Living in Northern Nigeria
Growing up in northern Nigeria, no place has ever felt more like home. With barely a basic understanding of the Hausa language, I am still at ease and happy to always hear it wherever I find myself, as it reminds of the only place I call home.
There is no region in Nigeria presently as misunderstood as northern Nigeria. From the perception that it is just a complete flat grassland and a desert, to the view that almost persons here are Hausa Muslims and uneducated, or just cattle rearers.
Personally, these views are very hurtful to me and these continuous perceptions are some of the challenges in having a truly unified Nigeria. The challenge of getting a clear perception or at least a closely accurate view of the region is largely due to the poor educational system and facilities. This makes it quite difficult to portray the society fully and with a largely subdued female population, the problem is further accentuated.
One may wonder how having a largely subdued female population that is uneducated, may pose a challenge to the views held of the North. Firstly, though literature is not gender specific, it is an art with a large female participation. The views of Eastern Nigerian and understanding of the Biafran war is not because of travels made by everyone to the East but because of writings of Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie amongst others read in all secondary schools in Nigeria and beyond today.
Throughout my stay and study in Kaduna, I have only come across two literature texts written in English, giving a glimpse of life in the North which are ‘A Virtuous Woman’ by Nana Ai and ‘Passport of Mallam Ilia’ ironically written by an Igbo, Cyprian Ekwensi.
Northern Nigeria is undeniably beautiful with one of the most beautiful set of Nigerians such as the Fulanis, Kanuris and Shuwas. It has amazing and welcoming people so friendly, that on one of my trips back to Kaduna, the driver who barely spoke ‘Turanci’ and I, who barely spoke Hausa conversed and he suggested I go visit Sokoto and see how peaceful and friendly people are.
We all are in control our narratives and as long as these educational gaps and limits are existent, it continues to cut off Northern Nigeria from growth at the pace it ought to be. There is a whole world of opportunity and with a misconceived notion of the environment, investment and growth is highly limited.