By Ali Tijjani Hassan
Ab-initio, It starts as a tedious morning that I have to leave my bed since dawn, so that I can make some needful preparation of my journey to Damaturu, Yobe state capital. Being curious to attend the event makes all the pains run. At last, it paid.
Saturday, 12th of March, 2022 happened to be a day full of opportunities and nostalgic memories. Opportunities indeed, owing to the speakers that open a window to their minds for all of their listeners, by sharing their concealed stories and experiences. In the end, the listeners were motivated and taught how to look for opportunities beyond the circle of their sight.
It was nostalgia by quenching my long-awaited thirst for meeting with friends and masters in the art of writing and poetry; Ismail Auwal, Salim Yunusa, Sa’id Sa’ad Abubakar, AI Sabo, Hussaina Sufyan Ahmad, and the village boy Mu’azu Little, to mention but a few.
Yahuza Rabiu Garba makes me feel comfortable with the event by throwing his friendly banters at me. On top of these, having Anas Babati and Aishatu Gimba as the Host and Co-host, the duo makes the event captivating and awe-inspiring.
Don’t forget that; the theme of the event was “Forge Ahead” now, let’s look in to see whether we are forging Ahead or not.
Here are my takeaways;
It will never be possible to highlight all speakings word-by-word, rather I would share with you, the ones I found favorite.
The First speech that I find myself totally immersed in was a speech by the chairman of ‘yan makarantar lilo’ (standard secondary school grad), The Managing Editor Sahellian Times Newspaper, Mr. Ismail Auwal, on Fake news and misinformation. As a budding journalist, I found his speech useful and elucidating.
I can say I fall in love with all the words he used in his speech during TEDx Pompomari, for all are relevant to the topic that I have been wanting to know. Mr. Ismail Auwal gave me a damn hint in verifying the authenticity of News. Where he said that Fake news and misinformation are everywhere even in academic journals and Textbooks. He also shares the story of his public speaking ability with trace to his secondary school adventure.
The next speaker, Hussaina Sufyan Ahmad, an advocate of education for all, with the exhilarating topic of presentation ‘Using Pain to Gain’ encouraged many of our young sisters on the life obstacles that may come across if married or divorced. How to use that pain of sorrow to gain gladness of honour. She also shares the story of her married days and how she is living now full of conformity as a single and divorced mother. How she used that opportunity to further her study, writing, and humanitarian activism.
The next speaker was a writer and womanist, Rukayya Ibrahim Iyayi, her speech is on women’s rights and gender violence. Miss Iyayi takes the Abaya Saga of one female student from KUST Wudil that was tormented by male colleagues in early 2021, as a topic of discussion. I can remember vividly as Miss Iyayi quoted that; “Women’s Right is a Human Right, and Human Right is a Community Right”.
Kazeem Adetola Ahmad, from Lagos. Mr. Adetola is the President of Mandela fellows in Nigeria. He also encouraged us not to given-up in life, He shares the story of Babagana Modu, from Ngamborun-Ngala how he used the tough time of his imprisonment life to build a good time he is currently living in.
With this we had a refreshment by entertained cultural dancers, imitating the culture of Yobe state inhabitants. After cultural entertainment, the event continued rousing as it was just started.
A speech from a Journalist, Poet, and Wole Soyinka Literature Lauret winner, Sa’id Sa’ad Abubakar, on raising children to build a better community. During the speech, he shared the story of how he quit his journalism work and joined humanitarian activism. He told us how he is dealing with IDPs children in their displaced environment, how he understands their sorrow, heartbeat rate, blood pressure in just a single handshake with them. He obviously stated that his father doesn’t know that he is already the doctor he wanted him to be. This part touched me so deeply!.
The courtesy of appreciation I received from Sa’id Sa’ad Abubakar made me feel flattered, whenever we discussed a little he would be saying Oh Aliyu nice to meet you!
The story of Mrs. Ikleemat Idris, 30, mother, educationist, and gender activist that combined being married and schooling at the same time, to cut the story short her message would definitely change how we are thinking as young people.
The story of Ikleemat started when she was about to complete her secondary school education and coincidentally she would be married immediately. It was a two days interval between Ikleemat’s last day in high school and her wedding day.
Despite all these, this heroine (Ikleemat) never gave up, she got admission to read an NCE (Three years program) in FCE (T) Potiskum. During those days Ikleemat as a teenager, a pregnant housewife went through a lot of difficulties like shouldering her house chores and reading to pass her examination. Every morning, She had to cook breakfast and lunch all at the same before going to school. Her husband who happened to be arduously responsible would cook dinner for them before she return back from school and at the night he nurse the baby so that she can concentrate well on her books, this happened continuously till her graduation.
After she graduated Ikleemat and her husband sit-up and discussed the possibility of her going to further her studies to the university, due to his financial inability they conclude that she can seek a job from a nearby primary school so that she can earn a penny to save and takes care of her tuition fees by her self, this advise was implemented as it planned. Ikleemat worked as a classroom teacher for two years, by then she got admission to the same college she graduated from (an affiliation degree program with the ATBU Bauchi) where she is now a 400 Level student.
While working as a classroom teacher, she was able to start a retail business, where she sells Ankara, laces, Abayas, Shadda, and Shoes. “Even if I have nobody to tell me that I am a Superwoman,” Ikleemat said, and I quote, “I have to tell myself that I am a Superwoman.” With this, the event is paused for a brief break, during which we said our Zuhr prayer.
While in Musallah I and Ismail Auwal, spontaneously started a conversation on Ikleemat where we break the ice. We discussed how young ladies and boys are afraid of getting married with the notion of it being tough. Ismail says that today’s young generation is between the circle of materialism; women wouldn’t marry a young man at his starting point, and males too if settled would agree to marry only the one that composed his greedy complement. Unfortunately, we will not be marrying each other (youth).
Mr. Ismail continued with the story of former education minister Mrs. Rukayya Rufa’i, who earned her SSCE as a housewife and advanced to the highest level of learning (Professor). She had to cook for her husband even when she was a serving minister. And she was quoted as saying that if her husband asked her to resign, she would do so without hesitation. What a devoted wife!
Ad-interim, the event was resumed. Adama Yerima Balla, the woman confined to a wheelchair, was the next speaker. I called her daughter because it’s the best title she wants to be addressed with; despite everything she’s accomplished in life as a mother who has received numerous accolades around the world, she insists on being addressed as a daughter; if it weren’t for my parents, I wouldn’t be able to reach my full potential. What a wonderful daughter!
Mrs Adama has had polio since she was five months old. Instead of begging on the street, as we see, she takes on the challenge of her disability and defies the status quo. Despite her disability, Hajiya Adama has an NCE and a BSc and has written two books. This convinced me that disability is not an inability. According to her, the phrase “there is an ability in disability” could mean both yes and no! If you were given the ability, the answer is ‘Yes,’ otherwise it is ‘No.’ She praises her parents for providing her with the ability by hiring a tutor who taught her how to read, write, and count simple arithmetic during her childhood and allowing her to attend school. This was the reason behind her choice to be addressed as a daughter everywhere.
One of our, Poets, Salim Yunusa, takes the TEDx floor eloquently, which attracts the listeners with his melodious vocality and fascination topic; Commercialization of Culture. He stated that our culture needs to be promoted, packaged, sells, at last, we can make money of course. Salim said that the difference between groundnut we are buying at cost of fifty Naira on the street and the one we are buying at cost of five hundred Naira in malls is the packaging.
The last speaker I can mention here is, Humanitarian activist, and Mandela fellow Washington DC, The Village Boy, Mu’azu Alhaji Modu, that excited us with his moralizing topic named “Beyond our Sight” He said and I quoted “as a young people there are a thousand of opportunities beyond our sight, therefore, we must look beyond” He added with his story of how he declined the offer with a bank and joined humanitarian activism! Today, Mu’azu is among the world’s 100 most influential youths.
We were entertained by many performances that I couldn’t be able to mention. But there was a spoken word artist and business developer, Ramadan. He happened to be an exceptionally brilliant performer there, I can’t forgive myself if he reached the end of every verse of his poem while I didn’t put my hand together enormously for him.
The way we received the number of speakers and performance within the circle of intelligentsia across the country, revamped my hope that Yobe is still The Pride of The Sahel, not Desert as some unpatriotic elements are seeing it and we would definitely Forge Ahead.
Ali Tijjani Hassan, writes from Potiskum, Yobe State.