The inspiring story of Dr. Rabia Salihu Sa’id

July 27, 2013
2 mins read

LAST Saturday I was back in Kano, to attend the Convocation Ceremony of the Bayero University; with the special interest of felicitating with Rabia SalihuSa’id, who was awarded the Ph.D in Physics. Rabia is my friend and a mother of six children and also a grandmother. Apart from her job as lecturer in the Physics Department at BUK, Rabia is also Deputy Dean of Student Affairs (Female), at the university.

This extraordinary woman of rare courage is an individual of many parts and a poster child for the progress available to women in Northern Nigeria, when they muster the courage to break the yoke of oppressive traditions and chauvinism that are very strong in our society.

That Rabia has graduated as a scientist, is a feat that should be held up for emulation by women in Northern Nigeria; by our society at large; by husbands who marry their wives very early and by parents who give out these children and so deprive half of our society the opportunity to discover and actualise potential that can be contributed to the struggle against underdevelopment.

I write these lines as a parent of four daughters, who are very precocious; have a variety of interests from ballet; swimming; fashion design through to discovering the beauty of our world, while not neglecting their Western and Islamic education!

Rabia got married soon after secondary education and therefore faced the challenge of attempting to balance her life as wife and mother with a burning desire for higher education. When she returned to university in 1990, she had been married for seven years and had three children, aged 6, 4 and 2 respectively.

The first child, a boy, was born with a physical congenital defect; he had a club foot which needed orthopedic procedures to correct and this was as Rabia was completing her university foundation programme. She had another child while studying for her undergraduate in 1992 and that baby was born with the sickle cell disease. The frequent crises and hospitalisation took a toll on her life but she was determined to succeed.

In all, she went to earn a bachelor’s degree; two masters of science degrees and last Saturday, a doctorate in Physics. In the lead to that, she has studied and researched in some of the leading scientific institutions in the world.

A pamphlet published to commemorate her degree, said of her story, that it was told: “to young girls in northern Nigeria who were married off early and now wish to return to school, that they can do it. The capacity to succeed lies in their determination to pursue their dreams. If I can do it, then they can”.

Speaking further on her intentions for the future, Dr. Rabia said she has “a desire to attain a decision-making position in my community. I would like to be in a position to influence policies that have direct bearing on the attitudes of youth, particularly females to acquisition of knowledge, education and higher studies”. She is also interested in environmental issues; empowerment as regards women’s reproductive health; energy issues and green technology.

That cocktail of ambitions clearly underscores the confidence which education gives. We will certainly hear a lot more about this courageous woman into the future. She is an inspiring example of what is possible for women in our society, but especially in Northern Nigeria. Congratulations Dr. Rabia Salihu Sa’id!

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