A Look Behind Heritage

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Women In My Life That Inspire Me





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This is an image from my mother’s 1st Birthday. I want to use this image as the main image I use within my samples because she is my biggest inspiration.

My Ancestry

Heritage Definition:
 1. Property that is or may be inherited. 
 2. A special or individual possession; an allotted portion.
 3. God’s chosen people (the people of Israel, or the Christian Church).
To me heritage stands for the music, tales, and even clothing passed down to us from our ancestors. The folklore, the clothing as well as the food are all huge aspects of any culture. For this project, I aim to go back in time and interpret the history, tales and legends of strong African heroines that have been passed down many generations. I want to experiment with the idea of presenting these histories in a different way by placing women in positions of power. In order to do this and make this project personal, I needed to take a deeper look into my own ancestral roots.


I started my research by looking up the concept of ‘Heritage’. I wanted to explore this by looking at my own ancestry and looking at tribes and the stories they passed down through generations. However, I came to the realisation that although these stories were told to teach people moral lessons, people (women in particular) still struggle to find their voices in society. By looking at my places of origin, I realised that these are the places women seem to suffer the most. Through my research I hope to try and retell these stories and make it so women are celebrated.


Having recently discovered my senegalese roots, I wanted to incorporate this into the unit 7 project. I found that Senegal was one of the major areas in Africa that slaves were being traded. What stands out to me about Senegal is the ‘Door of no return’. It is located in a building called ‘The House of Slaves’ was has since been reconstructed and re-opened as a museum in 1962. It is believed that more than a million slaves passed through the doors of the house. Although this has not been confirmed, I find it highly tragic. Even tough I am an African, I have been lucky enough not to have been so affected by our involvement in slavery because it was not practiced in Northern Nigeria. Unlike in southern Nigeria where chiefs sold people into slavery, in the North our rulers never allowed it. Learning about my senegalese ancestry and ‘The door of no return’ affected me because now I am aware that there is a possibility of some of my ancestors being slaves. It is not distant anymore but something that is deep-rooted in my own family and people’s history.



I wanted to dedicate this project not just to women in my life who I look up to, but the girls in my nation who need hope. The girls who need encouragement, love or simply to hear the words ‘you’re not alone’. With this in mind, I took a look into young women and children in need of help.

Orphans and Internally displaces Women And Children In Kano State

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I wanted to include this image in my research because the basis of my project revolves around empowering women and trying to show the negative effects of living in such a male dominated society (Boko Haram). The image above was taken about two years ago during my EPQ project on Internally displaces peoples of Nigeria. I visited a family of 13, who had to flee their homes when Boko Haram attacked their area. They went from having a good stable life to having nothing and living in a poultry farm. The girls in the image above are orphans who are being raised by their grandmother. They aim to become doctors. I think that it is truly inspiring that they still have such big and positive aims and goals for the future despite all the horrors they’ve witnessed.



This project is to honour these young girls. These sisters, daughters and friends. These students, thinkers and dreamers. These girls, OUR girls.

I am choosing to include the story of the chibouk girls in this project because to me it indicates the failures of the Nigerian government and society when it comes to female rights and education. What happened to these young girls is the epitome of of that failure.They were kidnapped by Book Haram. I find it highly repulsive that these men claim to follow Islam and then go on to perform such horrible actions that totally do not coincide with the religion. Not only that, but the amount of damage caused throughout the country has affected so many children including myself and my siblings. Children are now so aware of death and destruction.

All the printed words in the images and pieces of this project are names of the Chibok girls.



Nana Asma’u is the daughter of Usman Dan Fodio, a ‘sufi-inspired and Fulbe-led’ Sokoto Caliphate’s founder. What I find inspiring about Nana Asma’u is the fact that she advocated education for females at a time when the thought of females doing anything other than domestic house work was not entertained in Nigeria. Like her father, Nana Asma’u was educated in Qur’anic studies as well as western studies. She devoted her life to the education of the muslim women in Northern Nigeria and even became an author. There are over 60 surviving works she has written over the course of 40 years. She left behind a large body of poetry written mainly  in Arabic, the Fulani and Hausa.

I find her poems really inspiring as they all highlight issues that were happening at the time. Most of these issues are still a problem in Nigeria today. This makes me wonder if we have even grown so much as a nation. Nana Asma’u was well versed in Arabic, the Fula language, Hausa and even Tamacheq Tuareg. I aspire to be fluent in most of these languages. The rest of her written works are related to Islamic education. In many ways Nana Asma’u reminds me of my grandmother, who was the first female in her hometown to go to school.

Harriet Tubman

The reason why I chose to do some research on Harriet Tubman is due to the fact that she is such a historical figure in not just Black history but an embodiment of what the horrors and difficulties women are capable of withstanding. I read a quote by Tubman, which describes not only the pain she endured, but her yearn for freedom.

“I prayed all night long for my master till the first of March; and all the time he was bringing people to look at me, and trying to sell me.”

This makes me think of the Chibouk girls and wonder just how horrifying it must have been for them. Most of them under the age of 16, having to live weeks on end in harsh conditions and being sold off into the world as though they were nothing. I wonder what it felt like when the realisation that this was their life now dawned on them. For Harriet Tubman, she explained that “I changed my prayer…First of March I began to pray, ‘Oh Lord, if you ain’t never going to change that man’s heart, kill him, Lord, and take him out of the way.'”


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