Salisu Hussaini Musa is one of Zaria Academy’s success stories. He enjoyed full scholarship, courtesy of the academy’s founder, Dr Haroun Adamu. He graduated in 2012 and is now a final year Electronics Engineering student at Bayero University, Kano. He shared his extra-ordinary experience with The Intellectual magazine. Excerpts:
Admission at Zaria Academy
I was in JS 2 in my previous school, Government Secondary School, where I went immediately I completed my primary education. Right from childhood, I had been creative. I would use batteries, bulbs and other things to create things. I have a kind of engineering mind. In that process, I assembled some amplifiers and other gadgets around me to make a radio FM transmitter, with which I started airing news and educating people within the town.
So, Freedom Radio, Kano heard about me and there was a discussion between us. They interviewed me on what I did, including the Radio Station I established, which was the biggest thing I had done as at that time and aired it. I even had my staff then, one was casting news, one was placing requests and so on.
We also used to call religious people to come and deliver lectures for the public on the radio.
After they (Freedom Radio) aired it (my interview), Hajiya Halima from Daily Trust also came down to my town and interviewed me and the story was published. Zaria Academy saw the story and offered me a special scholarship. I came here (Zaria Academy), wrote the examination, passed and was admitted.
I entered the academy in 2006 and finished in 2012.
What was the experience like when you first came here?
When I came here, I was 14 years old and things became hard for me. I couldn’t understand a lot of things in terms of communication. I couldn’t communicate because in our local schools, they don’t communicate fully in English. But in Zaria Academy, the communication is in English. Everywhere you go, English, English.
So, I started having problems. When teachers say something in the class, I could understand what they were saying, but to reply them or do what was expected of me was a problem. Sometimes, when I speak in class, people would laugh at me. But that didn’t bother me at all.
I used to read overnight. I acquired dictionaries. You know, in Zaria Academy, they will give you all you need. Once you’re ready to read here, they have all it takes. This is a fact. They have the library and all the conditions for learning are put in place there.
Some of my classmates use the resources well, but some others, when the school gives them books, they throw them (books) away. They play with the books and even tear some of them.
But for me, I gathered everything. I used to sleep even on some. On my bed, you will see books all over. Students recognized by bed easily because of the number of books on it. So, I kept working on the communication deficiency.
A year later, I began writing letters and engaging in creative writing. I started helping others to do it. Mrs. Ogugua used to be our English teacher, and whenever she gave us the Creative Writing assignment, I used to be the first to submit because I was determined to shake off that deficiency in communication. I even started doing tutorials for most of the people who laughed at me when I came in, right from JS3. I started teaching them Mathematics, English, Visual Art and the rest of the subjects.
However, when we got to the SS class, we had problems with Physics. When we had a test, I scored 3 out if 15! So, people started laughing at me, saying, ‘this boy that is supposed to know it, see what he has scored.’
But we (my friends and I) went back, sat down and started the Physics from the scratch, not even depending on what the teacher was teaching alone. One of my colleagues, Abdullahi and I started studying Physics afresh. We used one popular Physics textbook, New School Physics. We began from topics taught in SS1 through to SS 3.
So, when we now have the Physics class, we were not longer paying attention because we knew what was being taught. And you know children, once they feel they know something, they won’t pay attention and start playing around. So, sometimes, the teacher used to send us out. And when tests were conducted, we, Abdullahi, Abdulkadir and I were always the best.
How did overcome your deficiency in communication?
I used to listen to motivational messages that if somebody, elsewhere in the world can do something, you too can do it, because it is assumed that human beings have the same brain. The system is the same and attaining success is only decided by you. That was what I believed.
I also looked for books. You know Mr. Frank? He was our English teacher. I was close to him when I was working on the problem. Mr. Patrick Onah, all our English teachers, I aligned myself with them and I learned a lot.
What was your West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) result like?
I had three distinctions, five credits and a pass in Further Mathematics.
Where are you now?
I am in Bayero University, Kano.
What are you studying?
So, looking back through the years, what would you say was the most important thing you took away from Zaria Academy?
There were a lot of things I learnt here. I learnt to study. I learnt to work with others as a team. Most of the things I did were with my classmates. I would say to them, let us brainstorm; let us create something. During my time, I used to be popular among the students and even the teachers, because of my creativity. Anywhere you see me, you’ll see people, because of the creative projects I was involved in. And I do teach the students.
At BUK, have your lecturers asked you questions about the secondary school you attended?
Actually they do. When you think and speak differently, the teachers would notice and ask, where are you coming from?
We understand you are authoring a book. What is this book about?
The book started as a play. Most Physics teachers get annoyed when students find it difficult to memorise the formulas. You know Physics is based on formulas. They can give you a question that looks like this: a boy travelled across x miles. Calculate the speed.
Now, even if you have the idea about calculating the speed, but you cannot recall the formula for it, you cannot solve the problem.
So we started getting plain sheets and we used to write all the formulas on them. For instance, if you have a topic like Linear Motion, all the formulas under linear motion, we write them down. Everywhere you’re going, it (sheet) is with you and you’re going through it. So, anytime you have an examination, you don’t need to panic. Whatever question or formula is needed, it will just come to you, because you have been familiar with it
So, it started like that and we did it for all the topics – Samila Abdullahi, Hussein Abdulkadir and Aminu Ghali – these are my closest friends. We did things together. After classes, we used to go to the electronics laboratory and do some research there.
What is the name of the book?
Basic Physics for Secondary Schools. It started as a formula book. When we were at Zaria Academy, we did it as a formula book, but toward the end of our studies, I improved on the contents and made it like a textbook. If you are taking any topic, you explain the concept first before you talk about the formulas and provide some worked examples. I did all in the text. It will be ready, Insha Allah, in about two months or less.