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I Don’t Envy People, Envy Is A Disease – Hajia Yakubu

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LIFE IN BRIEF

Balaraba Ramat Yakubu  was born in September 1958 into the Muhammadu Maijalala family, of the Kurawa Quarters in Kano to late Mallam Yakubu Muhammadu Maijalala and Hajiya Ramatu Muhammadu. She has four silings including the late head of state, General Murtala Ramat Muhammed. Balaraba was enrolled in Islamic school in her neighbourhood and later the Jarkasa Primary School near the Kano Emir’s Palace. Her zeal for education led her to adult non formal education classes of the Kano State Agency for Mass Education where she had a certificate in Sewing and Knitting. She also attended a certificate programme at the Bauchi College of Arts and Science. She had attended more than 100 national and international workshops, seminars and conferences including the New York Film Academy Master Class on Screenwriting.

Balaraba Ramat Yakubu is an informally educated Nigerian Hausa writer, movie producer and an activist for girl child education.

Who is Hajia Baĺaraba Yakubu?

Balaraba Ramat Yakubu is an informally educated Nigerian Hausa writer, movie producer and an activist for girl child education.

Can you give us your background including the names of your parents, their occupation and where you hail from as well as how many you were in the family?

I was born in September 1958 into the Muhammadu Maijalala family, in Kurawa Quarters of Kano. My father is late Mallam Yakubu Muhammadu Maijalala and my mother is Hajiya Ramatu Muhammadu. Muhammadu Maijalala came to Kano from Tarabulus, that is, Tripoli, to Kano around the 1910s. My family business is sewing “jalala” that is Hausa embroidery for Amir.  My father had only two children, my younger brother, Alhaji Ibrahim, and myself. On my mother’s side, we are five: late General Murtala Ramat Muhammed, late Alhaji Tijjani Muhammed, late Hajiya Magajiya, Alhaji Ibrahim Ramat and myself.

What were your childhood dreams?

As a child, my dream was to grow up and study to become a teacher. I loved teaching because I still recall how awesome our teachers were when they teach. They were clean, disciplined, and confident. In my little brain then, I thought they knew everything and had answers to every question.

What challenges did you encounter as a child growing up in your local environment?

There were no challenges as far as I can remember. The watchword was respect and it existed in all relationships between young and old, and the elders didn’t use their position to infringe on the life of the young.

Who were your role models?

My mother is my role model. She was a rare gem and a decent woman. She was wise, courageous, smart, confident, humble, reserved, unassuming, and charismatic. She was a lovely and faithful wife. She was a supportive and understanding and patient and caring and loving mother to all of us her children. And I mean all the children under her care of which there were several.

Can you remember any of your teachers and what you learnt from them?

Of course, I do. I remember my English language teacher Mrs. Iyabo Yahaya Ungogo. She was such a great woman with large heart. We saw her as role model. She inculcated in us discipline, honesty, selfless service to community, and making use of limited resources to achieve maximum results.

What were the mistakes you made that you will not like another person to make?

Not going back to formal school. That is my greatest mistake in my life. I am a muslim and Islam is my faith. So I am guided by these.

What would be your advice to young girls in Nigeria?

I advise young girls to be serious about getting an education. With education, they can develop further the talents they have. Those that cannot get an education, they should strived to learn a skill so they can be important to themselves and the society generally.

Have you ever failed, and what’s your attitude to failure?

Failure does not exist in my vocabulary. I don’t know it. I have tried many things in life and I have never failed. In all I do, I give attention so I learn.

What inspired you to go into writing?

At the Bauchi College of Arts and Science (BACAS) there was an essay writing competition organized for the students and my story, which I later published as Kyakkyawar Rayuwa won the first prize. Our

lecturer, who organized the essay competition, advised me to publish the story. So from then on, I started writing and I published my first book, ‘Budurwar Zuciya’, in 1987. ‘Kyakkyawar Rayuwa’ came later in the mid 1990s. So winning that essay writing competition was what motivated me to start writing.

Let’s look at your education, which schools did you attend…primary, secondary and tertiary?

As is the tradition with all Muslims especially in northern Nigeria, I was enrolled in Islamic school in our neighbourhood. Later, I was enrolled in the Jarkasa Primary School near the Kano Emir’s Palace. At Class 4, I got married and automatically stopped school. Later, my zeal for an education led me to adult non formal education classes of the Kano State Agency for Mass Education where I had a certificate in Sewing and Knitting, and I became a teacher in that school. In 1983, I attended a certificate programme at the Bauchi College of Arts and Science. From then on, I have attended more than 100 national and international workshops, seminars and conferences including the New York Film Academy Master Class on Screenwriting.

What was your growing up like, can you recall some spectacular incidents/events?

Life was normal then. We were happy as children. We were taught that any elder we saw outside our household was to be respected as we did our parents. There were horses in our house and sometimes I gave them water. My mother told me folklore at night. My father gave me all the meat in his soup. I remember a cake made groundnut and dates was made by my mother every afternoon and we took it to Islamic school.

Can you give us five lessons you have learnt in the course of your life journey? Which is the most striking?

Patience. Hard work. Determination. Selflessness. Generosity. I have been generous because I believe that if you give, you will always feel contented and at ease. I don’t envy people because I consider it the worst disease that has difficult or no cure. Once you start to envy others, you have dug a ditch to bury yourself.



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