The inception of the Purple Network for Muslimah was an interesting one. It was through a story of purpose borne of pain as the chief organizer, Bashirat Abdulwahab narrated her journey through life, there was a collective reaction of awe and understanding. Needless to say, that same pain is what brought about her nurturing spirit.

For the event, Mindset Muslimah Kaduna, Mental health was the main focus of discussion. The hostess shed more light on what mental illness is really about saying that absolute madness is not what mental illness is as against what people think about. Depression, PTSD, OCD are all part of it.

On the issue of drugs abuse, she said that many people use drugs as coping mechanisms to get away from their trouble so they need more help than judgement and just like any medication, the more drugs are being abused, the more the body gets used to it and the more the intake- it’s a vicious cycle.

7 million recorded people are depressed in Nigeria because of the societies lack of acceptance of mental health issues. The stress and our inability to seek help makes the numbers keep rising making Nigeria the country with the most depressed people in Africa.

She reiterated on the importance of coming to terms with your mental status as well as the physical .

How To Know A Person is Depressed? You need to know more about it first to Identify it. It may be hysteria which comes and goes and if left unchecked, can degenerate into a bigger disease. It could manifest as a result of toxic negative emotions or anger or pressure and to guilt. The list is endless.

We need to pay attention to behavioral changes in people around us for example loss of interest,change in sleeping and eating pattern and so on. When you notice that, it’s best to talk to that person because something is definitely wrong.

The discussion was taken over by Labibah  Saed, a clinical psychologist who spoke about what to do in the face of mental illness. It could be anxiety, OCD, PTSD and many other issues we are ignorant about.

Mental health is all inclusive and the earlier we accept the status of our mental health the closer we move towards getting better. It’s just like recognizing physical illnesses e.g malaria, you need to first come to terms with it before we seek help.

It’s true that seeking spiritual help is the major part. When you communicate with your Lord everything becomes easier but when you actually talk to people, it really gets a lot better so pray about it but talk about it too.

She called on everyone around as a parent, as family to accept the people with genetic disorders eg Autism, Down syndrome so that they could come out of their shells and display their special abilities because most of them are actually gifted.

People usually ask the questions why. Why me? why now? But there’s no one reason why. It is subjective and it can be caused by external factors and there are many types of therapies for each issue so it is not limited to drugs and talking therapy.

She encouraged psycho-education where the patient and his family all get educated on the dynamics of the mental health.  It makes identification of the disease a lot easier and how to handle it.

Aishatu Dahiru addressed the effect of adverse childhood experience. Raising awareness is critical when it comes to adverse childhood experiences. 

We got to take the resiliency test which was super insightful and generally helpful as long as you are honest to yourself. I encourage everyone to take the tests https://testyourself.psychtests.com/bin/transfer_mobile  because I feel it does better in helping you address you issues.

It’s good to know how resilient you are but it may be detrimental to you so seeking help is not relative to resilience. No matter the experience there’s always help so giving up is not an option.

Next, we had refreshments and it was while munching on Samosa and puff puff that Amina Zakari shared her experience with us. Safe to say that like everyone present, her encounter with depression only made her stronger.

I got to lay my own contribution to the table and directly addresses the importance of acquainting teachers and educationists on the diversity of the mental state of mind and also possibly including such education into the curriculum.

Hauwa’u Kulu Shuaibu, a lecturer of physics in NDA also shared in on her story and offered some viable solutions to the educational dilemma. 

Other contributors were special guests Maryam Bambale, CEO of Rymbas Galore and Farida Yahya, Writer of ‘Redefining Beautiful’ and founder, Lumo Naturals.

The program rounded up after a lecture on being a Muslim woman in the society and what it truly takes by Yasmin all the way from Abuja.

It was truly an insightful, interesting, eye-opening and educational event and we hope to see and help in facilitating more of them because mental awareness is much needed in Nigeria.

And as the call to action by Hauwa’u Kulu Shuaibu went, we should all endeavor to contribute financially whenever we can because the organizers basically did everything from their own pockets. That single gesture will go a long way.

Thank you Purple Muslimah Network for Mindset Muslimah.

I saw a video about a fairy-like creature who loved the Prince and was loved by him but she had to sacrifice her beauty to make him happy. She had very white skin and dark, straight, long hair and wings. After she sacrificed her beauty, her features changed to… yeah you guessed it!  Dark skin, kinky, curly hair no wings of course. She was called Ugly. It was a cartoon named ‘Dina and The Prince’ and I’m trying so hard to think up another meaning other than the obviously super racist and offensive one portrayed.

From the time the white People successfully infiltrated the shores of black nations, they had continually shoved it down our throat that even physically (not just culturally), there are differences between us and that ours is a deformity, an anomaly and therefore we are automatically meant to remedy that. How? Bleach your dark beautiful skin —which is dark because it has more of something they don’t have and not LESS of it so it doesn’t make sense that the colour is less of a beauty- into a fair unnatural one so you can gain acceptance (which never comes) and straighten your kinky curls because shrinkage makes you less beautiful even though your hair looks way better because of its volume and sheer mass (like a lions mane😍) but hey it’s not straight so it’s a deformity.

They did that through the media. Cartoons, movies, magazines, shows, whatever way they can. Princesses are whites with coloured eyes and blonde hair. Let me retrace my steps; cartoon heroines are princesses or marry princes so if you are neither, you are a looser. (Wonder where your materialistic character came from, it was instilled.

Bleaching is just a symbolism of all of our insecurities ranging from beauty aesthetics to culture to music to language to dressing. 

The curvy, plump African woman with full afro and rich dark skin, who is 3D all the way and in any form not flat is now an unacceptable image. Because according to them, skinny is the new beauty. You should look depraved and hungry with ribs poking out and spend millions of hours and money burning your hair, no changing it’s colour, changing your eyes colour, changing your skin colour, changing your language and afterwards your accent, changing your dressing and way of life drastically and your general understanding of life. And guess what? After all of that, you still aren’t enough.

Yes there are times in our lives when we are uncertain about ourselves. And that is usually growing up when we don’t know where we fit in in the society. Is it in Cinderella’s world or Halima’s? We may consider our features inadequate. It’s normal, but once we move past that, I think it’s just to realise who we truly are really connect with and appreciate ourselves because at the end, there’s only one you. So why change that for the world?

So why try to fit in to their portfolio of what is beauty when they themselves are not content with theirs and are constantly trying to change too. The closer you get to fitting in, the further you are away from fitting in.

I stood before the mirror yesterday and I think I saw my skin for what it was for the first time- mind you I’ve received many compliments Masha Allah about my skin tone- it is the brownest skin I’ve ever seen.  It was dripping in caramel. It was astounding. It wasn’t the most beautiful skin tone I’ve seen, it was the most interesting to me and anyone, anyone who thinks or expects me to change this colour to something lighter or darker or whatever is insecure. It’s not me, it’s him.

No one will fault you for taking care of your skin, no one will blame you for wanting to get an even skin tone or glowing skin but that colour you were created in, if you care for it, it will be the most beautiful thing you’ve seen. Not being racists but I’ve never found anything fascinating about a white skin. I mean it’s usually even the same shade. But the dark one of a million different shades and tones of honey and caramel and chocolate and bronze and dark and black! That is the real attention grabbing deal! To me, the darkest skins are just fascinating.

And take it from me, they are telling you theirs is more beautiful because they can’t have yours. If they could, beauty aesthetics would have a different meaning by now. 

I didn’t need a song to tell me my skin is everything. I needed me to do that and I dis without effort.

Awkwardddd!. Okay it has been established by now that I can be fazed by stuff and being called beautiful or receiving nice compliments in general are a major cause.

Before now, when people say I’m beautiful, I just smile uneasily at them and try to think of how to reduce that ‘beauty’ so that I become less noticeable. 

Then people started thinking I’m rude so I reply ‘thank you’ drop a smile and wish they hadn’t said that because now I’m self-conscious.

You want to see Hafsah lying on the ground, stone cold, dead, zero heartbeat, just get a man I consider attractive or have a crush on sincerely say that in public , au revior! I’m off to heaven for embarrassment.

🤦🏽‍♀️

What was worse is that I never even believed it. It wasn’t until I started seeing myself as anything good looking that I actually started taking people seriously. So chances are that if you’ve ever said that, you’ve just wasted a compliment and  caused me to face an unnecessary episode of embarrassment. Thank you.

Now, because I understand how the human mind works and what looks good to you may not look so to me because of perspectives differing and aesthetics being subjective and stuff, I might actually believe you but then I’m at a stage where looks are just by the way many times(depending on my phase because sometimes looks are everything to me) so I’d appreciate the compliment and honesty and that’s it.

Am I less awkward at receiving compliments? Yessssss. I can even be jokingly arrogant about it but not in public because I fear I may varnish in plain sight.

Once upon a time, even though I’ve never counted, but I was reading an average of 3 books a week and almost a hundred a year.

I was a chute sucking up all the wordings and meanings and at that time, reading a 200 hundred paged novel a day was a small task. I didn’t care what genre or age group or era it was from, I just read everything. But even then I was also a fiction person. I had tried to read ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ and it did not seem significant to my life in anyway. I could not read inspirational books or biographies/ autobiographies, still can’t. The closest I’ve read was the ‘Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck’ which was a very good read. (Books about creative writing are exceptions)

Then as I grew up, I started getting picky. Some books like Animorphs disgusted me. Some books like high school love stuff became too childish, some Mills and Boons book were too unrealistic, some science fiction books made no sense, some bippity bappity boo books were just lazily recycled narratives. I’d read the first 3 pages and dump the book without ever looking back. That is something I never did during my book gouging stage; in fact at that time I’ll probably start liking a book well into the 100th page but I’d still drag on and read on because well, It was a reading sin to dump a book.

It was that time that I discovered that I’d rather read Sidney Sheldon’s books than John Grisham even though I want to be a lawyer because it wasn’t ‘adventurous enough’ for me. And that I’d still rather read Sidney Sheldon than Jeffrey Archer because his books are so long you’d probably get lost in the narrative half way (except his short stories which I love).

I discovered my love for fantasy books and Sandra Brown over any romance writer. I discovered I liked mystery and suspense but didn’t like the suspense and the waiting period; always leaves me physically tired.

I discovered one genre that not many people know or worse appreciate but I like it because it is so easy-going and fun and some are actually funny- Chicklit.

I love reading the imperfections of the characters of Chicklit novels most of which are by Marian Keyes or  Sophie Kinsella (Chicklit novels adapted to movies are Diary of A Shopaholic, The Devil Wears Prada, Beauty and the Briefcase etc).

I like Fantasy, the Harry Potter kind and Percy Jackson kind. Zarah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor was the first book I read in that genre by an African and it’s still my favorite .

I like books like Divergent and I usually read the books before the movies are released as soon as I watch the trailers. Because the books are usually better.

I love action books  and horror but please don’t disgust me with scenes too grotesque to incite any fear… thank you. To think once upon a time my idea of a horror book was Goosebumps.

Wattpad spoiled many genres for me like Vampires and werewolves, I don’t take them serious now because I feel it’s just another unreadable Wattpad something. Fanfiction is the wooorrsseee *Harry Styles* 😭

I love unconventional books like Alif the Unseen, it’s tech with a touch of Jinn- really unexpected.

Unpredictable books in a good way? Sign me up. Because some authors in a bid to be unpredictable just do the most.

Generally, the books I’d love to read are the ones I’d love to write. So when I don’t find what I want to read on the shelves, I write one.

Lets talk about the reality of marriage.

I am not married therefore I am not in the best position to touch this topic but I see things from a vantage point, so that perhaps, I see things that the married ones might fail to see.

Now almost every person has that dream  at a certain age while growing up. The dream of marrying a wife/husband, having kids, being comfortable in your house, with cars, a great synergy, harmony, peace and enjoyment. 

I don’t know why we had that notion when growing up but apparently in our minds, that’s what marriage is about. 

Don’t get me wrong, it is an established principle that once it’s right and with the right person, marriage is absolutely the most amazingly beautiful and surreal thing that could ever happen to anyone.

And that was why (because I only saw the beautiful part) when I was younger I’d imagine l’ll get married and cook whatever I want; I’ll cook milk swallow with bournvita soup (for real that was my one time dream and I actually believed that no amount of growing up could change my mind) or I’ll eat a whole chicken when I’m married, or I won’t shout at my kids like this or I’ll drive my car through a foreign street because I wonder how it is and I know no on will take me there. 

Then we start growing up, and our eyes start prying open bit by bit and we realise that sometimes, things don’t work out the way we assumed they will, and sometimes, they are even better than we had ever imagined.

 1, Your deadline of getting married by 21 for girl or 27 for guys is not plausible because meeting the person who can be your spouse is in itself an uncertain process.

2, You realize not everyone you like is marriageable and not everyone that likes can be liked back and even if you like each other, compatibility issues. 

3, Let’s say everything works out. There’s bound to be problems even before marriage and you either think; it will be better after marriage or is this how I’ll survive in marriage?

4, Patience, be patient. Marriage is all about patience. That’s what they all say.

5, You get married, your spouse ‘changes’ but in reality, your spouse is just exhibiting his/ her real character and sometimes there might have been warning signals but sometimes, there were none.

6, You adjust, you compromise because you’re in love and it’s all about compromise. 

7, Then his/ her family. You realize they are more important than you had ever imagined. You realize they play a part in your marriage and you have to be around them more than you thought. And as it happens when more than a person is involved, there’s bound to be clash.

8, Misunderstandings. You may have been together for years but you still have misunderstandings. You may have spoken about everything but something must cause misunderstandings and arguments and clashes.

9, Your spouse’s friends are playing a huge role in his/her life and way of thinking. You have never given them any thought but apparently they may be a threat to some aspects of your marriage.

10, Finances- You still don’t have a car. That’s not what you thought. But in fact paying for rent is a big deal. Sometimes you need to scrimp and pinch to make ends meet. It’s a drag, a slow one but you are hopeful for a better future. It just hurts when you see your dilapidated phone and wish you can change it on whim.

11, You woke up tired. Tired of him , the house, his family, even the kids. Tired of everything and you want to rest but you can’t, so that frustrates you and that day, he won’t see your smile.

12, Effort. You never knew the effort you’d have to put to keep a marriage up. All the things you thought you’d automatically do as long as you are married now require a deliberate effort. You thought you could manage all the things coming your way because there’s love but sometimes even the love require some effort.

13, Shaky Marriage. You are not alright as a person and as a couple. Nothing is fine. You are constantly on each others nerves, looking for creative ways to annoy each other. But when you come out you have to smile. And if need be you pose for the camera , hug your spouse and curve your lips because you are in a happy, affectionate marriage. The moment the camera clicks away, you go your way. You are in Hollywood and your marriage is a movie. Credits for being a great actor.

14, Miscellaneous. Problems from here and there.

15, Good times. Plenty good times filled with fun and laughter and heart warming intimate moments. The companionship and learning new things about your partner and the great people you meet through him/her and how they draw you closer to God and they generally just make you feel whole. They outweigh the weary times and that is all that counts.

16, some cases. It’s never the same in every marriage. This maybe obtainable in some and it may not be in others.

Some spouses are abusive

Some spouses are cheats

Some spouses are munafiq

Some spouses are shady or crazy

Some spouses change too drastically for the worse

Some spouses change for the best

Some spouses are negligent 

Some are belligerent 

Some just don’t care

Some are miserly

Some are wicked 

And even though you never thought of it before, some marriages end in divorce. They are never the first nor will they be the last. It’s just a sad reality of marriage.

(*So plenty comments followed on why I stopped here without highlighting the beautiful parts of marriage. The main aim of the article is sort of an informant for fellow individuals not in the institution to know that the biggest thing is not a wedding, but a marriage).

It is always said by people in the system that you as a couple will never have an unsolvable problem as long as it stays between you. But the moment a third party is included, you have signed a meddling warrant.

All of these problems, each of them, with no exception can be resolved within and they won’t even see the light of the day in the first place as long as communication exists, and understanding and respect.

That is when you create a healthy environment for your partner to be your lifelong companion. For a synergy to bud and blossom between you until you literally think as one. For you to anticipate the others company every single day because you know that you are at peace because the purpose of marriage is to find tranquility , peace, affection and mercy, that is marriage and that is what Allah has enjoined on us so when the opposite happens, that is Shaytan being an intermeddler and that is when we need to be most steadfast in prayer because Shaytans greatest joy is causing disagreement between spouses.

“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (Qur’an 30: 21)

The Prophet had the most beautiful model of marriage. But then the Prophet was the best of men, he showed us an example of what a true married life should be. Should we emulate him, we will discover that truly, marriage is for tranquility.

In a Da’awah I attended years ago, it was asked, who is the best husband, and we all started scrambling our brains trying to figure out the best attributes we could think of. The words ; kind, gentle, God-fearing, modest, hafiz flew out of many mouths but that was not the answer. Because the best husband is YOUR husband. So who is the best of spouses? Yours! And In Sha Allah it shall be.

Yes there are problems in each marriage, that is from Shaytan, but yes with the proper understanding and a pure mind, In Sha Allah yours will be a marriage where those problems serve only to strengthen the union and with time never even occur. It will be the doorway to Al-Jannah, of infinite mercy and happiness and that is the beautiful reality of marriage.

‘Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the most beautiful of them all?’ But she knew the answer. Jamila was still the most beautiful of them all.

She dipped her fingers inside the jar and lathered on more cream. Maybe if she was lighter skinned, it wouldn’t be Jamila. Maybe if she exercises more it wouldn’t be Jamila, maybe if her hair was to grow longer, it wouldn’t be Jamila. Because Jamila’s beauty was swaying even her boyfriend and she was not having any of it.

But she couldn’t fault her best friend for being so naturally Masha Allah. She could only just admire too. Jamila always had men on her heels. Her aura and looks drew men to her and made women envy her. 

‘They must wonder why Jamila is even friends with me’ she muttered to herself. ‘With this ugly duckling’.

She wasn’t mad at Jamila for getting her boyfriends attention, she had caught him stare in wonder at Jamila many times and she had been silently miffed. But she wanted to keep being friends with Jamila, she at least got some male attention when Jamila was around even if it was vicarious. Besides she didn’t want to see her best friend mad.

But he was going to have it because she had had enough, the fact that they were flirting on the phone was beyond keeping mum.

Jamila was about to come. She didn’t tell her mother this time because the last time her mother saw Jamila, she had a scared and confused look in her eyes. She reapplied the lipstick and patted some powder on it to give it a matte finish, it was too glossy. She wanted to look beautiful, her boyfriend was coming soon and Jamila was almost there… and still a threat.

She saw Jamila through the mirror. She looked beautiful as always. She was wearing makeup too but she would have looked great even without any. She smiled a bit.

‘How far?’ She asked.

Jamila replied from behind the mirror ‘I’m good. Is Le Hub in the waiting here yet?’ 

Jannah pressed her lips together in annoyance. She didn’t like the way Jamila acted as if he was dating them both, but she didn’t like the way Abdul was responding even more… she had read their chats.

Jamila smirked, as if she could read her mind. But maybe she could, Jannah wouldn’t put anything past Jamila.

As if on cue, her phone rang, it was Abdul. 

‘Le Hub is here’ Jamila chirped in delight and Jannah’s frown deepened. She snatched her veil and went out.

‘Hi’ Abdul said with a smile once she settled in the car.

Jannah didn’t respond. She just folded her arms and stared out through the window. She was so angry but she was a chicken. She couldn’t stand confrontation and that was why she avoided talking to bold Jannah about it. 

And for all the fuming she was doing she was loosing the steam now that she was near Abdul.

‘Hey, what’s wrong?’ Abdul asked a frown etched on his face. He should have been used to her mood swings but he still worried when she suddenly turned from cold to loving and from prudish to flirty.

She simply shook her head, then some seconds later as if as an afterthought, she turned face on and started 

‘ Why would you do that Abdul?’

He kept silent, he was trying to think up what he did that was wrong and at the same time trying to see where she was heading to.

‘I know I’m not particularly pretty or anything but you said you loved me, you chased me until I practically handed you my heart and now you are going behind my back flirting with my best friend? Why?’

‘Jannah what are you talking about?’ He asked perplexed. But he couldn’t fool her, in the seconds he was silent she had seen the guilt fleet through his eyes.

She laughed bitterly ‘ And here I was thinking you are the two people I trust most’.

‘What are you saying? Are you okay? Is this some joke or a test? Because it’s not funny’. Abdul cried. She wasn’t listening.

‘No don’t’ she stopped him with her palms. ‘Don’t even, because I saw your text messages and you were flirting with her. You were flirting with Jamila and you were even telling her how beautiful she is…’ she chocked on the tears and words both fighting to come out of her throat. She was furious and depleted at the same time. Couldn’t she have one thing of her own.

Abdul’s eyes were wide. He looked confused and scared. 

‘But that was you. What are you saying. You called me with that number months ago and I saved it and we chatted occasionally on it from that time, I had no idea it wasn’t your number’.

‘You are lying you double timing…’ she couldn’t say bastard. She wanted so bad to call him a bastard but she couldn’t. ‘You were calling her name you were saying Jamila, you were saying you even preferred her to me how could you’.

‘I thought’ he started then stopped ‘I thought it was an act. You said you are Jamila and I said you are because you deserve that name and you even sent me a picture, your picture! The voice notes were your voice. But’ he lowered his voice ‘but you were different’. He kept quiet and really studied her as she furiously went through her phone and shoved it in his face.

‘I have screenshots of your messages and this, this is Jamila’s picture’. 

Abdul didn’t say anything. He couldn’t. She was right, he had been chatting with Jamila. He had been dating two people; Jiddah and Jamila, and he didn’t even know it.

She scoffed bitterly and shook her head.

‘Cat got your tongue? You never thought I’ll find out did you?’

‘No’ he said with a small smile, ‘I never did’.

She looked through the side mirror and scorned. ‘Here comes your beauty queen’. 

And he looked too, and he did see Jamila, the same Jamila he saw on Jannah’s phone. And he must admit, the confidence, the poise, the aura, it was Jamila, but the person, it was all Jannah.

He never knew he’d be with one much less be so close as to contemplate marrying one but his girlfriend, his Jannah, his Jamila had split personality, like that movie Split. She had, he racked his brain to remember the disorder, ‘ Dissociative Identity Disorder’. She was two in order and only Allah knows how many more resided in her.

Jannah left Abdul and went back home. He had admitted and she couldn’t decide whether to break it with him or… it was all so confusing. She needed time to think things through. And Jamila; she had apologized and promised to stop talking to him but she couldn’t be so foolish as to believe.

She stood before the mirror clutching a hairbrush and asked softly like she’d always done since she was a teen when being bullied about her body image almost drove her mad, she whispered ‘Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the most beautiful of them all’.

And amidst the tears shading her eyes-she could see clearly through the mirror- Jamila looking back, a smug smile splayed on her face.

With all the things happening today from politics to religion to the society to economics to marriage to education, it is to be expected that everyone will have an opinion on everything. 

The problem arises not when people have varying opinions (that’s a good thing), it is when people decide to voice out those opinions at the same time, all trying to scream above the others din in order to be heard. It makes you wonder, is it to seem relevant and intelligent or to just communicate.

In the society it is very easy to judge people based on what they say especially when their point doesn’t tally with that of the majority, they are automatically seen as wrong.

In the society it is automatically wrong for you to even breath once someone of your religion or ethnicity or state does wrong because he is your kin and you are vicariously just as much a culprit.

In the society (some parts) as a woman you should learn to voice out your opinions only when you are in a room by yourself, and even then, hush it down will you?

In the society saying what you mean makes you fake and a wannabe and automatically you are in an intellectual competition with others and you don’t even know it.

Bottomline, in the society today, you always wonder when to speak or not to speak!

Now speaking is not a problem, WHAT YOU SAY is a problem. You honestly just can’t say anything you feel like because not everything you say matters. Some things make sense in your head but in reality they are rubbish. ‘Think before you speak’ is honestly the most underrated thing.

If it’s unnecessary, keep shut.

If it’s fruitless, don’t.

If it will cause alarm, soften it.

If you aren’t sure, be sure first.

HOW? When you decide to let your tongue race without control and you untactically say all the things that come to you everywhere to everyone, then you have signed up for it.

If it’s offensive, tune it down, use examples.

If it’s harsh, use euphemism. 

If it’s rude, then you are wrong.

If you are riled, calm down.

Talk calmly and with intelligence in passing your message across, don’t just spurt out anything you feel like carelessly, it’s rude.

WHEN? Which time do you choose to speak? Do you tell people the truth or what you think when they are hurting or most sensitive or when they are much calmer and ready to see reason? The former should be.

TO WHOM? If the recipient is not a person of understanding, hold your peace (avoid dragging things to forever, it irritates). When you realize that no matter how calm or tactical you are the person will vehemently never see reason because he isn’t in the discussion in order to learn but in order to ‘win’, then you are just wasting your time and reducing your intellectual potential with something not productive.

Choose the calibre of people to talk to about certain things. You can’t come to a purely Muslim community and preach to them about accepting homosexuality because it is not in their orientation same way you can’t go to a western community and preach them on polygamy. If they don’t want to hear leave them alone! If they don’t want to accept and it hurts no one leave them alone!

WHY? Are you speaking up for clout? For validation even in things you don’t believe? 

If no one cares, don’t. If your reasons are mischievous and not noble don’t. So why are you speaking?

Your RIGHT? Recently, a Professor with degrees in Psychology and International Law and certification in Ethics who has taught Prime minister and presidents and… said that you should know when to defend your right and when to surrender it. Defending your right may do you more harm than actually letting it be so that you can tackle the situation more tactically.

SOCIAL MEDIA has turned us into unempathetic beings, we feel like because we are behind the screens and because we can’t see the people we are directing our wordings at physically, we hurt no one when we speak. Why do you think suicide is on the rise now? Directly or indirectly social media has many things to do with it.

Use the tool of globally reaching out to people wisely and not oppressively or carelessly.

All said and done, I am all for speaking up. I am all for expression and saying your mind. I’m all for watching and observing and laying your observations to the table. I’m all for not keeping things bottled up but in this world where everyone is sensitive, you must not be insensitive about it. Talk only when not talking causes more harm than good, talk only when needed to, talk only when it causes more good than harm, speak up, but do it right!.

He was having a very bad day. He wasn’t sure the day could get worse but if it did, then he might completely lose it and breakdown. 

His landlady sent him packing so that the meagre clothings he had were thrown in a worn out, shabby backpack, along with his last money, some measly six hundred and fifty naira. His phone had been stolen a day ago else he could have probably called his rich Aunt to appeal for some funds and Binta had broken up with him because he couldn’t send her the 500 naira recharge card she had demanded for. 

She had already had enough of his bullshit according to her and he had tripped his last card. 

But that wasn’t the worse thing. The worse thing was that he couldn’t get any pot to smoke. The six fifty could sustain him on garri and some moldy bread sold at a cheaper price for some days but that was it, his weed funds were out.

He would have to resort to the job he had rejected, manual labour. He hated working and the only reason why he wasn’t in a gang of thieves was because his late mother had made him promise her he wouldn’t do anything illegal as a source of income. Sometimes, he hated himself for promising her.

He was tired of walking, he had to trek the length of the city to locate his friends house for temporary asylum. A lone shade offered some solace to his lonely self and he walked towards it already sighing in anticipation of being away from the scorching heat.

The shed wasn’t empty. It was occupied by an old man whose wretched possessions were scattered all over. His face contorted in annoyance as if he had found someone taking up his personal space.

He lowered himself and sighed. He was thirsty. He had no water to drink and there was no shop in sight. In fact, the place was partially deserted as it always was. There were just a few houses scattered around, everyone avoided the area because of the rampancy of rascals.

He glanced at the old man who looked creepier than most haggard homeless old men and hissed. He didn’t know why the old man was consistently staring at him. 

He arranged his bag beneath his head and placed his hand on the side where his last money was. Then he dozed off.

He jolted with a start, he had slept off apparently without realizing it. He knew something must have woken him up but he wasn’t sure what it was. He hissed again and readjusted his head on his bag- on the place where his bag was meant to be – because his head lay rudely on bare sand.

He sat up with a start, eyes wide searching for his bag. The old man looked at him keenly as if he was an interesting thing, chuckled, then laughed.

‘Why are you laughing old man?’ he asked still dazed. ‘Where’s my bag? You stole my bag you crook’. 

He held the old man by his worn out lapel. 

‘It wasn’t I, it was some kids. You were sleeping like a log, didn’t even feel them take it from beneath your head’ he shook his head ‘ lazy children of nowadays’.

He wasn’t even sure what to do to the man. He was super annoyed. 

‘ And you let them? You didn’t wake me up?’.

The old man shrugged ‘ Better you than me’.

He was furious now, and since he couldn’t be furious at the culprits, he directed it towards the old man. He balled his palm to fist and knocked the old man right in the middle of the head. Then he snatched the cap the old man stored his begging loot in and rushed away with it leaving the old man to clutch his head in pain.

For some reason, the sight made him laugh. He laughed so hard he doubled over. The old man deserved it for being a silent party to the theft. And what he did wasn’t stealing, he hardly thinks his mother would mind.

‘You know what they say boy’ the old man said between gritted teeth ‘ he who laughs last laughs longest’.

That made him burst into another fit of laughter. Silly fool. He had lost his few belongings but at least he was having a good laugh out of it. If every loss will make his spirit dampen he would have been in the bottom of a river by now.

He walked off still laughing. He didn’t know why but he couldn’t stop laughing. He didn’t start noticing something wrong until when he walked on for three minutes and he was still laughing.

Okay that’s enough laughter for one day you can stop now, he told himself. But he couldn’t. He kept on laughing even as he tried to close his mouth and stop emitting any sound.

He laughed on even as panic rose within him and set like a pregnant cloud full of terror. He laughed on…

The old man had cursed him. The sudden realization gave him an adrenaline pump and he turned and ran back towards the shed. 

Ever seen a man running and laughing like his life depended on it? Well he did. It wasn’t funny to him but to anyone who might be watching, it was a funny sight.

He arrived the shed, the old man had left, no traces of his footprints were visible, all the stuff scattered around where gone and in their place, his bag lay. He didn’t want his bag, he though in annoyance. He wanted his sanity back. 

‘He who laughs last laughs longest’ the words of the old man rang in his ears as if he was just an inch away from him.

So this guy unscrewed my heart again

And all the nuts in my sense clattered to the floor

I was angry at myself for falling prey, again

So I reported him to God, and I prayed

I prayed rosy mornings and sated nights

I prayed for him more shiny Getzner

I prayed he wouldn’t have to eat Kuka every breakfast 

I prayed beans will stop messing with his stomach 

So that he could finally eat moi-moi without offending the air

I prayed his laundry man will stop burning his Kaftan trousers

And his boss will stop making him handle the photocopier 

I prayed against ants biting his tender skin 

Because it was a really pitiful sight when he’ll itch

I prayed all the good for him

Not because I’ll forget and forgive 

But because the last time he did me bad 

I prayed on him everything bad

And the exact opposite happened to him.

Kaduna was honoured to have hosted an event which is foreseen to be a milestone in the political, social and economic awareness for the progression of Arewa.

It is no secret that the people of Arewa have a fiery spirit of nationalism, leadership and of survival burning inside of them. 

It is no secret that a set of people instrumental to fighting for Nigeria’s independence and in fashioning Nigeria to become a great post-colonial country are majorly from the North. This much is evidenced in books of history and auto-biographical recounts of those who witnessed the birth of the nation.

But it is equally not a secret that that spirit of doing greater things innate in the heart of the North has fallen into a grave coma which threatens the stability and the core elements that make up the Northern part of Nigeria.

The 5th and 6th of July, 2019 marked the much anticipated maiden Northern Youth Summit themed; ‘Awakening The Arewa Spirit’. A product of the Northern Youth Initiative, the Northern Youth Summit was organised as a positive energy to jolt awake the otherwise comatose Arewa spirit.

I was privy to the first event, a networking and marketing program which chiefly featured an exhibition of a variety of wares, products and food from vendors from all over.

It was an event which fed the eyes on plenty colourful people some of whom were familiar social media faces, tickled the nose with wafts of sizzling aromatic chicken and other assortment of delicacies and gave a sense of delight with fragrances from different incense stands.

Many other things on display were clothings, accessories, arts and craft and other wares. 

If you’ve stopped by a stand were the most otherworldly and fragrant incense in glass where displayed for sale or you’ve seen two ladies going around (several times) with incense pots, chances are you’ve indulged in our decadent fragrance and if you’ve not bought it then you have a chance to redeem yourself by requesting below. 

All shameless advertising aside, it was a good way to network.

In recounting the 2nd day of the summit which was tagged “The Talk” (I wasn’t opportune to attend as I was socially unavailable), Architect Hauwa Musa, the CEO of Tahmys Spices and SOVs and a volunteer said ‘it was an insightful event that went for the jugular’.

‘It outlined the problems facing arewa: laziness, poverty, illiteracy, lack of discipline, lack of self reliance and poor knowledge of the institution of marriage as well as entitlement.

It was divided into three panels : 

Changing mindset’ which focused on the laziness of the arewa youth and our reliance on hand me downs. The proffered solutions were : The establishment of an all inclusive entrepreneurship program and center with satellite campuses in each arewa state so youths can learn skills that will benefit them, and a monitoring of these youths to ensure continuity and success.

Another action call is the creation of the Northern Hibiscus app to register and monitor arewa businesses to protect them from social media scammers and also help businesses save money (adashe), all for the betterment of the youth.

She highlighted the The 2nd Panel : Entrepreneurship from Zero to Hero where they talked about the steps leading to success in the entrepreneurship world. The panelists advised that there is no easy way to business and that steadfastness and patience pays.

And that entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs should refuse to give up and accept defeat in any chosen field of business they venture into.

On the last panel: the decay in our marital institution moderated by Ali Amin discussed the rising rate of divorce in arewa, it’s causes and probable solutions.

They discussed issues like : unrealistic expectations (fake portrayal), forced marriage, cheating and lack of preparedness of the youth for the institution of marriage and the patriarchal lifestyle of the north.

The rhetorical questions like “is the institution failing because woman are beginning to speak up?” were asked.The panelists pointed out that there was no full proof solution to this problem and different solutions for different problems and individuals but these solutions can go a long way in dealing with these problems.

Keeping God close and your family close, maintaining fidelity, mutual respect within the marriage, communication, constant feedback within the marriage and most importantly, knowing who you are marrying and expecting a spouse to change after marriage. They implored on individuals to understand the institution, the person’s vices and bring back the concept of marriage contract and also gain understanding of one’s rights and responsibilities towards a spouse.

Umar Buhari Ali summarised the whole Summit beautifully.

‘The Northern Youth Summit was organised to draw the attention of the youth with a view to reawakening the Arewa spirit. 

His Excellency, Ahmed El-Rufai , the Governor Of Kaduna State, happened to be an accidental guest at the occasion. Highlights of issues discussed include poverty, almajiranchi(bara), drug abuse, broken homes and marriages, gender molestation among other ills. It is very clear that the time is high for the Northern Youth to rewrite their story.

Gov El-rufai admitted the fact that the youth will have to get on the stage and pointed out how he has been encouraging and bringing a number of them on board in his government. 

Hon Abdulmumini Jibrin, a Kano state Lawmaker who was the main sponsor, in his keynote address emphasised the need for us to stop living in our past glory and face the future with courage and determination.

Hajiya Aisha El-rufai noted the unfortunate incident involving a Northern Youth Senator that has gone viral and offered some words of advice while the DG NBTI commended the governor for his bold initiatives .

Maryam Lemu other guests and panelists all made their contributions.

A member of the Local Organizing Committee and founder of Arewa’s top Instagram blog, Muhammad Awwal of Hausa Fulani said that been the part of the LOC is a huge accomplishment for me and for all. 

‘We all appreciate Aisha Falke for bringing this amazing idea of awakening Arewa to the table. Northern Youth Summit 2019 was indeed a glamorous success! 

The Summit was about changing our mindset for the better and how we can come together as a unit, empower, support and promote ourselves. It also highlighted how we can revive our values as a society and much more.

We need to start talking to ourselves about the series of problems  affecting our society; issues of insecurity, drug abuse, Almajiri, marriage problems, etc.

I strongly believe that this summit will surely bring positive changes as long as we can come together and work as one. 

And I’m certain this summit shall continue annually In Sha Allah.All thanks to the entire officials for this incredible event’ concluded Awwal.

With emphasis on how the Northern Youth Summit personally impacted her, Dr. Bilkisu Yusuf Yakubu had this to say, ‘The Northern Youth Summit was an amazing experience. I realised that Northern Nigeria has what it really takes to be a great place not a place where we are meant to suffer.

The third panel made me discover that we have a lot of work to do in the aspect of marriage. Parents don’t prepare their children for marriage and a lot of couples don’t really know what they are up for so most marriages are based on what people see on social media not knowing no two marriages are identical.

By and large I have been motivated beyond my imagination to pursue my goal of combining being a doctor , a housewife and an Entrepreneur In Sha Allah. DOCPRENEUR’.

Personally, the highlight of the event I attended physically was not only when we made sales or business contact but the interaction that came from it.

The highlight of the event I attended virtually was the impromptu visit of the most proactive Nigerian Governor and his wife Hajiya Aisha Ummi Garba who is easily the most stylish First Lady. Her dressing for both events were my favorite. 

So all said and done, a question still nags the base of my brain, what does this summit mean to Arewa as a whole, not to the organisers only, not to the attendees or participants but to the common man. The ones on the streets, the ones who had no idea the summit took place. Will it be a catalyst to a domino effect of restoration of the Arewa glory or a talk that was heard, applauded and photographed whose lessons are frozen in time and left in the venue of the summit.

Will it be the genesis of an annual awakening till we wake up from our developmental hibernation? Or will it be a written achievement attached to a paper stored in the archives of a passive history?

One thing is for sure. The summit happened, impact was felt, it is left for the ones imparted with the tools to make a change to do so. Because all talk and now work is a cause that has already been lost.

A suggestion I’d like to make to the organizers for the next summit is to work under the umbrella of the organising initiative, Northern Youth Initiative and not as a personal cause because the success of the initiative is a success to them and to all. I suggest they be more in the shadows, that will be more appealing to even international communities because NGO’s always attract more than individuals.

Another is to diversify the speakers. Get more speakers who are less in the public eye but equally, if not more experienced. And for the sake of inclusivity, people from different backgrounds , works of life and beliefs because what we lack more than anything is an understanding that the world is wider than our immediate and environment and that there’s a lot to learn from others than we realise.