Naseeba Babale is a young and budding poet from Kano State. She holds a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Medical Laboratory Science from Bayero University, Kano. As a scientist, she debunks the belief that scientists are poor in literature. She sees literature as her passion, so much that she concentrated on it at the expense of her studies. Babale engages in literary activities, and is one of the coordinators of Literature and the World, a literary social group on Facebook. In this interview with ZAHARADDEEN IBRAHIM KALLAH, she opens her mind on issues of her writing and female writers in Nigeria.
Can you tell us about yourself?
I was born in Kano State in the early 90s. I attended Sheikh Bashir El-Rayyah School from 1997 to 2005. From there, I went to Girls Science and Technical College, Kano, from 2005 to 2008. I was a student at the Bayero University, Kano, from 2009 to 2015, where I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Medical Laboratory Science (sub specializing in clinical biochemistry).
When and how did you start writing?
I started writing in my secondary school. Back in my primary school days, I loved writing stories in my English Language Composition though. My English teacher at GSTC Kano then was the first person to notice the writer in me. He encouraged me every time I wrote a narrative essay as part of my exercise. Later on, he motivated me to write a short story every weekend and submit it on Monday. That was my first writing experience. He’s my first mentor, and I still give him credit for my subsequent writings.
What inspired you to start writing?
Like I mentioned earlier, my English teacher, Mallam A. A. Adamu, was the first to inspire me. Then, as I read more, I realized that I could also write more. I understood that writing could be a perfect avenue to relay my thoughts to the world. Hence, the more books I read, the more inspired I became. I also get inspired from the company I keep. I have a fraternity of writers, and seeing their writings inspires me to write more.
Your poems are visible online, have you published a book?
I’m yet to publish one, but I’m working on it.
Apart from poetry, are you writing in other genres?
Yeah. I have written few short stories and articles, but most of my writings are poetry.
As a science student, how did you combine literature and your discipline?
Actually, it’s kind of fun and challenging as well. There’s a belief that scientists are poor at literature, and I wanted to prove that wrong. I developed a reading habit, reading outside the scope of my profession, reading to be able to write. Literature is my passion, so much that I almost concentrated on it at the expense of my studies. In fact, there was a time I thought of giving up science to study English literature. Thus, when I came to the realization that I could combine the two, I was more than happy. And right now, in me is a scientist and budding writer.
Women in Nigeria are now into creative writings, do you have any role model among them?
Yeah, I do. Zainab Alkali, Balaraba Ramat, Chimamanda Adichie, and the likes.
Do you think female writers in Northern Nigeria have come of age?
There has been an improvement in writing by female writers from Northern Nigeria, especially with the advent of the social media. However, I think we still have a lot to put in. There are writers with potential, who just need to be promoted.
What contribution do you think female writers have offered in the development of Nigerian literature?
Female writers have made their own contribution to Nigerian literature. Writers like Buchi Emecheta, Flora Nwapa, Zaynab Alkali, Balaraba Ramat, Chimamanda Adichie and many more have made an impact through their writings. They send messages about the cultures and norms of people from different parts of the country, promote girl-child education, women empowerment and many more.
Are you writing in your mother tongue?
Not yet, but I intend to do so in the near future.
Some people regard the Hausa novels as soyayya (love) novels, what is your perception about the books?
It’s true, most of them are about love. I’ve read hundreds of them and most have the same themes and similar endings. The typesetting and printing are poor, and they’re far too unrealistic. However, I still read books that stand out as exceptional and convey valuable messages. Authors like Balaraba Ramat, Bilkisu Salisu Ahmad, Rahma Abdulmajid, Habiba Abubakar Imam, and their likes are among the few exceptions I’ve read.
As one of the coordinators of Literature and World, Facebook promoters of literature, what literary qualities are you coming across in the platform?
I’ve met aspiring writers through Literature and the World, writers with the prowess and zeal to write, writers with originality and creativity. It’s a platform that gives chance for writers to share their writings with the world. Though we face a lot of challenges.
What are you doing to encourage the young people you are interacting with on social media?
I try to inspire others through my write-ups and make them understand that rather than just waste our time on useless chats, we can make social media an avenue to improve ourselves. I’ve collaborated with my friends to create avenues to share our thoughts and inspirations on social media.
When are we expecting your book to be out?
I hope to have a book before the end of this year.
Finally, what would you want to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered for the positive impact I’ve made on people’s lives, the smiles I’ve put on their faces, and through my profession, the number of lives I’ve saved.