Blacksmithing is one of the oldest businesses in northern Nigeria, but it is dying out due to lack of youth participation and because of traditional beliefs.
Despite the increase in youth unemployment occasioned by insecurity and COVID-19, a majority of young people in the northeast still believe that the blacksmith business is meant for elderly people.
Against this backdrop, Radio Ndarason International Hadiza Dawud in Maiduguri gathered the opinions of some unemployed youth.
Jamilu Hassan and Abba Modu said that they cannot participate in the blacksmith business because of traditional beliefs, “The business was originally for slaves, and even if you are not a slave, once you are a blacksmith people will think of you as one,” said Jamilu.
“Very few parents will marry you their daughter once you are a blacksmith, so why should I be one” added Modu.
The RNI reporter also visited Kallmari (Blacksmith) market in the custom area of Maiduguri to talk with people there.
Abubakar Bunu, a 53 year old blacksmith, who has been in the business for almost 30 years, said he was very positive because the business has made life easier for him.
“I built my house, married three wives, and pay tuition fees for my children as well as taking care of my family” added Bunu.
Ismai’il Mohammed (57) learnt the business of blacksmithing from his father, who was very proud that his son took over from him, but he added that, “I do not pray that my son will come here because there is no encouragement.”
He went on to say that there is a need to improve and make the business attractive, but so far there’s no support from the government, which is why youth don’t want to participate in the business.
However, despite the traditional beliefs and lack of youth participation a 17 year old, Shu’iabu Bako, has embraced the business. “I joined the business 4 years ago. I inherited it from my father. It’s quite challenging, but I can’t change peoples’ beliefs” added Bako.
Meanwhile, Karim Jafar retired from the Borno State Art and Culture said, the historical aspect of the blacksmith business has greatly affected the growth of the business in the northeast, region.
He said, in other neighbouring states, government has improved the business and made it attractive for many youth. He added that blacksmith business is still done primitively with very little improvement in Borno State and called on government to invest heavily in the sector.