A Woman Can Handle Nigeria – An Interview With Safiya Ismaila Yero by Haneefah Abdulrahman

Welcome to LITVO Journal, how best would you love to be described, Ma’am?

I am Mrs Yero, Safiya Ismaila. Whenever I write my name I make sure I write  ‘Mrs Yero’ first, followed by Safiya Ismaila. Mrs Yero is an indication that I am married to Yero, (though ‘Yero’, is my husband’s family name anyway), I then write ‘Safiya Ismaila’ thereafter, which means I am a daughter to Ismaila. Regarding how I want to be best described, I am a writer, an editor, a public speaker and an administrator as I work at the University of Abuja in the Registry Department as an Assistant Registrar currently. I am also the Personal Assistant to the Pro-Chancellor of the University in addition to being the Head of Alumni Relations. So, you see, as far as the administration is concerned, I have my hands full. I was a teacher before I joined the University as I taught in Fou’ad Lababidi Secondary School in Wuse, where I taught English Language and Literature in English. Because of the teaching job I got then I had to obtain a Post Graduate Diploma in Education. I also currently lecture part-time in the  School of Basic and Remedial Studies, Centre for Distance Learning and Continuing Education as well as the  Institute of Education University where I teach the Use of English.  If you look up my name on Google and Youtube, you will see some of my lectures online. Aside from all these, I like to describe myself as an activist, really, and that’s because I am interested in a lot of Human Rights, Girl’s Rights, and Women’s Rights stuff. And I participate fully in the ones I lay my hands on, the ones I can do as a Civil Servant because you know as a Civil Servant, there are restrictions to how far one can go in being involved in the activities of Civil Society Organisations. I own a Non-Profit Non-Governmental Organisation, that focuses on promoting northern Nigerian Women Artists, it is called MACAEF- an acronym for Matan Arewa Creative Arts and Engagement Forum. During the lockdown in 2019, I organized an online programme that discussed how rising cases of rape and domestic violence could be curbed. I and a friend Halima Usman organized another programme when the Covid restrictions were reduced. It was a door-to-door campaign against rape in the Kuje Area Council, where I educated the women on how to reduce or eradicate the rising cases of rape in their society.   We will talk more about that subsequently.

Why have the established women writers in Northern Nigeria abandoned their younger folks to their fate in terms of strategic development and publishing? we cannot see any concrete effort by some of you towards the growth of the younger women writers. I didn’t know about your NGO till a few weeks back and I never heard anybody talk about it, how has it contributed to the Nigerian female artists, specifically writers?

Haneefah, this question of yours is quite a mouthful. I will respond to the first part of the question before I look at the second part of it. Now, I think, first of all, it is your personal opinion that the established women writers in Northern Nigeria abandoned their younger folks to their fate in terms of strategic development and publishing. I think you should have rather said ‘has the established women writers in Northern Nigeria abandoned their younger folks to their fate in terms of strategic development and publishing?’  But since you are asking ‘Why?’ that means you have already sealed the fate of established women writers in Northern Nigeria. I don’t think I am in the right position to even answer this question because; number one, I don’t look at myself as an established female writer in Northern Nigeria. So that brings us back to the definition of the word, ‘Established’, when you say someone is established, what does it mean? And then when you critically look at the meaning of the word ‘established’, can we call ourselves established women, writers? Can we? I do not look at myself as an established writer for now. I think I am still growing, I am still upcoming. You know if you say an upcoming writer, it doesn’t have to be someone in the twenties or a teenager, it has nothing to do with age. However, it has everything to do with the development of one’s writings, how much one has established oneself as a writer, how known, how popular, and how accepted one’s works are. You know it is only when you get to this point that you can say you are established, so I don’t think I can answer why the established women writers in Northern Nigeria abandoned their younger folks to their fate. Now, let me shed more light on this, I think it is not right or it does not go down well with me to conclude or to say that established women  Writers in Northern Nigeria have abandoned their younger folks in terms of strategic development and publishing. Now, first of all, come to think of it, how many established women writers in Northern Nigeria do we have? The only name that comes up is Zaynab Alkali, Zaynab Alkali. Come to think of it, even Zaynab Alkali is not known outside the shores of Nigeria or I don’t even think her works are so popular within the African continent not to talk beyond and most of her works that are popular in Nigeria have been read as literary texts in schools. So I don’t think we have ‘established’ women writers in Northern Nigeria. I think we have a long way to go and our problem is that our society pays very little attention to women writers because of the way women are seen and the way women are usually relegated to the background in the African setting. We lack enough encouragement. Northern Nigerian women are very very talented.  If you look at popular literature, the popular culture in Kano, the ‘soyayya novellas’, 99% of the novellas are written by women and most of the writers are housewives. But then, they are beautifully woven stories and you can tell that the craft is there even though it is raw and still in need of some honing to make it standard.  Most of the books are not even properly published but just merely printed. . There is no special grooming to bring the best out of it and that is why it just stops at mere printing So, I think you should shift your focus from the established women writers in Northern Nigeria abandoning women to why does the Northern society have little or no regard for female artists generally not just writers in the North. I think we should start from there. And not only that, how, can we solve this problem?

I will move to the second part of your question. Oh, it is even a statement, not even a question. Now, by this, I think you have included me and definitely, you have sealed my fate and you have concluded that I am also an established female writer in Northern Nigeria, not only that, I am also part of the people that have abandoned their younger folks. Haneefah, I think you mean, I belong to the established and you belong to the younger folks that have been abandoned which is quite hilarious because you see, you are doing well for yourself, you know, you have been promoting your work, you are very young and, you do it better than we did because you have the encouragement of your parents and family. I didn’t have the encouragement that you have right now because if I had, I would have published my first novel the year I finished secondary school. After all, that was exactly when I finished writing my first novel, in 2001. But there was no encouragement at all. I had to encourage myself. I knew what I wanted and I pursued it, and I am glad I did! I didn’t wait for Zaynab Alkali to come and encourage me or to come and show me how to do it. Talking about concrete efforts toward the growth of younger women writers, it is because of this I established MACAEF, an acronym for Matan Arewa Creative Arts and Engagement Forum. Now, you mentioned that you didn’t know about my NGO and you didn’t hear anyone talk about it, that is because it is more or less an abandoned project. Not really abandoned but it has been lying low because of the pressure of work I have in the office, so I couldn’t divide my attention between the two. I had to just put it on hold and focus on my office. And I have been looking for committed people, people I can work with so that we can work on that because the objective of the NGO is to encourage and promote female artists from Northern Nigeria. You don’t have to be a writer. You can be a musician, a painter, a photographer, as long as you are an artist and you are a female and you are from Northern Nigeria; it doesn’t matter whether you speak Hausa or Fulfulde or Ikulu or Chamba or Bura or any of the other dialects that exist in northern Nigeria. It doesn’t matter if you are a Muslim or a Christian. I only want to encourage and promote northern female artists because most of us, most female artists in Northern Nigeria are not as popular as they should be. For instance, Writers like Chimamanda became popular because they had the encouragement that they needed to grow. They had strong mentorship and support. But we don’t have the culture of mentorship in Northern Nigeria. You know, I remember when I wrote my second book which was published as my debut novel, titled When There is Life. Before it was published, I met a writer at a conference and I went to her and said: “I am into writing and you are part of my inspiration, I would like to be like you because your works that I have read have encouraged me that Northern Women have been doing it or have done it and I too can do it. Now, I begged this woman, please look through my work.” I asked her to give me her opinion on the work but she didn’t even touch the manuscript I handed to her, instead she just told me that there is nothing in writing, writing is this, and writing is that. She rubbished writing and she is a writer as well. I became confused. So I said if she is saying this, why then is she still writing since writing is not such a big deal after all? So I just concluded that probably, she doesn’t want to have other people, other women like her from the north join that space because to her,  it is going to reduce her popularity and all that. So we as northerners, as women in the north, from the north, we need to do away with all these, we need to learn to mentor, we should learn to encourage one another. Not that, “oh I don’t want this person to grow and be bigger than me. I have to bring her down” and all that. I think if we do that, we are not helping the north,  it is in its entirety. Now, look at Chimamanda, again, I am back to Chimamanda, where she is in the world, her name is Chimamanda and that name of course is an Igbo identity so if a Fatima or a Talatu or a Kulu from Northern Nigeria becomes very popular in the world, that name alone will sell Northern Nigeria because someone might just pronounce it and people will ask which part of Nigeria the name is from. But then we don’t have that. We don’t even have a single northern female name in the literary space in the world. Of course, we have some male names, we have Abubakar Adam Ibrahim and some others. We need to work on that.

For over a year that you have been elected as the Secretary of Northern Nigeria Writers Summit (NNWS) why has there not been any programme by the EXCO?

You asked why there hasn’t been any programme since I became secretary of NNWS Well, thank God you know that I am a mere Secretary. Secretaries don’t call the shots, Secretaries take orders from the Chairmen of those organisations so I think I am not the right person to be asked why there has not been a programme by the EXCO of Northern Nigeria Writers’ Summit. Now, sincerely, if I knew what I was going into, I would never have contested and the reason I did contest was that I was interested in making a difference. I was interested in being part of promoting Northern Nigerian literature, I thought that was what it was all about but then after joining, I made several efforts to see that we grow, we take a step forward but each time we decided to call for a physical meeting, it was always one excuse or another from members. There was a time I single-handedly organized a courtesy call to Dr Bukar Usman. At the end of the day, it was only I and one of the excos who showed up, and I had to go along with the volunteer in my office as representative of the Vice Chairman Mr Omale Allen Abduljabbar, who also did not show up for the courtesy call, even though he too was fully aware. About four excos are residing in Abuja, but only two showed up. It was not encouraging at all.  In fact, it got to a point where I almost quarrelled with some people on the EXCO platform. I have been wanting to resign a long time ago but they keep saying ‘No, you cannot resign. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. So because of all that, I just decided to abandon it and take my mind off it. As I am talking to you, as far as I am concerned, I am not the Secretary because I think I even handed over on the platform to the Assistant. Secretary, Mal Ismaila Bala. It’s quite frustrating when you take a step forward and people take you three steps backwards. We held only one physical meeting here in Abuja and I single-handedly took the responsibility of cooking, and the refreshments, though the assistant Omale Allen Abduljabbar provided the drinks and the good venue. Some of the members like Mr Ismaila Bala and BM Nagidi did not attend that meeting. I was also responsible for the meeting we held here in Abuja. There was a constitution committee that was set up and I was part of that committee. I got us a place in my office where we held meetings and I provided all the refreshments and all that. We reviewed the NNWS skeletal constitution and came up with a working document. Don’t ask me what became of the document as I said earlier, I don’t call the shots, I can only make suggestions and wait for the Chairman and other members.  At some point, I became disillusioned and frustrated and I have since abandoned the who thing for the sake of my peace of mind.  So please direct this question to the Chairman and you can quote me, I don’t look at myself as the Secretary to Northern Nigerian Writers’ Summit anymore. I didn’t come to the public platform to officially resign because Omale Allen, Barr Ogbe Benson and even the Chairman persuaded me not to, though I later heard that Omale went to the platform himself to resign. I must say that he was passionate about the whole thing and we all came up with lots of ideas during the physical meeting that was held, including a call for submissions, which we released but we or I (let me speak for myself) never went back to it and I have no idea what they did with the submissions because I had become disinterested in the whole thing. It is a long story and I can’t just explain everything here. A lot of factors led to the hibernation of the NNWS Exco, Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown, insecurity which prevented some of our members from travelling down, ill health of some members and most importantly, lack of committedness on the part of some of the exco. NNWS was the first time I ever contested for anything and I regretted it and it is going to be the last by God’s grace.

You Pride yourself as a Feminist, I understand there are different strands of feminism. What are they, which do you practice and why?

Yes, Haneefah. I am unapologetically a Feminist. Of course, there are different strands of feminism and I can’t start talking about the strands of feminism. I think it is all over the place and online. There are those propounded outside the country which is the root of feminism, there are those propounded by black Americans like Alice Walker’s Womanism and of course, we have the ones that emanated from Nigeria like the Snail-Sense feminism of Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo and Motherism propounded by Catherine Acholonu among others. Now, which one do I practice? You see, the problem is, I don’t waste my time looking for terms to define my feelings or perception on certain issues. I just tell you, this is my position, this is my stand, this is how I feel, this is how I look at this thing and that’s it. Because I don’t think there is any need for me to run the extra mile in theorising what I feel, think or pursue. I can’t tell you I am sticking to this strand of feminism. One thing I know is, that as a woman, I champion the cause of women. That alone is feminism. When you look at the simple definition of feminism, what is it? The simplest definition of feminism in the dictionary is what I practice. As a woman, I can’t turn a blind eye to myself, to what concerns me. When I say myself, I mean a woman, what concerns me as a woman, what concerns my fellow women, I can’t turn a blind eye to that. So of course, that makes me a feminist and it is even ridiculous to ask why I practice feminism. No woman isn’t a feminist no matter how much you say I am not a feminist. No. it doesn’t add up. The moment you support the cause of women, you are automatically a feminist. But I understand why some people don’t want to be associated with the term. It is because of the history of those feminists in the West that were so extreme. In fact, they annihilated, like, they cut themselves completely off from anything that has to do with men. In fact, they abhor men, It is because of those practices that some people do not want to be associated with the word feminism but then as an English Scholar myself, I can’t say because of other people’s opinion, I am going to distance myself from the word feminism since I know what it means literally. It doesn’t mean lesbianism, that’s not what feminism is. As I said, I am unapologetically a feminist, and it is simply because I am a woman and I can’t turn a blind eye to the plight of my fellow women. I hope this reason is enough for you because it is enough for me.

What is your assessment of the development of women writers in Northern Nigeria in the last two decades?  I am not asking about the old guards but the new ones.

Haneefah, you keep talking about old guards and new writers. As far as the issue of Northern Nigerian Women Writers is concerned, I don’t think we have a clear-cut generational demarcation, we can’t say, oh, this is first generation female writers in English, this second generation because how many do we even have to start with? When you say old, as I told you, as I mentioned earlier when you say old writers, is it about the age of the writers or their works? As far as writing is concerned, I don’t think we even have any old writers. Okay, the oldest we see is Zaynab Alkali, when did Zaynab Alkali publish her last novel? Six years ago! I need you to take this old and new female writers’ thing off your mind or rather, you need to understand clearly that we do not even have a clear periodization or generational demarcation because we are not developed enough to have that. When you talk about old writers, you are referring to the likes of Zaynab Alkali, the likes of Razinat Mohammed who just recently published another book I think last year or thereabout, or is it even this year? Your perception of ‘old writers’ or ‘established writers’ doesn’t go down well with me. For the male writers, yes you can afford to attempt such periodization, because we have the likes of Abubakar Imam, and Abubakar Gimba, as the old, and the likes of Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, and El-Nathan John as the new. As far as Northern Nigerian Female Writing is concerned, we do not even have female writers that are deceased that we can say, “Oh, the chapter is closed for this person”. So we can’t say this belongs to so categories. For the male writers, yes but for the female writers, I think we need to have a better approach to these things, to understand them better. Now, for the first part of your question, the development of women writers in Northern Nigeria is not encouraging. And I wish I had more time to focus on my NGO, so I could provide strategic development and publishing guides as well as the necessary support for younger writers. Nowadays, because of social media space, everyone is a writer, especially poetry. It is so funny. Like everyone writes, two, three words in a line, then breaks it into the next line, the person wakes up and says, ‘oh, I am as Poet.” And I just laugh, you know, it is not just prosaic, it’s literally prosed that the lines are just broken. Most of these things that I read online, come from people that call themselves poets, sorry to say, I don’t connect with those lines as poetry, they are just mere write-ups, People just brandish themselves as Poets. The development is poor, yes, we have more writers coming up, which is kind of encouraging, but then when you look at the quality of works that are being churned out you’ll realize that people are always in a rush to get published, especially this crop of “younger generation of writers”, according to you. They are always in a hurry to get published so most of their works are badly edited. English to an extent is not as palatable as it should be. For example, there is this beautiful writer, I can’t remember her name, I met her at a book festival, I think, last year in Katsina. She wrote this very beautiful book but it was very badly edited and very badly published and I told her to bring it, I will clean it up and we will look for how we can help get a publisher to publish it, unfortunately, I have been too distracted to even get that done. My opinion is that women writers in Northern Nigeria in the last two decades have been coming up but the problem is that, in addition to having poorly edited and badly published books, most of those works are not sustained in the market and most of those writers just publish one book and just disappear, I don’t know why. Maryam Bobi published a book I will call a novella and she just disappeared. I never heard of Maryam Bobi again. Halima Aliyu published a collection of Short Stories and just disappeared. And then there is this very beautiful writer Hadiza Bagudu, she writes very well but I don’t think she has ever given her work to very good editors because the literature is good but very poorly edited. She has this very fantastic novel that would have gone places if not for the fact that it was badly edited even though published abroad. So this is my opinion or rather my assessment of the development of Northern Women Nigerian Writers in the last two decades.

Your book NAJA reflects women and their struggles in society. Every woman that picks a pen must in one way or the other talk about the struggles of women in society.  Don’t you think enough has been written about women by women and even men already?

Every woman that picks a pen in one way or the other must talk about the struggles of women in society. And no, I don’t think enough has been written about women because if enough has been written about women already, we will still not have cases of women delivering at home, unattended. We will not have cases of women being beaten by men in their matrimonial homes, that is if enough has been written, we would have overcome all these issues by now. But you can never annihilate yourself from the struggles of women in your society. The things that I have talked about in Naja, the things Zaynab Alkali and Razinat Mohammed have talked about in their books, Asabe Kabir, and Aisha Umar have talked about in their books are still very ripe and we will not stop talking about them until we sensitize people enough to get rid of these things. The way I talk about the struggles of women is different from the way Zaynab Alkali, Aisha Umar and others talk about it. So, yes, it is the same topic but thrashed out in different ways. I don’t think enough has been written by women and even men. Yes, of course, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim has joined the league of Feminist writers because what he did in his novel, Season of Crimsons Blossom is clearly what a woman will write from a different angle of course. Enough has not been written. What do you want us to talk about? Climate change or what? Climate change is outside our roofs. We can’t be concerned with what is happening outside the roof when the roof is leaking from the inside. We have to seal the leakage and mend the roof from the inside. Before we step out and talk about what is happening outside. Yes, we are still focused on early marriage, on women, girls lacking enough education, delivery at home, all sort of maltreatment of women by men and women alike, cultural practices that victimize women and many other problems faced by women and we will continue to have these conversations until we sensitise people enough to find lasting solutions and reduce some of these happenings in our society.

Mallam Illu held on to the vow that he won’t allow Naja to provoke him. At first, he let her go when she didn’t want to sleep with him, later on, he went as far as abusing her physically. Does that reflect that women push men to be beasts?

You know a literary work is subject to different interpretations. This might be your interpretation but I have never looked at it from this angle. I just wrote a novel. Now, I don’t think women push men to be beasts. Beasts are beasts. I am not saying women push men to be beasts but I am saying a beast is a beast and a dove is a dove. Everything is what it is and everyone is who he or she is. You don’t create excuses for people’s misdemeanours, for people’s misbehaviours, or failures. An excuse is only a shield that we hide under when we know that we have not done the right thing or things that we are supposed to do. So I will look at this as your opinion of the interpretation of that aspect of the novel.

The country is tense because of the upcoming election. Most citizens are indifferent about who to vote for as a result of failed promises in the past. I mean, not even one leader in the history of Nigeria has satisfied even half of Nigeria’s expectations. What can you say about the upcoming election as a Writer? Who is your ideal candidate and why?

Talking about the upcoming election as Safiya and not as a writer. I think the situation is tense. We are losing it, we are losing our focus because the attention has tilted from leaders that satisfy Nigeria’s expectations to whether or not a leader belongs to a particular religion. I listened to a sermon by Pastor Sarah Omakwu and I felt disappointed that a well-respected religious leader with thousands of followers will come out openly and say if PDP is not ashamed to present a Muslim as its flag bearer and APC too brings out a Muslim, then they (her congregation) should go ahead and ‘waste’ their votes. Is the upcoming election about choosing a Nigerian leader or choosing a religious leader? So what are we really doing? Are we here to choose religious leaders or we are here to choose the leaders that will lead Nigeria, a country that has Muslims, Christians, Atheists, Traditionalists and what have you?  If we decide to focus on choosing a leader based on his faith and not based on the fact that he can tactfully lead Muslims, Christians, Pagans and whoever, not based on the fact that he can bring development to this nation. Not based on the fact that he can end the insecurity in this Nation but simply because he is Christian or he is Muslim, then we have lost it as a country and of course, it is clear that there is fire on the mountain.

There is no such thing as an ideal candidate in Nigeria among all the contestants, that’s the truth. I don’t have an ideal candidate. I don’t even have a candidate because I am disillusioned, honestly. So, I am just scared and afraid for this nation and if we go down this lane of religion, there is going to be bloodshed. And it is not going to take anyone anywhere. So, we need to rethink the way we approach things. It is not a crime for a Muslim or a Christian to contest. But let’s not make it about their religion, rather, let’s look at what they have to offer. Look at their history, what have they offered where they have led and ruled before. What are the concrete things that they have done, that they have put in place? Do we have pieces of evidence that these people can work, then most of all, let’s put it in prayer.  Like the last time, we said, “Sai Baba! Sai Baba!!” like we were telling God, it has to be this person and God said, “Okay, let me give this person to you since it is who you want.” And look at where Baba has landed us, today. If we had said, “Oh God please choose the person that is best for us, the person that can unite this nation, the person that can give us their best, the person that fights this insecurity once and for all.” This should be our prayers. Not that “Oh he has to come from our religion or he has to come from my tribe. We are so myopic in this country, that is why we don’t move forward, we are always stagnant. God has blessed Nigeria. Each time I travel out of this country, I realize how blessed Nigeria is. If you go to Europe or U.S, the weather is nothing like what we have here.  When it is cold in Europe or U.S, it is really really cold. It is so cold that it drives you nuts. We don’t have that harshness here, in most of Nigeria. We do not have natural disasters. You can just squeeze your tomato in your backyard and it sprouts. When you travel to places like Saudi Arabia, which is a desert area, you cannot even plant anything. It is so hot that you can’t even walk outside during the day at the peak of the afternoon. It gets so hot that the water that runs out of the tap is so hot that you cannot even use it to perform ablution. And then I think, my country, Nigeria and I think of how blessed we are but we don’t see it. Even these countries that have these extreme weathers, find a way to do things right. For instance, there are no abundant water bodies in Saudi Arabia, the way we have in Nigeria yet they never lack water, and their taps never cease to run. And here, we have more water yet we have sachet water. You cannot see sachet water anywhere in Saudi Arabia, you can’t see the street littered, everything is so organized and the security is top-notch. There, we don’t lock our door when we go out. My husband lives in Saudi Arabia. When we step out, we just close the door, we don’t lock it because nobody will come and steal anything. It all has to do with mind-set and I feel in Nigeria, people keep committing crimes because we don’t have a system that punishes crime. You do anything and you get away with it. Even if you are taken to court, you bribe one or two people and that’s it. It ends there. So, we need to work on our mind-set, we need to have a rethink, and we need to put our country first if at all we are going to move forward.

Why do you think not even a single woman has been president of Nigeria? Do you think any woman can handle Nigeria?

Haneefah, are you kidding me? Have you ever had a female Governor in any state talk more of being President in Nigeria? You and I know why. It is because of our patriarchal nature and because we feel women should always come beneath men. And the men have this ego that they will never allow a woman to rule them. A large percentage, of African and Nigerian men, think women are like their properties and things they acquire and keep and then how possible is it that today, they will wake up and a woman is leading? When late Aisha of Taraba contested for the Gubernatorial seat in Taraba state, it was clear that she won the election but it was rigged and taken away from her because she was a woman. Now, presently, we have a woman contesting for the seat of Governor, in my state, Adamawa. This woman is a very good woman, everyone knows – even children, everyone says, “Sai Mama!”  and her popularity is based on the fact that she works for the people as a present serving Senator. She has been a grassroot person, she mingles, she takes care of people’s needs and all that. But then, of course, the men have their egos and they will find it difficult to live with having a woman as their leader, although she won the primary election where she defeated ‘strong’ men, including a former Governor of the State! For a highly conservative society such as Adamawa, where the majority are the Fulanis, though Adamawa has a lot of other tribes, it is going to be difficult for them to let a woman lead, but it is not impossible. I believe that Senator Binani will win the Guber seat in Adamawa, but whether or not the men will let her have it, is another matter entirely.  And for you to ask if I think a woman can handle Nigeria, why not? If women can handle men that have been handling Nigeria wrongly, why do you think women cannot handle Nigeria? Of course, a woman can handle Nigeria, a woman can handle anything, she can take care of the home and the home is a Microcosm of the larger society because, in the home, you have males, you have females, you have adults and children, so it is a Microcosm of the larger society. So if a woman can take care of that and even take care of the men that rule the society, certainly a woman can handle Nigeria. Sometimes, the men you see as leaders are being controlled in the background by their wives, the man might be the head but the woman is always the neck and the neck controls where the head turns.

When do we expect your next book?

I am busy with government work, my next book doesn’t have a date yet.  For now, no novel.

I have a Poetry manuscript but I have not bothered to publish it. My friends think the poems are good but I don’t see myself as a poet, I don’t think they are good enough. I might publish it someday, but I am not in hurry.

Apart from my two novels, I have two children’s books and English Textbooks as well in addition to editing some academic works in the University, one in honour of Adamu Kiyuka Usman, a Professor of Law and a prolific writer and the other in honour of Professor Asabe Kabir Usman of Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto.


Haneefah Abdulrahman is a Writer, an Interviewer, Spoken Poetry Artiste and a Podcaster from Nigeria who is the author of a collection of short story book titled Shades of Becoming. Her works have appeared on The Nigeria Review (TNR), Wisprout Project, Arts MuseFair, and elsewhere. She is a 2021 fellow of the Ebedi International Writers Residency and a Columnist at DailyTrust Newspaper. She is the 2021 Winner of The Arewa Rising Literary Star. Born in Kaduna, Haneefah is an indigene of Kogi State studying Literature-in-English at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where she is the current Chairperson of the University’s Creative Writers Club. She is the Chairperson of Kaduna Branch, Hill-Top Creative Arts Foundation. Haneefah was shortlisted as one of the 30 Contemporary Women Poets to read, by Poetry Column-NND in Nigerian News Direct. She is a YELF ARTIST OF THE MONTH for November 2020 edition.