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

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.

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.