By YINKA FABOWALE, Ibadan
He is following in the footsteps of his journalist-parents, although he does not envisage ending in the media profession like his father, Tajudeen Kareem, former foreign affairs editor of The Guardian, or his mum, Fatimah Abdulkareem, an editor/producer at the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State and ex-National President of the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), it is obvious that Kashif Abdulkareem has bitten of the literary streak and talent of his progenitors, even though he has his eyes trained on a career as an Economist.
Kashif is a budding writer, with volumes of essays, riddles, jokes and short stories one of which, entitled The Jealous Wife, has been published in Early Flights, a collection of short stories edited by Ebika Anthony. The 17-year-old began writing at barely 12 when he was still in Junior Secondary School (JSS) II, at Bodija International School, Ibadan where he rose to be head boy, Scout leader and president of the Press Club. Surprisingly, however, the literary cub is a core-science student whose ultimate goal is to be president of the country someday.
“I want to be president and that’s why I hope to read Economics in the university, so I will be able to manage the national economy well. Of course, I like the pure sciences too because the world is going technological. But I was really happy that we were made to offer Economics as a general subject in my school,” Kashif tells Aspire. Why dream the Presidency at teenage? The ambitious lad declares: “I want to change the country for the better. It is painful to see that there are no jobs for the youths. Apart from unemployment, there is the problem of electricity.
I read somewhere that 51 per cent of Nigerians are suffering from hunger and poverty; that is not right. Why can’t we make life easy and comfortable for the people? “I also believe we need fresh hands and fresh ideas. Most of the people ruling us are old and don’t care about other people or new ideas on how to do things. They are interested in just looting and looting,” he declares in anger. And that is just it. If Kashif realizes his ambition, one thing he says he will tackle frontally is corruption. And he has demonstrated this, he says, during the campaign for election as his school head boy.
Drafted into the race by the election committee – a panel consisting of the school teachers, after one of his friends running for the office was disqualified on the basis of poor academic result, which was one of the criteria for making the choice, Abdulkareem had just two weeks to produce a manifesto, make banners and campaign. As a short cut, his friend who was the campaign manager suggested, “I give them (pupils) refreshments”. But according to Kashif, “I turned the advice down, because I did not believe in influencing people in a wrong way.
My position was, if they’d vote for me, they’d do so, if not, so be it”. Indeed, the young writer said another book on corruption is in the pipeline. “I’m getting the facts and materials together. A page that I follow on Facebook has particularly been helpful. The book will be about a corruption-free Nigeria, to let people know the need to fight corruption,” he says. On his flair for writing, Kashif says: “People say I don’t talk. So, I like to put my thoughts down”. But his interest, he says, was further spurred by his former school’s policy of giving awards and prizes for literary endeavours.
He adds that his parents have also been of great inspiration. “I like to read scripts my mummy writes including speeches for some seminars before she goes to deliver them and although I was still very young when he was in active journalism practice, I read clippings of dad’s old works and travelogues.” But it is not only in writing that Kashif has shown enterprise. He is also a proud manufacturer of a liquid soap, which his mother helps to sell.
The young man says he had learnt the science of soap making in a practical Chemistry class and had subsequently been making the soap for use at home. “But my mother introduced it to some of her friends and we started getting orders. One of her friends, who has since become a regular customer was initially skeptical, until she tried using the product and found it to be good,” Kashif says. Teased that he must have been making millions of Naira, the young entrepreneur confesses that the new business has only fetched him some thousands of Naira, because, “We only began serious marketing of it only recently”.
The soap, he says, is useful in cleaning the house, washing cars, clothes and other utensils, except the body. But for Kashif, going into the soap business is more than merely making financial gains: “In this era of scarce jobs, it makes a lot of sense to be self-employed”, he says.