Twenty-seven-year-old Ziya’atulhaqq Usman Tahir, also known as @fatibolady on Instagram, is seriously changing the game on one of social media’s largest platforms with her brilliant work shedding light on women’s issues in Nigerian Muslim communities.
What started out as a simple post asking for sex advice for a female friend has blossomed into a daily advice forum for women on a range of issues from health to domestic violence even legal problems. Miraculously, Tahir now has one of Nigeria’s largest and engaged Instagram followings at 52,000 subscribers after only about two months.
The social media powerhouse says she now has to sift through at least 20 emails and texts a day from women around the country asking for advice from others who follow the page.
Tahir says that her success is largely attributed to the fact that Muslim women are heavily discouraged from discussing their personal problems, and that the Instagram page allows them to fulfill that need by posting anonymously. For many, domestic problems are so bad that women used to abuse a codeine-laced cough medicine to cope; manufacturing and sale of the medicine has resultantly been banned.
In a report from Buzzfeed Tahir said:
“I don’t think bottling up your problem helps. I think people should talk about their problems. Let’s say for instance, this lady whose husband has not been sleeping with her. It has been six months, your husband has not been sleeping with you. In Nigeria, you’re not allowed to say something about it.”
Tahir, who lives in the predominantly Muslim region of northern Nigeria, points out that Nigerians are also highly curious about new smartphone technology. She says they are inclined towards experimenting and engaging with each other through social media apps like Instagram—apparently in a similar and enthusiastic way that American Blacks use apps like Twitter and Snapchat.
“Nigerians, we are iPhone fanatics, everybody wants to have an iPhone. Our network is very good. Nigerians are — how can I put it — we like new things. If something new comes out, we want to use it.”
Tahir, whose day job is as a wedding caterer, says she’s now starting to get recognized in public. She says she discourages the attention and denies her online identity but has big dreams of expanding her media empire some day.
“I’m hoping to have my show very soon, like Oprah. I would like to have a TV show and I would like to have a blog.”