Recently, Yasmin El-Rufai Foundation (YEF) hosted an array of diverse minds for a literacy and creativity workshop to discuss on a single unifying agenda: ‘Woman and the Nigerian Society’, IBRAHIM RAMALAN reports.
Women, values and lives of whom form the bedrock of the society, need education and enlightenment as the only weapon to chase away all life obstacles.
It is against this backdrop, Yasmin El-Rufai Foundation, gathered diverse groups of women, from teenagers, young ladies, the elderly, nursing mothers and even the men to discuss ways of achieving women literacy as a sustainable initiative of moving forward.
The workshop began with a tour of the Creativity Court by the Coordinator of the Foundation, Suleiman Usman Yusuf.
The Creativity Court is a well furnished, yet stylistically simple one-story building that is housing the Yasmin El-Rufai Foundation.
Guests were shown around and introduced to the staff manning the well-organised offices of the Coordinator, the Administrative and Finance officer, the Program Officer Creative Writing Program and our host for the day, the Program Officer of the Women Literacy Program.
Right at the tail end of the tour, the various guests were joined by an august personality, the founder of Yamsin El-Rufai Foundation, Her Exellency, Hajiya Hadiza Isma El-Rufai, and it was all smiles blazing as the founder blended seamlessly with guests to flashlights of photographers and guests under the serene Kaduna weather.
The main event then started earnestly with a welcome address by Hajiya Hadiza El-Rufa’i in which she buttressed on the theme of the workshop and the importance of a literate woman towards building the society as a whole, which is in line with the core vision of her Foundation – achieving women literacy as a sustainable initiative of moving forward.
This then set the ball rolling as the Program Officer of the Women Literacy Program, Halima Aliyu took over the mantle and introduced the program of the day proper with a brief on the aim of the foundation.
According to her, the program is aimed at equipping young adult women with basic education to be able to read, write and express themselves and moving forward, stimulating the reproduction of such values instilled in targeted communities.
The teaser of what to expect by Halima definitely upped the curiosity of the guests, and this was raised even further when Hajiya Fati Aliko Mohammed followed it with a short pep talk.
Hajiya Fati’s superb rendition of the story of her family – dominated by women who achieved literacy and bagged degrees after degrees on the backbone of a strong pillar of a mother, with a father and a brother as supporting branches blew the breeze of conversation open, and the value and life of a woman became the centre-hold.
Shortly after, the lights in the hall dimmed as a projector sprang to life illuminating on the walls with success stories of six extraordinary women.
The participants did not have to read the letters on the wall. They rather had to feel them in their bones as these young ladies strolled from the back and faced the facilitators with stories of amazing perseverance, serving as perfect indicators of the success and values of education especially to a woman.
Sakina Abdulkadir, the first of the young ladies, in her own words said, she was raised in a community where “girls were married off at a tender age of thirteen.” However, her father decided to defy the odds and sent her for primary education. After that, his resources dwindled and Sakina’s education was at the precipice. Fortunately, fate winged her way as an organisation supported her education with books, school fees and lesson space. Currently, Sakina is an education success story serving as a cascading mentor in her community.
For Hauwa’u Hudu, her case was brief and simple, yet heartbreaking: “To become a teacher in future, to assist the younger generation. Why? Up till today, I find it very difficult to express myself in English because even my teachers can hardly speak it,” she stated to rolls of sighs in the audience.
Amina Yusuf, on her own side, had a supporting mother in her quest for education with the backing of her father despite constant suggestions by community members for her to be married. She hopes to be an advocate in the future ‘for change on issues concerning girls’.
For Maimuna Uzairu her quest was as authoritative as she appeared. She wants to ‘become a Nurse/midwife’. What motivates her? Maimuna’s cousin-sister developed VVF in the process of childbirth and now even as a young lady she is not relenting in her quest for education to reverse that ever happening among other young women.
Aisha Ahmad is the ‘first girl to finish secondary school’ in her community, and this is a community where prominent male Nigerians have hailed from. Finally, Nafisa Dahiru ‘was among the fortunate ones to attend Primary School’ in her community. Now, the community sees her as a role model and all the girls want to be like her, as such have gone back to school.
It was evident that the stories of these six young ladies pierced straight through the heart of the guests as the thundering round of applause conveyed messages circulating in our shocked and trembling hearts. As such, to chew on the words and situation of the ladies, a focused group discussion was set up.
The Program Officer for Creative Writing, Saddiq Dzukogi, moderated the panel of five vibrant young women, and was saddled with the responsibility of steering a discussion about women by exciting young women.
Sajida Mohammed, a young writer, Joy Ochai, a program officer at Population and Reproductive Health Initiative in Zaria, Hassana Umoru, a Law student of Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nana Sule, a student of Estate Management at FUT Minna and an advocate of girl child education as well as Daisy Odey, a performance poet and writer slashed the theme of the workshop open as the baton of the discussion swung from the audience, back and forth to the panellists and moderator.
This part of the workshop indeed allowed basically everyone in the hall to join into the discussion, and opinions were dissected, stories shared, wounds opened and secrets spilled.
In the end, the woman came out stronger and even more willing to challenge the stereotypes of the society and reclaim her own place and her own right to be able to choose what a woman is and what a woman wants to do with her life without dictation or being subdued.
It was concluded that education was the weapon prescribed, to chase away all obstacles in the life of a Nigerian woman.
The discussions and finally the workshop came to a close with a beautiful poetic rendition on the triumphs of a woman by the Coordinator, Suleiman Yusuf and a vote of thanks by the Administrative Officer of the Foundation, Bashir El-Rufa’i. The workshop might have ended, but certainly the struggle for the emancipation of women through literacy is just beginning at Yasmin El-Rufa’i Foundation.