Safiyya Jibril, 29 has won the 2018 BBC Hausa Short Story Writing Contest for Women.
Her story Ya Mace or ‘The Girl-Child’ highlights the ordeal of Halima, who going by family tradition, is expected get married at about 14 years old. But Halima is unmarried at 17, and comes under severe family and societal pressure. She settles for a man called Garba, someone she barely knows. Shortly after the honeymoon, Halima became the subject of constant physical and verbal abuse and the marriage ended in divorce.
But her father would not accept her back – he beats her and tells other family members not to take her in. Halima takes control of her life by deciding to live on her own instead of going back to Garba; she rents a room and takes up menial jobs to support herself. But the landlord soon discovers she is single and decides to evict her from his house.
Safiyya is a secondary school teacher studying for her Master’s degree in Soil Science at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.
Speaking after the win, Safiyya said: “When I was told about victory, I looked at my phone again to make sure I was not dreaming. Words cannot express how overwhelmed I am.”
Sunanmu Daya or ‘Birds of a Feather’ by Sakina Lawal and Zaina (named after the main character) by Bilkisu Muhammad Abubakar were also announced as first and second runners-up respectively, while twelve other stories were highly commended.
The winner and runners up will be given their prizes at the end of October.
The contest which is in its third year, was introduced to give female writers a platform to tell and share their stories.