Baraka Bashir is one of the young and gifted female journalists that specialized on environment and health issues. In 2013, she attended an exchange program on journalism in US, which inspired her to write her memoir. She believes that her book is a form of storytelling, with lots of poetic languages that will entertain the reader to seek more and more of what happens next.
Baraka wants her book to be an inspiration to girl-child education, which could serve as a key to girls’ development. In this interview with ZAHARADDEEN IBRAHIM KALLAH, she bears her mind on the memoir she is working on.
Can you give us a little about yourself?
I’m Baraka Bashir, I am the fifth of family of eight. And I am a shy journalist. I joined Freedom Radio, which is a local station with branches in some northern states, after my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in 2008 to date. Journalism is the profession I developed much interest in after I lost my father who was a journalist during his lifetime.
My specializations are on environmental and health issues; I also report on other sectors when the need arises. I initiated a humanitarian program on destitute which I produce and present myself.
In 2012, I produced and presented a documentary on environmental problems in Kano state, Nigeria, which I post on my website and YouTube channel.
What inspired you to start writing?
I started writing during my secondary days. I used to compose poems, but I never published any, because I think they were not up to standard as I was just scribbling anything that came to my mind then. But what really motivated me to start writing was when I became a journalist; I realized most of my reports were titled towards the environment. Gradually, I began blogging mostly on environmental issues as they are centered on environs.
But the main reason of writing my memoir was my interaction with the US Embassy officials prior and after an exchange program I participated in the US, in 2013. I had an interview with some of the US Embassy officials via the telephone and they suggested I should write and send them a memoir of my experience and to update the Facebook page.
I started doing that, and then I realized that my story was not just centered on the US alone, I have traveled to some countries and have pleasant memories from them. I expanded my story to motivate those northern girl-child educations, to ginger those shy girls like me that no matter how shy or how extreme introverted you are, you can achieve your dreams.
Who are your role models in writing?
My role models, are my fellow Nigerians, they are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (the author of “Half of the Yellow Sun” and Zaynab Alkali (the author of “The Still Born” a book I cherished since my secondary school days).
These two female mentors are the people that are keeping me going in the world of literature, most especially each time I listen to the dangers of a single story, I get a whole new idea of what to write and how to make my reader more and more engaging and wanting to know more about my story. This was exactly applied to that story of a shy journalist from Kano.
What special talents do you think you have that influenced you?
I think I have a unique talent of telling a story, because I am a journalist who does not believe in a single story just as Chimamanda Ngozi has mentioned in an interview with her in TED show. Chimamanda has the power to explore and tell a story. Even from this interview, I realized that we share things in common, which equally influenced me.
Because, in each story, there are more than one story to make it a story, believing in just that one story is as if painting just one boring life again and again. All these are also apply to Zaynab Alkali.
You are working on your first book, which is a memoir. What exactly the book is talking about?
The book is talking about a story of a shy girl who happens to follow the footpath of her late father – a journalist during his life time.
The shy girl that all her life dream to become a lawyer, but destiny changed her life and became a success in what she does now.
It is the story of the Hausa girl who when started working at a very young age, people did not believe she can make it in the path she had chosen for herself.
As a writer, what do you want to achieve in the book?
As a new writer, I want this book to be an inspiration to all programmes of girl-child education, to serve as a key to them. I love to see my book enrolled in junior or senior secondary school syllabus, to inspire, motivate and push those shy girls that lack confidence as I used to be.
What literary qualities you have displayed in the book, which makes it unique and different from other books?
Been a journalist, the book is more in a form of story telling, with lots of poetic languages that will entertain the reader to seek more and more of what happens next. It equally shows the result of a hard work and dedications, of education and commitments.
Female writers have done a lot in the development of Nigerian literature. What is your perception about their writings and contributions?
Their writings are more motherly which carry lessons not to only their fellow female counterparts, for instance “The Still Born” portrays a lot about the African woman.
Do you think female writers are fully represented in the literary circle?
Not to how we expected; to some extend not as I expected, it’s not fair enough.
As a new writer did you join any writers’ association?
No I have not.
Why, it seems like you isolated yourself?
I am not in any writers’ association, but I used to attend ANA Kano Creative Writers’ Forum at the British Council on every last Wednesday of the month, before the insecurity crisis in northern part of the country, even as then, I was not a member.
Writing and journalism are sharing things in common, as a professional journalist how do you feel combing the two?
It feels the same, because it all entails telling the story, by writing a book you are still telling that story but in a more detailed format. This is also applys to reporting of a story, written in a captivating format.
Could it be right to say females are fully represented in journalism, looking at the good number of female journalists that excel in the profession?
Not really, there are quite a number of female journalists that have excelled, but even with that the ratio is still little when compared with male journalists.
When are we expecting your book out, do you have a date?
Hopefully by the end of this year, but no set a date or month.
Finally, what would you want to be remembered for?
Once you read the book, I would want to be remembered that, that shy girl has finally realized her dreams in the profession she never thought she would be a success. I would want to be remembered as that.
No matter how shy and lack of confidence you are, once you are determined you would surely achieve your desire as I have. Remember that the shy girl is now a reporter.