Ending On The Note Of Virtue: Education For The Girl Child

Prof. Zaynab Alkali (Author), Mrs. Koko Kalango (Project Director PHWBC) at the March Book-of-the-Month event


On Mother’s day and a week after International Women’s Day is celebrated, the Port Harcourt World Book Capital held its final book reading and discussion. The book in focus was The Virtuous Woman by Prof. Zaynab Alkali.

Over 500 enthusiastic people were gathered at the Hotel Presidential on the 15th of March for a thought provoking discussion with the author.

A panel, made up of students from the project Book Clubs (Mary Arungwa of Faith Baptist College; Chiemezie Elijah of Community Secondary School, Nkpolu; John S. Tamuno of Community Secondary School, Amadi-Ama; and Timi Tarini of City College, Borikiri) interacted with the author in a discussion moderated by Mrs. Koko Kalango, Rainbow Book Club Founder and the Director of the Port Harcourt World Book Capital project.

The book tells the story of Nana Ai, a young lady deformed by polio as a child, raised by her grandfather, who did a good job of instilling virtue in her.

Mrs. Kalango likened the main part of the story to a journey of life, illustrated in the trip on the bus and later on the train. On this ride, there were two sets of women, on the one hand, Nana Ai, Laila and Hajjo who are headed to school, and on the other hand the child-bride on her way to her husband’s house. She asked which journey the author would advise young girls to take now. Prof. Alkali answered “Both: to school first, then to your husband’s house.”

The author had started the discussion by reading from page 47 of the book, where a father with mostly daughters was being encouraged to send them to school. The father wondered what benefit educating girls would be to him. He reasoned that if he educated them and they did well, it would be to their husbands’ advantage, but if she became wayward, she would be his problem at home.

The education of the girl child and the issue of the child bride became the main topic in this vibrant interaction that wholly supported empowerment of women through education.

Prof. Zaynab being from the North East addressed the issue of ‘boko haram’. She declared it a tragic reality as she had personal experiences in the situation. She encouraged all of us to find ways to be a part of the voice against the brutal acts perpetrated by this group. We all need to proclaim ‘boko halal’ (books allowed).

Six of the 12 books-of-the-month of the Port Harcourt World Book Capital programme, have been adapted for stage and performed in collaboration with University of Port Harcourt Institute of Arts and Culture. They are: Chinua Achebe’s Arrow of God; Elechi Amadi’s The Great Ponds; Wole Soyinka’s Ake; Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus; Uwem Akpan’s Say You’re One Of Them; and finally, Zaynab Alkali’s The Virtuous Woman.

UNIPORT gave an outstanding performance of the story. The lead actress captured the character in a real and moving way. The book was presented beautifully, making anyone who had not read it wants to go and get a copy.

This interactive session with the remarkable Zaynab Alkali was a befitting end to the Book-of-the-Month programme. Thank you for being a part of our journey.



Ijeamaka Woko


Communications Department PHWBC


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