Bilkisu Yusuf, also known as Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf, (December 2, 1952 – September 24, 2015), was a Nigerian journalist, columnist and editor for prominent newspapers in Abuja, Kano and Kaduna, Nigeria. She is known in Nigeria for being the first woman to direct a national newspaper operation and served as editor for two more. She was a Hausa, Muslim, feminist, and advocate for interfaith society, who was known for being an adviser to the Nigerian President on International Affairs and the founding of NGOs, such as Women In Nigeria (WIN) and the Federation of Muslim Women's Association (FOMWAN). Yusuf was killed in the 2015 Mina stampede while on Haj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Yusuf's higher education was in both political science and journalism. She earned her bachelor's degree in political science at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria; her master's degree in political science and international relations from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in Madison, Wisconsin, United States; and an advanced degree in journalism from the International Journalism School at Moscow State Institute of International Relations in Moscow, Russia, in 1986.
She was first married to Alhaji Sanusi Ciroma Yusuf, who eventually became the Chief Judge of State. The couple had two children, a son Moshood Sanusi Yusuf and a daughter Nana Fatima. They later divorced. Her first husband died at the age of 73. She married her second husband, Mustapha Bintube.
Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf was given the honorary title Hajiya after completing the pilgrimage to Mecca (Haji is the male form). She died while serving as a leader of women on behalf of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria.
Bilkisu Yusuf was a journalist for the Daily Trust[when?] and Leadership[when?] newspapers in Abuja, Nigeria. After her return from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she became the first female editor at the Sunday Triumph, Kano, from 1983-1987. She also held the title of editor at the New Nigerian, Kaduna, in 1987 and Citizen Magazine, Kaduna, in 1990. She was known for her column "Civil Society Watch". She was active in The Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), which mentored young female journalists in Nigeria.
Yusuf was the adviser to the Nigerian President on International Affairs. She was also a notable women's right's activist. She founded several NGOs, such as Women In Nigeria (WIN), which was one of the earliest feminist organizations in Nigeria, Federation of Muslim Women's Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN), the Nigerian Interfaith Action Association Against Malaria (NIFAAM), and Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria (HERFON), She was executive director of Advocacy Nigeria. She was also active in the Bring Back Our Girls, which was aimed at the safe return of the Chibok girls.
A stampede occurred at an intersection in Mina, Saudi Arabia on September 24, 2015, at about 9 a.m. The crowds were on their way from Muzdalifah to Jaramat, where pilgrims cast stones at pillars to symbolize the stoning of the devil during the Hajj. From there they would head to the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Over 2,000 pilgrims were trampled to death during the stampede and almost 200 of those were identified as Nigerian citizens. Bilkisu Yusuf was identified among those killed by the stampede. Other prominent Nigerians who were trampled to death in the stampede include Professor Tijjani El-Miskin.
Saudi Arabia is a Middle Eastern country with a population of 27,752,316. It is home to the two of the most sacred mosques in the Muslim religion. One of those is Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, which is the destination of the Hajj pilgrimage. And the other is Medina's Masjid an-Nabawi, burial site of the Prophet Muhammad. The pilgrimage to Mecca is the fifth pillar of Islam and according to its belief should be conducted at least once in every Muslim's life. This pilgrimage is done by thousands of people each year from all across the world.
Nigeria is a country in West Africa. Their society has strong patriarchal ties, which leads to much discrimination against women. They also have a problem with extreme poverty and drugs. Boko Haram in 2014 abducted 219 Chibok school girls, which brought worldwide attention to efforts to rescue the girls. However, about 100 were found in April–May 2017.
The office of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari released the following statement following the stampede: "President Buhari commiserates with the Nigerian Guild of Editors and the Nigerian Union of Journalists on the sad loss of Hajiya Bilkisu, an exemplary, dedicated, knowledgeable, very credible, highly-respected, outstanding editor and columnist who, even in death, will remain a glittering role model for journalists, within and outside Nigeria."
Jibrin Ibrahim, director of the Centre for Democracy and Development described Yusuf as "great humanist, advocate, journalist, networker and above all a devoted Muslim, who died in the course of serving God."
Dr Oby Ezekwesili, director of Bring Back Our Girls and a former minister of Education in Nigeria, said, "Bilkisu fought all her life for child education. She has been consistent on her advocacy. She never wearied until it was time to go. We celebrate the great strides of our sister. We were delighted to have her as part of our extended family."
Aliyu Muktar, a former editor at Triumph newspaper who worked with Yusuf, said, "She was for me a role model; an excellent career woman, very thorough and unassuming. You know, she was brave, sincere and always fighting for the downtrodden. You also know her antecedent; Hajia was somebody who would not tolerate injustice anywhere."
Appearances in culture
Bilkisu Yusuf was one of the 42 journalists interviewed for the encyclopedic reference Nigerian Journalism written by Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe.
- "Lost in the Hajj stampede was a pioneering journalist who united Christians and Muslims". Public Radio International. September 29, 2015.
- Chesa, Chesa; Oyoyo, Juliet; Faturoti, Gbenga. "Female Editor, Bilikisu; El-Miskeen, 4 Others Die In Hajj Stampede". Dailyindependentnig.com. Archived from the original on 2015-09-30. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
- "Bilkisu died on national assignment – Husband". Dailytrust.com.ng. Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-11-26.
- "Hajiya Bilkisu: She was too good and true". The Nation Nigeria.
- "Bilkisu Yusuf". wisemuslimwomen.org. Archived from the original on 2013-04-06.
- "Obituary: Hajiya Bilkisu, mni (1952-2015)". Dailytrust.com.ng. Archived from the original on 2015-10-15. Retrieved 2015-11-04.
- "Kano Emirate Kingmaker, Madaki Passes On At 73". Liberty Radio 91.7fm Kaduna.
- "Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf". Georgetown.edu.
- "International Press Institute: IPI mourns former board member Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf". Freemedia.at. September 28, 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-10-08. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
- "Late Bilkisu Yusuf". Dailytrust.com.ng. Archived from the original on 2015-10-15. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
- "NAWOJ Mourns Bilkisu Yusuf Who Died In Tragic Mecca Stampede". The Trent. September 27, 2015.
- "Lost in the Hajj stampede was a pioneering journalist who united Christians and Muslims". Public Radio International.
- "My tribute to Bilkisu Yusuf". Uncova.com. Archived from the original on 2017-04-24. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
- Jibrin Ibrahim (20 July 2015). "Investigations of mega looting must continue, but must be lawful". Newsdiaryonline.com. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
- "Mecca stampede: FOMWAN mourns North's first female editor, Bilkisu Yusuf – DailyPost Nigeria". DailyPost Nigeria. September 26, 2015.
- "How the Hajj Stampede Unfolded". The New York Times. September 25, 2015.
- Kasolowsky, Raissa (October 29, 2015). "Death toll in Saudi haj disaster at least 2,070: Reuters tally". Reuters. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
- Jon Gambrell - AP (19 October 2015). "Saudi Arabia hajj disaster death toll at least 2,177". Washington Post.
- "Saudi Tragedy: Hajj Commission Identifies 30 Dead Nigerians". Thisdaylive.com. September 26, 2015. Archived from the original on October 16, 2015. Retrieved October 28, 2015.
- "Buhari laments death of Bilkisu Yusuf,other pilgrims". Dateline News – Nigeria Online News – Nigeria Breaking News. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-10-29.
- "The World Factbook". Cia.gov.
- "Mecca Pilgrimage". Meccapilgrimage.com.
- "Chibok: Inside the Search for the School Girls Abducted by Boko Haram". Time.com.
- "Exit of Journalism Icon, Bilkisu Yusuf". Realnews Magazine.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-11-03. Retrieved 2015-11-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Exit of Journalism Icon, Bilkisu Yusuf". Realnews Magazine. October 5, 2015.