10 Performance Poets From Northern Nigeria Who Have Graced the TEDx Stage

Recently, we have seen the rise of TEDx events occurring most often in different parts of the world. So here in Northern Nigeria, performance poets are also recognized for their immense contribution to society through their creativity, hence the need to pave the way for them to appear on the TEDx stage.

Here’s a list of 10 performance poets from Northern Nigeria who have appeared on the TEDx stage:

Sa’id Sa’ad

Sa’id Sa’ad is a Nigerian writer and poet from Maiduguri. He won the Peace Panel Short Story Prize 2018 and NFC Essay Prize 2018 and co-authored the poetry collection, ReUnion. His radio dramas were translated into over 5 languages and produced in 4 Sub-Saharan African Countries. The Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, commended “his passion” for writing. And in 2021, the Nigerian Prize for Literature Winner Soji Cole described him as a highly intelligent writer.

In March 2022, he made his first TEDx appearance at the TedxPompomari, which was held in Damaturu, Yobe state. He spoke on Inclusive Poetry and Universal Storytelling, taking the audience on the need to create universal stories and inclusive poetry, the kind that even the street hawkers can listen to and connect to.

In July 2022, Sa’id graced the stage again at TEDxKangere in Bauchi with a mind-blowing performance.

Maryam Bukar Hassan

Maryam is famously known as Alhanislam. She is a poet and spoken word artist who has performed at major festivals and events, including the Ake Arts and Book Festival, Lagos International Poetry Festival, and the Kaduna Book and Arts Festival.

She is the founder of Deen-at-Heart, an organization that focuses on the moral re-engineering of the youth. She is a renowned motivational speaker and an active core member of the creative clan.

At the TEDxArgungu, she appeared on stage to give a speech on how poetry called her at the age of thirteen. “It’s a calling that I do not regret.” she said. Maryam is ever grateful to her late mother, Hauwa Maina, a prominent name in the Hausa film (Kannywood) industry, for helping her realise and actualise her dream.

Maryam Gatawa

She is a poet cum entrepreneur and a graduate of Economics from Bayero University, Kano. She lives in Kano, Nigeria and is passionate about art. Some of her works have been published in the African Writer Magazine, Praxis Magazine, Ink Sweat and Tears, PIN Quarterly Magazine, Tuck Magazine, Better Than Starbucks, Anthology Of Best New African Poets 2017, The Arts Muse Fair, Kalahari Review as well as in other local papers.

Maryam Gatawa either talk to her parrots, plays snooker, watches Netflix, or reads other poets when not writing poetry.

At the TEDxAminuKanoWay, she appeared on stage to perform her poem “Across The Horizon”, which sent goosebumps and touched the audience’s hearts.

Abdulkareem Alhassan Saidu

Abdulkareem is popularly called by his pen name Muftiey. He is a spoken word artist, poet, and phototoonist. He is currently the President of the Biological Science Students Association of Nigeria, Al-Qalam University Katsina Chapter. He hails from Kaduna State.

He started writing spoken words and poetry in 2009, and has been actively involved in youth development and empowerment, arts and poetry resurrections within the northern states.

He co-convened the first Poetry hangout and Art Exhibition in Katsina State. He has also performed at various events such as the Abuja Literary Society (ALS), Young African Leaders Initiative(YALI), Arewa Developers Summit, 4th Alqalamists Festival, Katsina Book and Art Festival, and many other platforms in Abuja, Katsina, Kaduna, and Niger state respectively.

He has appeared on three TEDx stages; TEDxKangiwa (Awakening The Giant), TEDxKangiwa (Resilience), and TEDxModojiRoad – where his first performance was titled “Awakening the Giant” featuring other female poets (Maryam and Amal). The second one was titled “I Am Green”, performed together with (Phartemah and Shifah). The last one was a solo performance.

Muftiey is a passionate and resonant poet, performer and writer.

Hafsat Abdullahi

Hafsat Abdullahi is a writer, award-winning spoken word artist, a Hill-top Creative Arts Foundation member, and a fellow at the True My Voice Community and Enactus Nigeria. She has won many contests in her field. 

In 2017, she emerged as the overall winner at the Nigerian Festival of Teen Artists (NIFESTEENA). In 2021 and 2022, she won more notable contests. She emerged as the overall spoken poetry contest winner at the Abuja Literary Society Grand Slam, the Association of Nigerian Authors Slam, and the Benue Book and Art Festival Poetry Slam. She was also awarded the Youth Act On Edu winner by the World Bank, Fashion Killa of the year by Teen County Africa, inaugurated by Frontline Youth Creativity Initiative as an Anti-SGBV ambassador. She has also emerged as a finalist at an oratory competition organized by ‘We Inspire Africa’ and the spoken wars powered by Lacasera in Lagos.

Hafsat has worked with Haandz Media in collaboration with the NGW (Northern Governors Wives) of Nigeria, led by the First Lady of Nigeria. UNICEF also invited her to perform a spoken word piece to launch the fight against female genital mutilation by LEAP Africa to commemorate their 20th anniversary. She currently works as a freelance voice-actor and spoken word artist.

Hafsat has been featured in the Daily Trust Newspaper, UNICEF News Feed, LEADERSHIP Newspaper, World bank, The Tanzanian Article, Literature Voices (LitVo), Splendor of Dawn Poetry Channel, The Moveee Magazine, and others. She has also volunteered on different developmental platforms like Minna Book and Arts Festival (Minna BAF), TEDx events, Enactus Nigeria, Tranquil Youth Organization of Nigeria, Hill-top Creative Arts Foundation, Abuja Literary Society (ALS), Minna Spelling Bee, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Frontline Youth Creative Initiative, and others.

At the TEDxMaitama, she performed a poem titled “Welcome to Nigeria”. Through the poem, she humorously exposed the typical Nigerian mentality and mindset. This complements the fact that it takes one with a futuristic mindset to make futuristic decisions. Whatever is beyond these crossroads of decisions is determined by the quality of the decision taken. Her performance questioned the audience’s mindset on how her words would affect their decisions in the future.

Yusuf Ramadan

Yusuf Ramadan is a poet and activist. He is the founder of YUMHAF Digital Innovation (YDI) and co-founder of WISH (Words Inspire Spoken Hope). He heads the ICT department at Queens Science Academy, Kano. Yusuf strongly advocates for peace and unity, good governance, social justice and political hygiene. His professional interests focus on leveraging ICT and Theatre Arts to address his immediate environment’s problems. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Usman Ɗanfodiyo University, Sokoto.

Yusuf performed his poem titled “When Shall We Be Free” at TEDxAminoKanoWay. The poem talks about the broken glasses we wear as a country and how we are blinded by corruption, insecurity, religious and ethnic conflicts, and other social problems. He was also in Damaturu at the TEDxPompomari held in March 2022 to make his second TEDx appearance.

Hassana Danyerwa

Hassana goes with the pen name Janaan.Dy. She is a Maiduguri-based writer and spoken word artist. She is also a mental health advocate and an Electrical and Electronics Engineer. 

Her TEDxShehuri performance discussed economic hardships, mental and emotional stress, and phone addiction. She also addressed the insecurity in the country, especially in the North East. She emphasized how; “People don’t just be, they become.” “People can become whatever they choose to be.” she said.

She currently lives in Maiduguri, working towards advocating the importance of mental health and as the creative director of FeelNHeal, an initiative for creating more awareness on mental health issues.

Aisha Umar Gimba

Aisha is famously known as the Chummy Poet. She is a poet, spoken word artist, avid bibliophile, and technophile from Potiskum in Yobe State. She holds a Nigeria Certificate in Education in Business Education from the Federal College of Education (Technical), Potiskum. Currently, Aisha is undergoing a degree program in Business Education at Federal College of Education (Technical), Potiskum, in affiliation with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi; diploma program in Frontend Web Development at AltSchool Africa.

Through poetry, she had the good fortune to be a member of highly effective community coalitions and advisory groups typical one among them is the Yobe Literary Society, where she serves as the Sardauna (Deputy Secretary). One of her poems, “African Lady” was cast at African Union Youth Summit 2020. She was awarded a Literary Personality Award as the Best Spoken Word Artist by the Yobe Literary Society at the Yobe Peace and Art Festival 2021. She was also a guest poet at the Northeast University Students Peace Conference 2022 by the Student Intellectual Club, Yobe State University.  

Her tech enthusiasm led her to opportunities such as leading the prestigious Google Developer Student Clubs at her college, an Internship at FlexiSaf EduSoft, and the EveryGirl Fellowship of the KSH Foundation.

She’s a teacher passionate about reading, writing poetry, photography, and the tech ecosystem. She sees teaching as the heart of her vocation, which manifests itself in any role she plays. She uses social media and other digital media channels to lend her voice.

At the TEDxPompomari, she appeared on stage to perform her poem “Once Upon a Story”, which was composed according to the theme ‘Forge Ahead’. The poem states the catastrophe faced by the communities of the Kanem Borno Empire, the mishap experienced by the communities during the Boko Haram insurgency, and how propitiously the young people there rise again to rebuild the dreams that were long shattered while also bouncing back to stability.

Joseph E. Gadzama

Joseph E. Gadzama is a Pan-African, passionate writer, researcher, entrepreneur, and advocate for social change. He co-founded the Writers’ Mind forum in Maiduguri. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil and Water Resources Engineering and a proficiency certificate in Creative Thinking from Imperial College London.

Gadzama is very passionate about writing and telling the stories of African history, economics, and geography. He also cultivates the younger generation to reach their full potential through writing and public speaking.

He offers literary consulting services to both the government and private sectors. He is one of the youths thriving to change the narratives of Borno in a more creative and innovative way.

Gadzama made his first TEDx stage appearance at the second edition of TEDxShehuri. He featured Hauwa Avoohida in a poem that captures the exploitation of Africa by Europeans and other countries. The poem depicts how African history was erased and not even included in our school’s curriculum. However, they talked about promoting love and peaceful coexistence among Africans as an amplifier for a prosperous continent.

Hauwa Musa Abubakar

Hauwa is a wife, creative writer, spoken word artist, and fashion designer. Her stage name is Avoohida. She is currently studying Chemistry at the University of Maiduguri.

Her imaginary and visionary outlook has earned her opportunities to participate and volunteer in so many pre-eminent campaigns in Maiduguri. She has also performed alongside Joseph Gadzama at the TEDxShehuri.

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