Aishatu Dalil Wins 2021 BBC Hausa Short Story Writing Contest For Women

18-year-old Aishatu Dalil has won the 2021 BBC Hausa Short Story Writing Contest For Women, with a story titled: “Hakkina” (‘My Right’).

Aishatu Dalil’s story ‘Hakkina’ tells the story of a young woman, Fatima, who is raped by her stepfather and is threatened by her mother not to tell anyone about the abuse. She locks Fatima in a room despite the injuries she sustained during the assault.

To Fatima’s mother, silencing her daughter not only covers for her husband but also ‘protects’ her daughter from the stigma faced by victims of rape in the Hausa society.

In an Interview with PREMIUM TIMES on 26 November 2021, Aishatu Dalil, a 100 level student of English and French at the Umaru Musa University, Katsina stated:

“My mother was my motivation. I like to write short stories but when this opportunity came, my mother and elder sister insisted that I put it up for the competition, and I did.

When I got a call from the BBC that my story was among the winning stories I was ecstatic. I quickly got down on my knees to give thanks to Allah. I was not expecting to win as I’m a new writer and the competition is known to attract great writers. My family is very proud of me and winning the competition is one of my biggest achievements.”

The first runner-up is a story written by Nana Aicha Hamissou Abdoulaye. Titled “Butulci” (‘Betrayal’), it is about a young couple whose new marriage and pregnancy is marred by the sudden horror of kidnapping. The title of the story stems from the events that led up to the kidnapping and the unexpected revelation of the person involved.

In the words of Aicha Hamissou Abdoulaye:

“I was in Maradi, Niger when I put up for the competition and when I got the call from BBC that I made the final stage, I could not hide my joy because I put up for the competition last year but did not make it to the final.”

Aicha is a masters degree student from Aboubakar International University in Maradi, Niger Republic.

The second runner-up is Zulaihat Alhassan with her story “Ramat”. Titled after the protagonist, ‘Ramat’ is a revered policewoman whose husband is also in the police force. She is caught in a family scandal where she has to choose between her only son and her job.

Miss Zulaihat is in her final year at the College of Health, Tsafe, Zamfara State.

The BBC Hausa women’s short story contest was introduced to give female writers a platform to tell and share their stories.

According to the Editor of the Hausa Service, Aliyu Tanko:

“As the competition enters its sixth year, it is satisfying to know that women have accepted it as an avenue to stir conversations in the region through their writing. We’ve seen set after set of remarkable writers emerge from Hikayata competition and this is truly what we’ve always aimed to achieve.”

Lead judge Dr. Hauwa Bugaje said:

“This year we have seen an absolute shift in the thematic preoccupation of these stories. It is obvious that women writers in northern Nigeria are becoming aware day by day, of the most pressing issues faced by women in the region. The themes centre around rape, domestic violence, kidnappings, and career choices. The characters this year have been created to represent strong, bold women.”

The winner receives a cash reward of $2,000 and the runners-up were awarded $1,000 and $500 respectively.

The occasion was held at the Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.

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