It was of great pleasure to me when I met Lydia and Malvin to discuss Taruwa and I was asked to be a contributor. I of course said yes and begun a battle with my mind on what my corner should be about. I am an eco-journalist. In the past year, I have communicated various development issues but with special focus on climate change and the environment. I knew I wanted to write something along this line but this is TARUWA, how would I manage to tell monthly environmental stories on a magazine that talks about Culture, without getting my audience bored. I figured I should bring together our culture, climate, environment and sustainable leaving.
Taruwa means the ‘gathering’ in Hausa. I also figured I should stick to the name of my radio show Green Angle. We would monthly have fun in the moonlight, telling tales of how our environment used to be, how we can make little local changes to make global impact and save our only planet. Welcome to Green Angle, a Taruwa of environmental conscious friends and lovers of culture.
I would start by telling about my 1st experience visiting the Emirate in Kano State. I had gone to Kano along side the president of Fight Against Desert Encroachment in Africa, Dr Newton Jibunoh and other staff members. The Emir, Alhaji Ado Bayero is the Board chairman of FADE .The visit is in preparation for the World environment day, June 5,2011. I had gone to see the people of the desert, who have over the years lost their livelihood to the ever advancing desert, turning their homes and farm lands to sand dunes. I had gone to speak with these locals, to hear and tell their stories the best way I can. Fade works to fight desertification and is behind the several Expeditons across the Sahara. Dr. Newton Jibunoh. Nigerian soil scientist and Engineer who has crossed the Sahara Desert on solitary expeditions 3 times at ages 27, 62 and 70 and is preparing for a forth expedition. Wondering who sent him and what he is looking for? His experiences from the expeditions has inspired a life project to bring attention to the expanding Sahara Desert and the shrinking lakes of Africa as a result of climate change. Story for another day.
Anyway, this day, I wake up early, had my prayers, toke my bath and got dressed in a simple chiffon top and jeans. Then Mobola, a FADE staff comes back into the room to say 'Fatima says we can't dress like that to the palace'. I am mortified, not just because this is the only clothing that did not need ironing, since the PHCN probably doesn’t deliver power to kano, but because I did not come with any long gown or skirt that was fit. I forgot to ask for a dress code before leaving Abuja...my bad. I tried on a short gown on a jean, strike a pose before Fatima and she goes.....'that won't work'. I practically turn my well arranged box upside down trying to find an outfit Palace worthy. Palace worthy means I must respect the culture of the land and beliefs of the Islamic religion. A woman must be properly covered.
Losing hope of my dream of entering the great palace of the Emir of Kano today, my eyes hit a perfect long satin dress with short but huge sleeves. Hmmmm' thats my palace worthy dress.' I put it on, with a skinny jean and added a black bold belt, to create a perfect outfit, then head to the Fashion Police Chair, Fatima and strike ma best pose. She says, 'good, good, good'. I smile and say, 'My night wear to the rescue'. Fatima laughs and says 'who cares'. And I reply, 'Who knows'. (this night wear could have been designed as an evening wear).
Ready for the palace, de set out on our mission. At the palace, I kept screaming out my signature greeting “Asalamalekun”, “Peace of Allah be upon you” one of the few words I have learnt all these years in Abuja
Entering the palace, I noticed it was a culture of cleanliness. The spaces were neatly kept and there were trees all around to sink the carbon. If everyone in Kano had followed the footsteps of the emirate in keeping their surrounding clean, planting and nurturing their trees, the desert would not have become this dangerous. The desert people would still have their homes and farmland intact. The trees would have been wind breakers.
Staying in harmony with nature has always been our culture. What happened to us? Why did we embrace the lie that development must be a fight against nature. It’s not yet late to do something. We can develop sustainably. The best time to plant a tree was 20years ago. The 2nd best time is now.
Even though we kept getting glances as we walked in and out of the palace, I knew no one IDied my night wear. Who cares any way. I am just glad I was palace ready and on a quest to fight desertification, climate change and ultimately save our planet. We can tame the forest, one tree at a time. Let your culture and way of life reflect your love and appreciation of our environment. Today, culture met fashion and my passion.