“Don’t write with the intention of making money” – Zahraddeen I. Kallah

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series WednesdayWritersWorld S01

Last Updated on November 13, 2019 by Memorila

Zahraddeen Ibrahim Kallah says that “the best way for a writer to benefit from his work is to write a very good work that can sell itself.” He is the current ANA Kano chairman and author of four published books. #WednesdayWritersWorld

“Write with passion not with the intention of making money,” says Zaharaddeen Ibrahim Kallah, an assistant registrar at Bayero University, Kano. In this interview, he took us down memory lane from his early tutelage, his tenure as the current chair of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Kano branch, the debacle of 2019 ANA Enugu Convention and he feels the reading culture can be salvaged. Enjoy!

You are on Memorila’s #WednesdayWritersWorld. May we meet you?

My name is Zaharaddeen Ibrahim Kallah, a bilingual writer in Hausa and English. I’m the Chairman of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Kano State Branch and works with the Registry, Bayero University, Kano.

Zaharaddeen is an-award winning writer of the 2004 Poetry Contest organized by the Nigerian/Belgium organization www.nigerians.biz, 1997 Hausa Writers’ Contest organized by the Mazari Publications and the second runner in the 2010 Poetry Contest organized by the Kano State Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission. Very recently, my Hausa manuscript “Murucin Kan Dutse” emerged as the first runner in 2019 Gusau Institute Competition.

“Don’t write with the intention of making money” – Zahraddeen I. Kallah - #WednesdayWritersWorld
“Don’t write with the intention of making money” – Zahraddeen I. Kallah – #WednesdayWritersWorld

Why do you write?

I started writing out of my interest and passion for stories. I take writing as an art of transmitting culture and information from one generation to another. In other word, it is an avenue of saying what is right or wrong. I therefore write to educate and at the same time entertain my reader.

Where and when did you cut your writing teeth?

When I was in primary one and two, I enjoyed reading and listening to stories. When I was in primary six, I have read a number of books that inspired me to start thinking of having my own book. I started putting my thoughts and ideas on papers when I was in secondary schools. But at that time I didn’t take it serious until 1995 when I finished secondary school. While waiting for SSCE result, I completed my first Hausa manuscript Lokaci Bako Ne.

What is your best writing genre?

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I write prose and poetry, but I have to say prose is my best genre. I started with it before realizing the taste of poetry. It gives me opportunity to express myself so much that I will be convinced all my readers were carried alone.

How many published works do you have and where can they be accessed?

I have four published books, Sadauki Mai Duniya (Hausa Novel), After a Long Silence (Poetry), The Right Choice (Novel) and Karkon Dabino, a Hausa novella co-authored with Danazimi Baba Chediyar ‘Yan Gurasa. I co-edited an anthology of short stories Telling Our Stories published by ANA Kano.

My works have been featured in anthologies, Five Hundred Nigerian Poets by Aboki Publishers, Mazan Fara an anthology of ANA Zamfara, Crumbled Spell an anthology of ANA Kano, Voices from the Savannah an anthology of National Association of Students of English Language and Literary Studies, Bayero University, Kano and Kwaryar Kira an anthology of ANA Kano, and Capital: A poetry Anthology by Bloomsbury.

Apart from writing, what other profession would you have chosen?

I’m currently a civil servant with Bayero University, Kano. Maybe I will say business, because I was brought up in a business house.

How will you qualify your reign as ANA Kano chairman? Are their ups and downs?

This question would best be answered by other members of the Association. Alhamdulillah, we have introduced programmes that bring young people to join the Association and enjoy the taste of literature. For any organization to excel, there is need for young people who are energetic and passionate, to join. That is the best way to have continuity. Kano Literary Week came up with packages of activities such as Reading Through Role Model, School Literary Quiz, Writers Talk, Writers Parley, Special Reading and Book Exhibition. All these programmes have recorded great successes.

Zaharaddeen making remarks during ANA Kano 2018 Literary Week
Zaharaddeen making remarks during ANA Kano 2018 Literary Week

For instance, in Reading Through Role Model we had great personalities such as His Highness, Muhammad Sanusi II (Emir of Kano) and Alh. Bashir Othman Tofa to read a book to children. We also invited people from various professions such as medical doctors, artists, writers and scholars to read for young people. These would really motivate them to emulate these great personalities. In the same vein, we have reached out to secondary schools for training and workshop on creative writing. ANA Kano in collaboration with CITAD organized workshop for fifteen secondary schools in Kano. After the workshop, our members went round the schools to attend their creative writing workshops.

The best way for a writer to benefit from his work is to write a very good work that can sell itself. If that is done, the writer can promote his work himself, through social media and linking up with schools and bookstores.

In our Writers Parley Programme, apart from renowned writers we gave opportunity for online writers who are seeking for readers to interact with them. We realized the important of doing that because everything is going online. It’s a transition period between old ways of marketing and promoting books and the new ones. We have to create balance between the two so as to achieve our aims.

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How did the recent ANA Enugu Convention wound up? Are there take-aways from the event?

The convention is known as a platform where writers from different parts of the country and beyond meet to share ideas and create more networks among themselves. Enugu convention was not an exception, especially being an election year. Writers and all the relevant stakeholders were there in the Coal City. But, there were serious irregularities that forced the suspension of elections of the new Executive. It was unfortunate that elections were not held as planned. At the moment, the Electoral Committee was mandated to rectify the problem and announce where and when elections would hold in the next 180 days.

How would you want to be remembered after handing over the baton to the next executive of ANA Kano?

I would like to be remembered as someone who has set the ball rolling. I would like to leave legacies of activities that will continue to prosper, so that more young people would be discovered and published.

In the next ten years, what do you think will become of writers and writing profession in our climes?

The change coming is so glaring to notice. We are currently in transition period of olden method of publishing and marketing books and the advent of new technology. We are moving away from selling hardcopies of our works to e-copies on internet. Though hardcopy would still remain relevant, but marketing of books will rely majorly on modern technology. Reading and promotion campaign will largely depend on internet.

How can reading culture be encouraged?

It needs serious campaign from all stakeholders concerned. Over the years in ANA Kano, we have been organizing literary quiz for students. We distributed free books to some selected schools and asked their teachers to prepare the students for the competition. We were very amazed during the literary competitions, because it shows that the students have read the books very well. This is the kind of programme that can be encouraged and promoted by governments and non-governmental organization. The national body of ANA benefit annually from Yusuf Ali SAN who endowed a grant of three million naira for campaign on reading culture. If this can be adopted by other bodies it will really promote reading culture.

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There is also a need for media houses of all kind to be part of this campaign. If you can turn on a radio station or you pick a paper and come across something reminding you the importance of reading culture, I think it will work well.

Who are your role models?

I have writers such as Sidney Sheldon and Abubakar Imam.

Among contemporaries, which writer(s) influences you most?

I like the writing of Bala Anas Babinlata. His books are among the works that influenced me.

Zaharaddeen Kallah at Emir of Kano's palace
Zaharaddeen Kallah at Emir of Kano’s palace

What is your fondest moment as a writer?

I have won literary prizes locally and internationally. This gave me pleasure just like every writer. But when I come across people that read my works making references from them, I become overjoyed.

What is the hardest challenge you have ever faced as a writer?

The hardest challenge is to get my books published. At the time I started writing, it was difficult to publish your works. In Northern Nigeria, the popular publishing outlet ceased to publish new writers. Those that established small publishing outlet collect writers’ manuscripts and published them, without getting back to them to enjoy the royalty of their labour. I refused to give my manuscripts for this exploitation. I kept my manuscripts for years. To me, this is the hardest challenge.

If you were to address first time writers who want to master the art of writing, what will be your advice?

They should write with passion not with the intention of making money. The first priority shouldn’t be money. They should read other writers’ works to help them perfect their own writings.

How can one benefit, financially and otherwise, from writing?

The best way for a writer to benefit from his work is to write a very good work that can sell itself. If that is done, the writer can promote his work himself, through social media and linking up with schools and bookstores. They can employ the service of consultants and marketers on the best way to benefit from the fruits of their works.

Which five fictional and/or non-fictional books have impacted you most?

I have the following books:

  1. Kulu by Bala Anas Babinlata
  2. Karshen Alewa Kasa by Bature Gagare
  3. Let Truth Be Told by D.J.M Muffett
  4. Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less by Jeffrey Archer
  5. Memories of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon

Thank you for your time.

Thank you too.


Series Navigation<< ‘If I don’t write, I run mad’ – Femi Morgan | #WednesdayWritersWorld‘First time writers should be ready to be cheated’ – Umar Abdul >>

Faruk Ahmed

Faruk Ahmed is the founder of Memorila.com. Having previously worked with National Review magazine, he is a keen watcher of political events.

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