Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hajia Taimako –A True Definition Of Women Empowerment

Hajia Dr. Salamatu Taimako
She may be a complete illiterate in western education, but thanks to Islamic literacy which her far-sighted parents taught her at a very young age, Hajia Dr. Salamatu Ibrahim TAIMAKO is a force to reckon with in many spheres of life. 

Hajia Salamatu Taimako is an extraordinary, but extremely brilliant and intelligent Northern Ghanaian woman. Not to sound so exaggerative, she has the ability to achieve everything by simply relying on deep-seated indigenous knowledge sources to accomplish any dream.

Can you imagine a woman leading a male dominated field of traditional medical practice as President of the Herbal Practitioners Association of the three regions of the north –Upper West, Upper East and Northern? That is very rare in northern Ghana even in this 21st century when it comes to leadership positions being occupied by women.

She has so many titles to her name. She comes across to many of her peers and other people as an indigenous herbal doctor, environmentalist, traditional midwife, entrepreneur, philanthropist, horticulturist, counsellor, wildlife conservationist, teacher/mentor, role model and above all, a mother.

Born around 1936, Hajia Salamatu Taimako and her late husband Alhaji Ibrahim Taimako introduced some modernism into the preparation of various types of herbal medicines capable of treating ailments such as infertility in men and women, menstrual problems, cholera, hypertension, cough, scorpion bites and infant diseases. 

Speaking to Savannahnews, Alhaji Shamsudeen Ibrahim Taimako spokesperson to Hajia Salamatu Taimako, said with immense passion for women and children’s welfare, she has trained over one hundred traditional midwives (birth attendants) in recent years to augment the work of orthodox midwives in the country’s hospitals to ensure safe delivery. Up till date, she continues to provide refresher training for them. 

Alhaji Shamsudeen Taimako who is the fifth born of Hajia Salamatu Taimako, describes her mother as an accomplished environmentalist and wildlife conservationist who has made great contributions in the area of agro-forestry and sustainable agriculture. 

“She owns a 250 acre grafted mango plantation supported by EDAIF; a nursery of over 300,000 mango tree plants as well as teak and cashew plantations where she derives a living from. Besides, she offers training to schools, farmers, individuals and organisations that have the desire to establish tree nurseries and agro-forestry plantations”, he noted.

Having missed out in western education, Hajia Salamatu Taimako a decade ago, decided to establish a basic school. As Alhaji Shamsudeen Taimako explained, a senior high school was later added, and currently, the school which is known as Business College International also runs pre-tertiary WAEC programmes such as Diploma in Business Administration, Diploma in Accounting and Diploma in Office Management. Courses taught in the senior high school include Business, General Arts, Home Economics and Agricultural Science.

Alhaji Shamsudeen Taimako with labourers at Taimako nursery
Since 2003, nearly 60 students including orphans have received scholarships from the school till they completed and left to pursue other academic opportunities in other institutions of higher learning. Besides, the children of some 15 permanent staff and other 160-180 non-permanent staff who work on her plantations also enjoy scholarships. Hajia Salamatu Taimako has also allocated scholarship slots to some eminent traditional rulers in Tamale and they include the Chiefs of Tamale, Kanvilli, Gulkpegu, Dungu, Choggu and Banvim.   

According to Alhaji Shamsudeen Taimako, since the death of his father in 1976, Hajia Salamatu Taimako singlehandedly took care of him and his eight other siblings through school till they all completed. “Today, all of us are entrepreneurs. People think ‘we know so much’ but all the credit goes to our mother, Hajia Salamatu Taimako. She is disciplined, committed and a friend”, he stressed. 

With over sixty years in indigenous knowledge and herbal medical practice, Hajia Salamatu Taimako has seven awards under her belt, an achievement many northern women in contemporary times are yet to attain even with the support of responsible and truly supportive husbands. These awards include: Certificate of Honour in 1996 from the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology for Best Environmental Practices; Certificate of Honour in 1998 from the Forestry Commission for her immense contribution to the re-afforestation programme of the Government of Ghana; and Certificate of Merit in 1999 for her contribution to sustainable agriculture; Certificate of Honour in 2000 from the Ghana Federation of Traditional Medicine Practitioners for her recognition and sustained contribution towards the development of traditional medicine in Ghana. 

The rest are: Certificate of Recognition in 2002 from the Ministry of Environment and Science for her outstanding contribution towards combating desertification in Ghana through her production of over ten thousand assorted tree seedlings; Honorary Doctorate Degree (Honoris Causa) in the Doctor of Science category in 2004 for her expertise in indigenous knowledge systems, for her contribution to traditional medical practice, agro-forestry and sustainable agriculture, for her devoted and selfless service to her community and humanity, especially the poor and deprived rural people, and for serving as a role model worthy of emulation by the Ghanaian woman; and Presidential Excellence award on herbal medicine and agro-forestry in 2006 by former President John Agyekum Kuffour.

Due to the wonderful things Hajia Salamatu Taimako is doing for her community in a quest to fight poverty, diseases, illiteracy and environmental degradation, a number of foreign diplomats have paid courtesy call on her in recent times. They include U.K Undersecretary of State Mr. Stephen O’Brien, Israeli Ambassador to Ghana Ms Sharon Bar-li and a high-powered delegation of Canadian Members of Parliament. 

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