“Maraici”(Orphanhood) by Safiyya Ahmad has won this year’s BBC Hausa short story contest for women. Safiyya Ahmad is a 23 year-old born in Zaria, a city in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna.
“Maraici” is the story of Karima, a girl who, abandoned as an infant, grows up in an orphanage and is adopted by Hajiya Babba, a benefactor that puts her through primary and secondary education and then marries her off – but the marriage ends in dissolution and she is rejected by her benefactor.
Last year, Safiyya Ahmad decided to make her ambition of becoming a writer a reality. Hearing about the BBC Hausa Short Story Writing Contest for Women, she sat down and, influences by the challenges she faced as a child following the death of her father and inspired by the stories she heard from her mother, she wrote “Maraici.
The first runner up in this year’s competition is Jamila Abdullahi Rijiyar Lemo’s “Ba A Yi Komai Ba” (Nothing New). Jamila explores the abuse faced by women who do not bear male children. In the story, Uwani faces a lot of discrimination, verbal abuse, and rejection from her husband and his relatives because of her inability to conceive a male child.
The second runner up is “A Juri Zwa Rafi” by Jamila Babayo. “A Juri Zuwa Rafi” (It’s a matter of time) is the story of Aisha, who is raped by a wealthy man in the society. Being vulnerable, the community is unanimous in advising that the issue should be buried if only to protect the poor girl but her mother, Laraba, vows to fight for her daughter’s rights.
Safiya Ahmad says, “I cannot put my feelings into words. My happiness is unquantifiable.”
Lead judge Aliyah Adamu says: “The writer of “Maraici” (Safiyya Ahmad) convinced us and her theme conveys what we would like to see women, especially in northern Nigeria, realise—that obstacles do not mean the end of life.”
In its fourth year, the contest was introduced to give female writers a platform to tell and share their stories. Editor of the Hausa Service, Aliyu Tanko says:
“We have seen such a high calibre of entries this year. I’m glad that Hausa women have embraced this competition and the themes that are shared in these stories amazes me.”
Oluwatoyosi Ogunseye, Head of BBC West Africa says:
“We are delighted to support the development of female Hausa writers in telling their stories to the world. This year’s winner highlights a story that many women can relate to and it’s great that her work is getting the recognition it deserves.”
BBC Hausa audiences will have the opportunity to listen to the stories in the coming weeks. The winner and runners up were being given their prizes this Friday 24 October – as this article was being processed for publishing
The writer of the winning entry, Safiyya Ahmad, attended Sunnatullah Primary School and Suntal Secondary School, both in Zaria, where she now lives with her husband and daughter.
After having to abandon school due to the death of her father Safiyya is studying Health Information Management at the Jama’atu School of Health Technology, Zaria.
The Judging Panel
Dr Aliyah Adamu, a senior lecturer at Sokoto State University, Sokoto, Nigeria, specialises in Literary History in Hausa Studies and is the lead judge.
Bilkisu Salisu Ahmad, popularly known by her fans as Aunty Bilki, is one of the most famous Hausa writers whose first novel, Allura Cikin Ruwa (Needle in the Haystack), received wide acclaim.
Bilkisu Yusuf Ali is a writer and critic of Hausa literature and teaches at Al Qalam University in Katsina, northern Nigeria. She is also a regular columnist in key publications across Nigeria.
SOURCE: BBC World Service Group Communications