HANEEFAH ABDULRAHMAN is from Kogi State but born in Kaduna, Nigeria. She is a 300-level student of English and Literary Studies at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. She joined the ABU Creative Writers’ Club (CWC) in 2018 and became the Treasurer of the club in 2019. She is currently the 2020 Editor I, and the Financial Secretary of the Club. Haneefah is a member of the Hill-Top Creative Arts Foundation, World Global Writers’ Movement, All Poets Network (APNET), ENACTUS (Entrepreneurial Action Us) which she joined in 2019 and in 2020 she was selected as a delegate for Conference Leadership Training of A.B.U for all ENACTUS schools in Nigeria which qualified her as a Project Head. She is also the Business Head of Eagle’s View Tour, and a Presenter in NASELS Entertainment House. Haneefah is a writer and a poet whose writing and love for art is immortal. She is the author of ‘The Queens of Age Chains’ published on Okada Books. Haneefah has also been published on sites like dailyboom.com.ng, igbocurls.com, artmusefair.com, http://www.thecolumnist.com.ng etc. She manages the blog, trendyneefah.blogspot.com. Recently, she just recovered from a chronic typhoid attack that kept her in the hospital for over a month. Adepoju Isaiah Gbenga sought to have an audience with her for the Nigeria Review.
Adepoju: Hello, Miss. Haneefah. Can you introduce yourself, pls.
Haneefah: My name is Haneefah AbdulRahman, a writer, a poet, a social entrepreneur and a womanist. I usually do not forget to add “I write, I speak and I am words” to my introduction.
Adepoju: A writer and a poet? Poetry, they say, has a difference between other genre of literature. How has poetry been to you compared to other genre of literature?
Haneefah: Poetry to me, is the most powerful genre of writing. It has this sacredness characterized by its power of concealment, mystery etc. You know, no one will ever tell you that they are finding it hard to decipher the meaning of a paragraph or a chapter of a prose work but 90% out of 100% humans will tell you that they are finding it really hard to understand each line and each stanza in a poem. They will tell you that they have to read the poem over and over and over again. Also, poems unlike prose, essays etc., are allowed to be interpreted into different meanings. Most times, after reading some of my poems, most of my friends will be like, “AhnAhn, Haneefah, take it easy on us nah. This your poem is giving us a hard time to understand o. We have to read it over and over again.”There are so many reasons that makes poetry unique in the field of writing. It is amazing that I write almost all genre of literature thus I know and I can feel the power of poetry and other genres of literature.
Adepoju: You took ill, a few weeks back, how does it feel to be sick and to be healthy again. In what way has your writing been affected by these conditions?
Haneefah: Wow! This question is huge. Actually, I have been thinking of writing a story on the theme HOW IT FEELS TO BREATHE AGAIN. I could write a story as a response to this question but let’s just keep it short and precise.I got sick and I thought of death because the sickness held me down for so long but the writer in me never got sick.
When I started getting the symptoms of my health losing its spark, i became scared. I had to start an early medication, (the back to sender kind of medication, the E NO WORK KIND OF MEDICATION) particularly because I was scared of being taken away from my literary world where I get to engage people with works of poetry, prose, articles and others and also get to connect with my literary people. You know, it is funny that, writing was all I could think of. The first medication didn’t stop the sickness, it was as if fuel was added to the fire. The sickness got worse as days and weeks passed by and I wasn’t getting better even after taking drugs, and all. I couldn’t help but wail inside me as the ailment dragged me outside my literary world. So, I began to miss being normal in two folds. At a point I got thoughts like: “God, give me the strength to write something before I die!” I swear I felt like death was standing in front of me, every day.
One amazing thing is that creativity never dies, it never falls sick. My inside literary world was very much alive! I still had the imageries, the ideas, the literature, the orature, feasting inside of me even when I felt like death was taking away every single breathe that I had left, oozing away life from me.
During the first and second blood transfusion I remember composing two poems in my head (I can’t even remember the poems right now.) and during one of the sessions with my Doctor, I said to him in my weak voice which had become like a whisper at that time, “I will make you a major character in my next short story which I intend to title THE DOCTOR WHO TEASES.” My Doctor laughed and said; “Your passion is relentless! You are still having writing ideas even in the present critical condition you are in?”.
I can’t forget thinking about writing a flash fiction on how I felt when the Doctor told me of my infected liver and my swollen and almost busted bowel, describing the fear in my father’s eyes as the Doctor told him how severe my condition was.
To cut the long story short, I got sick and missed my literary family (Hill-Top Creative Arts Foundation). I missed engaging the world with my writing but the writer in me never got sick, the writer in me is immune to any kind of pain, hurt both spiritual and physical, the writer in me is immortal, my inside literary world is indestructible. I got a lot of support and love from my family and my second family (Hilltop Creative Arts Foundation). I will never forget them as part of my survival story.
Adepoju: Wow! I love your strength. On the issue of survival (sickness, depression, etc.), do you think more care should be given to writers in the society in the aspect of dealing with trauma?
Haneefah: Writers are righters, they are heroes giving a lot of sacrifices. Their mentalities hold the mantle beheading almost every trauma that comes their way. Writing is already a way of therapy for writers as it is to readers. Writing also serves as a way of giving solutions to so many problems. In as much as writers are humans too, readers need more attention in the aspect of dealing with trauma but, writers need more attention from the public. I have a friend who is physically challenged but writes. In one of his writings he stated that writing has made him a survivor. He doesn’t bother about his disability, instead, he writes about his disability to inspire and motivate readers out there who are disabled thus his attention as a writer is pointed towards readers.
Adepoju: I agree. I’m a survivor also, and writing has always been my antidote.Finally, to the last question. “Generations fail when they listen to their politicians and not to their poets” (John Mekas). Do you think that writers are given the deserved accolades, ability to sustain their sanity and have a space to write in developing countries?
Haneefah: One thing I always say to people, “Never trust a politician. They are all liars! The few politicians who try to be honest always end up being infected by the virus of dishonesty.” And then I move to tell people this, “a writer/poet is the most trustworthy person in the society thus when you read a poem in its concealment is a very open truth.” We hear and see writers who are unjustly persecuted by orders of politicians for speaking the truth that every other citizen is scared of telling. Writers, Poets are powerful warriors who risk their lives to speak on behalf of the muted citizens, they speak fearlessly in every angle of life yet enough accolades aren’t given to writers. Nigeria does not care about her writers; Nigeria doesn’t do anything for her writers. All writers in Nigeria carry on their art and life without the country caring about them. No grants, no supports, no endowments, no enough festivals, nothing. We, the young ones, are the most affected by this dryness. Nevertheless, we do not give up despite these challenges, we keep on writing and surviving. We keep on breathing and we keep on living our passion. Thank God some big writers have set up platforms where we are getting attention now.
Adepoju: Wow! Thanks, Miss. Haneefah, for your time and for sharing your knowledge with us. I say more quills to your art.
Haneefah: Thank you too. I really enjoyed the session.
ADEPOJU ISAIAH GBENGA, is a young author whose works have featured in different Magazines and national Dailies as well as online journals. He is an editor with Writers Global Movement, Nigerian Chapter. Also, he is a member of the Hill Top Creative Arts Foundation. He is a novelist, playwright and a poet in the making. He is from Osun State.