Plagiarism (of me) in the Vanguard and the DG of Kano State Censor’s Board speaks out.

I’m still backlogged on a lot of blog posts, bear with me. I will post soon on the Zuma Film Festival, the Savannah International Movie Awards, and the NAISOD press conference.  But this morning, when I opened up this Vanguard article by Benjamin Njoku, “Our Grouse with Kannywood – DG, Kano Censorship Board,” (also found here on AllAfrica.com) it sounded curiously familiar.  While most of the article is an original piece outlining the director general of the Kano State Censorship Board’s “grouse with Kannywood,” the first three paragraphs are directly plagiarized from a piece I wrote (with the help of Nazir Hausawa and Ahmad Alkanawy) back in January 2009 and published first on my blog, then republished in NEXT, at Chimurenga Online, and at Pambazuka News. I thought I’d post immediately, half out of pique, half because the article is actually relevant to my research.

Here are the first four paragraphs of Njoku’s article:

Until three years ago, Kano used to be the home of a thriving film industry in the Hausa language. Hausa language ‘video-films’ are similar to the larger ‘Nollywood’ film industry but are stylistically different from their southern counterparts, with most films including song and dance sequences influenced by Indian films and hip-hop music videos.

A sex scandal in 2007 involving a leaked cell phone video of a Hausa film actress, Maryam ‘Hiyana’ Usman, having sex with her boyfriend Usman Bobo, instigated a change in the leadership of the Kano State Censorship Board. The board had been instituted in 2001 after the implementation of Islamic Sharia law as a compromise measure between the film makers and the government.

The censorship board enabled the films to continue being made but with some restrictions on dress and interaction between male and female actors.

Following the sex scandal, the incumbent director general of the Kano State Censorship Board, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem, formerly commandant of the hisbah, was appointed in August, 2007, to arrest the ugly trend. Since this administrative change, controversy has continued to trail the industry as there have been alleged multiple arrests and acts of intimidation against the film industry and related entertainment businesses in Kano.

Now here are the first three paragraphs  of my piece, as quoted from NEXT:

Nigeria’s northern city of Kano was until last year the home of a thriving film industry in the Hausa language. Hausa language “video-films” are similar to the larger “Nollywood” Nigerian film industry but are stylistically different from their southern cousins, with most films including song and dance sequences influenced by Indian films and hip-hop music videos.

In August 2007, a sex scandal involving a leaked cell phone video of a Hausa film actress Maryam “Hiyana” Usman having sex with her boyfriend Usman Bobo instigated a change in the leadership of the Kano State Censorship Board. The board had been instituted in 2001 after the implementation of Islamic Shari’ a law as a compromise measure between the filmmakers and the government.

The censorship board enabled the films to continue being made but with some restrictions on dress and interaction between male and female actors. (The Kano State Censorship Board is a separate entity from the National Film and Video Censor’s Board which files and gives ratings to all films made in Nigeria. Hausa filmmakers are required to submit their films to both bodies if they want to sell their films in Kano State.)

[….] [Paragraph four deleted in Njoku’s piece, he continues on to paragraph five.]

Following the sex scandal, a new director general of the Kano State Censorship Board Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, formerly commandant of the hisbah, was appointed in August 2007. Since the administrative change, there have been multiple arrests and acts of intimidation against the film industry and related entertainment businesses in Kano.

This is not the first time I have been plagiarized. A piece I wrote under a pseudonym was rather humorously mangled in a local government-funded paper (I didn’t make any public noise about it because I had written under a pseudonym) and several other pieces were taken without attribution on ModernGhanaNews.com and other such sites. Similarly, my photos posted on this blog, on flickr, and other internet forums are regularly published without attribution. But this is the first time, I have been plagiarized in such a respectable paper by an entertainment journalist I have, myself, quoted (with attribution) in my academic work. I am flattered that my piece I wrote a year and a half ago is still felt to be well written and relevant enough to open a new article (with a few edits and moving around of phrases), but, as most writers are, I am also irritated at having my words taken with no attribution and at the subtle changes made to the text to imply that the “ugly trend” of being arrested is somehow the fault of the filmmakers and separate from the authority of the Kano State Censor’s Board.

And, of course, what I am experiencing is common to many other journalists. I have several journalist friends who have complained about their words being stolen and used without attribution on online publications, and I daily read newspapers with “culled” stories from international news sites, some with attribution, some with none.

My grouse on having my words plagiarized being stated, if you’d like to hear more of DG Rabo Abdulkarim’s “grouse on Kannywood,” read on to the “original material” in the article, with the usual accusations against Kannywood (amongst many others) that

five percent of their immediate concern is to copy other people’s works at a cheap rate.

yeah, that’s apparently not too unusual in other media either…

In other recent news on the Head of the Kano State Censorship board, apparently Rabo Abdulkarim was involved in an altercations with filmmakers in Kaduna after he made accusations on Radio DITV in Kaduna about Hausa filmmakers making blue films. For more information on the gathering of filmmakers who challenged the head censor on the premises of DITV, read Al-Amin Ciroma’s article “Showdown with a Censor” published in Leadership on 18 May 2010.

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4 responses to “Plagiarism (of me) in the Vanguard and the DG of Kano State Censor’s Board speaks out.

  1. Oh Carmen, it is not their fault! Journalists have actually been through an academic circles where the word plagiarism does not exist. In other words they still don’t know copying other peoples work verbatim without paying due respect to the original author is a crime. You can help to institute a Plagiarism Committee in BUK and may be then, the academic circle in Nigeria will know what it is

  2. Hmmm…. Auwal, I’m not sure if not having been taught about plagiarism in school is a great excuse for a journalist who has been writing for years. While, I think CREATIVE work generally involves inspiration and even a certain amount of modeling off of/”stealing” ideas from other creative sources, journalism and academic work should be phrased in the author’s own words.

    BUT, I do realize that it is a problem that starts from the academy–especially when I observe students copying assignments verbatim from other students, from the internet, or from a textbooks. ALL of my own students (at least those that attend class and have a copy of my syllabus) are very aware of what plagiarism is, and know that if they do it they are at risk of failing my course. I generally try to design my assignments in such a way, requiring original analysis, that it is almost impossible to plagiarize, but if I catch students doing it (and I DO read through every assignment turned in), they fail. So, I do think more of that is needed in the Nigerian academy, but at the same time, if you are a professional and experienced journalist, you should be aware of the concept of plagiarism.

  3. Pingback: DG of Kano Censors Board Rabo caught in sex scandal with Minor, Sunday Trust reports | A Tunanina…

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