An avid reader, an Academia, an Agronomist, a Researcher. She’s also passionate and intentional about parenting. She defies the odds. She’s your go-to person if you’re finding it hard to cope with parenting and career. She’s Haratu Dauda
Assalāmu ‘Alaikum Wa Rahmatullāh Wa Barakahtuhu
Please Ma’am, kindly introduce yourself to us.
Wa’alaikumus Salām Wa Rahmatullāh Wa Barakahtuhu
I am Haratu Dauda. A mother of three beautiful kids, Alhamdulillāh. Also a Lecturer and Researcher with the Institute for Agricultural Research, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria
What was growing up like for you?
I’m the first of 6 children. My dad was a civil servant and my mum was a fashion designer.
Growing up was really fun for me because I was born in Lagos and the environment there really created the path for who I am today.
I attended a primary school in Lagos, Niger Pre-age International Home School. The experiences there were so rich. The kind of people I met, the kind of people in my neighborhood. So as I said, it provided me with the basics and the foundation upon which I have built myself. So, Alhamdulillâh.
So why the path of academics?
My dad was so into books. He loves to read and I believe that’s where I got my passion for books from. He was an avid reader and he was so into education. He believed in giving a child the gift of education. It helped me and it’s one of the things that have shaped me into who I am today.
I love to read, I love to teach, and I love to find out things. Basically, these are the skills required of one to be in the Academics.
Another thing I love about being in Academics is that as a mother, we can navigate through this career with our family. It’s quite flexible such that you can, to some extent, enjoy working and having the time to take care of your family. I really love that about the Academic profession.
Did your upbringing influence you and the path you’re treading in any way?
Yes, my upbringing influences me in a lot of things I do now. Even in the way I bring up my kids. I find out that what my dad did to me in the way he brought me up, I’m doing that to my kids as well. My dad used to be so deliberate about the kinds of toys he bought us and everything else he did for us. Consciously or subconsciously those values got embedded in me. For example, when I go to a shop to buy things for my kids, like toys, the first thing I do, subconsciously, is to first search around for something educational. That was how my dad raised me.
So yes, my love for books and education as I’ve said earlier is inspired by my dad. My dad was also very into the social aspect of a child. He took us on outings. Today, that’s what I unconsciously also enjoy doing.
My Mum also played a very great role in me. As I go down memory lane, I came to understand that my mum was at home in those formative years of our lives. Growing up, she introduced us to chores on time. I could understand that I had some structure in my lifestyle such as time for siesta, evening play, and bathing before going to bed. This also played a key role to make me who I am. That structure created by my Mum gave me that sense of responsibility.
All these became part of me such that I do my chores promptly.
Did being a Muslim ever influenced your way of life or career choice?
Yes of course. Anything I have to do has to be in alignment with what Allāh has said. That’s one of my core values, doing to the best of my ability what Allāh has asked us to do and abstaining from what He has asked us to stay away from. So yes, in any decision in life, I try as much as possible to question myself if it’s in accordance with the rulings of Allāh.
For example, I look at teaching as something I can benefit myself and others with. I’m teaching, I’m learning, I’m having interpersonal relationships with people, I get to advise people, and I can add value to people in one way or another, directly or indirectly.
I have at the back of my mind that I’m doing it for the sake of Allāh and as my personal contribution to making society a better place. So, if it’s just one person, I try to take him or her out of whatever confusion s/he is going through. I take it as a blessing and a plus for me and for the person also.
So, yes. I try to live my life in accordance with the rulings of Allāh. I try to live by the tenets of Al Islām. Yes, I’m human and I make mistakes but there are some basic things I try as much as possible not to be found doing.
So, Alhamdulillāh. Islām has a huge place in my life. Because first I’m a servant of Allāh before I’m any other thing, Alhamdulillāh.
A Muslimah in Academics, tell us more about your career and in particular why agriculture. Also can you please share some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome in the pursuit of your career and anything you may want to share with us?
Yes, I applied for medicine and pharmacy, my first and second choices respectively. But I was given Agriculture. It wasn’t funny because I didn’t know so much about Agriculture and being given the course, it was really not palatable for me. I can remember crying but then I just had to go with it. Eventually, and with time, I loved it.
For a Muslimah Academics. Well, I’m an Agronomist. We’re Scientists that are concerned with studying and growing crops in a way that the yield can be maximized. We adopt practices that could help us get more yield. Yield is the end product that matters in farming. When a farmer is going into production he’s concerned about yield. So, as Agronomists, we advise about the adoption of certain practices that will help increase the yield. We help farmers make well-informed decisions about what should be used in terms of input to get better results (that is, better yields).
As a lecturer also, we lecture students and supervise them, we write journal papers, we attend conferences, we mentor students, and we contribute our quota in our community in the form of community development. These are some of the roles of a Lecturer and Researcher.
Some of the challenges I’ve experienced are that you have to go to the field for data collection with a technician as an Agronomist. Imagine a woman standing under the scorching sun to take some data. Because there are times we have to take some parameters for our researches such as measuring the leaves, plant height, and the number of leaves. You can imagine doing all these. But these are some of the indices that we take to ascertain how well a crop is performing. It’s quite tedious I must confess. But it’s something that if you love to do it you will get the drive to be able to withstand the challenges. That’s all for now for me.
Also, you know our personal life will in one way or the other interfere with how well we can grow in our career. As a woman who is married with kids. For me personally, this is one area I’m still trying to learn how to juggle. As said earlier, I take each day at a time. I try as much as possible to prioritize and put in my best.
As a career woman, it’s not easy having kids who are in their formative years. It can take a toll on one’s health and career growth if not balanced well. But then Alhamdulillāh there’s no rush.
Everything is in seasons and phases, and as such, we’re taking it slow, a day at a time in this phase of life. I believe there will come in life where anything we want to do we can do it so well because the children are all grown up In Shā Allāh.
These are some of the things that keep us going, that keep our eyes fixed on the ball and not getting so distracted.
In addition to Academics, you’re a Graphics Designer. Tell us about that. What’s the motivation behind it?
Yes, as a graphic designer. Well, it’s just that I’ve always been passionate or I’m always good at drawing and, basically, making artworks. So when I got in contact with the app called Canva, I realized that this is something I would like to do. So, I started making inspirational quotes often with this app and I paste them on my walls on social media platforms. Instead of writing it out in words, I add more beauty to the quotes by designing them in form of graphics. And then I thought, well, people may need my services in the form of making graphics, social media graphics for small business owners. So, I think I’ve also tried that as a side hustle and to relax and catch fun. Sometimes when I want to relax, I use graphic design to wind down. So, that’s just basically the thing about graphics for me. It’s not really a major thing for me. So I won’t call myself a professional, like an experienced professional graphics designer.
It’s just a hobby to me but once in a while, I try to monetize it. Also, I make graphics that I put on my walls on social media platforms to educate, inspire, and motivate people.
Tell us about K K Naturals. How did it come about and what motivated it?
My exploits in the formulation and the birth of K K Naturals was born out of the passion I’ve always had for DIY recipes, which I’ve always done since my childhood. I always love to do things in the kitchen to make beauty products. So with the trend of people now trying to switch into the use of organic products, the use of natural products for beautification, I felt, okay, let’s see how it goes. And so I ventured into K K Naturals.
And so far, I’m still trying to understand the business in terms of the approach to carry out the researches to see how it can really thrive in the market and if this is the product that people really need in my environment and beyond. It’s still just something I’m trying to test the waters with. Although I formulate for people around me and those who need my products. When they see the effect or the efficacy on me, they ask and I formulate for them. So, it’s something I’m looking forward to taking to the next level to see if it’s a business that can thrive for me.
What challenges have you encountered with K.K Naturals and what motivates you to keep going?
As I mentioned earlier, it was born out of my passion for making products that are healthy and natural. I later thought I could monetize it and share the goodness with people by providing them with products that are nourishing to the skin.
I failed to understand that I had to be able to understand the demand of the people and their willingness to pay for it. I’m also coming to understand that I should make what people really want, not what I want.
So for now, I’m just trying to test the waters and see how I can produce the product in a way people will be willing to buy at an affordable price. So, for now, I’m trying to understand the market of my products and if it meets the demands of the people around me and beyond.
I’m taking all these into cognizance before really coming out fully as a brand. If I must continue, I will like to leave it as a legacy for my children. This is something I want to do not only because of the passion but as a legacy that can be passed to the next generation in terms of business if they want it because I can’t force my children to continue a business just because I think it’s something they would like. These are some of the things.
Although the challenge I’m having right now is getting the original inputs. The efficacy of a product is highly dependent on the quality of the input you’re using. For example, if you get a fake shea butter or fake mango butter, it can mess up the efficacy of the product and at the end of the day, you would have wasted your money and invariably even harming someone’s skin. These are some of the challenges. Also, with the high exchange rates now, ordering things for inputs has increased. So, you have to be able to do things in a way that you don’t lose and the customers can afford the product.
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You’re a hard-core lover of books and reading. Tell us about your passion for books and your love for reading.
I think my love for books is a result of my father’s love for books and education. I really love books and always joke that if anybody would like to give me anything they should give me a book ?.
With all of these, how do you cope with family responsibilities?
I have a supportive husband, Alhamdulillāh. I also try to invest in support systems like getting paid services, paying for help when necessary. I also try to prioritize per time, taking into cognizance how urgent activity is or how important it is. I try to see if an activity is important and urgent and if it’s something I need to do immediately.
Certain things that are urgent but are not important, I try to delegate such tasks. Certain things that are not urgent and are not important, I try not to do them at all. Certain things may be important but are not urgent. So, I try as much as possible to question myself anytime I’m trying to do something. Like is this very important at this point? Or is it something I can leave for some other time? Or is it something that someone can actually help me do? So that I can use that energy for something more important.
That is how I try to do things. And I take each day at a time, Alhamdulillāh.
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Parenting is quite a tough job and many parents are finding it difficult to cope with parenting and career. What’s your advice for such parents?
Parenting is really tough, especially when you’re trying to be intentional about it. But what I will say is, it’s possible to juggle the two together. That is, family with career, even with Academics. It’s not easy though. That’s why we should try to take it one step at a time. We should try to know our strengths and weaknesses. Ask for help when necessary. We can’t do it all. We need a lot of support systems on this journey, in the form of our spouses, our families, friends, and even helps (paid helps like nannies), we need it all at this point. We should also know that when we are paying for the services of the help, we are investing in the growth of our career and journey in life.
I would like to say we should try to honour our paces. As women, our lives are in seasons. We should honour those seasons and treat them in good faith. We should not compare ourselves or our paces with another person. We should know that each season leads to another season. If you can’t thrive in a particular season, there’s another season which you can. For example, the effectiveness of a woman in her childbearing age cannot be compared to a woman who has left that stage and her children are no longer under her tutelage and are grown up. You can’t compare them.
So, every woman goes through these phases, especially in the career world. So, go through it one step at a time. Invest in support systems, ask for help when necessary, know your limits, take lots of breaks, catch lots of funs, enjoy the moments with your kids and family, and try to prioritize per time. When you have work to do, try as much as possible to concentrate on that work. When you’re at home with the kids, try as much as possible to concentrate on the kids. In other words, prioritize per time.
Do you have plans for a book club or a career relating to literature?
Yes, I’ve always thought about that. I wouldn’t know what to call it but a gathering where we seat down to read and discuss books. We review books and I can lend people books, even if it’s at a fee.
As for a career relating to literature. Yes, I’ve always thought or dreamt to be a writer. It’s one of my dreams to write, at least, one book. Presently I write as it is part of the skills a lecturer or researcher will require. But as regards literature, I’m yet to write a book but I’m working towards it In Shā Allāh.
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What advice do you have for those who may like to tread the path you are on? Particularly Muslim Sisters
For those who would like to tread my path. Well, what I have to say is with Allāh everything is possible. So, before you get married try to understand and be aware enough to know what you really want. But sometimes you don’t have the opportunity to be aware enough to make certain choices. Sometimes it’s after we’ve gotten married. But notwithstanding with Allāh, everything is possible. We keep on evolving day in day out. Also, get a mentor in that field.
But if you’re trying to tread the path of a Lecturer or Researcher, it’s important to get a mentor who’s also in that field that can keep you informed with details about how you can grow your career. The requirements you will need to grow in that career.
Also, try to get a spouse who would understand the peculiarities of your job.
Self-development is key. It is one of my core values. Try as much as possible to be willing to pay for development in the forms of books, courses, and coaches/mentors. It pays in the long run In Shā Allāh.
What’s your message or advice for the Muslim Ummah?
My message for the Muslim Ummah is we should go back to Allāh, myself inclusive. We should flee back to Allāh. We need to go back to Allāh, that’s just the most important thing. Go back to Allāh to do to the best of our abilities what He has asked us to do and to run away from all that He has asked us not to do.
At this age, some Muslim Sisters who choose to be career women find it tough with marriages. What advice do you have for them?
Yes, it’s not easy. It’s very tough. That’s why I advise Muslim sisters to try as much to be aware enough to know what they want out of life.
It’s not easy. Sometimes we don’t get the opportunity to know all these things, even when you’re already into the career or married, nothing is too late.
I try as much as possible for people, for Muslim Sisters to be aware enough even before they get married, even before they get into a career because it will help in making lots of well-informed decisions, making choices that are powerful enough, that can bring about ripple effects in the long run.
The first thing is for them to know themselves well enough to be able to know what they want out of life and out of a marriage or career. Everyone has got their purposes for which they are created. So, it is now left for them to get a spouse that understands what they want to achieve and who’s willing to be on that same journey with them. It doesn’t make sense as a woman who is career-driven and you’re marrying a man that wants a stay-at-home mom. In the first place, it’s a no-go area. Truth be told that marriage can’t work.
So, there are men who wouldn’t want their wife to work, they want a stay-at-home wife. Their choice is valid. Some men don’t really mind but are not that supportive. So, it’s also quite difficult. And some men support your dream. They are willing to help, to go to any extent to see that you have a successful career. So, you should be able to be aware enough to know what your spouse wants and don’t shove anything under the carpet all in the name of love. If it’s something you want, there should be an agreement before you go into it for the successful running of a particular home.
The truth is, if you don’t have a supportive spouse, your career growth will not be as you want. You won’t be able to make the impact you want so well compared to when you have a supportive spouse.
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