Foreword of ‘Growing, Up North’

by Rudolph ‘Ruddapoet’ Adidi (TRCP)

In frame, Diyo reading Growing, Up North, as captured by Focus Kore

In a landscape of what is dominated now by writers, it often feels like the same language when a writer confronts his/ her feelings focusing on the tired themes that enrage either courage or passion to address the missing link of wisdom or strength, tranquillity or power. An inner calling to utter a voice that is surprisingly unique, at the same time familiar and pleasing. This is a theme solely based on recollection that feels satisfying, although some experiences are mind-blowing and what ultimately captivates the mind of the reader, it appreciates humanity ascending from creation to death.

Balpolam Idi’s book Growing, Up North acknowledges the good and even the evils of the world as necessary roadblocks on the path to enlightenment. A road made from culture & beliefs, love, spirituality and command of humility.

The book opens with a story of Muruci that summarizes into a line

“These memories, interlaced with the joy of eating the snack, have made me believe that each of us carries an entire generation within.”

Opening up with a powerful line of identity and a crisis people suffer from, ignorance. To remind her readers that oftentimes where you come from has something to do with a mistaken identity or culture. Names and labels take people on a different journey entirely, that is why Balpolam says

“I am a Jhar woman, who speaks the dhouri dialect, from Lim Duguri district of Alkaleri local government of Bauchi State, and No, I am not Hausa though I speak it fluently. It’s nice to meet you.”

Ballie at Abuja Book reading as captured by Focus Kore

A strong light here to reflect to her readers, I mean you should see my face while I read that line, I was captivated by that message coming from someone who was born and raised in the North.

From inception, we understand that Balpolam’s response to the world’s issues starts from the characters of people. Is there a reason why a person is in or not in your life? Her analogy of life is detailed in her very obscured experiences; stools, mat & kola, well, dance, skirt

Kujera -Stool

Some people are like stools in your life. They are a steady, unobtrusive presence, very supportive and available. They elevate you, ground you, hold you and make you comfortable

Taburma da Goro — Mat & Kola

Where there is a mat, there is usually a lot of love.

In her story, Laka — Mud, the themes of origins and love were gained through the eyes of her memoirs as a child. The imagery, as usual, is so vivid as it spoke of beginnings which she clearly said was a fundamental part of growing up. Fresh and inventive ways of surviving in Northern Nigeria as she details the story in the arms of where she comes from. The originality of her language brings some amazing understanding, I’m talking of zaure. The distinctive entity of the story is about where Balpolam Idi wants to go at the end of the day.

“Sometimes, we must be forced out of the comforts of our origin, and then made to see the need to move into the safety of our destination. It might feel foreign, strange, absurd, fraudulent even, but it is well deserved. And just because something else stands where another once did, does not obliterate the former”

She continues…

“The honesty and connection to one’s roots are so obvious, yet the poverty is palpable. I wonder if this is both a blessing and a curse.”

Ironically she digs deeper with her stories to reflect the essence it portrays in our daily lives, I cannot tell you how satisfying it feels to be able to find a certain connection to the writer as a reader. A poet, writer, or artist will understand what I mean here.

“I was born at home myself, not in my mother’s bid to show her bravery for she is already the bravest woman I know, but because I came fast and very suddenly that morning.”

It seems to me a clinch of such gratification as having been asked to pen this Foreward is to say something like “… surely and surely and over and over again, “ or “… in story after story.” And often as I think, these stories are for form more than what they actually tell us about the work. In Balpolam Idi’s work over and over again, story after story, I am dumbfounded and overwhelmed and marveled at once

“Stories are very important to me, especially because I happen to have inherited the storyteller talent from both sides. One thing all stories have is a beginning and an ending (storyteller)”

*

“spiders are so fragile and harmless, easily squashed and mostly defenseless. What harm could they possibly cause? (thought of a child)”

*

“There are trees that bear the names of lovers, friends, siblings or whatever, engraved on their trunks. (Tattoo)”

*

“Learn to accommodate individual differences, you’ll live longer. As a teacher, one of the key principles drilled into my head is, Individual differences should be accepted and used to teach. It is usually put this way to “give room for individual differences.”

Over and over again. In story after story.

Balpolam Idi’s work confronts what is debilitating, what is bizarre, what is most endearingly precious and gives it to us with absolute honesty. Whether her primary subject is family, love, politics, spirituality, or people, she does so with great mastery, such originality that on my first attempt to read it was a little difficult for me to forge ahead without taking some few notes of gems which I saw hanging on every corner of the page, learning some words in a new language. And while there are many from which to choose, these lines from the story Tuwon Shinkafa represent a prime example of a marriage between a new language and a page in Balpolam’s opinionated tongue

“Have you ever had tuwon shinkafa with good taushe or miyan zogale? Or with bushashen kuɓewa/kuka and man-shanu? If you have and you still hate it, I love you for being honest though I think you need to get your tongue checked out.”

Among her recurring images of fantasy and wars, there is an idea to point out a problem at home from her experience of suffering unrest in the places she grew up. To her, home is in the heart so a vivid description points to her pain which we all suffer as a country in Northern Nigeria and the country at large.

“It has grown into a ten-headed beast that spews Sulphur, fire, acid, and many other vile and torturous substances from its deciduous mouths.”

Balpolam knows the politics people suffer around her, perhaps the light is not always shone on the problem when it has to do with the people, there is a strive for a way forward with questions:

“For how long will we continue to tiptoe around it? How many more do we have to bury? How many more camps have to be made, to accommodate dignified people who are now traumatised and despised, sometimes just used for PR? How many more futures just made bleak? How many more homes, torn apart by grief? How many more farmers who’ll never return home? When will it end?”

It is not enough that she points to religion:

“Someone asked me if I believed in God, I told him I absolutely do. He said ‘why?’ I said, “I know Him.”

… she goes further to reiterate

“You have to learn curiosity and be honest to seek answers in the right places.”

… it is true about seeking wisdom so we be open and not smokescreens

“A lot of us are hiding. Behind the veils of our own creation.”

… the greatest commandment she believes and preaches about …

“Love who you are, it is scary to put yourself out of the veil, but sometimes, that is the only way you start living”

… and most generously she takes us in on some true experiences that have never been heard of before which is one of the many gifts of this book, she emphasizes themes like this

“Learn to love people on their terms — how they need to be loved. Not how you want to love them.”

Please, come in. Have yourself a seat. Stay awhile. Balpolam Idi has gifts enough for all of us. It will go round.

In frame, gorgeous Gloria Gundiri at Abuja Book Reading as captured by Focus Kore

This week, I’m giving many who have not had the opportunity to read my book, a glimpse at some inside story.😊😊 Thank you for reading the original foreword as written by The Red Cap Poet, Rudolph Ruddapoet Adidi before it was made concise. You can get your copy from anywhere in the world here. Thank you for supporting my writing journey so far🤗🤗🤗 Don’t forget to clap if you enjoyed it, and check out TRCP on all social media platforms… he’s one of my fave poets.

Love, Ballie💖

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