Rawa da waka a finafinan Hausa/Singing and Dancing in Hausa films

In my recent interview with VOA, I mentioned that one of the things that first drew me to Hausa films is the singing and dancing.  Let me explain a little bit more. I love the singing and dancing in the films because it is both an enjoyable break from the storyline with a bit of spectacle and, often, an important moment in commenting on the overall storyline (whether foreshadowing, summarizing, or sermonizing upon the larger events of the film.) The singing and dancing is pleasurable to watch and  also tends to be more tightly edited and choreographed than the rest of the film.

While I know many critics who don’t like the songs and dances and also know quite a few filmmakers who tell me they want to make films without singing and dancing, I hate to see this aspect of Kannywood films be dismissed without thought.  The song and dance sequences are what distinguish Hausa films from their Nollywood neighbors and, when well done, add a great deal of pleasure to the experience of watching the films.

In the interview I mentioned a few videos, which I will insert here.  [Please note that the videos embedded here are being used under FAIR USE laws, for review purposes.] The first is Jamila Chassis with Sani Danja and Mansura Isa (who later married in real life). I have actually only seen the song and dance on YouTube and have not watched the entire film. But it is one of the most delightful Kannywood song and dances I have ever seen, both for the catchy song but also because of the goofy flirtatious dancing. While I know many are concerned about the objectification of women in these dances, the dancing here is playful rather than sexual–and milder than most dancing I’ve seen at wedding bikis in Kano.

I also mentioned the song “Zazzabi,” again with Sani Danja and Mansura Isa, although this time the main characters are not dancing. The cinematography here is a bit grey, static and unimpressive, but I think the editing to the music is well done. Most impressive are the lyrics, sung by Sadiq Zazzabi, and the way in which the song edited together with shots of the main characters metaphorically encapsulates the story of the film.  I will not elaborate here because I don’t want to ruin the twists and turns the story takes. However, the song interacts with the larger story brilliantly. [UPDATE. 27 December 2013: In a later post, I translate the lyrics of “Zazzabi.”]

Finally, I mentioned the choreography in Albashi 2 (starring Abbas Sadiq, Zainab Idris, and Adam A. Zango), which I think is quite well done. I also love the costumes and the attention to colour here. I have here a trailer for Albashi 2 rather than a selection of the entire song (the genre of the trailer for Hausa films is worthy of a post in and of itself), but I think it illustrates what I mean. The pleasure, at least for me, is not in the “shaking body” of the female dancer (as is sometimes asserted in critiques of the dancing in films) but in the choreography and colour of the piece. Start watching at 1:08.

There are other examples I will elaborate on this blog another time, but let me share one last delightful example from the trailer for Shugabanci. Start at timecode 1:37. How can you not love a dancing “Nigeria”?!!

Please note that these videos are used according to Fair Use policies for review purposes.


For other happy posts on Kannywood, see

Congratulations to Abba El Mustapha and Fatima M. Shuwa on their wedding celebration.” 19 June 2010

“The ‘second coming’ of Kannywood.” 26 June 2011

Congratulations to Kannywood actress Sakna Gadaza and Musa Bello on their wedding 9 July 2011.” 5 August 2011

“Translating (and Transcribing) the Hausa film song Zazzabi [Fever].” 8 November 2013

“Kannywood Award 2013.” 22 November 2013

47 responses to “Rawa da waka a finafinan Hausa/Singing and Dancing in Hausa films

  1. Yusif Abdullah Yahya Gida Gida

    Tara samari a waje guda a ince a dunkule ana rawa da waka kamar yadda akayi a fim din albashi ba al’adar bahaushe bace kuma ya sabawa addini

  2. Idris mohammed Eddie

    Kun sani jama’a basa son rawa,jama’a sun gamsu baku da niyyar daina rawa.
    Sai ku yi bincike (survey) kan amfani ko rashin amfanin cireta da ci gaba ko nakasun da hakan zai haifar maku.
    Amma dai baku daukan shawara.

  3. Musa Alhaji Iusa

    Ba wai ba’ason rawa da waka ba ne,ko ba komai ai akai nishadantarwa,amma abin da za’aduba addini yakori komai….

  4. yan film muji tsoron allah mu dinga tuna mutuwa

  5. Kallon film baya bata tarbiyya tarbiyya daga gida take farawa inkaga ance wancen fim yabatashi to kabi asali agida yaga.

  6. munji wali adam student in egypt

    bashir kada kace haka domin kuwa dabia tana iya canzawa.

  7. nidai kirana gareku shine kuji tsoron Allah





  10. i lk hausa film and songs very much

  11. A gaskia ni dai shawarata anan itace: kawai mu mutane mu cigaba da addu’a saboda kunga dai yanxu xamani yanda ya haifar mana a yau, to don haka sai mubi a hankali. Amma akwai wanda laifinsa bai kaiba ake masa ba daidai ba, to amma ana ganin wancen abinda yakeyi yafi na wannan, to yakamata mu lura da hakan jama,a haba……

  12. A gaskia a zango kayi mini a rayuwa kuma ganin acting naka da rawa iya wasu abubuwa yasa kake burgeni, amma ya ya xa’ai in samu number taka? Nidai ga number ta
    08166171994 08093469164 am very much waiting result

  13. Abubakar Sadiq SHA

    The major issue here is the actors are being economical with truth.

  14. I’d love to respond in Hausa but my phrases are limited to telling someone I need to wee, telling someone to come and eat, asking ‘How was the market?’ and of course, calling someone a liar, all useless in the case of this post.

    I will say though, that its funny, growing up we were steeped, STEEPED in Bollywood films – I even speak film-Punjabi/Hindi because of it, but we never watched on Hausa language film (by the way, I HATE that in Nigeria Nollywood is taken to mean Igbo so there has to be a Kannywood. Why? Aren’t we all from the same country?). We did know that the Hausa community where I lived seemed to favour Indian influences on radios and TV sets, which we could see from the road. Maybe the similiarities in filmmaking was the reason.

    Has this always been this way or could it be a borrowed influence? I remember the early Igbo language films had a lot of singing as well so maybe its just a tranfer of oral storytelling styles into film. What do you think?

  15. Nwunye, Thanks so much for the comment and so sorry it took me a couple of days to respond! That’s cool that you can speak film Punjabi/Hindi from watching so many Hindi films. A lot of Hausa viewers are the same way. Ali Nuhu, Baballe Hayatu, and a few other Hausa film stars can apparently speak fluent (film) Hindi. There’s definitely a huge Indian film influence on Hausa films. You can see it in dressing, in the singing and dancing, and (in the early Hausa films with singing and dancing) even in some of the movements in the dancing and singing, which are copied from Indian films. The first Hausa films did not have dancing, though some of them (like Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino’s In Da So Da Kauna, based on the novel of the same name did have singing.) From what I’ve read the singing and dancing in Hausa films became popular in the late 1990s when actors like Ali Nuhu, Sani Danja, etc arrived in the film. Some filmmakers actually made remakes of Indian films in hausa.

    As for singing and dancing in other language films.I know I’ve heard that there was a lot of singing and dancing in early Yoruba films (and I saw a clip of singing and dancing in Taxi Driver made in the 80s online.) You say there was also singing and dancing in early Igbo films too, so that’s interesting. Since I don’t know those traditions as well, I can’t say. But I imagine that much of it is oral influence and some of it may come from Indian films too. (As far as Yoruba films, I know Hubert Ogunde and some of the other travelling theatre troupes started out as church “opera” groups. So the singing there goes way back).

    Although the Indian influence on Hausa films is obvious, I also think that perhaps part of the reason the Indian films and Indian singing and dancing was popular with Hausa (and Yoruba and Igbo etc) audiences was because of similar story-telling techniques. Don’t most oral tales include song (and sometimes dance) sequences? So, I think these may be convergences, and places where storytelling techniques overlap. The Indian influence is there, but I think it layers onto older more rooted performance structures. (This is something Hausa filmmakers I have spoken to often affirm.)

    As for the terminology of Nollywood and Kannywood etc, that’s a common complaint but the history and development of the industries may make it a little more understandable. Film traditions were growing up separately on video in Nigeria and Ghana in the 80s. A really popular video film Zinabu was made in Ghana in around 1987. Yoruba films were being made on video in the 1980s. Kenneth Nnebue had made up to 27 Yoruba videos before he made Living in Bondage, though Living in Bondage, of course, became the first big smash hit. Similarly, Hausa drama groups were videoing their dramas in the 1980s, and the first successful video film Turmin Danya was made in 1990. The first big Hausa hit Gimbiya Fatima was made in 1992 (the same year Living in Bondage was made). So you can see that all these film traditions were growing up alongside one another with separate infrastructures. (Though there was also some overlap.Hausa film director AGM Bashir, for example, worked with Tunde Kelani and a few other Yoruba and English-language filmmakers in the south before beginning to make more films in Kano. He still works on a lot of English-language films in Kano). The editor of Tauraruwa coined the name Kannywood, for the Hausa film industry in 1999, and made it a gossip column in his magazine. Three years later Norimitsi, a New York Times journalist, coined the name Nollywood for the Nigerian film industry, but his experience was with the southern axis. When the Igbo filmmakers who had made Living in Bondage switched to English to reach a larger audience, it DID reach a larger audience, and spread all over the world. But most filmmakers working in Nigerian languages (though there are some exceptions) see Nollywood as the English-language (and largely Igbo) industry. Yoruba filmmakers don’t often see themselves as “Nollywood,” Neither do Hausa filmmakers. In the case of Hausa filmmakers, they already had a name for themselves before the term Nollywood came along. That doesn’t mean they don’t see themselves as NIGERIAN filmmakers. They do. (though there are also some Hausa producers etc from Niger, Ghana etc) There are actually quite a few Nigerian-language filmmakers interested in co-production etc, but the infrastructure right now does not support that, though there are more and more making crossover films. In 2010, Mohammad Dahiru made Hamza in English using “Nollywood” English stars and Kannywood Hausa stars. More recently Kenneth Gyang, an NFI graduate, has made Hausa and English films including Blood and Henna (in Hausa and English on the Pfizer scandal), and Karangaya, a Hausa film that features Nollywood stars Aki and Pawpaw. Yakubu Mohd and Sani Danja’s company 2-Effects Empire also made a recent film with Jim Iyke. There are also quite a few Hausa filmmakers who attend national film festivals (mostly those held in Abuja because it is closer) and workshops, and there is an interest in national filmmaking. Ali Nuhu is one of the best known crossover stars. The Zuma Film Festival or Abuja International Film Festival sometimes gives awards to Hausa films. The Afro-Hollywood awards recently recognized Aminu Shariff and Maryam Booth as best Hausa actors. So, there is some movement towards integration. However, right now, the filmmakers with the most access to funding and international investment/infrastructure etc are Lagos-based filmmakers. There’s much more that I probably shouldn’t write publicly at the moment. But that gives an idea of some of what is going on. I recently wrote an overview of Kannywood for Nigerians Talk. I’ll copy the link here. And I also have an academic article coming out in the journal The Global South that talks about these issues in more depth. I can send you a copy when it comes out.

    Here’s a link to my Nigerians Talk article:

    • Interesting response. I should add that India, for example, has not only Bollywood (which is mainly the name for Hindi Cinema): you have Kollywood (Tamil cinema), Tollywood (Telugu Cinema) amongst others.

  16. Sunusi A. Carlos Fagge

    Gaskiyane film din hausa yana debewa ‘yan kallo kewa musammanma idan mutun bayayin komai to dole zaiji dadin kallon ‘yan film din hausa kannywood. amma dai dan allah ku rinka gyara duk wanda zaisa arinka ganin laifinku…. sako daga SUNUSI A. CARLOS FAGGE

  17. Hmm. I like Indian movies a lot and I love their dances and how they employ them to tell the stories. However, I cannot honestly say the same for Hausa movies and their dances. In the first place, it is too dependent on the sequence and style of Indian movies. Lip sync is not synchronized and the dance moves are at best uninspired. I don’t feel happy about this because as a Nigerian, I know we have rich cultures, Hausa being one of them. There should be more imaginative and creative with dance sequences and choreography. Honestly.

  18. Pls i want 2 get d song of wani gari

  19. Sunana zangina zango ina xaune sokoto a’karamar hukumar sokoto south a’gaskiya adam a zango ne ke lokaci kuma a’gidan hausa film banda kamarsa kuma ba’abinda xance face Allah ya karamasa baiwa da basira ya kuma tsaresa da sherin mahasada ya yimasa kariya da makiya amen.

  20. gaskiyane rawa da waka a firm din hausa bata al,adar hausawa yakeyi

  21. Wow, this paragraph is fastidious, my sister is analyzing these things, thus I am
    going to inform her.

  22. Ni i’na da taurari da yawa a fina-finan hausa, kamar su Ali Nuhu A Zango da Nafisa Abdullahi, ALLAH ya ƙasa basira fisaha kuma A Zango film zango 4 ya fito.

  23. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you
    relied on the video to make your point. You clearly know what youre talking about, why
    waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something informative
    to read?

  24. allah ya taimaka a gky a hanzu lokacin ga gky muna jin dadin fina finan hausa ka mar sauran company a hausa kamar kannyword da kuma nullyword da fkd production.

  25. Ina mika godiya ta musamman . . . . . . . . . . . . . ?

  26. kudun ga sheke ayarku babu me takamuku baya

  27. kudun ga sheke ayarku ba bu me hanaku

  28. A gaskiya ina sha,awar in shiga harkar film din hausa in zan samu.

  29. Pingback: Translating (and Transcribing) the Hausa film song Zazzabi [Fever] | A Tunanina...

  30. Haka Allah yaso mai kaza yaci kai

  31. Ina neman war hausa film mai taken CARMANDUDU (Remix).

  32. good so interesting

  33. kowa da hanyar samun abincinshi, addini Sai dai mu aikata gwargwado domin bamu isa ibadar mu ta zama cikakkiya ba . zaka iya kasancewa mai ibada Amma rana daya saika aikata laifin da zai share dukkan ayyukan alherinka Sai ka fada wuta, wani kuma aikata sharri ne aikinsa amma aikin alheri daya Sai ya yayi sanadiyyarsa shiga aljanna. Neman gafarar Allah da jin tsoronsa kadai zai tsirar damu. gwara ka aikata mugun aiki a fili saboda a tayaka Neman shiriyar Allah maimakon aikatawa a boye Wanda shine mafi raunin musulmi

  34. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to mention that I’ve truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts.

    In any case I will be subscribing to your feed and I
    hope you write again soon!

  35. munamuku fatan alkairi allah yasa midace ameen

  36. Gaskiya atawa shawarar yakamata akiyaye sabawa addini za.aga cigaba allah yakara basira dahikima allah yatemaki kanny wood da shugabanninta gaba daya daga _me bibiyar shirye shiryenku.ab.sunusi suki lala gandun albasa.kano

  37. assalam ni ma ina dai daga cikin masu kallon a matsayin makaran amma fa ada don yanzu an cika sa kurakurrai da yawa wadanda za su bata tarbiya da al’adunmu da fatan shuwagabanni za su gyara daga maman sani abdu a birnin kwanni nijar

  38. nura m inuwa INA kaunarka umar m shariff kaima INA kaunarka allah barmutare

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