Balaraba Ramat Yakubu is one of the few indigenous authors whose works have been translated into another language and made into a movie.
She is also one of the pioneer writers of Littattafan Soyayya (Books of love) genre which started and has now become popular in Northern Nigeria.
However her life as an author didn’t start as beautifully as the books she wrote…
At 12, Balaraba Ramat Yakubu was pulled out of school by her father when he discovered she had been secretly going to school and married her off to a 40 year old man despite protests from her older brother, Murtala Mohammed (former Military Ruler of Nigeria).
And because she was the imperfect wife who couldn’t conveniently boil even a pot of water, she was sent back to her parents, in disgrace.
The end of her first marriage strengthened her resolve to get an education even more. With help from her mother, she attended adult education classes themed at reading and writing Hausa under the guise of learning sewing and knitting.
Her father discovered her primary school certificate and simply responded by informing her of another arranged marriage.
At 15, she walked into her second marriage with a little sense of fulfilment at having at least an elementary education. However, this marriage was unsuccessful because she was “too independent” and wasn’t as obedient as her husband wanted her to be.
At 18, she was once again sent back to her parents but she stood her ground to complete her education this time around.
She enrolled at the Kano State Agency for Mass Education and later went on to teach other women Hausa language.
Two failed marriages and 5 children later, Balaraba gave up on the institution of marriage and focused on her writing career.
Her first book, Budurwar Zuciya meaning ‘Young At Heart’ was published in 1987. In 1990, she published Wa Zai Auri Jahila (Who will marry an ignorant woman) which was inspired by her life as a child bride and centered around a 13 year old girl who was pulled out of school and forced to marry an elderly man.
And in spite of the ground she has gained among her readers, she received threatening letters and was the subject of criticism from religious clerics.
However, she continues to write stories that address rape, child marriage, maltreatment of women and domestic violence, all in Hausa language.
Some of her work have been translated into English. An excerpt of Wa Zai Auri was also translated into English by Carmen McCain.