Reading iconic women’s biographies triggered my passion –Zarma

Shareefah Ibrahim Zarma, popularly known as Sheefah, is a Kaduna-born writer and women rights campaigner from Borno state. Sheefah recently published her second book, Black Rose, a collection of prose and poetry. Aside from writing, she actively participates in women empowerment advocacy through poetry recitals, speeches, and spoken word performances. In this interview with IBRAHIM RAMALAN, Sheefah speaks on her book, inspirations and motivation for gender advocacy.

 

The background

 

I am Shareefah Ibrahim, popularly known as Sheefah Zarma, I hail from Askira/Uba local government. I am Babur by tribe, a 24-year-old lady, born on July 9, 1994. I was born and raised in Kaduna. I studied English literature at the Kaduna State University and graduated in 2015. I published my first book in April 2016, titled The Silent Noise

which is an anthology of poetry; I later launched my second book on June 30, 2018, titled Black Rose which is a collection of prose and poetry. I am currently self-employed, I am a writer, poetess, spoken word artist, and advocate for women empowerment, which is why I also participate in women empowerment programmes, conferences and seminars.

Your book seems to capture your epistolary musings on love, womanhood.

 

Were these drawn from personal experiences?

 

Black Rose is a collection of poems segmented into five phases which is the petals, thorns, leaves, stem, and roots – symbolising love, pain, compassion, strength and one’s culture and religion. It contains poems, prose, and aphorisms and you will definitely find yourself represented in one, some or even all the pages. Honestly, some were driven by past experiences and most are simply out of creativity.

 

What inspired you to write it?

Genuinely, reading biographies of iconic women in history triggered and inspired the passion for writing, I realised each and every person on earth has a spark of individuality and sense of purpose, and everyone has his/her power in life, and I realise if my voice and words are my power and what I can offer to the world then why shouldn’t I use it? Why shouldn’t I push myself to do great things with the limitless mind God granted me?

 

When did your journey as a writer begin?

My journey as a writer started in the year 2015, where I did my project on creative writing, personally poetry, where I wrote an anthology of poetry, and my supervisor saw the talent before I even realised I had it in me, so he motivated me to write more, which I did and later had my poems published, where The Silent Noise and other poems was birthed and launched on April 16, 2016.

Your book combines poetry and prose; what genre is your forte?

I would like to say I am in between; I really can’t differentiate which surpasses which, but if I were to take rate, I would say poetry.

What or who influenced you as a writer?

To be honest, it was my university lecturer who was as well my project supervisor, Dr Audee .T. Giwa; he saw the talent in me right before I realised I had it in me, and he asked me to give myself a shot with writing, he believed he saw something beautiful in me, and I guess I believed him, and that was how I got influenced.

 

Your book combines poetry and prose; what genre is your forte?

 I would like to say I am in between; I really can’t differentiate which surpasses which, but if I were to take rate, I would say poetry.

 

What or who influenced you as a writer?

To be honest, it was my university lecturer who was as well my project supervisor, Dr Audee .T. Giwa; he saw the talent in me right before I realised I had it in me, and he asked me to give myself a shot with writing, he believed he saw something beautiful in me, and I guess I believed him, and that was how I got influenced.

 

Role models

My role models are innumerable, but I ould like to say Fatima Zahra (Daughter of Our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW); Mary (The Mother Of Jesus); Oprah Winfrey; Malala Yousafzai; Maya Angelo; Princess Diana; Queen Amina of Zazzau, Zaynab Alkali and many other women who stood and strived for a change in the world.

 

Are you a feminist?

No, I am a womanist; I am striving for equity, not equality.

 

What else do you do when you are not writing?

I read mostly, and I research a lot because I am very inquisitive.

 

Can you take up writing full-time?

No, I can’t, because there are other things I am passionate about other than writing, things like advocacy.

Describe the feeling of having your written work published across Nigeria.

 The feeling of having my work being published across Nigeria is quite fulfilling and heartwarming; it made me realise the art of consistency and hard work really pays off someday because when you do what you love, it innately gives you juice. And when the society gives you some accolades for doing what you love doing, then the feeling is of

unfathomable euphoria.

 

 What is the basis, the driving theme of your messages as a motivational speaker?

 The basis behind my messages in my motivational clips is to bring more awareness, support, and motivate the female gender. I want a lot of women to realise their strengths and capabilities, to not allow criticism weigh them down and never allow people to define their capabilities in a limited way, and also tell women there is more to

just being dolled up, in order to look pretty or sexy. They need to be aware of the fact that, those days are gone when women stay unproductive; we are in the 21st Century and we should have dreams and become leaders of luminous intellects.

 

Which is more challenging between writing and motivational speaking?

 Honestly, writing is more challenging because you always have to proofread, do some editorials, revisit your claims and proofread again, you never feel fulfilled, but my motivational speaking just comes from within. I just speak without the thoughts of having any grammatical imperfection. I believe English is a borrowed language, not my L1, but a lingua-franca, so I don’t really worry much about my clips.

 

Advice to aspiring writers

 My advice to any aspiring writer would be to always believe in their craft, believe they are worthy of writing, believe they can be writers or even be the best someday. Belief is a strong key to success, and doubt is the fire that burns away luck. But nonetheless, they should develop the habits of reading; knowledge indeed lies in between pages of a book, and will always be open to corrections and criticisms. That’s how you ever become better.

 

Why Black Rose a must-read

 Well, what I can say is, any human being on earth who has ever loved, been hurt before, being misconstrued, betrayed, feel oppressed, batting with self-confidence and uncertainty about one’s self- worth should definitely grab a copy of Black Rose, and see his/her reflection in the pages of my book. I promise you! You won’t be the same person, after reading this book, because it will heal and give you that push up you were searching for.

 

 

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