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Salim Yakubu Akko: Journey to Becoming a Nigerian Writer

Welcome to our Nigerian Writers Lift! In this campaign we aim to promote the profiles of Nigerian writers. With this mission we have begun to search out all of the accomplished writers of Nigeria and provide a platform for those authors to share their personal stories, accomplishments, and advice. In this profile you will meet Nigerian writer Salim Yakubu Akko. Please follow the campaign on Instagram @applied_worldwide_ng or on Facebook at Applied Worldwide Nigeria!

Author Profile: Salim Yakubu Akko

My journey into writing is such a mysterious one. I never thought or dreamed about becoming a writer in my life, until late 2019 when I was a sophomore in high school. I was scrolling my screen and came across a Facebook post by a friend, Scientist Abdussalam, Abubakar Bello (now a Medical student at Rostov State Medical School, Russia), about Gombe Jewel Writers’ biweekly reading session.

I was very curious then, so I gave him a message, asking him about the association, which he did let me know. Though, if I could vividly remember, I never read a novel to the end then, but I decided joining the association. So, Abdussalam connected me with the association’s founder, Muhammad Isah Gaude, and I joined the association in the morning of the 16th November, 2020 after discussing with the founder on Facebook, that’s, four weeks after Adamu Usman Garko’s book launch.

Having grown up in a “read if you like” society, I faced many challenges in the journey. Our society is such a mysterious one where one who reads is the object people laugh at. But, I didn’t give up despite how my friends and some members of my family would call me names whenever I took a literary book in the name of reading, or took my way to the biweekly reading session, considering the long miles to there from my hometown.

Further Journey to Becoming a Nigerian Writer

I had been wondering, “what’s writing,” before the association introduced it, to me. In my little knowledge, I thought it was just an association where one would learn “handwriting”. So hilarious as it may sound. I could remember vividly how Sultanat Jameelat, a member of the association, recited her poem eloquently, during my debut attendance. Then I went forward and asked on Google what’s poetry. To be honest, I never heard the word “poetry” until that time.

Having attended for some weeks, I started reading a book on the art of writing. I can’t honestly recall the title of the book. I read it many times, and I felt that I should write, too. I could remember some poems I read which I found very herculean that I couldn’t grasp what they mean, then . One of those poems was “The Camel”. Have forgotten the name of the author. But down here comes some lines in the poem:

“Canary birds feed on sugar and seed,
Parrots have crackers to crunch,
But there’s never a question
About my digestion.

Lamps are enclosed in a place that’s hot.
Kittens slumber in pails.
But a poor camel dozes—
Any place does for me.”

So, with the help of Malama Hussaina Mallums, the then English Language H.O.D of my school, Government Science Secondary School, Gombe, and that book, things became bit easier, to me. And, I tried writing an essay on the effects of the incessant ASUU’s strike on the Nigerian students, presented it to her, and she helped edited the piece of which I didn’t share, online.

Writing Workshops and other Successes

Thereafter, I read many novels as hard as I could, like “My Headmaster”, and “Witnesses to Tears”, all written by a prolific Nigerian writer, Abubakar Imam. Then, after some time, I could sense some improvement in both my spoken and written English.

So, with time, Garko organized a writing workshop which I participated, and learnt a lot about writing, in 2020. And, besides that, I met creative minds like Muhammed Rabiu Jibrin (the association’s secretary), Hisham Saleh Gidado, Sulaiman Adamu Kumo, Maryam Maina, Ibrahim Maina, Muhammad Salim Yunusa, Alewa Jonathan, Abdulmalik Sahal Pantami, Bin Abubakar Bin Baz, Muhammad Mudathir, Abubakar Muhammad Usman, Hassan Kago, Sarah Daniel, Elsudanist, Sumayyah Almansoor and the rest.

And, later on, I was introduced to the Creative Club Gombe State University by the Gombe Jewel Writers’ Association, where I met the likes of Hassan Idris, Imrana Ibrahim, Abubakar Khaddabi, Sulaiman Umar Mailittafi, Hammad Puma, Samson Kefas Galadima, and Sarah.

Also, I was able to become a member of Hilltop Creative Arts Foundation, the best literary organization in Nigeria, and infact, Africa, at large. Befriended award winning writers in the association, like Oyeleye Temitope Mahmoodah, the 2021 winner of the Nigerian Prize for Teen Authors, Sunday Saheed, author of Rewrite the Stars, Abdulrazaq Salihu, 1st Runner Up in Prose and the overall winner in Poetry category of the 2022 Nigerian Prize for Teen Authors, Zakiyya Dzukogi, author of Carved, Mujahid Ameen Lilo, author of City of Smoke, Adepoju Isaih Gbenga, author of Alagemo, and many more to mention.

Publications, Achievements, and Awards

I have achieved, and still achieving a lot through writing. The best achievement is the impacts I have been making on the lives of people around me, and beyond. I can proudly say I have turned many young people into writers, who might have been something else in the society. I got publications in numerous reputable Nigerian dailies, national, and international literary websites, journals and magazines.

Some of them are: Applied Worldwide, Pike Press, Brittle Paper, Trouvaille Review, ILA Magazine, Ice Lolly Review, World Voices Magazine, Spill Words Press, Upwrite Magazine, Scratch Poetry Magazine, Arts Lounge, Nantygreens Magazine, The Beatnik Cowboy Magazine, OneBlackBoyLikeThat Review, Afreecan Read, Amulet Poetry Magazine, IMSPIRED Magazine, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, My Woven Poetry, The Pine Cone Review, Literary Yard, Calabar Poetry, Giallo Literary Magazine, Teen Lit Journal, Calabar Poetry, Daily Trust Newspaper, The Nation News Nigeria, The Guardian Newspaper, Independent Nigeria, Nigerian Tribune Newspaper, Opinion Nigeria, My Nigeria, Parrot Box, African Fingers, The Campus Watch, Today Post Nigeria, People’s Daily Newspaper and elsewhere.

Further Awards for Nigerian Writer Salim Yakubu Akko

I had been shortlisted for the 2021 Bill Ward Prize for Emerging Writers; represented GSSS Gombe for the annual Hadiza Ibrahim Aliyu Secondary Schools Festival (2021 HIASFEST), organized by Hilltop Creative Arts Foundation, which held at Niger state, Nigeria; participated in the 2020 Jewel Writing Workshop, and Jewel Peace Project. Also, I had been nominated as one of the four 2021 Northern Nigerian Literary Rising Stars of the Year.

Received gifts like books, support and many more from the founder of World Voices Magazine, same vein, the author of “Remembering Vietnam: 50 Years Later”, William Grosvenor Ward (Bill Ward). In 2021, I became a guest contributor at Applied Worldwide, and a Daily Companion Newspaper Columnist. In 2022, World Voices Magazine promoted me from contributor to its Nigerian Correspondent, sponsor my studies, and most of my expenses.

Best Advice for Aspiring Writers in Nigeria

“The best advice I have received in my writing journey was given to me by my mentor, Adamu Usman Garko. Garko said to me, “Salim, read, read and reread. Until then, you will never come up with a masterpiece. And, genuine growth comes through a number of rejections.” This advise stuck in me and has been playing wholesome roles in my daily life. My advice: Dear reader, it’s never too late to write. Dear writer, read voraciously, and you’ll attain a whirlwind growth in writing.”

Salim Yakubu Akko

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