Zata Iya A History of Hausa Feminist Writings

The feminist champions of Hausa literature have their pens ready, full of fire, energy and imagination, emitting hidden truths through their words, and steadily reinventing the narratives of women in Northern Nigeria.

In 1971, Balaraba Ramat Yakubu was married off at the age of 13. She lay on the bed of her new husband’s room, henna designs adorning her hands and feet. She giggled in excitement. The room glimmered with brass bowls, plates, silver cups, and utensils, all trinkets meant for her. She owned everything in this room now, and she could play with them as long as she liked—no need to worry about her mother’s cautionary voice.

In the same year, her older brother, Murtala Ramat Muhammed, went to England to attend the Joint Service Staff College and quickly rose to the rank of a Brigadier-General in the Nigerian Army. He would later go on to become the Head of State of Nigeria after a military coup, while Balaraba—just one year and eight months into the marriage—was kicked out of her marital home, rejected by a husband who claimed he was no longer interested because she was too much of a child. 'He did not know I was a child until he had defiled me, after he had gotten what he wanted', lamented Balaraba while on a panel discussion at the 2017 Kaduna Book and Arts Festival.

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