Hajaarh Muhammad Bashar is a promising writer and a Microbiologist by profession. She was born in Minna, Niger State, in the mid-90s. She is currently undergoing the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme. Bashar loves books, poetry and everything life has to offer. Many of her literary works have appeared on Facebook and other literary webs. Even though she is full of enthusiasm to see a hardcopy of her book, but she doesn’t want to rush into publishing. That is why she sees self-publishing as a dangerous project to undertake by a beginner.
In this exclusive interview with Daily Stream’s literary editor, ZAHARADDEEN IBRAHIM KALLAH, she opens up on a wide range of issues.
Can you tell us about yourself?
I am Hajaarh Muhammad Bashar, born in Minna, Niger State in the mid of 90s. I attended Hill-Top Model School for my nursery and primary education from 1998 to 2006. From there, I proceeded to Islamic Training Center in Madalla from 2006 to 2009. Having left Madalla due to unavoidable reasons, I got admission into Decs New College, Minna, for my senior secondary school education from 2010 to 2012. Now I have completed my BSc degree in Microbiology at Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, Kwara State. I’m presently undergoing the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme. I am also a designer whose products will be out real soon, Insha Allah.
When and how did you start writing?
I don’t even know exactly when I started writing, but from what I can remember, it was in secondary school. When I was in primary school, what I mostly love doing was drawing. So, I started writing short stories with drawings attached in the form of comics. That was how it started. I drew animations and attached spoken words to them.
What inspired you to start writing?
I simply love stories; that was what inspired me to start writing. I was the kind of sister whose siblings will come and sit, asking me to tell stories, whereas I, on the other hand, will go and meet my mom to tell me stories. My passion for reading books and telling it out is what inspired me into write mine.
I read your poems on Facebook and found them powerful and interesting. Have you published a book?
No. I haven’t published a book yet, but I believe I will do so very soon. Most of those books I want to publish are in series and so I will have to take my time in perfecting them before letting out.
Can you tell us more about your books?
The books I’m working on are mostly inspirational books; Islamic books to be precise. There are collections of Islamic stories meant to raise both young children and adults along with the able-bodied people and those with disabilities to their feet. Most of the books are fictions that carry the reality of life which go hand-in-hand with our daily lives. There are other books that are in series on domestic violence and other kinds of problems that co-exist in this 21st century.
Are you trying to secure a publisher to publish the books?
Yes, I have a publisher who is in fact a professional that will review the books before publishing.
Self-publishing is highly patronized by Nigerian writers. Are you in support of it?
I do not know the total rate at which self-publishing is patronized among Nigerian writers, and in that case, I won’t say that I am in support of it or against it. However, now that I think about it, I may as well be in support and against it for certain reasons. When it comes to soft copies or on Apps, self-publishing may not be a bad idea. I strongly believe in trails; everyone deserves a chance to try, but those articles and the likes of them should be for adults. In that case, the readers are matured enough to differentiate between a flawed and good writing, they won’t go about learning just anything. But self-publishing in the case of hardcover that can go wide into the reading community where young children are concerned should not be encouraged. Because self-publication is very dangerous, especially for a beginner, one must not blindly go into it, else it will bring some negative impacts to readers on certain basis.
Your poems are very vast, discussing various themes such as love, science and humanity. What is that bigger theme you believe in?
The bigger theme I believe in is humanity, because humanity covers all other aspects of our lives.
As a microbiologist, how do you combine literature and your discipline?
I never combined the two. What I do is treat them all within scales. I take microbiology as my very long dream of becoming a scientist, whereas literature which I have never studied has always been a hubby I am trying to perfect and take up as a second profession. It is always easier taking them all as different passions. Nevertheless, it is challenging and I love it.
Do you have a schedule for writing; I mean, the time you usually write?
No, I don’t. I write anywhere, anytime. I am always with books or jotters everywhere I go, because I write whenever idea pops into my brain. And I write from what I see happening around. The books may be written in form of fictions, but deep down, they hold messages that lie within our lives.
You reside in Minna where they have all categories of writers and literary activities, do you associate yourself with any group such as ANA Niger or Hilltop Arts Foundation?
No, I do not associate myself with any foundation, association or group for certain personal reasons.
Have you ever attended any writers’ event?
No, I haven’t; but I will soon, Insha Allah, when those reasons I said before are being treated.
Women in Nigeria are now into creative writings; do you have any role models among them?
In women, I don’t think I have a role model, but there are those whose books I like; authors such as Zaynab Alkali and the likes of them. Even among the male writes, I cherish the likes of Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka, who are more of source of inspirations.
Do you think female writers in Northern Nigeria have come of age?
Yes, more writers from the North are emerging more than ever and they are coming up with strong zeal, intellectuals and potential. They just need more chances and beliefs.
What contributions do you think female writers have offered in the development of Nigerian literature?
Female writers bring about vast contributions to the world of literature in so many ways. But most importantly, they enrich literature through their creativity as well as enhancing the significance of cultural norms and heritage. They have also gone a long way in promoting girl-child education and add values to appreciation of literature. As the case may be, their standardized approaches in literature had lifted the spirits of children and other young females into literature.
What challenges, if any, did you face as a new writer?
The challenges I have faced are mostly in the aspect of stories. I taught myself creative writing, letting my thoughts flow beyond the horizons. And the fact that I have never studied literature, and yet I am into it, is a challenge in itself that I welcome wholeheartedly. I simply have passionate love for Art and not just any kind of Art, but Art that can touch the heart and move a mountain. I teach myself the meaning of things that are hidden for just the inner eyes which are connected to the mind, which itself is a challenge. Another challenge I faced was going into every field of literature that I can lay my hands on. In respect to that, I try all sorts of genres, including the language literatures.
As a new writer, do you have a mentor?
I do not have a mentor. Nevertheless, I will not go blindly into publication, because no matter how good people think they are, they must not let it rule their heads. Otherwise, that will only be the beginning of ignorance.
When are we expecting your book out?
Soon, hopefully soon Insha Allah. God’s time is the best.
Finally, what would you want to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered for everything; for all the things I have done, both good and bad, and the things I am yet to do. Good deeds; for all the cheers, joys, lessons, happiness and positive impacts I brought into people’s life. While bad deeds; for them to know that everyone has flaws, no one is perfect, no matter what they do or who they become, because perfection belongs to Allah. My burning need to give people hope and compassion must not go unnoticed. I want to be remembered as a source of strength for those with disabilities, for them to know that it doesn’t matter how they are, they should come out and face the world and be who they want to be. Lastly, I want to be remembered for who I was, who I am, and who I will be in the future. I will quote myself; you can be whatever you want to be, the only thing that can stop you is you.