Zaria is a city in Kaduna state, Northern Nigeria. It was first known as Zazzau, the capital of Hausa state.
Zaria is home to the largest university in Nigeria and the second largest in Africa, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. It houses the only institution that trains pilots in the federation, National College of Aviation Technology. It is also home to the nation’s biggest chemical institute that produced a pesticide to prevent “Tomato Ebola“, National Research Institute of Chemical Technology, and the only barracks where recruit soldiers are being trained, Chindit Cantonment.
The inhabitants are majorly Hausa/Fulani. The predominant languages are Hausa and English. The occupation of the inhabitants are mostly businessmen, farmers and public servants.
The cost of living in Zaria is quite affordable. They have a number of health centers and hospitals. There are many schools; most of which are privately owned. There are several worship centers; mosques and churches, everywhere you go.
The local delicacies in Zaria include: tuwon shinkafa with miyan taushe or miyan kuka, wara, kilishi, danbun nama, alkubus, alkaki, dublan, punkasau, waina and the likes. We in GCB, particularly love Waina.
Every great vision deserves a prolonged incubation period. It is often said that the longer and more intense your preparation gets, the greater the success story that emerges. This is the unique feature with the town of Zaria. You get to partake in the joy of little beginnings. This is why most global phenomena have an affiliation with Zaria, or the North in general. With the affordable cost of living, you realize you get to live comfortably even with no consistent earnings.
The people are highly religious, have a sense of camaraderie and are easily trusting. In Zaria and probably in the North generally, your business is everyone’s business. The sense of communal living is first an advantage. You are largely accountable to a friend, family or loved one somehow. Accountability often includes being financially secure, basic needs assured and the rest. It is also easy to find someone to confide in, and relay personal experiences to; as most people would gladly listen, even if they are unable to proffer solutions.
Prayer times in Zaria are extremely prioritized, both predominant religions (Christianity and Islam). Putting God and His desires first is one of the reasons for the relative peace in the town. Everything happens for a reason; and if God permits it, who are they to disprove? This is the predominant mindset.
Zaria inhabitants are very conservative. It is common finding to see academics in a simple three or four bedroom flats with their families; and very simple cars. You will find multi millionaires in simple attires, self contained apartments. There are so many who take on periodic vacations out of Nigeria, and it is hardly seen as an achievement or giant stride. It is also hardly publicized. I find this quite intriguing and also an advantage. You get to hardly judge a book its cover this way.
It is easy to find the people of Zaria take no pleasure in exploring places and in traveling because of the conservative nature. They are easily comfortable with what they have and content. You find many of its inhabitants who haven’t gone beyond Kaduna state and with no pressure to.
The young men in Zaria are tall, dark and handsome; and the girls are well behaved and homely…largely. Most of the educated ones have a commendable good command of English language. They are also passionate about education, especially if they grew up around the University environment.
Ahmadu Bello University is a dream come true to many of them; and also the end goal. The aspiration is usually to study as far as it is permissible within the Zaria environment. Those who aspire for more, leave the country and study further. But it is common to still have them return home to Zaria with their accomplishments. You hardly see people born and bred in Zaria, comfortably living outside of it for the rest of their lives.
There is an extremely high tendency to want to remain incubated for the rest of your life in Zaria. Preparation is a process that has an end. Even though preparation never exactly ends, manifestation is required. Unfortunately, it gets easy to be carried away with preparation for a great future, that all your plans never get implemented. Sometimes, when certain people get to leave the town, either for exposure sake or to begin a new phase of life, it could be interpreted people that they aborted destiny or a glorious future due to “premature exposure”.
Little beginnings, although unintended can become little beginnings forever. Very often in Zaria, you converse with intelligent individuals who have potentials, and you just know, potentials might be all they ever would have in a long time. The exact system to translate potentials to rewardable skill is not thoroughly taught. You can get motivated in Zaria, inspired to be great; but the nitty gritty on how to go about it remains a mystery.
I have greatly wondered why many inhabitants of Zaria folks; upon leaving the town into a less conservative environment, hardly uphold the values of religion as much as they used to, while in the town. I think, it is because the power of choice is taken away from them while in Zaria, subtly and maybe unconsciously.
A typical scenario could be being born into a religious background, where you have to worship at a religious center because of parental or peer influence. You are hardly taught its purpose and relevance. So, when you get to leave Zaria, questions begin to flood your mind. Is drinking really wrong? Is it expressly written in Scripture? What really is the definition of indecent dressing? Who defines moral conduct?
Now, the shield of religion has been taken away, and you get to actually think. The effect of this phase is often more disastrous than intended. I believe it can be solved periodic exposures and permitting men to think; as opposed to just dishing out instructions to them. The power of choice and reasoning should not be taken away.
The communal living in Zaria can also be a great disadvantage. It affords people the opportunity to easily become stakeholders of your life, with minimal positive contribution. You are an average of the dominant voices you consistently listen to. If the people you permit into your life haven’t been trusted and proven, you might just be headed towards destruction and confusion.
Also, there is a huge tendency to be without business initiative in Zaria; especially among the women. This means, you hardly know when to take action and be proactive. This is a major reason, in my opinion why businesses fail in Zaria. The businesses that spring out are always a reaction to something. The problems they decide to solve have to become very glaring before they take action. The ability to take precautions and business initiatives are grossly lacking. The inability to recognize potentials and build them is also a disadvantage.
Still on this, you hardly find notable leaders and pioneers of sustainable global movements stay in Zaria. They may comfortably begin in Zaria, but it almost always transits and transcends the town.
Zaria is a town that slowly evolves and adapts to change. The lives of the inhabitants are sparsely punctuated with social and recreational activities, as there are very few recreational centres around. Although the advantage is, it preserves most of its ideal values; it could also be the reason why growth and development isn’t yet commonplace in it. With the growing need for exposure and enlightenment, the conservative nature of the town prevents it from solving this need, amongst many other things.
Zaria is home to many of us but it could be so much better. And it begins with the people in it. Zaria is a reflection of us. We want it to get better? We become better. I have faith in us; we believe in Zaria.
What is the most intriguing fact about Zaria you’ve read or come across? Do share with us.
Happy New Month!
WRITTEN AND COMPILED BY:
GRACE CHRISTOS AND HADIZA YUSUF