Dr Karima Sanni-Yerima:My husband and I love experimenting with food.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Karima Ahmed Sanni-Yerima

 Not every woman would be happy to leave the Governor‘s Lodge after eight years. But she was! ”I was looking forward to leaving the Government House because I wanted my normal life back,” she reminisces.

It was not the kind of life I really wanted – there was no time for myself, my husband and children. My focus was people-centered, but I knew my religion preaches that my husband and children should have a right over me.”

She is Dr. Karima Ahmed Sanni-Yerima and is married to the former governor of Zamfara State, Senator Ahmed Sanni Yerima.

Wondering what she now does after eight years of being the First Lady of Zamfara? A medical practitioner, she is currently studying for her master‘s degree in Public Health and she is back to medical practice.

I love my career and always wanted to practise,” she says. ”One of the reasons I looked forward to leaving the Government House was because I wanted my career back. I consulted and attended to some patients when I was the First Lady.

Medicine is a profession that needs dedication and not part-time because you are dealing with human beings. As First Lady, I was always in touch with my books and never left the career completely.

“In fact when my husband won the election in 1999, I was happy for him but I knew my career would be affected. You needed to have imagined my joy when we finally left the place.”

Though her husband is a serving senator, ask Dr. Karima why she allowed him join politics from the outset and she replies, ”He was a banker when I married him and later became a civil servant. Not that he wanted to be a politician, the people prevailed on him.

“They must have seen his dedication at work and his contributions to their welfare, so they pressurised him to seek political office. Despite the fact that I didn‘t like the idea, I could not help it but to also support him. The grass roots people put pressure on him and he finally succumbed to their wishes.”

Being the daughter of a politician too (her father is Senator Isah Anka), she knew there are some ‘disadvantages‘ in public office.

“I am a very private person and never wanted the limelight,” she offers. ”Immediately my husband won, I knew our lifestyle would change. I knew we would spend less time with ourselves. My husband is a very caring and humble person and we both had many things in common – we loved travelling, adventure and we loved experimenting with foods.

“We would go to high profile restaurants and we also went to mama-put joints. Before he became governor, whenever we were in Lagos, we would go to such joints and eat but some months after he assumed office, we went to Lagos and I reminded him about the mama-put and he agreed to go.

“Then, we thought he was just a few months in office and nobody recognised us but the security personnel refused us. They said we could not go to such places anymore.”

But that did not change her husband‘s nature, who is also the Prince of Bacura. ”He is a very gentle man, humble, generous, an ardent Muslim and acts in accordance with his religion. He is tremendously a good father, who plays with them, cracks jokes with them and eats with them,” she offers.

“There was a day my friend visited us in the Government House, Gusau, and he saw His Excellency running after his children and playing with them. She was surprised to see the governor doing that. I made her realise that he had always been like that.”

But everyone saw first ladies as superhuman beings! ”Ironically, when I was younger, I thought so too,” she confesses. ”Then, I would run to see the convoy passing with siren blaring. But when I got to the position myself, I knew there was nothing to it because power belongs to God. Even as First Lady, I had my friends, I still retained them and I was still who I am.”

Reminiscing on her childhood, Dr. Karima always dreamt of becoming a pharmacist. ”But my mother wanted me to study medicine, left to my father; he believed I could make my choice. I knew I would not be a lawyer because Islam does not permit a woman to be a judge.

“I am happy I chose medicine. My early years started in Sokoto, then there was no Zamfara State and I grew up in a monogamous home – just my parents and us.”

Despite her love for medicine, she will not forget the challenges she faces while she is on duty. ”So many women in the profession, even those married to fellow doctors, face certain challenges,” she explains. ”Though my husband is liberal, I remember the day he brought my crying baby to the hospital when I was on call and he asked me to come home because my baby was crying.

“Whenever he travelled, returned and didn’t see me at home, he would drive down to the hospital and stand at the entrance of wherever I was – theatre or consulting room – until I came out to meet him. Fortunately, I had helps in the house and I always make sure there is an elderly relative who oversees these house-helps.”

She has always dressed in alignment with Islamic injunction. ”I love dressing up but it has to be in accordance with what the Koran preaches,” she says. ”A woman should be decent in her outlook and should present herself to her husband alone. Elegance is allowed as long as it‘s in consonance with your religion.”

A woman who loves to cook, she says she cooks as many dishes as she admires, even as a governor‘s wife.

“I love cooking and I cook myself despite the presence of chefs in the Government House, I was still cooking for him,” she recalls about her husband. ”I love experimenting with foods, especially from other tribes. My husband‘s favourite dishes? He loves tuwo and groundnut soup, bean soup (gbegiri) tuwo gida and tuwo akama. For breakfast, he takes masa, Mei ‘n‘gada, he loves meat a lot and fish but lately, he does not take red meat.”

In Zamfara State, her husband‘s tenure saw the introduction of the Sharia law. According to her, Sharia is the best thing to happen to a woman. She proffers, ”Sharia is actually a way of life in accordance with the Koran and it touches every aspect of life. Sharia is beneficial to women, especially concerning inheritance.

"With Sharia, there is never a time that a woman should take care of herself alone – she must be under somebody‘s care and her inheritance is hers alone and not to be shared.

“There is no place in Sharia where the woman looks for food herself, it has to be her husband or father or any male member of the family. It has eased the burden of women and I support it.”

Still forging ahead with her project on women and children, she plans to introduce a scheme for the reduction of maternal and infant mortality.

“Already, the project on infant nutrition is on suspension because I am currently writing my thesis and I have been busy. But by the time I am through with my studies, I would definitely continue and also campaign for a reduction in maternal mortality rate because it is prevalent in the north,” she says.

Source: http://www.punchng.com/

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