Monthly Archives: March 2010

Arresting the Music. Arresting Hope. Arrested for playing at a wedding “without permission”

Last night I wrote a post about a story my friend told me about some musicians being arrested for playing at a wedding “without permission.” However, since the case is still ongoing, I have decided to take down the post until things are a bit more settled.

[UPDATE: 16 March 2010: Abdulaziz A. Abdulaziz has just published a story in Leadership on the Alliance Francaise episode  that mentions the incident I am referring to here:

Meanwhile a six-man band known as Police Band who perform at weddings in the state was equally smashed by agents of the board on allegation that they were performing without a permit of the board. The band is led by one Solomon alias Solo, an emerging entertainer.

Members of the band were mopped up and taken to a court which subsequently sentenced them to six months with an option of fine of N20, 000. The group was thrown behind bars but was later released after paying the fine.]]

When I first heard about this story, my friend told me that the Police Band was registered with the Kano State History and Culture Bureau….

Readers may remember that two weeks ago, the Kano State Censorship Board also shut down a 23,000 euro international concert organized by the French embassy and the Kano State History and Culture Bureau, being hosted at the Alliance Francaise, for not “seeking permission” to hold the event.

Hausa Home Video Resource Centre

The Mass Communication Department at Bayero University has been very generous in their hosting of me while I have been doing my research in Kano. As part of my appreciation for their help, I am helping them to coordinate and put together a blog for the Hausa Home Video Resource Centre. You can check it out the blog, which I started working on yesterday, here:

The Hausa Home Video Resource Centre is an initiative of the Department of Mass Communication at Bayero University in Kano, Nigeria. It was founded with the aim to provide access to information about the Hausa film industry for researchers, journalists, and the general public and to provide useful resources for practitioners in the industry. It is currently being coordinated by Carmen McCain, a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a visiting scholar in the Department of Mass Communications at Bayero University

In the next few months, we hope to provide access to archived newspaper articles about the Hausa film industry, updates on resources for Hausa film practitioners, and summaries of Hausa films for the general public. You can access photos and documents at our picasa site: http://www.google.com/profiles/hausahomevideoresource#about

You can contact the Hausa Home Video Resource Centre at hausahomevideoresource @ gmail.com. We welcome any feedback or suggestions on how we can improve the site or the centre.

The Most recent violence in Plateau State

When I read the news last night (after receiving a text earlier in the day from one of my friends who had heard about it on the news), I wanted to vomit. There has been a fresh wave of violence in villages on the outskirts of southern Jos killing hundreds of innocent men, women, and children. The attacks on Dogo Nahawa, Shen village, and others seem to be reprisal attacks for atrocities committed during the January 2010 crisis (particularly the well-publicized case of the massacre at Kuru Karama).

According to BBC:

Some 500 people, including many women and children, are now reported to have been killed in a weekend ethnic clash near Jos in Nigeria, officials say.

The figure was earlier put at 100 and it is hard to verify casualties. Troops have been deployed and local officials said dozens of arrests had been made.

They said three mainly Christian villages near Jos were attacked from nearby hills by people with machetes.

There is a long history of local tension between Muslims and Christians.

The attacks are said to have been in revenge for the killing of several hundred people around Jos in January.

[UPDATE 9pm: Naijablog, at 3:25pm,  reposted a report by the Nigeria Red Cross Society, Plateau Branch, on a visit yesterday07/03/2010,  to Dogo Na Hauwa:

A joint team of the NRCS, Plateau state branch and NEMA visited Dogo Na Hauwa, a village about 20km from Jos the Plateau State Capital. It was reported that as early as 3.00am, some group of unknown persons attacked Dogo Na Hauwa and three other villages of Jos South LGA, all to the South east of Bukuru, Headquarters of Jos South LGA of Plateau state.

Findings

The visit revealed the following:

1) Four villages were attacked

(a) Dogo Na Hauwa

(b) Shen

(c) Zot-Foron

(d) Rasat

2) Several houses burnt

3) 23 injured and hospitalized at JUTH; one has died. Some other injured people were hospitalized at the Plateau State Hospital

4) We were able to see the corpses of about sixty people mostly women and children that were killed in Dogo Na Hauwa alone. The villagers claimed the figures could be more. The other three villages attacked were not accessible by us.

5) Several people were displaced within the communities

6) Police were seen at Dogo Na Hauwa]]]]]

[UPDATE 10 March 2010: To see the Human Rights Watch call for an investigation with three witness accounts, click here.]

My family, who live on the north side of Jos, says that so far, today (as of 10am this morning when I spoke to my father), things on their part of town seem to be calm. [UPDATE 12:20pm: I just received a phone call from my brother, who is visiting Jos right now, asking me to send him phone credit and saying he had received a phone call saying there were rumours (at this point it's all rumours) of violence on Ahmadu Bello way.]

Here are a few more articles on the most recent violence, though you can find the same range of articles if you go to Google News and search for Jos. As I post these, I contemplate the double-edged nature of global news. While I think it is imperative that these atrocities be known and condemned by the world, at the same time, I wonder how much news coverage of events actually fuels hatred and violence in other locations. There are other links I am choosing not to post here, because I think they contain opinions that could be inflammatory, but, of course, all you have to do, if you’d like to see them, is google.

BBC: Nigeria Religious Clashes “kill 500″ near Jos

NEXT: Herdsmen Raid Jos Village, Kill Hundreds

Al-Jazeera: Deadly Clashes in Central Nigeria

Punch: 150 Die in Fresh Jos Violence

NEXT: Jonathan places security on red alert in Jos

While this most recent violence was committed against Beroms (mostly identifying as Christians) by Fulani cattleherders (mostly identifying as Muslims), the use of the word genocide (I think the term “mutual genocide” might be appropriate) and allegations of conspiracy by victims of both side must be read in context of events going back for years. As those who have followed the case may recall, around 300 Muslim men, women, and children were killed in Kuru Karama by raiders self-identifying as Christians (as slogans written on a burned mosque testify). It is difficult to say who has “started” the crises, which often do seem to have a very planned feel about them, but the reality is that the tensions have gone back for years, from the resistance of people in the Plateau against the Fulani wars of aggression in the early 19th century to the resentment against colonial policies in the early 20th century to more recent national policies on indigine/settler rights.  My own knowledge of these tensions goes back to the beginning of the decade in Plateau State to the 2001 Jos crisis (Though there has certainly been much earlier violence in other parts of the middlebelt and north). From the early Jos crisis in 2001, the violence has since spread into a web of reprisal attacks.

I don’t know what will stop this cycle of hatred and atrocity, only that I keep going back to that 1957 Christmas sermon preached by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, entitled, “Loving your Enemies.” It calls for a love and forgiveness that rises above our human nature. Is such a love possible, when we have so many truly potent grievances against each other? I think that, though of course, as those civil rights reformers did, we must pursue legal redress and seek to change a system that perpetuates such violence , in the end, a wide-scale change of heart–an insistence on reconciliation by this generation–is our only hope. [See for example, the song "Nigeria Tamu Ce" "Nigeria is Ours," which calls for us to "unite as one," by young Kano-based singer DJ Yaks. You can listen to the song in Hausa, with an English rap, on his myspace page.] In the last paragraph Martin Luther King, Jr, throws out this challenge to those living under the oppression of racist policies and segregation in the United States:

To our most bitter opponents we say: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.”

This is a very hard teaching. My sense of justice revolts against the idea of  wearing down the enemy by “our capacity to suffer.” But, in a system where justice is slow and faulty, what is the other choice?  King, who, like the early Christian writer Paul, knew what he was talking about when he spoke on suffering, warns that:

[W]hen Jesus says “Love your enemies,” he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies-or else? The chain reaction of evil-hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars-must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

For more information on sectarian violence in middle-belt and northern Nigeria, particularly in Plateau State, see the following links:

Nigeria: Protect Survivors, Fully Investigate Massacre Reports, a January 2010 call by Human Rights Watch for the Nigerian government to investigate the massacre at Kuru Karama.

“Jonah Jang and the Jasawa: Ethno-Religious Conflict in Jos, Nigeria” an August report published by “Sharia Debates in Africa”  in August 2009 by Phil Ostien

Arbitrary Killings by Security Forces:a July 2009 Human Rights Watch Report on extrajudicial killings by security forces during the November 2008 crisis in Jos

“They Do Not Own This Place”A  2006 Human Rights Watch Report on the Indigene/Settler Policies in Nigeria that has often been blamed for these crises in the middlebelt, including a case study on violence in Plateau State

Revenge in the Name of ReligionA 2005 Human Rights Watch Description of violence, between Muslims and Christians, in the Plateau town of Yelwa in February and May 2004, and reprisal attacks in Kano May 2004

My own thoughts on the January 2010 crisis: January 21st  On the latest Jos crisis ; January 23rd Massacre at Kuru Kenta/Kuru Karama ; January 28th Taking Sides

and a very subjective/emotional reaction I wrote in December 2008 on the November 2008 Jos crisis, during which my family had had a refugee camp at our house.

God help us all.

French Ambassador rejects the conditions of KS Censorship board for lifting ban on music festival, Punch Reports

Today’s Punch carries an update on the recent cancellation by the Kano State Censorship Board of KAMFEST, the annual music festival hosted at the Alliance Francaise. [It took my browser a long time to open the Punch link. If you can't get it to open, you can also find the article by Oluwole Josiah at Online Nigeria, unfortunately not credited...]:

The French Embassy has said it would not accept the conditions given by the Kano State Film Censor Board for lifting the ban on the annual music festival known as KANIFEST.

It also said it was unsure of staging the annual festival this year or next year, as the position of the Kano State Government would determine the fate of the festival.

French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jean-Michel Dumond, told our correspondent in an exclusive chat on Monday that discussions with the officials of the censorship board revealed that they were targeting one of the participating singers who was said to have criticised the board for banning music within the state.

He said the board wanted the singer to be withdrawn from the concert, but that condition was not acceptable to the embassy.

“We don’t want to be involved in that kind of situation where it has to do with this person or that person. Ours is to ensure that we promote culture and get the festival to benefit the people.

“If it is reduced to an individual or dealing with one person or the other, we are not interested in that. We have been discussing with the officials of the government, and we do not really have anything to do with the censorship board,” Dumond said.

He noted that the Kano State Governor was not aware of the decision of the censorship board and would be seriously disappointed at the turn of events.

To keep reading the Punch article, follow this link.

When I heard about the closure of the event on Saturday, I was told by filmmakers the rumour that the reason the event had been shut down was because popular Hausa singer Maryam Fantimoti, called the “the box of songs” by Hausa comedian Ari Baba (as cited in FIM Magazine, July 2009, p.41)  was slated to perform. (Maryam was also one of the finalists in Partners in Transforming Health in Nigeria in 2009). In a July 2009 interview with Fim Magazine, Fantimoti responded to a question about registering with the Kano State censorship board (my translation in italics):

Ana ta zuwa ana rijista da Hukumar Tace Finafinai ta Jihar Kano. Ke kin je kin yi kuwa?

People are going to be registered with the Kano State Film Censor’s Board. Have you gone?

Ban je ba, kuma ban yi ba, domin ni dai ba kamfani ne da ni ba, koyaushe ina gidan mu; in ka ga na fita an bugo waya ne ana nema na sannan in fita.

I haven’t gone, and I haven’t registered, because I am not with a company. I’m always at home. If you see me go out, it’s because I have been called [to work], that’s when I go out.

Ai ba kamfani ba, wai a matsayin ki na mawakiya tunda mawaka ma duk su na zuwa suna yi.

Not that you are a company, supposedly it’s supposed to be done because you are a musician, since all the other musicians are going to do it.

Ni ban sani ba, domin ban ga takarda a rubuce ba, kuma ni komai nawa cikin tsari na ke yi. Kai, ni tun da na ke jin mawak’a, na ke jin labarin su, ban tab’a jin an ce Shata ko Garba Supa ko D’ank’wairo ko Hassan Wayam da Barbani Choge sun yi ko suna da rijista ba. Shi kenan kuma don mu aka raina sai a ce sai mun yi wata rijista?

Me, I don’t know, because I haven’t seen anything written on it; everything I do is done properly and in order [NOTE: the translation of this last sentence could be off.] Kai, ever since I have listened to singers and heard news about them, I’ve never heard that [a list of older "traditional" Hausa musicians] Shata or Garba Supa or  D’ank’wairo or Hassan Wayam or Barbani Choge were registered. So, now we are held in contempt unless we go and do some registration?

[Note, that on the question of individual registrations for musicians, writers, or filmmakers, Director of the Kano State History and Culture Bureau (a Kano state government agency which helped plan the music festival), Ali Bature opined, when I asked him, a few days ago, that there was no such specification in the Kano State censorship law. The entire censorship law can be found in the library of the Kano State History and Culture Bureau for those interested in looking through it. If this interpretation of the law is correct, Maryam's understanding that it was only companies that were supposed to register with the censorship board would be correct.)

Although Maryam Fantimoti was not able to perform at the music festival that was shut down by the Kano State Censorship Board, you can hear her singing along with DJ Yaks on his song “Rukky,” one of the songs featured (timecode 12:09) during the recent 26 February interview VOA did with DJ Yaks. ” (The link to the sound file is here–the written interview here.) “Rukky” can also be found on DJ Yak’s myspace page. (Please note that DJ Yak’s music is not for sale in Kano.) I will link to any other of Maryam Fantimoti’s music I can find online, as I find it.

She is also the female voice in the songs featured in the Hausa film Zo Mu Zauna

Update: 3-day international music festival cancelled by Kano State Censor’s Board

Daily Trust, 1 March 2010, p. 7

In an update to my last post, I spoke briefly today with Alain Service, the director of the Alliance Francaise in Kano, and he confirmed that the Kano State Censor’s Board sent a letter to the Alliance Francaise about two hours before the three-day KAMFEST music festival, an annual event that has taken place at the Alliance Francaise for the last 6 years, was to begin. Service said the letter told them to stop the festival. He claimed that the letter gave no other reason for cancelling the event other than saying that they had no right to hold the event without informing the Censor’s Board.

There were also brief articles in the Daily Trust and by AFP about the cancellation of the three-day event, which was to feature artists from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and France.

The AFP news report says:

Sharia police ordered the closure of an annual music festival funded and organised by the French embassy in northern Nigeria at the weekend, local officials and diplomats said on Monday.

“We have banned the music festival for the reason that we were not notified and our permission was not sought,” Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, head of the film censorship board in the northern Kanoregion, told AFP.

The French embassy said they had been told they could not stage the event at the local French cultural centre as they did not have prior authorisation.

“Following a notification by the Kano state censorship board, the Kano festival of music is cancelled” the French embassy said in a statement emailed to AFP.

The embassy has organised the three-night KANFEST music festival for the past six years through its cultural centre in Kano, featuring performances from Nigeria and other African countries as well as French musicians.

It seems strange to me that the Kano State Censor’s Board had the power to halt the event, when another Kano State agency, the History and Culture Bureau had helped in planning the event. One person I spoke to at the Alliance Francaise said that she thought the Censor’s board was limited to censoring films, but that since the event was cancelled at the Alliance Francaise she had heard that the censor’s board is saying that even performances at weddings have to gain permission from the censorship board ahead of time. When I asked the director of the History and Culture Bureau, Ali Bature about the relationship between the two state agencies, he said that the History and Culture Bureau had a “cordial relationship” with the Kano State Censor’s Board and had in fact been instrumental in helping to found the board in 2000 as a way to protect filmmakers and allow them to continue making films after the establishment of shari’a law in Kano State. He did, however, note, when I asked him, that there was no legal basis in the Kano state censorship law, for the individual registration of artists. He said the expectation was that guilds would be registered with the censor’s board but that individual artists were the guild’s responsibility. A copy of the entire Kano State Censorship law can be found in the Kano State History and Culture Bureau, for anyone who would like to peruse it. According to film industry practitioners I have spoken to, censor’s board workers on multiple occasions(one such occasion is described in one of my March blog posts) have visited locations of films being made in Kano to check whether each member of the cast and crew is individually registered with the board. Although I was not able to confirm this with Mr. Service, the rumour I have heard from multiple sources is that part of the reason the Censor’s Board shut down the event was because Maryam Fantimoti, who is not registered with the Censor’s Board, was slated to perform at the event.

[[UPDATE 3 March 2009. In an article in today's Punch, "France Rejects condition for lifting ban on Music Festival," [If you have trouble getting the link to open, you can also find the article copied here] Oluwole Josiah reports:

French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jean-Michel Dumond, told our correspondent in an exclusive chat on Monday that discussions with the officials of the censorship board revealed that they were targeting one of the participating singers who was said to have criticised the board for banning music within the state.

He said the board wanted the singer to be withdrawn from the concert, but that condition was not acceptable to the embassy.

“We don’t want to be involved in that kind of situation where it has to do with this person or that person. Ours is to ensure that we promote culture and get the festival to benefit the people.

“If it is reduced to an individual or dealing with one person or the other, we are not interested in that. We have been discussing with the officials of the government, and we do not really have anything to do with the censorship board,” Dumond said.

He noted that the Kano State Governor was not aware of the decision of the censorship board and would be seriously disappointed at the turn of events.

Josiah also reports that:

The French Embassy has said it would not accept the conditions given by the Kano State Film Censor Board for lifting the ban on the annual music festival known as KANIFEST.

It also said it was unsure of staging the annual festival this year or next year, as the position of the Kano State Government would determine the fate of the festival.]]]

Today, I passed by a roundabout near the government house several times, and the banner advertising KAMFEST was still there, flapping abandoned in the breeze.