WHO SAYS A GIRL CAN’T BECOME ANYTHING SHE WANTS?

Semicolon Africa
3 min readAug 28, 2023

Hadiza Asabe Umar grew up in a polygamous family in Maiduguri, Bornu State, where girls were betrothed to men at a young age and married off to become full-time housewives. Even though that was her reality, Hadiza always had an eye for education. Though fortunate to have parents who funded her education up until secondary school, Hadiza wanted more.

To escape being married off, Hadiza ensured that she moved to another state with the hope of furthering her education. Things seemed to be going as planned when she was admitted to study Computer Engineering at a Polytechnic in Kaduna State. However, with no one to pay her fees after her first year, she was forced to drop out.

Desperate for survival and change, someone advised her to move to Lagos. Being an optimist, she knew being in Lagos might offer her the opportunity to work and study. Upon moving to Lagos, Hadiza got a contract job with Nivea as a Merchandiser and was also admitted to Yaba College of Technology to study Computer Engineering.

An Opportunity for More…

While commuting on a BRT bus one day, she snapped at someone who she felt was trying to make a pass at her. Surprisingly, he was simply concerned about her, inquiring about what she was doing and how she could take her education to the next level.

Knowing about Hadiza’s interest in tech and the transformations at Semicolon, he convinced her to give it a try. However, after attending an info session where she heard the fee, she completely ruled out the option. Relentless, he showed her the different multi-currency bank cards he had from working as a Software Engineer. He also made her realize she could learn in one year what took him six years to grasp. Convinced, she applied and joined the next cohort.

Just a few months into the Semicolon program, Hadiza had learned more about tech than she had learned over the course of two years in her tertiary institution. She recalled how during her tertiary school days, she had embarrassingly misunderstood a reference to the programming language Python, believing that the speaker was referencing the snake.

With time, and with the help of the Semicolon community, Hadiza began to get a hang of it. Classes became more interesting to her, and she found herself teaching others within and outside her cohort.

Semicolon has offered Hadiza knowledge, skills and a community. Now, there is nothing that drives her passion more than teaching others and helping other girls who have a similar background to hers. To Hadiza, tech isn’t just about money; it’s about value.

Hadiza is now one of the bright facilitators at Semicolon Africa, a living testament to what a girl from Maiduguri can become.

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Semicolon Africa

Managing the content crew at Semicolon; a social impact training institute and innovation hub focused on solving societal problems with disruptive technology.