Sabirah is one of my faves. I’ve known her for almost 17 years and I’ve watched her retain her kindness and softness through life. She’s creative and a refreshing presence in my world. As usual, quotes from me are in italics. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
1. What does your name mean to you?
My name means so much to me. My name means patience and it has almost been a self fulfilling prophecy. I love the way it sounds, looks and I really believe it was the best choice for me.
2. What’s your favorite childhood memory(ies)?
I loved school, but my mum had days, random days when she would let me shower and eat breakfas,t and just announce “no school”. It was always an expected surprise, and we’d spend the whole day together. They were often rainy days and sometimes we’d just take a drive in the rain. I loved it.
3. What is the unique thing about growing up female and Nigerian?
Ah. This one’s a toughie, there are so many layers to being Female in Nigeria. I consider myself lucky because my parents never really enforced rigid gender roles and always supported and encouraged me. But now, as an adult, I know that
a) My upbringing was different from most;
b) It is a constant battle to be female here.
From everyday micro-aggressions (those little things one is asked to shrug off, that “mean nothing”, but of course embed themselves into our psyches, like being told you can’t lead because you’re a woman.) to the outright violence against our bodies, minds and voices. It is hard. I’ve come to understand that living, thriving and succeeding through all of this, on my own terms, is an act of revolution in itself.
4. How have you tackled any of these unique challenges?
With my voice, through sisterhood and changing and teaching who I can. I’m trying to be the person I needed when I was younger, so if I can help just one girl/woman navigate this all, then I’ve done a lot. I also speak to adults who will listen, and men who are interested. So yeah, I mostly use my voice.
I think we underestimate the power of our voices and the power of conversations and questions.
5. What do you do professionally at the moment and why do you do it?
Right now I work in Education. I really believe in the power of education to change our nation and this continent. My job involves providing high quality education to low income families and communities. I love it, I’m so proud to be doing something I believe in.
Very proud of you, Sab, for chasing your dreams.
6. What was your trajectory? How did you get to this point?
I studied psychology in college and in my senior year, I worked at a center that was trying to get people who otherwise would not have the opportunity to university to attend. That’s where I began to really see the power education could have. After that I worked at an underserved government school and two private schools (all as a teacher). One of the schools I worked at was a very affluent private school, there I really grew and gained skills that greatly serve my current role. I love that. I’m pleased with where I’m at and excited about where I’m going.
7. What are you passionate about? (cringe)
People. I truly believe in the goodness of people. I believe everyone deserves a chance, that we all deserve grace and to know and believe we are loved. I love many many things, but at the heart of it I’m passionate about people.
8. What are three lessons you’ve learned in the past year?
That I am waaaay stronger than I’ve given myself credit for in the past.
LOL, I asked for three but I’ll take this.
9. Are you happy at the moment? What can you do to be happier?
I’m really happy at the moment. Life is looking better and I am thankful. I feel loved and supported and truly blessed, no hash tag, lol!
10. Who inspires you? Why?
Who inspires me? Hmmm, any woman who is living on her own terms really. Young or old, anyone who is pursing their creativity, who is really trying to live the life she wants. My mother, my friends, my superiors at work. Yup. When I see women flourishing, I think yes, I can do it too.
11. What are you reading at the moment?
Emails. LOL, no books sadly.
12. What would you say to the teenage you?
It’s okay, don’t be afraid, you can do it, speak up. They don’t have to like you.
13. What would you like your future self to remember/ keep about this season of your life?
You got through it all, you are loved. This season was hard but you did it. And you can do it again. Push yourself creatively always and don’t let the world harden you. I love you.