A 7 year old boy in primary 3 is making his mother’s stomach tie into knots in worry that he might be a perpetual slow learner, because it is such a terrible thing that he just cannot seem to string letters together in his head and read them aloud as words, she fears he may be dumb.

The 7 year old receives the lashes of his mother’s harsh tongue and most likely a few slaps but try as he may, he can’t read.

It would have been better if school would be his safe haven but the pressure in school surpasses that of home because in truth, his problem started in school when all the students instantly create sentences in a fantastic manner and write with the average speed of an infant where he can’t even seem to read not to mention write.

He feels his esteem eat away like leaves attacked by unrelenting pests. He can’t even be free because the other kids look at him and think he is dumb, especially when the teacher deems it right to punish him for being ‘slow’ and compare him to other students thereby subjecting him to being taunted.

There goes the confidence of the boy and the beginning of his self-doubt and manifestation of other problems most of which will be mental all because of the ignorance of the learning environment in matters of mental health. In another society, it wouldn’t be a big problem to understand that the boy has a learning disorder called dyslexia which makes reading a herculean task to his brain and which may or may not recede and completely disappear with age. And in case it does recede, the ridicule will still linger.

A scenario similar to this that I know of happened in a school in Kaduna, hundreds of scenarios similar to this that we may not know of are still happening all over.

I’ve been meaning to write this proposal for a while but I had to target a willing listening ear first and there’s no better one in a position of power than Gov. Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai.

Over the years, he has proven that Kaduna can be a role model educational reform system and is ever ready to attend to anything education. It is on this basis that I write this.

The inclusion of mental health studies in the curriculum of secondary schools will not start in the classroom as the classroom is a teachers territory therefore, it is subject to a teachers knowledge. That is why it has to start with the teachers.

It is my suggestion that all teachers of government schools be trained in the basics of infant and common adult mental health disorders where the signs and how to handle people with such cases will be taught extensively even if for a week.

Again, every private school should be tasked with training their own teachers be it a mathematics or foods and nutrition teacher and all schools must have a trained Guidance Counselor(s) who is to work directly with a government body.

It is after this foundation has been laid that it will be plausible for mental health to be seamlessly taught in schools.

The rise of psychological disorders and diseases is alarming and the main reason why it’s festering on the society is because of ignorance of the majority of the members of the society who chose to condemn rather than redeem.

I believe it is wise to ‘catch them young’, by teaching the future generation about the complexities in personalities and how the brain works in diverse ways which will be a sure way of promoting and fostering tolerance and understanding among them and most importantly, it will mean tackling mental health issues head on.

It is my plea that this suggestion is heard and worked upon by not only the Kaduna State Governor but all those in power and all those who have a say so that majority of Nigeria’s problems (which is due to deep and raging frustration that has been left unchecked) is put in check.

After careful consideration of all entries by three judges, three top stories have been chosen out of 36 delighful creative pieces of fiction.

Congratulations to the writers of the stories. The absence of your name does not discredit you as a writer, it just means there’s always room for improvement. 

And as a writer who will eventually face the world, it’s all about trying till you make it. I hope this will serve to strengthen your writing spirit to make it. Therefore congratulations to everyone for being brave enough to put his/her writeup out there.

Winners List:

1st Runner Up- Rabi Lawal, Entry 4 (N2,000)

2nd Runner Up- Oyeniran Tofunmi Eunice, Entry 15 (N3,000)

Winner- Ruqayyah Saghir Nabage, Entry 14 (N10,000)

Honourable Mentions:

Annie Ifinedo

Hauwa Hala Nuraddeen

Ishola Ubaydah

Jesutofunmi Fekoya

Dela Azojani Adeorike

Yunusa ibrahim

Gift Ukay

Aisha Mahmud

Watch this space for more contests and mentorship opportunities.

Thank you for your participation.

Meet one of our Judges, Inufin Ayomide D’great. He is a poet per excellence who has excelled in and mastered the art of making English conform to his writing whims.

Owing to his writing prowess, Ayomide has recently been profiled by Wikipedia as a globally recognized poet.

Some of his 12 achievements are:

* 2004 Goshen Boys & Girls writing competition (runner up)

* Best orator and winner 2015 Professor Atinmo oratory competition, University of Ibadan

* 2016 MidasMinds Literary Inc winner Short story category

* 2017 PCG Dynamite Awards Overall best poet, most creative writer, best Poetry collaboration

* 2018 runner up Poetry & Prose Hood Valentine competition

* 2018 PCG Dynamite Awards Overall best poet, most creative writer, best Poetry collaboration, King of the year, Poem of the year with the poem *Ayo has a boyfriend*, writerolic of the year.

The list of the top 20 stories to qualify for the judging stage is ready. The list was compiled following five-day the voting process where some stories had almost 300 votes to their names.

Shortlisted writers for Flash Fiction Writing Contest:

1. Dela Azojani Adeorike

2. Stephen Ezennwa

3. Jesutofunmi Fekoya

4. Hauwa Hala Nuraddeen

5. Umeh Prisca Ijeoma

6. Deborah Johnson

7. Nana Khadija Yahaya

8. Mary Emmanuel Bawa

9. Eniola Balogun

10. Idris Ayanfe

11. Chiziterem Chijioke

12. OYENIRAN TOFUNMI EUNICE

13. Ruqayyah Saghir Nabage

14. Yunusa Ibrahim

15. Gift Ukay

16. Ishola Ubaidah

17. Annie Ifinedo

18. Rabi Lawal

19. Aisha Bint Mahmud

20. Khadija Musa

All 20 shortlisted stories were beautifully relayed but only three will winners will be announced on the 28th.

The judges will judge based on story line, theme, how well the rules were followed, diction, punctuation and many other factors.

2nd Runner up- N2,000

1st runner up- N3,000

Winner- N10,000.

May the very best story win. Best of luck to all.

The relationship between myself and I is a love-hate one. I love myself, I absolutely do but there’s this lady, her name is ‘I’, she resides somewhere- I’m not sure where but I think it’s either my brain, my mind or my body. Sometimes I think ‘I’ is my shadow but then she lingers even after I can see no visible shadow. ‘I’ is more than the physical or tangible, in fact the fact that she’s not tangible makes her more powerful.

‘I’ is annoying, she annoys me to no end because she is too dauntless and daring and adventurous and she lands me in trouble all the time. Are you looking for bad advice cookie? That’s ‘I’. And she nags so much I find it hard to ward her off so to make her keep shut and have her off my case, I just go along with it… bad decision.

I want to lose weight so I try to cut down on food portions and avoid ‘bad’ food and even when I see a super juicy and cheesy chunk of junk, I direct my mind away by myself, but not ‘I’, ‘I’ redirects me. She comes with this super therapeutic voice and goes ‘do you really want to do this to yourself Hafsah? Do you really not want to indulge in this piece of edible luxury? You only live once you know’ and she is sooo good like an expert siren, I usually end up trailing her demands.

And later when I’m drowning in the guilt of it, she sits cross-legged on a plush chair by the side of the grey cube room that’s my mind and smirks to herself. She’s usually writing on a notepad- that’s one thing myself and ‘I’ have in common- and I think she’s scoring herself. By now it will probably read: ‘myself’ 7- 10834893 ‘I’.

‘I’ doesn’t like letting go of people so even when I have a crush on a guy and I want to move on, ‘I’ pushes me to just check his Instagram page one more time for updates, ‘It helps with the healing process’ she says. But she’s lying because I end up stalking him for three more hours….unhealthily.

‘I’ is (am) a hoarder. Like when she tells me I need stuff I don’t need. She’s like ‘Hafsah we are going to need this in the future, keep it’ and the future comes, and it goes and we never need it but we’ve kept it.

And she even hoards memories, some good ones- I must give her credit- but she hoards even the unnecessary, bad ones and that makes her hold grudges like an expert in the field of grudge keeping (there’s a pun lying here somewhere).

For example there’s a family gathering yeah? And I see that cousin and I’m approaching her because I want to catch up and… ‘I’ actually stops me. She says ‘remember when you were 4 years 7 months 1 week old and this cousin flicked a lit up match at you and it burned your arm? You still want to talk to her after THAT?!!! And the memory comes back anew, I feel the pain of the matchstick sizzle on my arm and I make a 360 turn away from the cousin. ‘I’, you are here on banned from interfering with my family life ever again.

When I learn a new song (which is usually some few lines), I don’t like letting ‘I’ know. Because when she gets hold of those lines, God in Heavens! It takes the whole spirit of the Earth to make her stop endlessly chanting them like a breathing mantra. And it annoys me because it’s stuck in my head every moment! But ‘I’ enjoys it. She just loves tormenting me.

You think you have naysayers? Mine resides within! This lady is my worse critic. Everything I do is subject to judgement. I can’t try to look pretty in front of the mirror, ‘I’ will start dissing me. And if so help me God I try to dance or worse sing, ‘I’ contorts her face like she’s smelling poop and grimaces, I’ll have to shamefully stop. That’s why I don’t like taking pictures because ‘I’ calls each of them ugly save one or two. Because of that, I may take 100 pictures and two days later, I’ll delete the lot to one or two. The ones approved by ‘I’. I hate her guts.

I know you are thinking I should let go of her and I’ve thought about it but even as I’m typing this right now, she’s in here laughing her heads off (wickedly) because she knows she’s here to stay. She knows she’ll outlive me, because I know that house, my mind will breathe and exists even after my body gives up the ghost.

And I can’t mute her because in between it all, she drops the most amazing writing and story ideas. She’s my perfectly ever-engaging muse. That’s where our love relationship comes in. I love her for the endless supply of stories she provides. Ever wondered why my stories are usually sadistic? Well….

And she’s my gossip partner, who else will I laugh about my boss with? Most times when you see me laughing to myself, it’s myself and I sharing an inside joke. And she spins the most romantic stories when she’s on her monthly’s. And she can be sweet in a mean way. She comes up plenty horrible ways to get back at people many of which I thankfully forcefully dismiss.

‘I’ is (am) a creative fellow, sometimes mean but usually to me and generally, there’s not a single dull moment between ‘I’ and myself.

I’m not Hausa, or Kanuri or Fulani. I’m from the Bolewa tribe of Yobe.

I can neither sing, nor dance, nor paint, nor draw nor do anything creative apart from writing.

I learnt how to read in primary 4 (I think I was dyslexic)

I learnt how to speak English towards the end of primary 4. Prior to that, I knew only the basic ‘Good morning, yes, no, stop’. 

I write faster than anyone I know

I love everything natural. My hair has been natural from birth. I’d rather go out with my face bare than apply even powder.

I am a pretty good masseuse. But I don’t tell people because they might demand a massage all the time. If I were on another dimension, I probably would have been a professional masseuse.

I never eat chips with ketchup only. I eat chips with ketchup and yaji (ground pepper) together. So much sizzle and spice God!!!!!

My favorite colour is green and favorite number ,7

 I am a highly principled person and stubborn to a fault! I can be very obstinate 

I absolutely love pringles. I can eat a can in one sitting.

At some point in my life, I didn’t believe in love because I had never actually ever fallen in love. But then the craze that love does exist was (and is) still on so okay… yay! Love is real.

I sleep better with a pillow on my head

Sometimes, I direct my own dreams. Like a movie script.  Cut! Bruce Willis do not shoot him yet! God! . Okay take two. And…. action. I honestly dreamt up an action dream with Bruce Willis in it (would have been better if it was The Rock but no problem) and I controlled the whole movie.. sorry dream. So no one could shoot me without my permission and even if you do… it’s a dream so joke’s on you.

They call us Lucid Dreamers… we can bend our dreams to fall in line with our will.

I want to take up a second degree in psychology 

Plenty people who read my works assume I’m a small person. So they are mighty surprised to find an almost 6 feet, plenty KG human looking down at them.

There was a time I’d often confuse bakwai and takwas , dankali and doya, tattase and attarugu. I still confuse Sahoor and Budabaki😂😂

I’ve never watched (and I’m not proud of this)… I’ve never watched ‘The Sound of Music’

I live off lists. I make lists of what I should buy, what I buy, who I owe, who owes me, sometimes what I should do…. I don’t really love lists, lists love me.

The more comfortable I am with you, the more the likelihood that I’ll unleash the full fury of my sense of humor which happens to be quite dreadfully hilarious. So if I’m holding back, comfort-o-meter is down.

If I can really, fully eat bones, goriba and sugarcane before you, then I can trust you.

I was a very very shy and reserved kid, I couldn’t look people in the eye.

What I consider the most beautiful thing on my face are my full eyebrows.

If I could add 4 feet to my height, I will

I’m not actually 6 feet tall… yet. I’m 5’10 (close enough) but love it when people think I’m 6 feet.

I’m addicted to newness.

I’m easily tired of talking except to people I really enjoy talking to, then I never get tired.

I still haven’t met a person who has read the book ‘1984’ by George Orwell apart from myself.

Plus- I make mean grilled steak

I don’t have an ex

I can look at the sun rise and set, and the moon, and the stars, and the clouds and sky and trees and anything nature all day

I’m lowkey a romantic at heart

You know how western people have white people problems (reason why a person will leave his 40billion naira inheritance to a bloody cat), well I have Nigerian problems

Top off the list; Electricity and sco pa tu maana!!!!! Where did you people get that phrase from? Don’t you think it’s enough? The poor thing is exhausted, come on. Can’t we just find a trend, use it for 4 days and dump?

Now electricity,  I panic when light stays on for 12hours, I pray the lights go off because I feel the longer they stay on, the more the chances of them staying off equally as long. Now that is saying something.

Then there’s lack of access to an essential commodity, chargerrrr, good charger. Good earpiece. Is that me asking for too much?

You’ll buy charger and after 5 hours it has started draining your battery life and sending the electricity back to ‘NEPA’. That’s betrayal!

So charger is misbehaving and electricity is having a permanent bout of depression. The only way to not be affected is to get a solar panel fixed, get a generator and an inverter and you’ll still suffer if you have no power bank.

Nigerian mentality is something else. A topic I have to research on first because it is wide and not-so-bad when you look at it. I mean is it bad that the answer to a question is almost always a question and choosing to not understand people and acting like it’s fine is norm?

In Nigeria raising your voice at others is the answer to 80% of your life problems.

Know when to switch from calm to razz

From civilised to agbero

From nice to rude. Can you do that? Then you’ll be fine.

In some situations and with some people, it is a life survival tool to exhibit madness when need be or else they for real drive you mad. Let’s take Lagos for example.

Simple things are considered big. 

As a lady, just pick up an umbrella when the sun is glaring so that your skin will avoid the harshness of the weather and go out; the looks you’ll receive! Who is this one forming for? 

Or even sunshades in some places.

Who said Kano?

Everything is considered vanity or extravagance in Nigeria. Even the most mundane things like stepping out nice, caring for your skin, hair etc.

Do you go out for date nights or eat in restaurants? How could you? Can’t you cook at home. It’s your hard-earned money and you should enjoy it but don’t eat in a restaurant because that’s extravagance (shoot me)

You are speaking good English? You are in trouble! You are just forming. Why would you even pronounce the words well isn’t that a crime?

BN has a car so NY must get it because BN can never surpass NY. There’s a certain group that requires material qualification for validation e.g a certain type of IPhone or Super wax every other day or different gold sets every event or else you don’t get to join the gang! Whose gratification are you seeking?

The most unimportant things are deemed very important and kids walking around barefoot on the streets? Well… it’s tradition now.

Tradition and culture have become signs of lack of civilization but being savage is soooo cool, just say something utterly stupid, immature and rude on twitter and oh how savage! (In my french accent)

Extravagance is a necessity. Let’s take our marriages for example…. you get the picture.

Having ambition is considered a curse and very so often, ambitious people in reality derail from the line, they lose focus, they get greedy, they crash because their main ambition was always money and fame not impact and productivity. But some actually just want to give in their best so with a crystal mindset, they push and strive against all odds (which are plenty) and they make it.

Reading and gathering knowledge is a skill for and criteria when it comes to getting a life partner, and only for that purpose. It’s a tool for showing off. Who am I to judge?

And of course vicarious achievements work well with our weather. My great grand uncles former gardeners ex-girlfriends cousin sister will be feeling herself in the village when my step Aunts brother-in-law becomes governor, because all na we.

Maybe it’s because my Dad is not ‘rich’ but I can never claim his wealth or achievements. Nor will I carve that of my husband and hang them on my neck like a locket. I’ll be my own person thank you very much.

Because of the diversity of cultures and traditions, we have diversity in everything including mannerisms. What’s odd in your place might be very normal in mine hence we tend to judge unfairly. Giving benefit of doubt is a sin and understanding, a much greater one.

My Nigeria has many problems, our leaders are ghosts, some teachers can’t write well and sometimes the Water Board can’t provide is with water for days not because we haven’t paid our bills but because the Water Board haven’t paid their electricity bills.

But will I substitute this country for any? Nah! I’m good.

 Saturday, 3rd of August saw the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria Entrepreneurship Summit themed Entrepreneurship: ‘An Antidote To Youth Unemployment in Nigeria’.

It is therefore not a surprise that Yahaya Buhari Ali, one of the fastest growing entrepreneurs in Northern Nigeria with over 5 branches under the YB Groups conglomerate was presented with two awards.

The very business minded entrepreneur whose next milestone is to be on Forbes list of 30 under 30 African entrepreneurs was presented with the ‘Achiever per Excellence’ award by ABU Student Representative Council and ‘Fastest Growing Entrepreneur’ award by ABU GrandFinale.

The August occasion which was attended by a number of well placed panelists, prestigious speakers and over 500 attendees both as students and non-students was targeted at orienting young entrepreneurs in discovering the prospects that lay in the Nigerian business atmosphere, discussing the challenges involved and proffering solutions to such challenges.

In his speech, the CEO spoke about the challenges he faced and how he was able to brave it through thick and thin to become the visionary that he is today. 

This is evident in Yahaya Buhari’s uncanny ability to pinpoint many opportunities that only true professionals can and in an awe-inspiring manner.

There is undoubtedly no one more deserving of both awards than Yahaya Buhari as his entrepreneurial sixth sense and his willingness to always help up and coming businesses has been evident from the get go. 

Sir YB has been tagged as ‘The Next Dangote’ but in my opinion, he might well surpass the richest man in Africa as his ideas are more reformatory, digital and futuristic. He has excelled himself as a master of the game and at such a young age too. A pride to Kaduna indeed.

He forwarded a warm thank you message to all his supporters; his parents, mentors, team and clients with whose prayers and support he has been able to swiftly climb up the very competitive and daunting success ladder.

Yahaya is also part of the Local Organizing Committee of the recently organized Northern Youth Summit under the auspices of Northern Hibiscus Initiative and was indeed the brain behind the alluring theme of the event whose main purpose was to awaken the spirit of Arewa.

Rounding up his speech, he professed a singular aim at becoming better at what he does while thanking the organizers of the event and all and sundry that have partook in it. 

We are foreseeing more greatness for this young visionary In Sha Allah. It takes a mighty amount of not only vision but discipline, hardwork and dedication to arrive at this milestone which to him is just a stepping stone and we are willing to cheer Sir YB on all the way. 

Congratulations Sir. 

There’s a generous rise in the number of writing enthusiasts all over Nigeria. The passion is tangible but the opportunities are few. For a writer, it is reward enough to have an audience to his written pieces of art, but at some point, financial reward is always craved for and that in itself can serve as an incentive to urge them on into the wonderful world of writing.

As a budding writer, I know how pumped up I felt whenever I came across local contests, I want to give that feeling back to you too.

Flash fiction is what I consider a brain tester. Will you be able to tell your story in 200 words beautifully? What we need are unique stories, something different, something unexpected, we absolutely love cliffhangers and stories that will make the reader crack his brain for days. Dazzle us.

Hafsah Dauda is just a writing blog, where I share all the stories pent up within the recesses of my brain with you, I hope you appreciate that part of me. Do read up and drop comments.

Guidelines:

-In not more than 200 words, write a flash fiction that ends : ‘…. smiling, she pulled the trigger’.

-Open to all Nigerians.

-Send your submission to hafsahdauda@gmail.com

-Please include your name below your write up.

-Submissions close on the 15th of August, 2019.

-Voting begins on the 17th of August.

-You will receive an email with a link of your published story.

-Share same link with as many people as possible and tell them to vote.

-Voting ends on the 22nd of August.

-Top 20 stories with highest number of votes qualify for shortlist.

-Shortlist to be published on the site on 24th August.

-The winner will be announced on 28th August 2019.

When I received notice to attend ‘The Brief’, a programme organized by Farida Yahya, I didn’t know what to expect. I just knew that from experience, wherever Farida Yahya is, productive things are. So I knew that I couldn’t miss The Brief… especially because it was generously a free session.

It took place at Exhale Training Institute last Sunday, 28th July. It was a closed network with few of us in attendance and I was thankful for that. It afforded us a chance to be individually well attended to. When I returned home, I told them simply that Farida Yahya is a doctor, a business doctor and we just has our various hustles diagnosed for free. We got to have conversations about the realities of running a business in Nigeria.

A major plus for me was that I met some amazing and driven women. I met the CEO of Sugar Rush, a cake business, the founder of a promising new Crèche in Zamfara State, My Little Sunshine and The Almajira, the brains behind a revolutionary page that is telling a strong Arewa Women’s story and many more amazing personalities.

We ended up sharing business tips and picking from the business guru’s brain. 

The brief has been organised in several states in Nigeria including Katsina, Maiduguri and Abuja. 

The Brief is not an opportunity any business owner can afford to miss. It was rich and informative- knowledge people pay lots for but we were lucky to get for free. And the most interesting part is that our business had not even been very much dissected and treated yet, it has only stopped at the consultancy stage. Imagine a full-on session.

My advice to any entrepreneur or business owner is to follow @thebriefacademy on Instagram so you can always receive notifications for future sessions and to go get you and your business doctored, because you need it.

Thank Farida Yahya for creating such an amazing platform.

The Brief Kaduna