In 1975, Alhajiya Maimunatu Abdullahi, a.k.a. Dadasare Abdullahi completed her autobiography which she hoped to publish as soon as possible for the world to know about her shocking story and how she rose above the odds to become one of the most significant lady contributors in Northern Nigeria.
Unfortunately, her dream could not be made a reality during the time that she lived, however, 35 years after her death and 44 years after the completion of her autobiography, her dream has been made a reality and her book It Can Now Be Told has been published.
The book recounts the chilling account of how Maimunatu, a Fulani lady born in 1918 lived a considerably normal life in her home, present-day Adamawa State in North Eastern Nigeria until she was 11 years old.
In 1929, Maimunatu was abducted from her home and gifted to a British colonel who kept her as a sex slave for several years. During her stay with the British colonel, Maimunatu was constantly raped and made to indulge in horrific sexual acts to please her white master. Although slavery had long been abolished, Maimunatu was a victim of modern day slavery and could not be rescued due to the fact that the country was under the rule of the British and she was under the roof of a prominent colonel.
She was later abandoned by the British colonel who left Nigeria to settle back home in England after years of staying in the country which was soon going to be independent. During her time alone, she developed a great interest in reading and writing and self-trained herself until she met Dr Rupert Moultrie East who is celebrated as the father of modern Hausa literature and founder of the Gaskiya Corporation.
During their time as friends, the two became lovers which displeased several colonels and British of high power in Nigeria. Since 1909, interracial relationships had increased in number and become an issue for the British government, however, following a failed attempt in 1914 by Lord Lugard to issue a law banning sexual relationships, nothing could be done about it.
Although their relationship was greatly shunned, Maimunatu who had become known as Dadasare accompanied Rupert Moultrie East to every social event and later lived with him.
It was during this time that Maimunatu trained to become a journalist and became the first female journalist and writer in northern Nigeria. She also trained to become a nurse offering her help to women who were sick or pregnant.
Alhajiya went on to form and lead a woman’s organisation in northern Nigeria which empowered women to learn a trade and support themselves although she was threatened by several male leaders to stop. She persisted until her very last days.
In 1970, she was honoured with the prestigious Member of the Order of the Niger by the Gowon administration and is also noted as a recording music artist.
Alhajiya Maimunatu Abdullahi’s contribution to the development of northern Nigeria has been downplayed for several years due to her interaction with white men and the fact that she was a woman. With the release of her book, which gives a closer insight into her life including her struggles with religion and self-esteem, she can be duly added to the front row of history and well celebrated.