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THE ROLE MODEL SERIES – HOW BALARABA RAMAT YAKUBU, — GEN. MURTALA MUHAMMED’S JUNIOR SISTER PERSEVERED TO EMERGE A SUCCESS AFTER FORCED MARRIAGE AT AGE 13 YEARS

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COST OF FORCED CHILD MARRIAGES –

’Majority of people that messed up their lives end up becoming wasted. ‘’There are exceptions though. ‘’So I am not the one punishing men in my novels, life treats them accordingly’’  —-  Female rights activist, Balaraba Ramat Yakubu

  • “Family and friends are hidden treasures, seek them and enjoy their riches.”– Wanda Hope Carter
  • “A happy family is but an earlier heaven.”– George Bernard Shaw
  • “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.”– George Moore
  • “Spare the rod and spoil the child – that is true. But, besides the rod, keep an apple to give him when he has done well.”– Martin Luther

Balaraba Ramat Yakubu is best known as an author and publisher of some books. But she means more than that to the Nigerian society; and in reality, womanhood, particularly those who were forced into early marriages. In spite of the fact that Balaraba was deprived of the opportunity of having Western education, she still combines intellect with ruggedness and both factors largely account for the successes she has attained in life so far. All things put together, there is every possibility that she would have recorded greater achievements if she was not denied the opportunity of receiving prescribed education on account of forced marriage.

FIERY DEPARTED BROTHER – A NATIONAL HERO;  FIERY SISTER – AS HEROINE:: Undeniably, Balaraba Ramat Yakubu is a woman whose story is worth telling and reading by the younger generation; and even by old people who would certainly gain one or more lessons from the contents of her books. Born 60 years ago in Kano, Kano State, Nigeria, Balaraba is a younger sister to late fiery Gen. Murtala Rufai Ramat Muhammed, Nigeria’s Military Head of State from 1975-1976.  Balaraba is a victim of circumstance, having been withdrawn from school at the age of 13 years 48 years ago, and forced into early marriage. She is now 61 years old. In spite of her predicament, she was undaunted and still forged ahead to put aside obstacles in her journey through Planet Earth.

Easily the best description that would unveil her personality is that she is a junior sister to one of Nigeria’s heroes, late Gen. Murtala Ramat Muhammed, Nigeria’s Head of Government who was assassinated in 1976. Next is the fact that she was married off to a much older man by her parents at the age of 13 years. But the good thing is that she survived the ordeal of an unripe girl who was forced into marriage by her father. She quit the marriage one year later and has since taken her fate in her own hands.

Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, the lady under reference has since turned a writer and author of several novels written in Hausa language. That platform affords her the opportunity of sharing her experiences and how she is writing to influence other potential victims. This has changed her life. She never nurtured the ambition of writing as that vocation was thrust upon her shoulders by fate and circumstances that have proven not to be an obstacle.

FORCED TO MARRY INSTEAD OF SCHOOLING: Her brother, Murtala Muhammed objected to the child marriage arrangement, but could not successfully reverse their father’s resolve to marry out Balaraba, who was then 13 years old, at that tender age.  Fate struck after only one year of marriage, and Balaraba, who was definitely immature to go through the stress of marriage divorced and returned to her parents. It is partly for this reason that Balaraba Ramat prefers to turn out her books in Hausa language so the messages could penetrate. Balaraba never went far in the acquisition of Western education. She enrolled in an Islamic school in her neighbourhood and later the Jarkasa Primary School near the palace of the Emir of Kano.

SHOOK OFF HER CONSTRAINT: Her zeal for education led her to adult non-formal education classes of the Kano State Agency for Mass Education where she had a certificate in Sewing and Knitting. She also attended a certificate programme at the Bauchi College of Arts and Science. She had attended more than 100 national and international workshops, seminars and conferences including the New York Film Academy Master Class on Screenwriting. Now, she has gotten her books translated from Hausa to English language, thus crossing both local and international border through her publications. She has also worked as a screenwriter, producer, and director of Kannywood films. Her stories have focused on issues such as forced marriages and women’s education.

HER EXPERIENCES: A book, compiled as a novel titled: Wa Zai Auri Jahila? contains her experiences. The little education she received was by secret arrangement with her mother who secretly sent her to school before her father discovered. Today, Balaraba Yakubu has grown into a writer of stature and is a major central point for women’s literature in northern Nigeria. She has become a popular female writer and author in Nigeria and made what has become known as “soyayya novellas” mainstay. This is the law of life. Speaking in a newspaper interview, Balaraba stated that: ‘’Majority of people that messed up their lives end up becoming wasted. ‘’There are exceptions though. ‘’So I am not the one punishing men in my novels, life treats them accordingly’’

RIDING ON STORMS OF LIFE She had, before her forced marriage cultivated the habit of reading loved reading with an ambition to be a teacher.  It is, therefore, not surprising that Ramat Yakubu fell headlong into the profession of writing, after surviving the psychological trauma of an early marriage. She has since not looked back.  Balaraba chose to write her highly educative novels in Hausa language for it to have a penetrating effect. She is an influencer who writes on culture, tradition, history, and about education generally. According to her in a piece published by the Daily Trust, an Abuja tabloid, she thought her writings would have the desired effect if directs attention to the plight of women and their social status.

According to Balaraba: ‘’ objectives are to reform my society and change the social status quo of women in Northern Nigeria. And I can see this unfolding speedily. My story has kept propping me up to keep fighting for women to have productive lives. ‘’In all my books, I have tried to make my readers appreciate the importance of girl-child education. Personally, I believe that education is a very vital element in the life of a woman and that of a society. Once a woman is educated, she is emancipated. She can live a fruitful life. I equally believe that good parental mentorship and support are the key.  ‘’It makes one determined to succeed’’

CHILD RIGHTS ACT:  In 2003, Nigeria adopted the Child Rights Act to domesticate the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Although this law was passed at the Federal level, it is only effective if State assemblies also start it. The Children’s Rights Act 2003 (CRA) was created to serve as a legal documentation and protection of Children rights and responsibilities in Nigeria. The law has three primary purposes: to incorporate the rights of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights  into the national law, to provide the responsibilities of government agencies associated with the law and to integrate children-focused legislation into one comprehensive law.(Wikipedia)

It also acts as legislation against human trafficking since it forbids children from being “separated from parents against their will, except where it is in the best interests of the child”. Nigeria signed on to the International Human Rights convention agreement on the rights of child. It was officially passed into law in 2003 by former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as the Children’s Rights Act 2003 (CRA).

You are encouraged to read about this woman and the interesting interview she granted the Abuja Daily Trust by visiting this link: https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/i-write-to-change-status-of-women-in-northern-nigeria-balaraba-ramat-yakubu.html