Northern Nigeria is an assortment of diverse ethnic groups and cultures, sharing colorful and entwined histories and practices.
Most of the region remains unexplored and obscure to the wider world, with so many misconceptions and stereotypes clouding the vibrant cultures of these regions. However, the past decade has unveiled a cultural renaissance that has reawakened a new era of artistic expression and a redefined acceptance of cultural heritage and identity.
At the forefront of this revolution are boisterous youths who have ignited a new era of daring voices, innovative ideas, and cultural transformation.
Below, we spotlight some of these contemporary northern Nigerian voices and ideas.
Community: Poetic Wednesday
Poetic Wednesday is a youth-led initiative that promotes literature development in Northern Nigeria. The organization encourages and supports creative writing and literary participation in the region. With the aim of self-expression and preserving the stories and experiences of northern Nigerian. Salim Yunusa, a co-founder of the organization, explained the journey:
“Poetic Wednesdays Initiative started as a poetry movement which saw the renaissance of poetry and literature among youths – mostly from the Northern part of Nigeria – and culminated into a full-fledged organization. It was born out of the desire to express ourselves and our passion for literary activities.”
The Engausa, for instance, is a fusion of English and Hausa, the indigenous language of the region. And is becoming a widely explored genre in the region employed in Poetry and creative writing.
“Engausa poetry is not a new thing. The genre might be fairly unexplored, but the concept is not new. Young people, especially those that are Hausa and can speak English, mix up English and Hausa when speaking. It is therefore not a surprise if it transcends to poetry; after all, poetry is a conversation with your soul.
Also, it is a deliberate attempt to push, promote and propel the Hausa language into other genres of communication”
As a poet, writer, and culture mover, Salim explains the importance of amplifying the northern Nigerian experience.
“It is important because it brings about the correct representation of a people; their language, culture, traditions, and more.”
Book: Season of Crimson Blossom
Season of Crimson Blossom is authored by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim. The book set in northern Nigeria, is about an audacious love affair between Hajiya Binta, a 55 oldyear widow, with a 25 years old notorious drug dealer Reza. The book which won the 2016 Prize for Literature, captured an intimate experience in conservative northern Nigeria.
The characters are familiar to everyone living in the region, they depict the real people, behaviors, and activities common in northern Nigeria communities.
The author skillfully brings out the vibrant colors and flavors of Northern Nigeria through vivid descriptions, making it a perfect fit for exploring the rich cultural heritage of the region. The book also highlights the socio-economic and religious tension which permeates the region.
The author flaunts the cultural values of the people thereby humanizing their story into the global human story of the search for love, family, and happiness.
Fashion: The Abaya
The abaya is a loose-fitting material draped from the shoulders to the toes. The clothing is usually made of soft and light fabric that ensures comfort and convenience. Originally from Arabian countries, the cloth was initially worn by only northern Muslims and has been absorbed by members of other religions and other regions of the country.
The fluid-flowing dress is modest and reflects the cultural and religious values of northern Nigeria.
The abayas are made of high-quality material, adorned with beautiful embroidery or sequins which makes them expensive so much that wearing them portrays class, sophistication, and iconic allure.
It also reflects the moral values of the region’s modesty and piety. The abaya has permeated the contemporary dressing culture and a glamorous fashion trend that will continue to imbue the culture, religion, and fashion of northern Nigerian women.
Media: Arewa 24
Danwake, miyan kulan, movies, talk shows. Arewa 24 is a Hausa TV channel, the first of its kind. The station broadcast only in the indigenous Hausa languages. Arewa24 promotes the vibrant and diverse culture of northern Nigerian people through an array of programs, talk shows, and interviews. The station reflects pride and celebrates the cultural heritage of the region.
It promotes the northern Nigerian culture to others away from home, and the global audience on the rich cultural heritage of the region.
Arewa 24 also serves its community by addressing critical challenges and issues such as girl child education, and health challenges, and promotes peace and unity within tribes and across religions. Other programs awaken the consciousness of the younger generation to the dignified legacy of the past generations.
Programs like Mata a, Yau is a talk shows discussing the plight and challenges of everyday Nigerian women within the cultural and religious context of the region. The show invites phenomenal women in various fields to give their insights. These programs continue to empower women and inspire girls in the region. Start up Africa, is another program that documents the efforts to bridge the digital divide between Africa and the rest of the world. Girke Girke mu is a cooking show which explores northern Nigerian traditional cuisine and delicacies.
Arewa 24 through its plethora of Hausa drama, music, and lifestyle, is a remarkable culture custodian, documenting and preserving the nuanced stories and voices of northern Nigerians.
Music: Falaq Amin
Falaq Ala-min popularly known as Falaq Amin is a northern Nigerian rapper, singer, model, and songwriter. She is one of the few female indigenous rappers from the region. Her lyrics, which are primarily in the Hausa language, are thought-provoking, sensational, and rebellious.
Withstanding the backlash and negative views from her society, she dared to pursue her dreams of becoming a musician. And has gained remarkable acceptance from the younger generation. Her music has pushed beyond the boundaries of northern Nigeria to a wider audience.
Falaq has also gained recognition from notable names and platforms in the Nigerian music industry. She was hosted on Radio Nigeria & the MTV base Official Naija Top Ten freestyle session and her music has been premiered on Radio France internationally.
Falaq’s music is a compelling voice of so many determined northern Nigerian women. Her defiance and courage promoted the voices of so many northern Nigerian women in the music industry and on the global stage.
With a teeming youth that accepts and flaunts their cultural identity, northern Nigeria is witnessing a grand explosion of cultural appreciation, from literary to visual art and music.