Hadiza El-Rufai: The Girl Child Needs Role Models to Aspire to Greatness

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Hadiza el-Rufai

Olawale Ajimotokan and Udora Orizu in Abuja

The African Writers Conference and awards, an annual event by African Writers Development Trust (AWDT) held its maiden edition in Abuja with the theme, Re-imagining African Literature: new voices, new narratives in the fight for the girl child.

The conference’s theme was aimed at ensuring how the narrative of the girl child can be changed so that the girls can have a role model they can look up to.

It had the First Lady of Kaduna State, Hajia Hadiza El-Rufai and Tanzanian author Nahida Esmail, Kenya’s Faith Mutheu and Nigeria’s Sandra Etubiebi, among several others in attendance.

“We as writers in particular, we need to be able to help women that have achieved and bring them out. The female journalists have a role to play, blow the trumpet of women that have done very good thing in the society so that the girl christen will have role models and have somebody to aspire to. They will see people that are like themselves in positions of authority and they will aspire to be that”, noted El-Rufai.

Also speaking, the Executive Director of African Writers Development Trust (AWDT), Anthony Onugba, the aim of the conference is to inspire African writers.

“The whole idea is to create a unified African literal space, currently we have writers doing their thing, we want a situation where we can bring all of them together so they can network, to spark African Writers Network.
“What usually happens is until you get one big award then people start promoting you but that’s not supposed to be the case.
“We want to direct the flow of writing, we want to write for a cause and not awards, that’s the only way to change the African landscape.” Onugba said.

Also Esmail, said education is the key which government has unfortunately not been stepping up towards uplifting it.
She said: “We need to blow the trumpet of women by all writers across Africa, this is the first step in empowering the girl child and that is what we want from this conference.

“We want people to go out and read and write so people will have the choice to have the girl narrative, get to know more role models which are not being known.

“Research has shown that when a girl is not educated, she suffers all kinds of problems, such as early marriage, pregnancy and so on. If you look at the same results and statistics you will see how much benefit there’s for a woman that is educated. Education is the answer, we hope from this conference people will realise it, one person can make a difference.”

The conference awards categories included African writer of the year short stories, African writer of the year for poetry, African writer of the year flash fiction and African writer of the year children’s literature.