Our woman of substance this week is Halima Usman. She is the current Chairman of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Abuja chapter. An advocate for education, as well as a literary creativity, she is also an environmental activist
“I had both my primary and secondary school education in Jos,” Halima said with some air of nostalgia trying to remember what she eventually termed ‘the good old days.’
A History graduate and a holder of Master’s degree in History and International diplomacy, Halima is married and has three children. She works at the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
Just like any other Nigerian youth one major challenge she faced on graduation was unemployment. According to her, “after graduation, I had to stay for some years without securing a job. It was actually after President Obasanjo introduced the high- flyer scheme for first and second class upper graduates that I was able to secure a job.”
Besides her work at the Petroleum Resources, she is also a writer. In fact she is now a published and award winning poet and writer. “I have three published collections of poems- ‘Spellbound’ 2007, ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Waterfall’ (2014) and Poems for Nigeria and the civil service (2016). I have two published children books as well: ‘Me and my environment’ (2014) and ‘My Little Handbook of Good morals and Safety Tips’ (2014). I also have two published academic articles, as well as five children story series and one none fiction book also at publication stage.”
Halima who joined the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) in December 2011 had always loved creative arts. “I have always loved to write, draw and paint but it never occurred to me to be an author until a friend told me my poems were beautiful. From that day, it was like I have discovered myself and I had never looked back.
Joining ANA was one of the best things that happened to me. I have got so much inspiration from other members. That was why even before I became the chairman, I have always been committed to the association.”
She said it probably the zeal with which she served the association that made other members in Abuja chapter to vote her to lead the chapter as chairman.
On taking over the leadership of the Abuja chapter of the association less than a year ago, Halima has been busy trying to revamp the chapter to make it vibrant.
“ANA Abuja had been under water for too long, rebuilding it is our number one challenge,” she said with some element of seriousness and passion on her face. She believes she can accomplish that and much more through the collective efforts of the other executive members as well as members of ANA Abuja.
She said the new exco is in introducing new events including competitions, workshops and critique sessions as a way of making the association vibrant and interesting to all. “We are also carrying our members along by giving them various responsibilities.”
Looking into the future, she says: “I see a brighter future for our members. We are still achieving great things. Once we are able to reposition the association by the coming years, the chapter would become the preferred destination for all serious writers in Nigeria. We are particular about the kind of books our members produce and hence we give much attention to our critique sessions to help authors produce quality works.
“We are also entering into partnership with publishers all in the bid to make publishing easy for our members. I can assure you that with all these, ANA Abuja is on the move to greater heights.”
A multiple award winner for her contributions to the literary world, including the Head of Civil Service of the Federation award for creativity in the service – Best in poetry in 2015; ANA Abuja outstanding Female writers award in July 2016; Abuja Literary society literary/Arts development in Nigeria in December 2016; Thespian award for support to Nigerian youths in August 2016.
In the year 2017 she won two awards, NTA Trail Blaizers award for her contributions to performance poetry and NASELS award for invaluable contribution to English and literary studies.
Halima who served as the chairperson, local organizing committee for the Arrow of God at 50 celebration in Abuja and many other literary activities of the chapter, believes hard and selfless service gets recognized sooner or later
Halima says she is saddened by the challenges writers are facing in Nigeria especially lack of conducive environment for them to do their work.
“Writing is an intellectual work, one needs a conducive environment with necessary facilities to be able to think critically and creatively. Another thing is lack of financial support to publish, lack of support systems for published works and no reward system for hard work of a pen pusher.”
She has been the convener of the Annual Gombe Day of Literature and Creativity since 2014. Her other projects include Voices From Camps, Hope Alive Project, a literary and creative programme with internally displaced children as well as several literacy activities which she does with Universal Basic Education as her way of giving back to the society.
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