rubutu da turanci da kuma Hausa, sai Hafsat MA Abdulwahid, marubuciya mace ta farko da ta wallafa littafi, sai kuma Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, wadda ta na cikin marubuta Hausa kalilan da ka fassara littafin ta na Alhaki Kwikwiyo zuwa harshen Turanci. Carmen McCain ita ce ta jagori wannan tattaunawa.

Me yasa Marubutan mu suka fara rubutu da Hausa?
Hafsat Abdulwahid: Na fara rubutu da Hausa ne saboda babu makaranta rubutun turanci ba a wancan lokacin. Saboda haka nag a ya kamata in yi rubutu da turanci, kuma yanzu an fassara su har zuwa wasu harsuna ma kamar larabci.
Balaraba Yakubu: Na fara rubutu da Hausa ne saboda ban taba yin karatun book ba. Ba a sani a makaranta ba, saboda haka Hausa kawai na sani. Tun ina firamare ina yin rubuce rubuce na da wasa har wata rana aka sa gasa, na shiga, aka ce kuma na ci. Daga nan rubutu ya kankama, kuma littafina Budurwar Zuciya sai da aka ta tace shi har bugu shida kafin ya shiga kasuwa.
Auwalu Anwar: Na fara rubutu ne sanda na shiga wata gasa a makarantar sakandare ta GGC. Na karanta rubutuna na zamo na uku, mace ce kuma ta zama ta daya a wannan gasa. Daga nan sai na lura cewa zan iya fa rubutu da Hausan nan, ina sha’awar ta, kuma sai n ace duk abin da ya kamata na yi, zan yi na Hausa. Daga wannan kalubale ne na fara rubutu da Hausa.

Me ya rinjaye su suka rubuta littafan sun a farko?
Hafsat Abdulwahid: Akwai bukin ‘yar’uwa ta da aka yi, ita bafulatana ta auri balarabe, aka dai samu kalubale sosai. Saboda haka sai na dauki wannan labari na kara aljannu a kai domin ya yi armashi. Sai kuma hukumar NNPC ta sa gasa, na shiga na kumo fito zakara. Tun daga lokacin kuma ban aje rubutu ba.
Auwalu Anwar:Wakokin siyasa musamman na NEPU da NPC, da kuma a jamhuriya ta biyu a lokacin ina jami’a, wakokin su Mudi Sipikin, Sa’adu Zungur da su Gambo Sawaba duk suna cikin wakokin da ni ke so, kuma sun fi tasiri a kai na, a wajen rubutu.

Menene Alakar Marubuta da Masu Mulki?
Hafsat Abdulwahid: Na yi takarar Gwamna amma dalili ne ya kawo haka. Akwai wata yarinya da aka zarge ta da ta yi cikin shege kuma aka yanke mata bulala dari biyu idan ta haihu. A ka tambayi Gwamna Yarima me ya sa mata ba su a cikin kabinet din shi, ya ce ai matan Zamfara bas u da ilimin da za su rike mulki. Dalilin wannan ya sa na ce ni Gwamna ma zan fito.
Balaraba Yakubu: Cikin mu daya da marigayi Shugaban kasa Murtala, mahaifiyar mu daya. Shi mahaifin shi ya sa shi a makaranta, amma ni mahaifina bai sa ni ba. Wannan shi ya sa na ke jaddadawa wa mata su nemi ilimi, domin rage ma kan su bakin ciki.

Dan tsokacin namu kenan daga wannan taro tilo wanda ya baje kolin marubuta Hausawa, kuma ya jaddada cewa a bukukuwan adabi masu zuwa, dole ne a ba zama da tattaunawa da harshen Hausa muhimmanci.

Daga Sada Malumfashi

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

HAUSA IN A PALACE OF ENGLISH

Since the start of the inaugural Kaduna Book and Arts Festival (KABAFEST) English as a language was having a field day. Hausa was basically on the sidelines. However, on Thursday, the second day of the festival, when the most prominent Hausa writers assembled, the tune of the music and the dance changed. The writers were Auwalu Anwar, a prominent writer and a politician who writes bilingually in English and Hausa, then Hafsat MA Abduwahid, the first female writer to be published from the North, and finally Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, one of the few Hausa writers to have her novel, Alhaki Kwikwiyo Ne – Sin Is A Puppy – translated into English. Carmen McCain lead the discussion.

Why did the panelists begin writing in Hausa?

Hafsat Abdulwahid: I began writing in Hausa because there were not enough readers of English literature at that time. That is why I decided to instead write in Hausa, and now my works have been translated into other languages.

Balaraba Yakubu: I started writing in Hausa because I was never opportune to attend a formal western school. I never had any formal education; as such I only knew the Hausa language. Right from when I was young, I scribbled my writings informally, until one day a competition was set up, I entered and I was declared the winner. From then on I began writing consistently, and my novel Budurwar Zuciya – Young at Heart – went through copy-editing six times before it was released to the market.

Auwalu Anwar: I began writing when I when for a competition at a Government Girls College (GGC). I read my work on a stage and I emerged third best, and it was a lady that beat me to the first position in this competition. From then on, I realsied I could actually be a writer in Hausa, I loved it, and I decided whatever I was going to work on, I will do it in Hausa. It was from this challenge I set for myself that I began writing in Hausa.

What influenced the panelists to write their first books?

Hafsat Abdulwahid: There was my sister’s wedding back then, we are Fulani, but she married an Arab, and there were lots of challenges. After that, I wrote about that incident, and added jinni and spirits to make it more exciting. Incidentally, the Northern Nigerian Publishing Company (NNPC) initiated a writing competition that I entered and emerged victorious. From then on, I never stopped writing.

Auwalu Anwar: It was from political songs, especially of the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) and the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) that I was influenced. Then in the second republic, while I was in University, I was in love with the songs of Mudi Sipikin, Sa’adu Zungur and Gambo Sawaba. They had a lot of influence on me personally and also influenced my writings.

What is the relationship between writers and the government?

Hafsat Abdulwahid: I once contested for a governorship election, but it was for a reason. There was a young girl that was accused of getting pregnant out of wedlock and was sentenced to be flogged 200 lashes after delivering. The then Governor of Zamfara State, Ahmad Yarima was contacted on the issue and why there were not any females on his cabinet, and he replied that women in Zamfara do not have the requisite education to hold a political office. That was why I decided that I am going to even contest for the Governorship position.

Balaraba Yakubu: I came from the same womb with the former Head of State, Late Muratala Ramat. We had the same mother, but different fathers. His father enrolled him in school, while my father did not. This is the reason why I always emphasise that women should be educated, so that they will reduce the burdens on them.

*

This is our little excerpt form this once in a lifetime fair of Hausa writers, which re-emphasised the need for inclusion of more panel discussions in Hausa in future book festivals.

Written and Translated by Sada Malumfashi

Women Power

The panel titled ‘Harnessing the Potential of Women in Northern Nigeria’ was a display of women power. This is a power panel. A panel of powerful women. When you have Aisha Umar, the relentless Saudatu Mahdi and Hauwa Shekarau on one platform and then you throw in Kadaria Ahmed with her masterful moderation then you have a feast. A feast of dissection, puncturing issues and finding loopholes and then stitching them all together to solve a jigsaw puzzle.
The panel began a little bit unassuming, but soon took shape of the fiery dragons of the panelists. It was a discussion of the choices of the northern woman, about her right to choose what she wants to be and not to be dictated upon. Every woman deserves the opportunity to an education.

Who is the typical northern Nigerian woman?
Hajiya Saudatu tells us that hitherto, during her own time, the typical northern Nigerian woman has reached her pinnacle when she is able to recite the first Juz’i of the Qur’an, that is just about 1/10th of the holy book, basically the equivalent of knowing ABCD and 1234. That is what is assumed to be the norm for a woman.
The northern woman is led to believe she can only aspire to be good in certain directions. Be a good wife and be a good mother. So it is a struggle to fit into these instances and be correct always. The northern Nigerian woman lacks exposure and opportunities.

What are the potentials of the Northern Nigerian Woman?
The potential of the northern Nigerian woman has no limits. But why does she not harness them? Our panelists raise the issues and give us the answers. Because she does not know her self esteem.
Women have power already and when you add the economic empowerment to that power in the ‘other room’, the combination is lethal, says Aisha Umar.
The average woman with education, exposure and opportunity, all this combined, the sky is only her beginning. However it is always a constant navigation of religion and culture.

Way forward?
To move forward our panelists suggested changing the nomenclature, to that of equal opportunities. Change the nomenclature from construction and deconstruction to negotiation and dialogue. It is worth noting, that the north is not monolithic, not just a single entity, it is a complexity of different cultures and religions, however no matter the religion or culture the main issue is patriarchy, and that needs to be navigated through constant education and communication.

How do we navigate?
We have to popularize this negotiation practically and make it widespread through education. The northern woman is not always illiterate. Many are lettered in Arabic, hence are not really illiterate. So it’s a matter of education as well as behaivioural change and creating more and more awareness and upping the psyche.
Practically also, using the tool of legislation, which unfortunately the politicians are not courageous enough to stand up to. It is unfortunate that the legislative system has no room for women who are abused and sent out of their matrimonial homes at 2am.

Conclusion
Our power panelists concluded: If I see it a right to educate my daughter, then I also have a responsibility to that girl in the rural side of Dutsinma. A responsibility to expand the education line. Men must also take responsibility. We need male gender champions, to help women continue to organize and not agitate.

I am not giving room for he who does not like me to continue to dislike me. I am giving room to the person who does not understand me, who has refused to see what God has provide in me, who has refused to harness the resources that God has placed in me. ~ Saudatu Mahdi.

Written by Sada Malumfashi

Challenges of Publishing in Northern Nigeria

The panel discussion on the challenges of publishing in northern Nigeria was moderated by Richard Ali. He gave a brief overview of the reading and writing enterprise in northern Nigeria. His discourse was centred on modern publishing and its prospects. The other panellists were Nur’din Busari and Abdullah Dona. Both of them run renowned publishing houses in northern Nigeria. Nur-din Amabs books sit in Suleja, Niger State and is arguably the biggest private independent bookstore and publishing house in northern Nigeria. While, Abdullah is a veteran actor in the publishing sector and works with Ahmadu Bello University Press.

The conversation started on a polemical note, both speakers tried to capture the strength of the publishing industry in northern Nigeria. Abdullahi Dona was able to establish that there is a huge reader base of Hausa/Soyaya Novels amongst Hausa women. He cited the thriving Kano women literature to buttress his point. He dazzled the audience by sharing the experience of a young female writer he encountered in Kano who was sponsored by her father in her writing career with her school fees to self-publish. She was able to recoup her fees back with profit and has eleven books to her name.

He argued that there is a huge market for books in Northern Nigeria. But, queried the standard of available publishing houses in the north and the quality of their output. Especially, the Kano market literature will do better if there is a better structure in place to take care of these lapses. He debunked the fallacy that the north is not a reading population. He argued that solving this debacle is premised on answering the question: why do people read? This is because there is a lot of reading going on. A bulk of this reading population takes reading as a utilitarian affair.

A comment from the floor advised that the formation of the literary agency and literary agent can salvage the dwindling fortunes of literature and books in northern Nigeria. He said that will also be a way of creating employment for English graduates. He stressed that the quality of works are poor because authors are overburdened with the craft of writing and that of also promoting their books. This has affected the quality of their output.
This agency can also help in identifying and nurturing talents. This will help in the number of authors that will emerge from the north. He also identified the fact that authors must approach their work with their target audience at heart. He then called for simplicity in language and linearity of plot from new writers. The busy nature of modern life does not allow readers to entertain complexity, which he noted was way of giving caution to aspiring writers.

Nur-din identified the lack of patronage of northern books by the northern readership as another problem. He also argued that religious misrepresentation among the northern population works against any book that challenges the status quo.
He decried the absence of children literature in northern Nigeria by northern authors. This has created a gap that was supposed to provide a blueprint for the developmental stages of children’s minds. He announced that his publishing outfit Amaab Books are in the market looking for manuscripts and authors willing to undertake the task of writing Children Literature.

He praised the women for being the champions of the renaissance of literature in northern Nigeria. Women in the north he claimed have proven over time to be voracious readers. He said women in northern Nigeria were usurping economically, in readership, writing and craftsmanship the male roles in Northern Nigeria. He also applauded the fact that indigenous authors who were inspired by the pacesetters series were able to emulate its spark and magic in their writing. It is by this concrete steps that the reading culture can gain grounds in society again.
Though he queried poor legislation and taxation as affecting the publishing industry in northern Nigeria; he called on government to make better legislations that will help the plight of publishers. He mourned the dead of the theatre culture and how it has affected playwrights.

Written By Katung Kwasu

Film Screening: Henna by Ishaya Bako

As the festive energy began to falter, Lola Shoneyin assured the crowd of the creative twists and turns in ‘Henna’ with conviction and how the director Ishaya Bako’s London schedules didn’t give him the permission to attend.

The short film which began screening at 7: 10pm opened with a northern Nigerian wedding scene. The henna-streaked hands of the bride, ululations, clanging metals on calabashes and ostentatious display of colorful attires served as a prologue to the ensuing drama of early marriage. The heroine, Reina, alongside her father’s young bride who had a stillborn, ended up being affected with Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) and who later died was a moment of epiphany for Reina. She defied tradition and culture to confront her would-be husband at the mosque before prayers to exert her right of choice and what Allah Had stipulated in situations that mirrored her own. The plight of the traditional docile northern woman is portrayed to confront that of an educated modern woman. Though having a cliched plot, the thematic concerns couldn’t have been expressed at a better time. The wish of the imam to let Reina finish her school in the last scene – wedding day; as well as sponsoring her education was an unexpected twist that is ambiguous: we don’t know if he wishes to carry out these promises after the marriage, or before the marriage. Given the patriarchal nature of northern societies, we are not sure if he will honor his words after the marriage. Or maybe the words were a curtain of deceit to get her into his house. Uncertainty looms large in the picture. The movie’s end signaled the closing of the day’s proceedings.

Visions of Hope

At exactly 6:30 pm, on Wednesday, 5 July, the art exhibition titled ‘Visions of Hope’ was introduced and given a pride of place by the director of Book Buzz Foundation, Lola Shoneyin. She addressed enthusiasts and guests about the nature and manner the exhibition was to be carried out, as well as introduced the artists: Jerry Buhari, Mariam Shuaibu-Oyawoye, Williams CheChet, Kaltume B Gana, and Nura Garba mohammed.

The light in the corridor and the white walls studded with paintings gave art lovers a homely atmosphere as though hugging everyone into its embrace. As participants of the festival streamed through the corridor, Professor Jerry’s voice could be heard saying: ‘Artwork once done, assumes a life of its own. And can speak for itself.’ But he cautioned those who couldn’t buy it with their wallets to peacefully buy with their eyes and store it in the galleries of their minds.

Kultume’s ‘Never Again’ painting embodies the chaotic and complicated state of a country bedeviled by religious insurgency – Boko Haram. It strives to expose the several disguises fundamentalists have cushioned in the name of religion to perpetuate their deeds. Arabic calligraphic lines weaving through the rubbles depict an intricate pattern of misery, likewise the tears of suffering widows, orphans and the homeless. But the blue sky at the top of the canvas depicts the burning hope that birds will fly again. Mrs. Kultume B Gana’s approach as she stated is to document the essence of culture, and her works are always inspired or have Hausa/Fulani, Arabic and Kanuri cultural influences.

Inspired by childhood memories, William CheChet tries to strike a balance between old and new; pop art – Western and African. He explores African elements with an afro-futuristic appeal. It is this juxtaposing of concepts that Professor Jerry calls the digitalization of human lives on canvas. Favorite among them is ‘Ni Ma’, a canvas on board in which a pink canvas carries the face of an African male with emphasis on black-rimmed goggles dotted with gold, entwined looped earrings and necklaces reminiscent of either Fulanis in Northern Nigeria or the Masai in Kenya and Tanzania. The effort to fuse and to strike a balance penetrates most of his works on display.

The effort to not only document but to preserve and educate future generations is an outstanding feature in Nura Garba Mohammed’s paintings. ‘My City’ one of his oil on canvas paintings depicts a perceived shift in a society that gradually erodes ancient mud brick architecture with modern urban and suburban buildings. The communality shared by individuals in the old days is portrayed through the graphic cleanliness of the streets. The ‘duban-gari’ – sanitary inspectors, were said to enforce hygiene and healthy environment where necessary. Mohammed’s view of art as the expression of inner feelings as captured in his oil and canvas paintings ‘Miners’, and ‘African Beauty’, excited critics who reacted from different quarters.

When Professor Jerry Buhari said ‘flowers are hardly destroyed by individuals,’ he was referring to Mariam Shuaibu-Oyawoye’s works: ‘Healing’, ‘Growth and Change’, ‘Relationship’ , and ‘Encouragement’ which he asserts will be welcome in places experiencing crisis. The salient messages on her flowery canvases exude mediation and the need for not only a psychological awakening but a self-realization with the reality of self-forgiving as an extension of our humanity towards general healing. One of her flyers succinctly captures these: ‘Sometimes words fail us. Sometimes thoughts are too confused, obstacles too terrifying, courage too weak, energy too low, for us to express how we feel.’ Its drives down the point of inner workings of the mind through poetic representation of both words and colours, after all both are languages used in different arenas/disciplines.

From the mosaic ‘Symbols And Marks of a City’ portraying seasons, encounters, lives lived on the margins, religious and cultural pluralism among others, to ‘Guardians of the City’, ‘The Gbagyi Traveller,’ ‘Conference of Hawkers’, Jerry Buhari has shown his craftsmanship and versatility in the use of acrylic and enamel, watercolor, pencil, pastel and water colour on canvas among others. The work ‘Round Pot’ originally started in 1984 and inspired by a series of ancient paintings, Nok and Egyptian civilizations and the appropriation of different motives to fluidly capture the dynamism of culture, as we all as hybrid culture is arguably a masterpiece in its own right.
Professor Jerry’s works are conscious of the use of color which he says mirrors the way we live, and was quick to add that what we wear tells 70 percent of who we are. But of all virtues an artist should have is sincerity of purpose. Words are colors and the word is our canvas.

Written by Dominic Aboi

Schools’ Declamation Contest

After the opening ceremony, the stage was set for the declamation contest for secondary schools in Kaduna. The students sat in anticipation. The Climb, a poem by Maryam Abdullah was recited with each school enacting a different delivery style and acting the script to project the journey of life and its challenges. The session was anchored by Lola Shoneyin of the Book Buzz Foundation with Titilope Sonuga, Efe Paul Azino and Jeremiah Gyang acting as judges. At the end of the contest, the judges announced Queen Amina Girl’s secondary school, kakuri, emerged as winners.

Kaduna Book & Art Festival 2017: Opening Ceremony

Kaduna is lighted with creativity! The opening ceremony of the Kaduna book and arts festival at Arewa House featured the welcome address by the Director of Book Buzz Foundation, Lola Shoneyin. She stressed the importance of the festival to the overall development of the capacity of children in northern Nigeria to make informed decisions inspired by their interaction with books and the creative arts in general.

The artistic spark of the day was lighted by an energetic performance by the amazing Titilope Sonuga. The idea behind the creation of Yasmin Foundation was shown through a video presentation. The video showed the space was meant to reinvigorate literacy especially among women and the girl child in Northern Nigeria. The First lady of Kaduna state in her goodwill message applauded the efforts of the organizers and the vision of the initiators of the festival. Maryam Bukar performed her poem, celebrating northern beauty.

The performance of Bazobe cultural troupe added local colour to the proceedings. Their drums, flutes and invocative dance steps appealed to the audience. There were nostalgic gazes from the pan African enthusiasts. Efe Paul maintained the intensity of the displays with the awesome rendition of his poem.

A major highlight of the ceremony was the introduction of The Right to Write Nigerian project that was executed by Moise Gomez, representative of Africultures. In his speech, he emphasized on the therapeutic importance of writing to the soul of a society. He demonstrated his grasp of Nigerian languages by appreciating his listening audience in Hausa. This was followed by a goodwill message by Ambassador H.E Michel Arrion, the head of the European Union delegation. He spoke passionately about the one billion naira literacy project embarked upon by the European Union in the five northern states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Kaduna and Katsina tagged: Right to Write Nigeria. This project is aimed at enhancing literacy especially in arrears affected by crisis. It will deploy the creative arts and the media to advance culturally important materials which are designed to inspire the youths. The ultimate vision of this project which will be a joint scheme championed by Africultures, a French media organisation, Book Buzz foundation and the federal ministry of Education is to train twenty five writers from northern Nigeria (fifty per cent women) to write culturally sensitive materials that are relevant to students for distribution to two hundred primary and secondary schools in the target states. The books contain stories that will counter the narratives used in radicalisation and will be printed in large number to be able to cover one hundred and forty four students. The project will equip and train one thousand two hundred teachers in the target states.

Marlene Maritz of Gusau institute announced the commencement of a Hausa manuscript competition for Hausa Writers. She also informed the audience of the Writers-in-residence project initiated by the institute to help writers complete their manuscripts in a convenient work space found within the Gusau institute facility.

At exactly 11: 30 am, Mohammed Salim was invited to the stage for a rendition of his poem in Hausa. ‘Mu wakan garin Kaduna muke’ ‘We are singing Kaduna’s song.’ The energy of his voice accompanied by the kalangu drums his responding partners were slapping to the rhythm of his voice created a festive atmosphere. He explored his exploits across northern states in a manner that invites the response of his six partners all clad in flowing kaftans and hand-knitted caps. Following different percussions, Salim improvised to the beat of his drummer and praised the art of writing and writers, leaving the stage for the kalangu profession to delight the audience.

Baji Nyam CFO of marine platforms in his goodwill message was excited by the prospects of this festival to the development of literacy in Kaduna and grateful to be associated with such projects. This led to the formal introduction of Wale Okediran and Danja Abdullah who read in two parts Mallam Labo Yari’s citation. As one of the prolific writers and literary pioneers of the north. Mr. Yari is ranked in the league of Achebe, Aluko, Ekwensi, Soyinka and Amadi among others. Being a true patriot and nationalist, he returned to Nigeria after his studies in Oslo, Norway where he bred a deep interest in not just African Literature but, European Literatures as well; particularly Norwegian. After a stint in journalism during the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970), he was posted to Stockholm as a press attache in the Nigerian Embassy. Yari is a repository of Hausa culture as many of his published pieces have attested and was able to blend social realism with lives of Northern dwellers in Hausa/Muslim settings. As the first writer from the North to ever publish in English; he posited that ‘Books can only change those who read them,’ and has a panoramic dream of his work affecting not only Nigerians and Africans, but the world as well.

The presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Labor Yari by His Excellency the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai not only had the paparazzi clicking cameras, shuffling their feet for better positions; it brought curious faces to the stage. Everything was illuminated in the fire of festival: light, camera and action.

Jeremiah Gyang’s performance was phenomenal as well as nostalgic for his old fans. They joined him in singing the ‘African Child’ and were on their feet clapping as he began the hit track ‘Na Ba Ka,’ which he said to have written in 2009. Gyang proved he owned the strings while performing and was able to win another standing ovation first from dignitaries and the entire hall.

The Festival was officially opened by the Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai by unveiling of the Nok terra-cotta sculpture. A stand alone civilization in its own right. The Governor thanked participants and hoped that the dream of holding same festival among other arts and creativity exercises annually will be achieved in the future.

Written by Katung Kwasu and Domnic Aboi