AZARE, BAUCHI: For Alim Zara, every new day is an opportunity for her to take a step closer to her dream, which is joining the league of the biggest Masters of Ceremonies or MCs in Nigeria.
For her, the preparation for what she has now come to love came through an unusual route. When she was a student at Federal Government College, Azare, in Bauchi State, she led her school to various debates and quiz competitions across the state. Such exposure made her develop the confidence to speak in front of people without fear.
After graduating from FGC Azare in 2019, she put her newfound love of TikTok to good use, creating content around streets gist and doing spoken word videos, gathering over 50,000 followers on the platform.
In November 2019, Zara attended an event in Bauchi where the MC didn't show up. It was getting late, and there was no one to fill the gap. So she volunteered to anchor the event, and after the event, attendees praised her for a job well done.
“Everyone was like ‘This is amazing, Zara. Are you a professional MC?’ They kept asking me and telling me that I did it well. That was the beginning of my journey as an MC,” said Zara.
Back at home, Zara made up her mind to pursue this career. She loved how she could control the crowd, and she promised herself that she would get better at it.
So she met MC Biggie, one of the biggest comedians in Bauchi, who took her under his wings, and on multiple occasions, invited her to join him in anchoring events within the state.
That opportunity opened doors for her to learn and widen her network. Then people began booking her for their shows and ceremonies.
In January 2021, she anchored her first paid event, which was an Arabian Night organized by a young lady who was about to get married. “I got the gig through a friend. It was an exhilarating experience, and the people there made everything easy for me,” she said.
Battling challenges and receiving support
Growing up in Azare, a majority Muslim community, Zara’s pursuit of this male-dominated profession has not come without its challenges.
Zara said many around her complained that a young Muslim woman should not be doing MC, but when such conversations reached her parent's ears, they sat her down and talked to her.
“My parents supported me, but they warned me again and again about maintaining my family's reputation and also leaving anything that goes against my religion's teachings while in the course of my work,” Zara told Prime Progress.
Despite her parents' blessing, Zara still feels the judgemental eye of the public, with many seeing what she does as immoral.
Zara said she is excited about the future of the profession, especially for women in the region.
“There are others like MC Rahina, MC Halaal, MC Sophy, and even married ones like MC Surayya. They are all decent and pushing themselves to stardom,” she explained.
She said she has also faced the request for ‘sex for gig.’
“I have encountered sexual harassment many times, where some will want to sleep with you before they share an opportunity with you,” Zara said.
Remembering where she comes from and the pledge she made to her parents, she says she has remained true to her ideals.
Zara loves what she does, and she is happy doing it. “I enjoy connecting with people through this profession. I never relent in making myself happy and enjoy every moment of it,” she says. “I realized that It's part of me talking to people, and it's always fun to grace the stage holding a mic.”
And this job has taken her to places. In June 2021, using her skills in poetry, she recorded a video highlighting the projects done by the Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Muhammad, who later invited her to his office and encouraged her with some gifts.
“Meeting the Governor was one of those things I will never forget. It gives me hope anytime that I remember it,” Zara said.
Even with her work as an MC, 22-year-old MC Zara continued her studies and is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Physiology at the Federal University of Dutse, Jigawa State.
As optimistic as she is about the future, she hopes to train other young Muslim girls to break the gender stereotype around the work she does.
She also advised young women to follow their dreams. “Believe in yourself and do what makes you happy. Remember that God is watching you, even if no one does, and please love what you do,” she concluded.