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Kannywood: Not a northern industry



As we all know, Kano is situated in the Muslim-northern part of Nigeria, it is the centre of the Hausa video industry locally also known as "Kanywood".

There was an agreement in “December 2000 in which the government of Kano State in Muslim northern Nigeria reintroduced shari’a and established a new board for film and video censorship charged with the responsibility to “sanitize” the video industry and enforce the compliance of video films with moral standards of Islam”.

It is because of the popularity of “Kwana Casa’in” and “Gidan Badamasi” people  recently observed what are happenings in the industry. In fact, the things are happening since long time before this.

If truth to be said, Kannywood industry does not represent what they agreed since that time. Eighty percent (80%) of their narratives were not inserted with religious issues not only in “Kwana Casa’in” and “Gidan Badamasi” but also the entire Kannywood films. If we look at northern Nigerian video culture since from its costumes, settings, characterization, etc we can deduct that they are not northern; (perhaps not islamicize).

As M. Krings summarized it. Thus:
Apart from creating jobs for several thousand predominantly young people who otherwise would likely find it difficult to earn a living, Kanywood has also changed the landscape of the city’s youth culture. Sound and editing studios, video shops, and the offices of production companies are the loci of an emerging subculture shaped around the production and consumption of video films. This subculture is marked by a comparatively free interaction between the sexes, a feature which must raise questions in a society in which the religiously sanctioned social order is based on gender segregation.
Although men still dominate the production milieu, young women and girls play important roles within the industry. As actresses, playback singers (i.e. studio singers who record songs to which actors only mime), scriptwriters, costume designers, or caterers, Kano’s video culture offers girls many opportunities to earn their own income and to gain (at least to a certain extent) independence from their parents. Public opinion has difficulties with this deviation from traditional female roles. Young women’s independence and their interaction with men on the film sets—that is in non-public and therefore socially uncontrolled spaces—as well as their exposure in films draws young unmarried girls, especially actresses, close to karuwai—free women or prostitutes. The social pressure to marry is correspondingly high, and so far all starlets have finally consented to their socially expected role and married after spending a prolonged adolescence of one or two years in the video industry. Since women’s careers end abruptly after marriage, the fluctuation among actresses is much higher than among actors, who act irrespective of their marital status.

Later he suggested that the one way of thinking about Hausa videos is to consider them as “inter-cultural transcripts” of Indian films. I agree with that. 

That is why many people are debating that Hausa filmmakers have been accused of “destroying” Hausa culture and of spoiling their audiences with foreign lifestyles.
In short, the contents are not Hausa/Islamic narratives.

To end this, to justify the moral legitimacy of their video films, I am advising Hausa filmmakers to recast their work in religious terms as admonition (fa’dakarwa) or preaching (wa’azi) or Hausa tradition (Al'adar Hausa). 

Ameer Muhammad Harbo 

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