Tag Archives: Nigerian film

Allah ya jikan Hauwa Ali Dodo…

 

The late Hausa Actress Hauwa Ali Dodo “Biba Problem,” courtesy of Ibrahim Sheme at Bahaushe Mai Ban Haushi

Forgive me for not posting this story earlier. I have not been well, and to be honest, I found this story so depressing, I couldn’t bear to post it earlier–also part of the reason I didn’t post last April about the death of Jamila Haruna, who I had seen and asked for an interview only weeks earlier.

Last week on New Years Day, I was with my friend Hausa novelist and poet Sa’adatu Baba as she was preparing for her wedding party. Ibrahim Sheme, editor of Leadership newspaper and publisher of Fim Magazine, called to congratulate her, but when she passed the phone to me so that I could greet him, he told me some more sobering news. Hausa film star Hauwa Ali Dodo, also known as Biba Problem after the character she played in one of her earliest films Ki Yarda da Ni (a film adaptation of the popular novel of the same name by Bilkisu Funtua) had been killed in a road accident a few hours before on the road from Jos to Kaduna, one of the latest in a series of Hausa film industry deaths on Nigerian roads.

Hauwa Ali Dodo was an actress with one of the longest acting careers in Kannywood. In a 14 March 2008 Nigerianfilms.com article, “Top 10 Northern Actresses,” posted on ModernGhana.com (likely lifted from another location that I could not find with a google search. Modern Ghana News and Nigerianfilms.com regularly lift articles from other sites without citation, as I have been told by other disgruntled journalists and discovered personally when they lifted my interview with Sani Muazu from this blog–in my case they eventually DID cite me when I sent the administrators enough complaints!), she is described as one of the top ten actresses in Kannywood and as:

the longest surviving actress in the hausa movie industry after becoming popular with the villain role she played in KI YARDA DA NI. She is gifted with spontanous acting skills and has to her credit three hits out of the highest selling movies in the hausa movie scene. These hits include KIYARDA DA NI, SANGAYA and DASKIN DA RIDI.

Ruqayyah Yusuf Aliyu gives a more extensive biography, in her personal remembrance of the actress: “Biba Problem: Sunset for Kannywood’s Star” in Sunday Trust 3 January 2009.

Born some 35 years ago, the late Hauwa was the longest serving actress in the industry. Since her debut in the film, Ki Yarda Dani, she never looked back. She was gifted with spontaneous acting skills, and had to her credit a number of hits in top selling Hausa films. These hits include Kiyarda Da Ni, Sangaya, Daskin Da Ridi, Buri, Gaskya Dokin Karfe and Na Gari to mention a few. Her spectacular and extra ordinary acting skills won her a number of awards while she was a nominee for both local and international awards on several occasions.

Among her awards were best actress in the Yahoo, Majalisar Finanfinai awards in 2002 and 2005, Yahoo Group Movie Award in 2007, Stars in the Movie Award (SIMA) for Best Actress in 2008, among others.

Here are links to a few other articles about the loss of Hauwa Ali Dodo.

Kannywood news online article posted on January 1. Kannywood News Online also has an interview with Kannywood superstar Ali Nuhu

An anecdotal Weekend Triumph article “Biba Problem is Dead” published on 2 January.

A short article from Vanguard “Hausa Film Star Dies in Road Accident” published on 2 January

An article from the Saturday Tribune on 2 January that combines the story of her death and another unrelated accident related death in “New Year Tragedy: Hausa Movie Star, Teenager die in Car Accidents.”

A People’s Daily Online piece, “Kannywood/Nollywood actors, friends, family mourn Hauwa Ali Dodo,” with short statements about Hauwa from family and friends.

The death of the Hausa film actress is the latest in series of high profile Kannywood deaths on the road. As work in Hausa films involves much travel (as well as publicity-related and personal travel–Hauwa Ali Dodo was coming back from attending a polo match in Jos. Veteran actress Jamila Haruna, one of the most recognizeable “mother” actors in Hausa films, was killed in April 2009 on the Abuja-Kaduna road, coming back from the PDP national convention), the  “hungry road” Wole Soyinka has so often written about has claimed some of the most talented and well-known members of Kannywood. The death of Hauwa Ali Dodo on New Years Day in particular brings back sad memories of the death of Kannywood leading man Ahmad S. Nuhu on the Kano-Azare road three years ago on New Years Day 2007. In June of last year,  Newspage Weekly published a feature,  “How Top Stars Perish on Nigerian Roads” listing at least 19 Kannywood road fatalities.

1. Balaraba Mohammed
2. Ahmed S. Nuhu
3. Hajiya Jamila Haruna
4. Hussaina Gombe (Tsigai)
5. Shuaibu Dan Wanzam
6. Malam Kasim
7. Nura Mohammed
8. Ali Bala
9. Maijidda Mohammed
10. Hamza Jos
11. Tijjani Ibrahim
12. Umar Katakore
13. Shuaibu Kulu
14. Baffa Yautai
15. Hajiya Hassana
16. Aisha Kaduna (Shamsiyya)
17. Rabiu Maji Magani
18. Hajiya Karima
19. Kabiru Kabuya

The facebook status of a one of my friends, a Kannywood actor, shortly after the news of Hauwa’s death broke read “Allah ya jikanmu.” “May God forgive us.” It is the phrase, more commonly “Allah ya jikansa” or “Allah ya jikanta” (May God forgive him/May God forgive her) used when someone dies.  For those in Kannywood and all of us travelling so often on these hungry roads, death lurks close by.

“Allah ya jikanmu duka”

UPDATE

To read other tributes I’ve written for Hausa actors and filmmakers gone before their time, see my posts on

Director Zilkiflu Muhammed (Zik), who died 18 February 2010,

Actress Safiya Ahmed, who died on 26 February 2010,

Actress Amina Garba, who died on 21 November 2010,

Comedian and director Lawal Kaura, who died on 13 December 2011,

Actress Maryam Umar Aliyu, who died on 12 April 2011,

Director Muhammadu Balarabe Sango, who died on 1 December 2012

Happy Islamic New Year 1431!

Happy New Year to all of my Muslim friends in commemorating the 1431st year since the Prophet’s Hijra. Allah ya ba da zaman lafiya.

And in other topics, here is my song obsession for the day. Nazifi Asananic’s “Dawo Dawo” (“Come back, Come back”) as featured in the Hausa film Garinmu da Zafi. (Forgive me for not italicizing. My laptop mouse is broken and I have a hard time highlighting things anymore…)

“No One Can Tell Us How to Live”:Interview with Sani Danja in Sunday’s Leadership

There is a great interview that Solomon Nda-Isaiah and Kucha E. Jeremiah did with Hausa film and music star Sani Danja in this week’s Sunday Leadership. Since I can’t find the online version of the article, I will post a photo of the hard copy here and a few excerpts from the interview. This article comes from Leadership Sunday, November 29, 2009. Pages 46-47. (Unfortunately, after posting I realized that the text is not big enough to read. To read, you might have to download the photo and read in a photo viewing program.)

In the article Sani Danja talks about his music and film career, his activites as a Glo ambassador, and his opinions on the recent actions of the Kano State government on Hausa filmmakers.

Here are a few excerpts. To read fully, you may have to download the photo:

When being asked about the reasons he decided to relocate to Abuja, although having offices in both Abuja and Kano, Danja says

“The thing is, there are so many rules and regulations guiding the industry in Kano. They are numerous; we have been stopped from doing any shooting or film-related activities in Kano for like six months and now they are telling us that you’ll have to get an office, have a minimum capital of N2.5m, employ a secretary, and the rest. There are so many things. If you sum up everything, it would be close to N8 or N10m. Somebody that has been stopped from work for like six months, where do you expect him to get such money? Even if we were allowed to do the movie, how much do we get out of it? It is but chicken change, yet we pay taxes. We pay government tax, yet they have never built anything to support us. They have never contributed anything to the filming business.

In response to the management of two offices in Abuja and Kano, he replies:

There’s always division of labour in a company. You have other people who look after different aspects of a company but most of my operations are directed from Kano. My parents have taught me obedience. I don’t want to fight the government. If the government says it doesn’t want this, I’ll have to stay aside. There are other states ready to welcome us. They want us to come and are always ready to open their doors to us. We don’t sell our products alone in Kano, we sell it all over the world. Everywhere you go, you see our products. Not only in Kano, Kaduna, Abuja, or Niger, they are everywhere, so for us to be stopped in one place is not a problem. You have to boost your own image. Because we want to live peacefully with everybody, that is why we had to acquire two offices, to broaden our horizons.

When asked if he had any advice for the government on disciplinary measures against filmmakers, Danja says:

First of all, they’ll have to look at it from this angle; filming is a business, and in every business, when you invest your money, you’ll think of better ways to get your money back. They should have it at the back of their minds that moviemakers have invested in their movies. One cannot be an investor while another comes to forcefully direct him on what to do. It is very impossible. If you want to direct somebody or tell him what to do in his own business, invest in the business.

As the government, they have the money and they can invest to boost the industry, they can afford to spend on every producer (at least twenty to thirty million) then tell the producer: “this is the type of film we want you to produce and we would pay you”. But in a situation where the government does not do that and you take pains to invest in the business, and they come tell you: “remove this, do this and that,” that would be impossible to obey. You have spent a lot of money, running into millions of naira, and at the end of the day, someone sits somewhere to tell you to: “Remove this. We don’t want this and that.” Those could be interesting parts that make your movie sell. How do you think that would work? I would advise the government to think again. They should know that these are people who acquire the resources invested in the business independently. They didn’t go to bother anybody or steal. They do this to keep their soul and body going, and they pay taxes to the government at the end of the day. I think the government needs to support us so that we would bring more money to them. We can be made role models for others who have already engaged or wish to engage themselves in one dubious act or the other to know that it is not only by engaging in criminal acts that you can make it in life. There are legitimate ways to better one’s life.

The government should not just sit down, creating rules and laws that would cripple our activities at the end of the day, without minding the effect it would have on us. If the son to any of the government officials were involved in something like this, they would have thought of better ways to handle it. The worst part of it is that any of our members who happens to make any mistake would be sentenced to jail. For example, if you record an album they don’t like, they won’t even try you. All they would do is to jail you or frustrate you by refusing to renew your revenue. They take you to jail without trial in the end. It is inhuman. We are not criminals. Even in armed robbery cases, they grant them bail. Here we are, honourably engaging in legitimate business. […]

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.

UPDATE

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

The latest on the Iyan-Tama case from Nigerian News Service, plus new fees from the National Film and Video Censor’s Board

In a 29 September 2009 article “Iyan Tama: Matters Arising” on the Nigerian News Service, Bolaji Oluwaseun reports that when Iyan-Tama’s counsel went to the Federal High Court of Appeal in Kaduna “to file a motion to stop the retrial”:

The judge assigned to the case ordered Iyan-tama’s counsel to go back to Kano to the magistrate that was assigned the case initially to file the motion to stop the retrial (the same court that sent him to jail for over 3months over false allegations), and that if they refuse to grant the motion then they should then come back to Federal High Court of Appeal in Kaduna to re-file the motion to stop the re-trial.

For those not familiar with the case Oluwaseun gives a summary of the case, pointing out:

After spending over 3 months in jail, Iyan-Tama was granted bail  and a retrial was ordered following a review of the case by the Kano State Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice. According to the Attorney-General, Barrister Aliyu Umar, the first trial was besmirched by irregularities. Due process was not followed in the trial that led to the conviction, he said. He used very uncomplimentary terms to describe the trial conducted by a senior magistrate, Alhaji Mukhtari Ahmed, such as “improper,” “incomplete,” “a mistake,” summing up by insisting that a “more competent magistrate” should be given the case to try again.

But yet after having committed an injustice that can be successfully argued even by a baby lawyer to be a travesty of justice, the said senior magistrate, Alhaji Mukhtari Ahmed still works in the court houses of Kano State.

And after all Iyan-Tama went through he was not compensated for his illegal imprisonment by the Kano State Government.

Olawuseun continues with more opinions about the case and provides about 6 scanned in copies of documentation that allegedly support Iyan-Tama’s case at the end of the article. To read the entire article, see this link. [UPDATE 13 Oct 09. For more recent news about how Iyan-Tama was invited to the Toronto Film festival, and a clip from his banned film Tsintsiya, see this 23 September article from the Nigerian News Service.]

In more general news concerning the National Film and Video Censor’s Board of Nigeria (not the same body as the Kano State Censorship Board), Al-Amin Ciroma in today’s Leadership (“Censor’s Board increases Fees”) writes that the NFVCB is increasing their fees for previewing a film by 30%:

The review, the board said in a release signed by the corporations Assistant Director, Corporate Affairs, Yunusa Mohammed Tanko, is in line with its efforts to offer premium service to its stakeholders.

With the acquisition and installation of modern cinema style preview theatres at our Lagos office, which is capable of handling 35mm celluloid video, as well as a digital lounge for clients, the present fees charged for preview of films and movies, musical videos and others are no more realistic. The sustainability of this heavy resource base is a prerequisite in the effort to offer global best practices in the Nigerian movie industry.

He said the new equipment would enhance and facilitate online preview of films and movies within the minimum time possible. It will also afford owners of the movies the opportunity to follow and track the progress of the preview in a seamless manner without being present physically.

New costs will be as follows:

The review, The corporation’s Assistant Director, Corporate Affairs, Yunusa Mohammed Tanko, said for local films made in Nigerian languages (of 0-15 minutes) will be N10,000, while a Nigerian film in foreign language such as English language will be charged N20,00, while a film meant for exhibition will be charged N25,000.00. In a general perspective, NFVCB has made 30% increment of the applicable fees.

To read the rest of the article, see Al-Amin Ciroma’s blog.

Image of the letter from the NFVCB to Iyan Tama from Nigerian News Service:

Iyan Tamas letter from the National Film and Video Censors Board--see link for more images

Iyan Tama’s letter from the National Film and Video Censor’s Board–see link for more images

DG of Kano Censor’s Board taken before shari’a court

In a fascinating turn of events, Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, the Director-General of the Kano State Censorship Board, has been arrested by the police and taken before the shari’a court by the Kano State Filmmaker’s association.

Here is the article “Police Arrest DG Kano Censors Board” by Nasir Gwangwazo published yesterday, 4 August, in Leadership. Ibrahim Sheme has also republished the article on his blog.

Director-General of the Kano State Censorship Board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem, was yesterday arrested by the police over a complaint filed against him by the Kano State Filmmakers Association.

A reliable source told LEADERSHIP last night that Rabo had been dragged to a Sharia Court in Sabon Gari, Kano, by members of the association over an allegation credited to him, in which he was said to have described movie makers as a bunch of homosexuals and lesbians during an interview he granted Radio Kano recently.In the interview, a copy of which was made available to LEADERSHIP, Rabo stated that he had proof that many of the filmmakers were gay, saying his intervention in the industry had helped sanitise the situation.

The statement incensed the filmmakers, and they wrote him a letter demanding a retraction and an apology within 48 hours.But at a follow-up press conference recently in Kano, the director-general repeated his claim, warning that he would publish more damning reports about the alleged immorality in the industry if pressed further.The association went ahead with its threat, suing him before the Sharia court, which was said to have advised the association to report the matter to the police first. >p>According to a member of the association and the immediate former chairman of the state chapter of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Malam Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino, Rabo was picked up yesterday by two plain-clothes policemen at about 4pm and taken to the Metro police station located on Bank Road in the city, following a complaint by the filmmakers.At the police station, three leaders of the moviemaking association – Nura Hussain, Ahmad Alkanawy and Isma’ila Afakalla – endorsed the association’s formal complaint, which Rabo reportedly denied. According to Gidan Dabino, the case is due for hearing at the Sharia Court, Fagge, today. When our correspondent contacted Rabo on phone last night, however, he denied knowledge of the issue, saying he was in a meeting and promptly switched off.

Following the arrest, there has been much discussion, on the Finafinan Hausa yahoo group. Ibrahim Sheme has posted one of his responses on the internet group on his blog, saying that Rabo’s intention has never had the interests of the filmmaking in Kano at heart.

According to people who have written me about this (this is unverified rumour), Rabo was given bail, but apparently left his car and driver and went away on an acaba.  He is being charged in a shari’a court for “kazafi (invented lies to assinate character).” If convicted, the punishment is 80 lashes with a whip.

Readers will remember that this latest event was precipitated by accusations Rabo made on the radio, saying that filmmakers were homosexuals and lesbians. The filmmaker’s association responded with a letter asking him to withdraw and apologize for the remarks in the next 48 hours or face legal action in a shari’a court.  Rabo responded several days later with a press release, threatening to release more evidence saying, among other things:

This address is a by product of the pressing need of the media to balance their stories and the board to have a fair right to reply on the ‘empty threat’ of those practitioners who’s future is endangered or eroded due to our sustainable sanitization exercises. These miscreants are enemies to the present peaceful atmosphere and the cotemporary achievements of the Board because they are the beneficiaries of the old age. The age of un coordinated and un-professionalized Kannywood industry.

Hitherto, this nasty development will not in any way deter the Board on its commitment to safeguard the Kano State ideals in addition to societal values because our statutory legal undertakings are not only the promulgation of state legislation but also constitutional above all holy and sacred.

[…]

Moreso, additional doziers at our disposal will not in any way help the film stakeholders when released to public especially in this period where some further negative developments are continuously unveiling and circulating.

[…]

Furthermore, let me use this opportunities to re-iterate one of the fundamentals of this administration which is the rule of law where equality before law is necessary. Therefore, the Board is happy that constituted measures like threat to sue organisation or person(s) is welcome by our style of leadership. Even though the Board will not hesitate to table publically at the right time and at the right place all at its possession out of social responsibilities and trust but with no meaning to join issues or make filmmakers vulnerable. Let me at this juncture warn that: “Kada Dan Akuya yaje Barbara ya dawo da ciki”. [MY TRANSLATION—CM: A male goat should not go to a female goat and return pregnant…]

For the post on this blog that includes a transcript of Rabo’s statements on the radio, the  letter and press release from MOPPAN and the subsequent entire press release from Rabo, see this link.

Arrest of singer Aminu Ala and the most recent scuffle of MOPPAN with the Kano State Censorship Board

In the most recent news from Kano, singer Aminu Ala was arrested Saturday. Ala has long been known as a strong supporter of the current Kano state administration, but has recently been “on the run” since his song “Hasubanallahu” was banned by a mobile court judge linked to the censorship board. When I spoke to his contacts today about the arrest, they lamented that the song, which is written in the form of a prayer that God should punish those keeping singers from doing their work, has no bad language in it and mentions no names. According to an anonymous source, he was arrested by “workers from the Kano State Censorship Board” and detained in a police station in Sabon Gari. Eventually the same day the police were told by a superior to let him go. However, while Ala is no longer in detention, the event has increased the tension between the Kano State Censor’s Board and the entertainment industry. [UPDATE 8 July 2009: Actually what happened is that he was released on Saturday but told to show up at the Mobile Court attached to the Kano State Censorship Board at  at 10am on Monday. When he did, they told him to come back at 10am Tuesday. When he and 60 other friends, supporters, and journalists showed up at 10am Tuesday, 7 July 2009, they were all told to come back at 2pm. When we came back at 2pm, he was finally read his charges–supposedly releasing his song without the approval of the censorship board. He said the charges were not true, and the prosecutor asked to reconvene on Thursday. He was denied bail until Thursday and taken to jail in a police vehicle…  On Thursday he was granted bail but on the condition that he not speak to the media. See the more recent posts for the details.]

Page one of Kano State Censorship Board Press Release 3 July 2009

Page one of Kano State Censorship Board Press Release 3 July 2009

KSCB Press Release--3 July 2009--page 2

KSCB Press Release--3 July 2009--page 2

In the past week there has been a small war of representation going on between the DG of the Kano State Censor’s Board and the Motion Picture Practitioner’s Association of Nigeria. The DG Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem continues to claim that film practitioners were indisciplined and had decadent personal lives before he was appointed to lead the Censor’s Board. MOPPAN claims that Rabo’s statements are tantamount to slander of the industry, and threaten they will take him to the Islamic courts if he does not withdraw and apologize for the accusations.

UPDATE 5 August 2009: Rabo was arrested by police on 3 August 2009 and taken before the shari’a court yesterday on accusations of “kazafi (invented lies to assinate character).” If convicted, the punishment is 80 lashes with a whip. See post of 5 August 2009.

Note that these accusations against the film, music, and popular literature industry are regularly made by its detractors in local media on the state radio, as well as in state-run newspapers. A few months ago there was an ad from the Kano State Censor’s Board played on state-run Radio Kano that told parents not to let their children read Hausa novels because they were spoiling their education and upbringing. I have often heard writers, filmmakers and singers lament that they do not have the resources to combat what they call “government propaganda.”

I will post below the statements that were exchanged in the past.

(Please note that these translations were done quickly and are not necessarily translated word for word, although it has been checked for accuracy by a native speaker. I take responsibility for any errors in the transcription or translation of the radio piece; however, the letters and press releases have been reproduced as released.)

On 29 June, 2009, the following short piece was broadcast on the state owned radio station, Radio Kano, in the programme, “Labarai da Rahotanni” [News and Reports]

Radio Presenter:

Ustaz Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem yace sun sami yan fim din Hausa a zama karazube marasa tsafta. Su kuma suka ga lallai ne sai an shigar da tarbiyya da tsafta a cikin sana’ar domin ka da a lalata tarbiyya al’umar jihar nan …

Ustaz Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem said they had found stakeholders in the Hausa film industry to be disorderly and indecent. And they [the Censor’s Board] saw the need to bring sanity and decency to the industry that is spoiling the cultural orientation of this state.

Rabo’s voice:

Mun zo mun samu bayin Allah nan, a tsari na taci barkatai. Kowa shaida ne, al’umma shaida ne. Suna cin dunduniyar juna, suna tona asirin juna, suna fada da juna, babu shugabanci, babu [bin] na gaba, babu tsari, babu doka, babu order, kai da gindi suke zaune, zaman yan marina kowa da inda ya sa gabansa. Hassali ma waccan fitana da baiwar Allan can da aka samu kowa ya gani, su suka tonawa kansu asiri a tsakaninsu mujallun da suke yi da sunan finafinan Hausa kowa in ya karanta zai ga yadda suke bayyana maganganu tsirara. Babu kara babu kawaici duk badakallar da ke tsakanin su ta shaye shayen miyagun kwayoyi suna ta neman juna maza da maza, mata da mata, za’a dauki yarinya a yi fim da ita da iznin iyayenta ba iznin iyayenta, za’a dau matar aure a shiga da ita fim ba tare da maigidanta ya sani ba sai dai in ya ganta a hoton fim irin wannan badakalar barnar da take ciki yau da muka shigo muka ce an taka birki, an hana.

We came and found that the industry was indisciplined. The evidence is everywhere. They were backbiting each other, exposing each other’s secrets, fighting with each other, no leadership, no progress, no system, no law, no order. They were self-absorbed, everyone doing what was right in their own eyes. They were exposing each other’s secrets between themselves in the Hausa film magazines. Anyone can read and see how they were directly speaking about it. No respect, no manners, taking dangerous drugs, having sex with each other, men with men, women with women. They would use a girl in a film with or without her parent’s permission, they would take a married woman and make a film with her without her husband knowing unless he saw her in the film. All of this type of spoiled and disorderly behaviour, we have arrived and we say it is prohibited, it is ended.

Radio Presenter:

Babban daraktan hukumar tace finafinan ya ce wannan ce ta sa wasu tsiraru daga cikin masu amfani da wannan mummunar hanya su nemi kudi, suke yin fada da hukumar.

The Director General of the Censor’s board said that it is because of the Borad’s actions that the minority in the industry, whose goal is only to make money, is fighting with the board.

Rabo’s voice:

Wanda yake fakewa da wannan tsari na ci barkatai yake cutar ‘ya’yan mutane ko yake samun alfanu, yau an zo an taka mar birki, me taka birkinnan ka ce Zai gan shi da haske, ka ce zai rungume shi a matsayin abokin cigaba? Ai bata taso ba.

For those who are hiding behind this indisciplined industry and are spoiling children or are profiting from it, the day has come when [these abuses] have been brought to an end. And you expect that person who has been frustrated to embrace the one who has frustrated him? Ai, that doesn’t even arise.

Radio Presenter:

Ustaz Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem yace babu gudu babu ja da baya, hukumar za ta ci gaba da hukunta duk wani mai kunnen kashi ciki har da masu tallar magunguna mai dauke da hotunan yadda ake aikata alfasha a bainar jama’a.

Dayyabu Umar me mai rano ke dauke da Rahotan.

Ustaz Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem says no running away, no going back, the board will continue to punish everyone who is at fault, even to those who sell medicine with pictures that will bring depravity to the community.

Dayyabu Umar brought this report.

The subsequent letter and press release from the Motion Pictures Practitioner’s Association of Nigeria [given to me in soft copy on 3 July 2009 by a member of MOPPAN. Note that I have inserted my own translation into the body of the press release, which was issued in Hausa. The letter was issued in English]:

June 30th 2009

The Director General,

Kano State Censorship Board,

Kano.

DEREGATORY RADIO STATEMENT BY DIRECTOR GENERAL, KANO STATE CENSORSHIP BOARD.

Following your radio programme titled “Labarai da Rahotanni” On the 29th day of June 2009 at Radio Kano where you defame the characters of our industry operators labelling us as lesbians and homosexuals: “Suna zama mara tsafta suna neman juna maza da maza, mata da mata.” ;a statement that no responsible government officer will dare make. We wish to draw your attention that making such derogatory and degrading remarks will not only damage the image of the film industry and its members but will also tarnish the good image of the people of Kano State at large.

2. It is against this that we demand you to withdraw your statement and apologize to the industry and its members within 48 hours otherwise we take legal action against you in accordance with the shari’a.

Mal. Sani Mu’azu

National President

cc: The Commissioner of Police,

Kano Police Command,

Bompai Kano

The Director

SSS

Kano

The Attorney General,

Commissioner of Justice,

Ministry of Justice,

Kano.

The Director

State Security Service

Kano

The Chairman,

Sharia Commission,

Kano.

The Director General

Societal Re-orientation

Kano State

The Commander General

Hisbah Board

Kano.

The Secretary

Kano Emirate Council

Kano

The Chairman

Council of Ulama

Kano

Above for your information and further necessary intervention, please.

Mal. Sani Mu’azu

National President

Press Release [from MOPPAN]

Kungiyar masu shirya finafinai ta kasa na kara bayyana damuwarta bisa kalmomin

batanci da Darakta Janar na hukumar tace finafinai da dab’i na jhar kano ke yiwa ‘ya’yanta.

[MY TRANSLATION OF PRESS RELEASE IN HAUSA]

The Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) would like to express its dismay at the slanderous accusations against her members made by the Director General of the Kano State Censor’s Board.

Wannan ya biyo bayan hirar da aka yi da Darakta Janar a wata kafar yada labarai mallakar gwamnatin jiha a ranar litinin 29-Yuni-2009, inda ya shaidawa duniya cewa yana da tabbas bisa dabi’ar fasikanci da wai wasu masu sana’ar shirya finafinai ke aikatawa wanda ya hada da zinace-zinace da madigo da luwadi a tsakaninsu.

This follows after the interview conducted with the Director General by one of the media houses of the state government on Monday, 29 June 2009, in which he claimed to the world that stakeholders in the filmmaking profession have involved themselves into immorality such as lesbianism and homosexuality.

Sakamakon haka kungiyar na kira ga Babban Daraktan da ya janye wannan kalami na sa kana ya nemi afuwar wannan masana’anta nan da awanni 48. Rashin yin haka zai sa wannan kungiya ta kai kara gaban kotun shari’ar musulumci

Kungiyar na kuma kira gare shi da ya dubi darajar sunnan Annabi ya daina shigar da maganar Hiyana cikin maganganunsa kasancewarta yanzu matar aure ce. Wanda hakan ka iya cutar da mijinta na auren sunna.

As a result of this, the Association calls on the Director General to rescind and apologize, in the next 48 hours, for his slander against this profession. If he does not do this, this association will be forced to take him before the shari’a court. The association also calls on him to value the teachings of the Prophet and resist from involving discussions of Hiyana in his speeches since she is now a married woman. Talking thus may harm her husband and the reputation of their marriage.

Har ila yau muna kara kira ga hukumomin shari’a da hisbah na jihar kano da su jawo hankalin babban daraktan da ya kiyaye harshensa yayin da yake magana kamar yadda shari’ar musulunci ta yi umarni.

Finally, we call on the shari’a implementation agencies in Kano state to hold the Director General accountable for making sure his language is in keeping with the guidelines as established by shari’a.

Sani Mu’azu

President

(End letter and press release)

In response to the letter and press release issued by MOPPAN, the Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board issued the following response on 3 July 2009. [I re-typed the press release issued by the Kano State Censorship Board, leaving in any spelling/grammatical errors made in the original. To view the original, see the posted photographs of the press release. NOTE, THE PHOTOS APPEAR NEAR THE TOP OF THE POST–I WAS HAVING TROUBLE GETTING WORDPRESS TO PLACE THEM WHERE I WANTED THEM IN THE TEXT–CM]

PRESS RELEASE-DELIVERED BY THE DIRECTOR GENERAL KANO STATE CENSORSHIP BOARD MAL. ABUBAKAR RABO ABDULKAREEM ON 03/07/2009 AT HIS OFFICE

Distinguished ladies and Gentlemen of the press

‘EMPTY THREAT’ IS HEREBY EMTED

In the name of Allah most gracious most merciful, may Allah’s mercies and blessing be upon the exalted prophet of Islam, prophet Muhammad peace be upon him his household and his companion till the dooms day.

Background: early this week in my interview with the Kano state Radio, series of issues were addressed particularly the achievements of this administration in the sanitization and standardisation of the Hausa home video practices of which some known and repeatedly historic problems of the industry were revisited for comparison but unfortunately some few questionable elements of the film makers un-equivocally and negatively lauded a particular matter just to open a new chapter for disharmony with mischieves in order to bring back the forgone battle of words between the state with its citizenry in one side and the film practioners on the other.

This address is a by product of the pressing need of the media to balance their stories and the board to have a fair right to reply on the ‘empty threat’ of those practitioners who’s future is endangered or eroded due to our sustainable sanitization exercises. These miscreants are enemies to the present peaceful atmosphere and the cotemporary achievements of the Board because they are the beneficiaries of the old age. The age of un coordinated and un-professionalized Kannywood industry.

Hitherto, this nasty development will not in any way deter the Board on its commitment to safeguard the Kano State ideals in addition to societal values because our statutory legal undertakings are not only the promulgation of state legislation but also constitutional above all holy and sacred.

Specifically, Dear press and I want remind you about an interview granted by a re-known actress and aired in the Ray Power Radio station, Kano on 18th May, 2007, where such social ills bedevilling Kannywood where addressed by the actress i.e. Farida Jalal. The interview has now become a reference not only to me only but also to the general public (find attach 15 mins oral interview of the said actress).

Moreso, additional doziers at our disposal will not in any way help the film stakeholders when released to public especially in this period where some further negative developments are continuously unveiling and circulating.

Notwithstanding continuation of the referred interview where actresses and actors revelled atrocities of their colleagues as relate to the film business. There are equally more stronger evidences, like Gwanja-Danja panel report, assorted copies of film magazines particularly those published in vernacular among others.

Furthermore, let me use this opportunities to re-iterate one of the fundamentals of this administration which is the rule of law where equality before law is necessary. Therefore, the Board is happy that constituted measures like threat to sue organisation or person(s) is welcome by our style of leadership. Even though the Board will not hesitate to table publically at the right time and at the right place all at its possession out of social responsibilities and trust but with no meaning to join issues or make filmmakers vulnerable. Let me at this juncture warn that: “Kada Dan Akuya yaje Barbara ya dawo da ciki”. [MY TRANSLATION—CM: A male goat should not go to a female goat and return pregnant…]

In conclusion, the Board is appealing to the general public to please keep watch of their wards as relates to film industry and the rest of the popular cultural creative industries and make very good sense of judgement not only in the area of film categorisation and timing but in its entirety.

Finally, the Board is using this medium to invite you members of the media to attend the opening ceremony of a six days training-workshop on Monday 6th July, 2009 by 10:00 am at APCON lecture theatre along Kano Eastern by pass.

SIGN: MANAGEMENT

Helon Habila speaks on censorship in Kano

Helon Habila liest, P02

Helon Habila liest, P02 (Photo credit: lutzland)

(a post in which I meditate on my research obsessions and recommend a recent opinion piece on “Art and Censorship in Kano” by multiple award-winning Nigerian novelist Helon Habila)

In Helon Habila’s first novel Waiting for an Angel, which was the subject of my MA thesis, he blurs the boundaries between his characters’ fictions and the reality of the world they live in. Originally self-published as a collection of short stories Prison Stories, the novel is fractured into stories told from multiple perspectives about “ordinary” people living out their lives in the “prison state” of Nigeria under the Abacha regime. The artist, Habila implies, provides a challenge to oppressive structures by gathering up the voices of poor ordinary people, so often lost in official propaganda, and putting them into print. The novel is not merely a litany of hopelessness, although the hardship of poverty is illustrated, but also captures the loud irreverent conversations in a Lagos “Mama Put” joint on Morgan street, which has been re-named “Poverty Street” by its inhabitants and the vivid dreams of ordinary people for a better life.

One striking scene shows the main character Lomba, a journalist and aspiring novelist, watch a fictional scene he had written for his paper come to life. Lomba’s characters reflect what his editor James tells him to capture: the “general disillusionment, the lethargy” of being trapped into a story where “One general goes, another one comes, but the people remain stuck in the same vicious groove. Nothing ever changes for them except the particular details of their wretchedness. They’ve lost all faith in the government’s unending transition programmes. Write on that”  (113). The story that Lomba writes is filled with “ubiquitous gun and whip-toting soldiers,”  “potbellied, glaucomatous kids” playing in gutters alongside the carcasses of “mongrel dogs worried by vultures” (118). This story does, indeed, seem to reflect the despair of life in a prison until the end of the story where he writes of “the kerosene-starved house-wives of Morgan Street. I make them rampage the streets, tearing down wooden signboards and billboards and hauling them away to their kitchens to use as firewood” (118). This moment suggests both the extremity of the environment, which has forced the people of Morgan street against the wall, as well as the agency of the women who take their futures into their own hands. And although James removes the celebratory conclusion before publication, telling Lomba he is “laying it on a bit too thick,” on his way home, Lomba sees an angry mob of women who “set to hacking and sawing” at a large billboard advertising condoms. It is Lomba’s knowledge of the script that allows him to tell the man next to him that “‘They are not crazy. They are just gathering firewood’ I explained to him. It was my writing acting itself out. And James thought I had had laid it on too thick. I wish he were here to see reality mocking his words.”

Although Lomba’s first reaction is one of hopelessness that “we are only characters in a story and our horizon is so narrow and so dark[,]” this episode is a revolutionary moment in the text (119). While Lomba, as well as the women outside the window of the Molue, may be characters in a story, this moment marks a remarkable departure from the prophecies of prison and death foretold by a marabout in another “story” in the novel. The porous borders between Lomba’s fiction and his reality that allow his writing to act itself out indicate the possibilities of the imagination—the possibility that while caught in a the literary metaphor of a prison, the “prisoners” might turn around and revolt. Lomba, and subsequently the mob of women, take the text into their own hands and appropriate the property of the state to sustain their own needs

In recently thinking about my research interests on Nigerian films and  “meta-fictions,” I realize that what obsessed me about Waiting for an Angel is also what obsesses me about Nigerian and particularly Hausa films, both in the reflection of the stories of “ordinary people” so often seen in these films and in a projective imagination that often (although certainly not always) challenges injustices by acting as what Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o mentions as a crucial aspect of art, that of a mirror, which “reflects whatever is before it—beauty spots, warts, and all” (1998, 21). People are rarely passive in these films. Beloved comedians like ‘dan Ibro often skewer the rich and powerful in their satirical stories.

I’ve heard people complain that there is too much “shouting” in Nigerian films, yet to me this “shouting” becomes a powerful metaphor for what Nigerian films have done for the “voiceless.” Gayatri Spivak has asked if the “subaltern can speak”? While I want to be over-cautious about over-romanticizing Nigerian films, which often do reproduce Nigerian society’s worst stereotypes of women and offer alarmingly unhealthy “solutions” to problems, I think one of the reasons I love the films so much is because they do seem to allow the “subaltern” to speak, both literally (in that so many of the film participants come from poor backgrounds) and metaphorically.

Attempts to suppress these films, therefore, seem like the attempts of the prison superintendent in Waiting for an Angel to suppress and co-opt the voice of the writer Lomba. The writer is imprisoned, seemingly muzzled, but attempts to suppress his voice ultimately prove to be impossible. Lomba smuggles stories about his “life in prison” through metaphoric language in his “love poems” commissioned by the prison superintendent for the woman he is woo-ing.

Hausa films are often dismissed for being “just love stories.” But stories of love can be powerful. There is often more going on than the reader of surfaces will find.

I was thrilled, therefore, this morning to find that Helon Habila has recently brought together my two research obsessions in a recent article in one of my favourite new publications, NEXT: “Art and Censorship in Kano.”  In the article, he both challenges simplistic critiques of Nigerian films and meditates on the “politics” of censorship. As Habila points out, while Nigerian films are not always polished “cinema” pieces, they have “made movie making a grass roots experience.”

[UPDATE: 19 October 2013. While I was doing a little blog maintenance, I was afraid I had lost access to this article because NEXT went out of business a few years ago and took all their content with them. Fortunately, Sola at Naija Rules had copied the article over on her site. I’ve previously been irked when Nigerianfilms.com and other such sites have copied my blog content without permission, but I am beginning to be grateful for these sites that make articles available long after the original sites have gone down. I am re-copying Helon Habila’s article here for archival purposes.]

Art and censorship in Kano

By Helon Habila

It is so easy to underestimate the achievement of the Nigerian film industry, and this is because we always measure such achievements using false parameters—we compare Nollywood to Bollywood and Hollywood.

Whenever we do that, Nollywood will always come short of our unreasonable expectations. How long has it been in existence? Ten, maybe 20 years? What of Hollywood, over a hundred years? And Bollywood, when was Sholay made, 1960?

The extent of what our film makers have achieved in the short time they have been here was pointed out to me by a Nigerian/South African director friend.

When I asked him to compare the two film industries, he said, South Africa has all the right tools and techniques, they make movies on celluloid and with multiple cameras and have the right post-production requirements, but Nigeria doesn’t have all that, yet South Africans can’t get people to watch their movies whereas the Nigerian movies are practically jumping off the shelves.

It is true South Africa makes great movies, like Tsotsi, every once in a long while, but Nigeria has made movie making a grass roots experience. That is the paradox: whereas movie making in Nollywood is nondemocratic and cliquey, yet the consciousness towards it, and the patronage, is widespread.

This mass patronage and consciousness is indispensable if any nation is going to have a viable film industry. And we are achieving all this without government participation, or should I say, in spite of government participation.

And government participation is what brings me to Kano. The industry here is called Kannywood (what else?) Most people outside the Hausa speaking world aren’t really aware of it, but it has been going on for a while. Just as Nollywood’s progenitors are the early Nigerian soap operas like “Behind the Clouds”, “After the Storm”, etc, Kannywood also grew on the back of popular Hausa TV ‘dramas’ like “Samanja”, “Karkuzu”, and of course “Kasimu Yero’s Gagarau”.

Other unmistakable influences are Bollywood movies. The Indian influence on Hausa films can at best be described as odd, at worst weird—here I am not only talking about the excessively romantic nature of Hausa movies, the love theme could easily have come from Hausa literature, but I am talking about the song and dance numbers. It seems each film has about three songs and dances.

I remember the first time I saw a Hausa film, nobody had warned me that there was going to be singing and dancing, and so when it came I was taken totally unawares, and yes, I was disconcerted to watch these Nigerians singing and dancing on the streets of Kano.

That was the first impression. The second impression was: Well, the songs are really not that bad, if you are a song and dance kind of person. All in all one wished the songs would end quickly so the movie would resume.

But this piece is not really about aesthetics, it is about art and politics.

These actors would have gone on singing and dancing in peace, and mostly unnoticed by most Nigerians outside the Hausa speaking world if not for what has come to be dubbed the “Hausa Film Porn Scandal”. It seems in August 2007, a popular Hausa film actress, Maryam Hiyana, was filmed making love to her boyfriend, by the said boyfriend. In their defence they said it wasn’t for commercial purposes, so that technically means it is not porn, but somehow the eight-minute clip was leaked to the public and this began a series of what can only be described as a siege on the film industry by the Kano State government. And to quote a source, “So far, according to Ahmed Alkanawy, director of the Centre for Hausa Cultural Studies, over 1000 youth involved in the film industry and related entertainment industries ‘have been arrested in the name of shari’ah and sanitization.’ … However, although shari’ah law is invoked, most ‘censorship’-related cases are being tried in a state magistrate court, a mobile court on Airport Road presided over by magistrate Mukhtar Ahmed.

Defendants are often arrested and convicted within an hour, without the benefit of legal representation. Some are given prison sentences while others are given the option of paying a fine.”

A popular actor, Rabilu Musa (Dan Ibro), was arrested for “indecent dancing”!

What I find most chilling is a book-burning ceremony staged in a girls’ school. Book burning, in a school! The government may as well close down the school, for by burning books in front of students, the whole aim of educating them is defeated.

Even individual writers were required to register before writing!

The most recent case is the arrest of a former gubernatorial candidate Hamisu Lamido Iyan Tama—a film maker whose film, “Tsintsiya”, is an adaptation of the Hollywood classic, “Westside Story”. He was first arrested in May 2008 for three months and fined 2,500 naira, then in January 2009 he was sentenced to 15 months with a fine of N300,000. It seems in the movie, he acted the role of a governor and carried out an investigation into the causes of sectarian violence.

Here, at last, the government is showing its hand. Whenever an art form begins to go beyond entertainment and to appeal to people’s political consciousness, the people in power become scared. That seems to be the case with Kano.

The question to ask is, are the censors working in the interest of the people, or are they using religion for political ends as we have seen so often in the shari’ah states? Any society that seeks to silence the artist is attacking the people, for often it is only the artist that can articulate the secret hopes and yearnings of the people.

NEXT

 

Raids on a film set last weekend and other developments in “Kano State Censor’s Board vs. Kannywood”

[NOTE: 25 March 2009: This is a corrected version of an earlier post.]

Kannywood filmmakers have only recently begun shooting their films in Kano again. For the past several months, more and more stakeholders have gone ahead and registered individually with the Kano State Censorship Board, so that they will be able to work in Kano State instead of travelling outside to surrounding northern states. (Such travel is not ideal for filmmakers who live in Kano: several stakeholders have been killed in road accidents going to and from location, and the cost of production goes up when everyone is staying in hotels.) However, the registration process involves both the payment of a registration fee and an interview with the censorship board before an id card will be issued that gives the holder permission to work in Kano. Those I talked to about registering a month ago had a resigned air. “We have to work,” I was told over and over again. Baba Karami, producer, actor, and marketer, told me he had a family he was trying to support and he would follow the law. Another director and actor told me that although he was not going to register as a director in the state (he would keep shooting his own films outside of Kano), it would not be fair to the producers of other films he appeared in as an actor if he did not register as an actor. Apparently the Kano State Censorship Board will not allow any film in which an actor who is not registered individually with the censorship board appears to be released in Kano State. Among those I ‘ve spoken to over the last few months, there has been the feeling that registering with the Censorship Board–“following the law”–would provide them with some modicum of security from being included in the sweeping arrests of Kano film industry stake holders. A few even told me they thought the Kano State Censorship Board was trying to improve filmmaking in Kano.  However, the stakeholders I talked to yesterday–the same ones who had been resigned to registration–were angry.

According to several crew members I spoke to yesterday, last Saturday, 21 March, a film set on the outskirts of Kano State was raided by police. According to my sources, every one on the location was registered with the Kano State Censorship Board and the necessary paperwork to shoot the film in Kano had been completed. Two police vehicles showed up and police asked the director to show proof that he had registered the production with the censorship board. The director produced it. Then they began to call out crew members randomly to check if they had their Kano State censorship board identification with them. About three actors had forgotten their id cards at home. The police served them with a “court summons,” but the summons said that rather than going to the mobile court they should go to the censorship board to present their identification.(Readers, please correct me if I’ve made errors on this.) 

The feeling among those I spoke to was that with such raids on film locations the Kano State Censorship Board was not merely trying to “sanitize” the industry but “destroy” it. One  actor told me that he paid the fee to register with the censorship board three months ago, but he is yet to be called in for the interview that is necessary before he is given his registration. As seen in the Iyan-Tama case (for more explanation in the words of the director general of the censor’s board, see this interview), the magistrate court attached to the censorship board does not find proof of payment for registration acceptable proof for registration. In the case of this actor, he has tried his best to complete the paperwork and the delay in completing it is from the board. If this actor works in state, he is at risk being arrested and fined by the censorship board. There are directors who have asked him to appear in their Kano productions but he has had to turn down the work because he does not want to be arrested for not having completed his registration.

In other news, there has been a radio announcement on the government radio station, Radio Kano, that actor/director Adam Zango (who currently resides in Kaduna and was among the first to be jailed by the mobile court attached to the censorship board after the Hiyana scandel) is “wanted” by the magistrate court in Kano and that he should be brought from anywhere in the country back to Kano to pay a fine of N100,000 and continue the prison sentence he had not completed in Kano. I spoke with Zango’s manager Falalu Dorayi yesterday, who told me that an appeal has been made to the high court and Adam Zango had been given bail. He also told me that their lawyer had said they have no business with the magistrate court in Kano, since they are on appeal at the high court. According to Dorayi, the magistrate court has no authority to make such an announcement, but the announcement has succeeded in causing extra worry/danger to the “wanted” actor/director/musician and his colleagues.

I am trying to transcribe and translate the interviews I did with Dorayi and with the crew member of the film whose registered colleagues were arrested. If I complete them, I will post them on this blog.

Today I also went to the latest court case in MOPPAN’s (Motion Picture Practitioner’s Association of Nigeria) lawsuit against the Kano State Censor’s Board. I arrived late because I went with my neighbor to pay a “get well” visit to a friend, and discovered via the lawyers who were chatting outside that it has been adjourned until Thursday at noon, at the federal high court, Court Road.

For more information about the ongoing censorship crisis in Kano, see other posts:

From/On Censor’s/Critic’s perspective:

My interview with the Director General of the Censorship Board, Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim

Kano State Censorship Board Opens a Website

The Mysterious Asabe Murtala/Muktar Writes Again

Triumph/Trust Editorial Convergences

On/From Filmmakers:

My interview with arrested editor Sulaiman Abubakar in NEXT

My Interview with Vice President of MOPPAN Dr. Ahmad Sarari

My interview with Sani Mu’azu, President of MOPPAN

On the current censorship crisis in Kano

Outside links:

Hard Times in Kannywood from NEXT

Award-winning film Lands Director in Jail from IPS

The Kano State Censorship Board opens a website

[UPDATE 19 October 2013. Doing a little blog maintenance here. Unfortunately the KSCB website was taken down shortly after the Shekarau government left power in 2010. I saved the pages to my computer before it was taken down, but it is no longer available online.]

On the 18th of March I attended the Mambayya House premier of the film Yancina made under the auspices of “Promoting Women’s Rights through Shari’ah.” While chatting with Professor Abdalla Uba Adamu at the event, he informed me that the Kano State Censorship Board website, which was under construction last time I checked has finally opened.

The site is a really fantastic resource for researchers and filmmakers alike. The homepage includes an essay, which appears to be written by the director general of the board Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim (whom I interviewed at the end of January), laying out the purposes and philosophy of the censorship board.

Also on the blog are links to the state censorship board publications including the law of 2001 and subsequent guidelines, press releases, lists of registered stakeholders, a list of registered production companies, a list of registered cinemas,  a list of registered soccer viewing centres, a list of censored books, and a list of films censored in 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2008. (Noticeably absent is 2006). Another link on the website is to “articles on the Censorship board.” So far there is one article with no byline, titled “Kano Censorship and the Burden of Moral Defense.” Here are some exerpts from the article:

But when the charismatic Mal. Rabo Abdulkareem was wisely appointed as the executive secretary (110w Director General) by Mallam as a result of the infamous Hiyana saga, the name of the Kano state censorship Board became a household name.

[…]

Tasked with the burden of control and supervision of the information and ideas that are circulated in the society, the activities of the Kano state Censorship Board have already started impacting favorably and this is appreciated by the public All of a sudden tile public happily realized that the previously otiose board can now really defend their helplessly invaded morality.

The hitherto unprecedented expansion and circulation of immorality via the activities of the so called Kannywood or Hausa filmmakers was perfectly checked and stopped by the Rabo led censorship to the admiration and pleasure of the public.

The shameless and destructive activities of the filmmakers were thriving to the chagrin of’ the society to the extent that some pessimists have given up. All the pleas, calls and sermons by different groups of people to the filmmakers to effect corrections in their activities as well as their films were sternly’ rebuffed by the filmmakers. This is the reason for the euphoria that trailed Rabo’s bold move to tackle the disturbing activities of the filmmakers which was timely successful.

[…]

It is quite surprising the way some of the writers chose to confront the board in a Kannywood like manner. Even the hitherto respected among them inanely wrote many things that put their integrity to question. They sound and behave as worst as any lawless uneducated could. While the board is saying that all forms of obscenity should be stopped and that the books should conform with the culture and religion of the targeted audience in addition to the registration of the writers with the board among other things, these people are busy writing different sorts of bunkum in order to blackmail the board. All their arguments were based on subauditions, or more correctly, assumptions, and nothing more. Some of them were even proposing to take the matter up to their masters i.e. the international community in order to come to their aid, just as the Kannywood cohorts tried, as if the so called international community is that rotten.

I will likely do more analysis of the site later on this blog or in my own academic work, but I note a few interesting things:

1) On the homepage of the Censorship Board are a list of “useful links”. They include A Daidaita Sahu (the government agency for “societal reorientation”), the Sharia Commission, Gamji (a news website that focuses on northern Nigerian news), the National Film and Video Censors Board, and two newspapers, the Kano-state government owned Triumph Newspaper,  which regularly publishes pro-censorship and anti-Hausa film opinion pieces, and the Abuja-based Daily Trust, which has several times re-printed the said opinion pieces from the Triumph [as I have noted elsewhere]. Noticeably absent is the newspaper, Leadership, which most often publishes news about Kannywood and opinion pieces critical of the censorship board.  Of course, this isn’t surprising, but I do find it interesting that Triumph and Trust were the two papers chosen to be included on the list.

2) A related observation: in the “Censorship Board in the News” link, the only two articles posted (as of today) were the Open Letter to the American Embassy in Nigeria, by Asabe Murtala (later published in Trust under the name Asabe Muktar, as I point out in an earlier post), and the director general’s response to a critique of the board published in This Day.

3) I love it that the Censorship Board is making all of this information available to the public. Open access to the 2001 censorship law and related publications is especially encouraging. However, I wonder how frequently the website will be updated and how that might impact arguments the board makes in individual cases with “erring” stakeholders. For example, will the list of registered stakeholder, production companies, and censored books be updated every time a new stakeholder or production company registers and a new book is censored?  Will each company and stakeholder be removed from the list at the beginning of each year and be added back when they have paid their renewal fee for each new year?

On the whole, I find this an extremely positive development. I am encouraged by the open access to information, but also cautious about the “spin” placed on that information by the board. Of course, as I note of my own blog, it is their website, so “spin”  that presents “their” side of the story is certainly their prerogative. It’s certainly a rich resource for my own research.