PERSONALITY OF THE MONTH
In today’s edition of PW Personality of the Month, it’s our utmost pleasure to present to you one of the young geniuses of northern Nigeria. A poet and social commentator, veterinary surgeon and university academic. DR MARZUQ ABUBAKAR UNGOGO speaks to Poetic Wednesday about himself, writing and other things.
PW: Please kindly tell us about yourself
I am Marzuq Abubakar Ungogo, also bearing the names Muhammadu and Mamman in family and friends’ circle. I am 27 year-old academic, veterinary doctor, farmer and writer from Kano state. I hold Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and MSc Clinical Pharmacology degrees from A.B.U. Zaria and University of Glasgow respectively. I currently work as university lecturer II and clinician in A.B.U. Zaria where I double as a PhD candidate.
PW: How did you start poetry?
I grew up reading everything that comes my way including newspaper pieces used to wrap local snacks while in primary school. My dad, being a graduate of English has a study filled with poetry, prose and drama collections and other books. I started reading his books from very early age since when I couldn’t understand anything about them. With time i read almost all the books in the study excluding the poetry books. Because I was never taught literature in a class, I grew up with the perception that poetry is too tough and unworthy of my time. But having exhausted all options of what to read, I started reading the poetry books out of necessity. I gradually fell in love and after exhausting all there is to read within my reach, I started writing what to read. And poetry being quite flexible immediately fits into my fantasies.
PW: What personal (or otherwise) purpose does poetry serve you?
It allows me to be whatever I want to be. It also allows me be in different places and play multiple roles that I may not possibly combine in real life. It gives me a voice to talk to myself and communicate with others. With its unique features like brevity and poetic license, I found a platform where I can comfortably imagine, express, rebel, assert and dream almost the way I want.
PW: When you choose to write a book one day, what would it about?
Certainly a collection of poems. I also have been working on a novel too trying to paint some unwritten faces of Northern Nigerian life.
PW: Can you describe your fundamental philosophy of life?
Holistic approach to all issues -looking at it from several angles and appreciating the bigger picture.
PW: What are your thoughts about Poetic Wednesday?
When it actually started, I wasn’t at all excited about being part because I felt I couldn’t religiously write on selected themes every Wednesday. My subsequent encounter with the founder taught me that it’s much more about passion and using it towards several good causes for the society. As part of the current team, I believe the big dreams of using PW as a tool for promotion of literature and literacy across the North and Nigeria in general will soon come true.
PW: Do you think young northern budding writers face some challenges or have some shortcomings?
The challenges are more or less related to the relative disadvantage we have in education generally. Our perception on modern education is playing a big role too. I believe strongly that we are making giant strides and it’s the duty upon those who have gone far to mentor as many as possible.
PW: Gender issue now trends across the globe and Africa in particular, how do you see the idea of feminism?
While there are several versions of feminism, I ascribe to the one that ensures equity among all. As biological beings, there are certain peculiarities that can never be equalized just the way judging oranges and apples using single index sounds ridiculous. I also observe how many of our African feminists tend to ignore our cultural and sociological realities as well as specific needs of our women. They often exaggerate issues regarding women without appreciating to the somewhat hidden benefits our women enjoy from our traditional sociological set up. Without the weird tendencies of some feminists at reducing women to level of competition with men, I think all reasonable members of our society should join hands in ensuring women have rights and liberties to allow them be and achieve as high as they can aspire. We are incurring so much economic losses because a considerable proportion of our female population are hindered.
PW: What 3 books you think have the greatest influence in your life?
Tariq Ramadan’s Quest for Meaning;
Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows and
Deliverance from Error by Ahmad Al-Ghazali
PW: Three Facebook friends you find amazing and why?
Ibraheem A. Waziri because he’s not only highly versed, but humble, less eager to judge and has this holistic approach to viewing and judging issues.
Adamu Tilde because he’s one person I share so many things with in common- same age, educational status, approach to issues. Communicating with Adamu is quite easy to me, because he can easily put himself in my shoes and vice versa.
Dr Ibrahim Musa, because of excellent grasp of strategy, international politics and diplomacy. I have always admired that.
PW: How to you describe your growing up?
I can’t think my growing up is unique. But looking back what I am nostalgic about are our sentiments and conceptions. It’s interesting realizing how our understanding of people and ideas metamorphose and how some childhood assumptions turn out to be totally out of place.
PW: Favorite childhood experience?
Moments spent with grandparents.
PW: Aspirations as a child?
I have always wanted to be a doctor.
PW: Most cherished gift and why?
My intellectual ability, I always thank Allah for that. Although it can be a bit troubling, I’m often glad I can connect the dots. It’s great to know that you have a gift no one can take away (expect the Giver, if He so wishes). I also value my resilience.
PW: What’s the best attribute you admire in people?
Sincerity. I love sincerity.
PW: Role model?
Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
PW: Last book read or reading?
Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday.
PW: Favorite food
PW: Parent’s treasure that keeps you going?
Their belief in my abilities. They never doubted my aspirations.
PW: Favourite day of the week
PW: When free, what do you do?
Read, write or think. I also cherish spending time with my family.
PW: Favorite sport or TV show?
PW: Favourite musician/artist?
Nura M. Inuwa.
PW: Favourite PW poet and why?
Maryam Gatawa. She has her way with words.
PW: PW crush?
None for now.
PW: If you are to take a 12 hour walk with any PW member, into a desert, without phone and internet, who would that be?
Give me Maryam Gatawa or Naseeba Babale and we will spend 120 hours there.
PW: What is one surprising thing about you only few know?
I am farmer too.
PW: Most annoying experience, something you don’t want to remember?
I don’t want to remember it. (Laughs)
PW: How do you think writers can contribute to national and societal developments?
By making more efforts to better understand ideas, history, trends, possibilities and consequences of whatever they want to write on. That will make their opinion informed ones and save a lot of their readers misguidance. Writers should know that they often don’t know the extent of the influence they exert. They should they are partly responsible for so many things without knowing.
PW: Final advice to young writers?
Read more. Write more. Be open to criticisms. Challenge your limits. Strive for excellence, set the bar high for yourself and always believe that anything you write can be improved.