Hausa Novels Give Nigerian Women Hope

Hausa novels are literature written by Hausa people in the northern region of Nigeria. Hausa novels with romantic themes have created a literary revolution in the region.

The flame was initially lit in 1980 with the release of Hafsatu Ahmed Abdulwahid‘s novel So Aljannar Duniya. She was the first woman to publish a book in Hausa. Popularity grew over the decades with more writers joining the ranks. The fire grew in 2007 and 2008 when political leaders organized burnings of these books. In more recent years, Nigeria has witnessed an inferno of new novels and increased production.

The books address themes Nigerian women struggle with in society such as polygamy, unfair divorce, and child marriages. An article in the Atlas Obscura states:

“Over many chapters, your average littattafan soyayya protagonist may lose and find love, but she also might deal with intergenerational conflict, seek an education, or learn how to strive for equality in her marriage.”

The impact has been felt in Nigeria. The novels are regularly read over public radio allowing access to a broad audience including the illiterate. According to NBCnews, the popularity of the literature is influencing girls to learn to read.

“They have become so popular that young girls call in to say they’re learning to read because they want to follow more stories. That is no minor feat in a region that has more children out of school than almost anywhere on earth.”

Author of the award-winning novel Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, writes in her essasy We Should All Be Feminists:

“Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. I am angry. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change. In addition to anger, I am also hopeful, because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to remake themselves for the better.”

Books are powerful and may be a driving force in combating gender inequality in northern Nigeria. By informing women through storytelling that they are not alone in their fight and search for a solution, this part of our world can remake itself for the better.

According to the World Bank, when girls are educated their entire community benefits. Educated woman marry later, have fewer children, and find better jobs. Popular fiction could be a key tool in ending poverty and inequality in countries like Nigeria.

To learn more about Hausa literature check out these books:

1. Sin Is a Puppy That Follows You Home by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu

This is one of the few Hausa novels translated into English. It has been described as an “Islamic soap opera” and weaves a story that is a great introduction to Hausa literature.

sin puppy

Source: Amazon

2. Diagram of the Heart by Glenna Gordon

Released this year, Diagram of the Heart explores Hausa novels and culture through beautiful photography and storytelling. This is a great selection to gain a deeper understanding of the subject.


Source: Amazon

The Hausa novel explosion is an important and life-changing event in the history of northern Nigeria and an excellent example of the power of the written word on culture.

YouTube Channel: TED


Featured image via Rand

h/t NBC News

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