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Jewel Writing Workshop: Full Report from the Maiden Edition

The influx of many young talented writers in Nigeria with neither support nor mentorship has called for immediate intellectual action. Unlike other writers that are being supported massively by government and private agencies, Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs), teen writers are left to wander aimlessly in the open field of creative productivity. Therefore, the young award-winning writer, Adamu Usman Garko, author of “When Day Breaks” and a winner to many local and international competitions, including the 2020 Nigeria Prize For Teen Authors, swung into action with the creation of an initiative, Jewel Writing Workshop which the first maiden held on the  31st October, 2020 at National Library Gombe branch.

Jewel Writing Working

Jewel Writing Workshop was initiated to nurture and mentor young aspiring writers to regurgitate their silent rich talents through the art and principles of writing, and to encourage and make vivacious their zeal. The Initiative aims at linking up these  young aspiring writers with support from different enthusiastic organizations that are always ready to support their intellectual compositions. Aside nurturing and grounding them in art and principles of writing, the program also establishes a solid connection between teen writers and different highly prolific mentors that are willing to share their experiences and views.

The first maiden edition targeted 50 teenagers who are mostly in junior and senior secondary schools, who followed a systematized selection process. The call for Participation was released on social and other media to allow for interested participants to apply. To much of our surprise, before the set out deadline, we almost doubled the target which necessitated additional screening procedures; and the deadline was extended to reach out to those offline in order to objectively have a balanced candidature.

Thereafter, a  team was established to monitor screening and selection processes. And a host of other professional writers, including facilitators for the workshop were organized to come up with the modus operandi of how the workshop  and facilitation should be, and how evaluation and  assessments of the candidates will be at the end of the workshop.

Opening Ceremony

In the morning around 7am, the convener, Adamu Usman Garko and his team arrived at the venue of the event carrying along with them: customized jotters, pens, sound system, banners and refreshment.

Immediately after arranging seats and sorting out management stuff  in the right direction, roles and responsibilities among volunteers were shared. The team members began to wait for the arrival of the participants. Not very long after, they began to arrive one after the other, obviously anxious and eager.

Sequel to the arrival of the participants, the committee in charge of verification organized and set the participants on process. The participants were duly verified, registered and ushered into the hall with well-arranged seats. Once a participant was verified and registered, a customized jotter, a pen and a tag would be given to them. Immediately the registration was over and everyone happily seated, the opening ceremony started, as scheduled from 10am-11am.

The Workshop was anchored by Sadiq Yahaya the initiative and as well a linguist and one of the great literary enthusiasts in northern Nigeria. The opening session began with the introduction of the purpose of the workshop where the  convener, Adamu Usman Garko spoke on the aims of the workshop which as he said was “ bridge the gap between young writers and highly prolific writers. It will also create an avenue for young writers to stabilize their feet in the open field of writing”.  Other objectives include contributing to qualitative education in the country and eradication of illiteracy through workshops, distribution of books, etc.

The host of the event, Abubakar Yakubu served as the keynote speaker during the opening ceremony.  He talked on the importance of reading as a tool to better one’s craft as a writer. He also urged young people to actively participate in critical reading, because reading was the key to meaningful writing. He finally called upon aspiring writers to make sure their writings are qualitatively made to impact and effect or intrigue changes in the society.

With his encouraging and challenging words, Muhammad Gaude, the president of Gombe Jewel Writers’ Association came on to wrap up the opening ceremony with a speech on why the workshop came at the right time when free mentoring platforms were extremely scarce, more especially for young writers.

Jewel Writing Workshop Session

The participants were divided into three groups. 

The first group were the most matured ones who were also better at the craft. In order to expose them to hands-on experience on the creative writing processes, Uzairu Uba, an all-around literary giant got them through as their facilitator for the whole workshop time.

The second group were average participants , but they were also excellent in their own capacity and their passion to enhance themselves was genuine. In order to give them two distinct experiences, Sadiq Yahaya took charge of them through the poetry writing process, and Ibrahim Sambo, an intellectual and a highly gifted story writer put them through the prose writing session

The last group were the youngest in age and in grasping of knowledge as it relates to the writing processes. Muib, an educationist who is also an astute writer took them through introductory writing Skills, and instigated them to wholeheartedly embrace reading, dearly.

And all the groups were given exercises, tests and assignments to bring during the closing. They were also linked with platforms, for instance Gombe Jewel Writers Association, Creative Club Gombe State University etc to get more drilled online and offline. And short and long term targets were set for the participants to carry out the principles of the art of writing bestowed to them, through a consistent care of their various facilitators especially online. This was meant to provide sustainability to knowledge and experience given to them.

Closing Ceremony

The closing ceremony started at exactly 4pm on that very day. Attendance at this stage of the event was not restricted. It was open to everyone. Important guests from without and within Gombe state graced the event. 

The participants during the closing have written from what they have learned poems, short stories and other literary writings which they were given the opportunity to present. This was aimed to demonstrate the impact of the workshop practically on them. Sadiq Yahaya moderated the session.

After opening with the national anthem, Muib Introduced the purpose of the event on behalf of the workshop facilitators, where he expressed the cooperation and enthusiasm that dressed the participants throughout the workshop session. This as he said “was an encouragement for the convener to do more and to prepare for more”. Usman Nurain Muhammad, PR expert, writer and the author of “High School Verses” gave an astonishing welcome address to the invited guests, participants and invitees. Thereof, the anchor took over and introduced the keynote speaker and other Special guests of the event.

The Director-General of Centre for Information and Development Agency, Dr. Y.Z Ya’u served as the keynote speaker. He spoke extensively on the topic: “Digital Opportunities for Young Writers. In his words: “I am impressed by the passion, commitment, resourcefulness and determination by both the young writers and those workshop facilitators. Here we have young people trying to find the skills to craft their stories without support from the government and our rulers.”

Lecturer with the department of English, Gombe State University Dr. Yunana Ahmed spoke on the topic: “Creativity  a No Man’s Field”. It was really an enticing lecture that invigorated the audience and especially the participants towards innovation and creativity. And the last presenter, Ahmed Musa Hussain spoke on the topic: “Self Development: A Key to Unlocking 21st Century’s Fortunes”. It was a speech that so much focused on the quest for self discovery and improvement of the self literarily, especially leveraging on the enormous inborn talents and creativity that we have as youths.

After receiving poetry rendition by one of the facilitators, Uzairu Ubah, the guest of honor, Muhammad Gaude, president of Gombe Jewel Writers Association gave a tantalizing remark from whence certificates were given to all the participants and facilitators. Along with the certificates was also a poetry book, “When Day Breaks” by Adamu Usman Garko, which was given to all the participants. Thereafter, the event was wrapped up with closing remarks by the convener.

Finally, after the recitation of the national anthem, Group photographs were taken and the event was declared closed.

Partners of the Jewel Writing Workshop

1. Center for Development and Information Agency

2. National Library Gombe Branch

3. Fombina Imprints

4. Applied Worldwide


Adamu Usman Garko

Adamu Usman Garko is a long-time contributor and the Director of African Operations at Applied Worldwide. He is a short story writer, an essayist and poet. He is the author of When Day Breaks, a collection of poetry, which was listed among the 15 Best Published Books in 2018 by DailyTrust newspaper; also, the book is a recommended text for 400l English students of Gombe State University in 2019. He is the 2020 winner of the Nigeria Prize for Teen Authors He is the convener of Gombe Book and Arts Festival, an in-coming literary festival in Nigeria to kickstart in 2020. You can connect with Adamu Usman Garko on Twitter.