Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Wrong Censorship

Editorial on p.1 of the Wednesday, July 30 issue of LEADERSHIP newspaper, Abuja

Wrong Censorship

After bullying the flourishing Hausa movie industry into near-extinction, jailing actors, producers and marketers, the Kano State Censorship Board has announced a plan to punish authors that refuse to register with it, beginning from August 1. The move, under the state government's controversial morality programme, is full of contradictions. It is clearly aimed at emasculating creativity and freedom of expression.

The battle against moviemaking has created massive unemployment in a state that has since lost its lead in local industry, and the new theatre of war opened against writers would create more joblessness, discontent and cripple scholarship, all of which are dangerous to public peace. This is a painful irony for a government full of authors and scholars.

Governor Ibrahim Shekarau should stop the slide towards madness. His minders such as those censors would achieve nothing but further odium at a time other societies are keen to honour their home-grown thinkers.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Censorship in Kano

Some Preliminary Thoughts

I have restrained myself from commenting on the new regime of censorship in Kano (the latest I mean, which affects writers) because I had wanted to study the trend of opinion among the writers themselves. Being an author, my first reaction was one of anger, anger against those that work to emasculate intellectualism in Hausa land.

Kano is too important to ignore when it comes to intellectualism and creativity. It is the hub of intellectualism in Hausa land - an enviable position it seized from my native Katsina State. It is as the saying goes - when Kano sneezes, other Hausa cities catch cold immediately. Little surprise, then, that when movie making was banned for six months last year, the ripples were felt all over Northern Nigeria.

I have found myself caught between the extremes of the two stages of censorship unfurled by the Kano State Censorship Board. As a filmmaker myself, and publisher of the leading Hausa movie magazine, I was directly affected by the ban on moviemaking and the subsequent measures that were announced with the clear (though hidden) motive of emasculating the young, albeit vibrant film industry. Many of my close friends were affected; they were thrown out of work. I knew that most of them depended on the movie market to fend for themselves and even feed their kith and kin. They thus added to the army of the unemployed in Kano State. The government of Governor Ibrahim Shekarau (pictured above) has done little to reduce poverty through job-creation for the youths. I was told it employed many driving the A Daidaita Sahu motor-scooters and others in serving the quasi-police agency Hisba. But by banning filmmaking, it created a big market of unemployed youths, this time with young girls as half of the number of victims.

The level of discontent among the populace is unquantifiable.

Now that the censors are preparing to punish unregistered authors, I am caught in the centre again. Being a Hausa author myself (NB: I won the biggest Hausa writers' award with my novel "'Yartsana'), I felt doubly certain that part of the new legislation was directed at me! Of course, I am not the sole target. Everyone else is a target. In fact, I could even be considered a distant target, having not depend on book writing for a living. But the truth is that any writer worth his salt on the globe is a victim of the attack on creativity by a regime anywhere on earth.

The censors have no moral standing to prescribe a moral yardstick for authors because if they were to be judged using the same yardstick, many of them would be sent to jail first. The kind of stories one gets to hear about government officials in Kano, many of them verifiable, you would be at your wit's end trying to decipher the purpose of the current onslaught. Here are people who have failed to provide basic amenities for the common people, but they are using religion to attack others.

Can't those victimised use religion to fight back? This question is important in settling scores in the matter. No government official should consider himself holier than the next person just because he has money to employ hungry malams as radio propagandists. For, religious sentiments were used copiously to overcome filmmakers. The same sentiments have begun to be used by Malam Abubakar Rabo, the Director-General of the Censorship Board, against the authors. In the coming weeks and months, be sure to hear him on radio and TV using moral dogma to belittle and tar the authors.

The Hausa writers should not fear to fight this war. They should assemble their own Qur'anic surahs and the Prophetic hadiths against the unjust rulers and pretenders in order to defend themselves. They should visit radio and TV stations to speak out. They may be gagged there because government happens to be the biggest advertiser, but then they should use the independent media all over the world to expose the hypocrisy embedded in the ongoing war against intellectualism. Their war should be waged against the avalanche of intolerance and insensitivity which seems to be increasingly cultivated by some minority elements within the Kano State government.

They may not be rich enough in material resources to fight, but their ideas and their tenacity of purpose will be of great benefit to them. They are going to be supported by all persons of conscience. They should watch out against fifth columnists among themselves who shall be easily bought with cheap porridge by the censors.

Above all, they should be consoled by the knowledge that power is transient. Shekarau and all those book burners will not be in power forever. By 2011 there shall be a general election and Shekarau will not only go away but also fade away like an old tale. Even if he manages to plant a lackey/stooge as the next state governor, he would not have the guarantee that his interests would be safeguarded perpetually. It happened in Zamfara and many other states of the federation. And even if his stooge remains loyal to him, that stooge would one day leave. Remember that Dr Rabi'u Musa Kwankwaso, whom he defeated in 2003, was the most powerful governor Kano ever had, but where is he now? Is he not in the Siberia of political power even though he had been rewarded with a ministerial post by Obasanjo?

How I wish I could join this war. But I will not. I have only expressed my mind - for the records. My weapons shall remain in their armoury because I have friends in the Kano government. My heart will, however, remain with my friends the authors and the filmmakers. If the war degenerates, I shall fight. But on a different pitch from where both the dog the monkey shall be bloodied.

I have spoken. Ma'assalam.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Kano Writers Vow To Fight Censorship

* Begin a 3-week ‘warning strike’

From Mansur Sani Malam, Kano

Due to apprehension about the intentions of the Kano State Censorship Board in its decision to censor individual authors and literary works, creative writers in the state have embarked on a three-week warning strike with effect from yesterday, in which they have suspended all production of literary works and decided to use their pens to protect their liberty and freedom of expression.

This was disclosed in a communique signed by the leaders of the Coalition of Authors' Associations in the state shortly after an emergency meeting held yesterday in Kano.

This followed an extensive discussion and review of the state of arts and literature in Kano in the context of the crisis between the authors and the censorship board.

The board recently unveiled plans to begin the registration of all authors and the vetting of literary works.

Those who signed the statement yesterday were the chairman of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Kano chapter, Malam Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino; chairman of Hausa Authors Forum (HAF), Malam Aminuddeen Ladan Abubakar (a.k.a. Ala), and chairman of Brigade Authors Forum (BAF), Malam Abdullahi Muktar Yaron Malam.

Others are chairperson of the main women writers' group, Kallabi Writers Association, Hajiya Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, and chairman of Hausa Writers Association of Nigeria (HAWAN), Malam Ibrahim Ahmed Daurawa.

As a way of confronting the challenges that seem to lie ahead of them, the various writers groups have also resolved to work under the umbrella of the state chapter of ANA. All engagements, commitments and correspondence of the associations, which had hitherto promoted divergent views, are now to be handled by ANA, said the communique.

This was done apparently because ANA has a national spread and an international network.

A source within ANA Kano told LEADRSHIP yesterday that the authors are considering legal action against the censorship board.

The writers enjoined the Kano State Government to call the Director-General of the censorship board to order, saying his actions would have damaging consequences on the good image of the state and its leadership, as well as undermine the literary prowess enjoyed by the state.

The censorship board had early this month ordered the authors to register with it from August 1 or expect sanctions.

The warning was issued to the writers by the Director-General of the board, Malam Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, during and after a meeting he had with the writers at his office.

At the time, he explained that his board could have begun the registration exercise immediately, but relented by giving a month's deadline.

"We see it as very merciful, we see it very lenient of us to at least relent any enforcement effort until the next one month given to them, in addition to the first six months that have already lapsed that they did not formalize, which now we are expecting them to do so in the next one month", he had declared.

The director-general also revealed that the essence of the registration was to check the influx of obscene materials into the state.

"We have designed this in near future and we see it very viable. We see it very good of us if we establish what we call pro-activeness, so that the stakeholders in the literary works can be enlightened and be guided in order for them to be perfect and to make necessary corrections in form of preventive measures," he added.

Rabo revealed that the board had received complaints from the general public, and that some people were using the mass media against some aspects of the creative works, especially the Hausa romance books or novellas in circulation, adding the board intends to help guide the authors through their potentialities of using their creativity for the benefit of society.

Contrary to what he told the authors at the stakeholders' meeting, he explained that the registration exercise would not be on an individual basis, but through writers' associations, emphasising that there is no any process of registration that can be undertaken individually unless if an individual author is operating outside any professional association.

He requested the respective associations to forward members of their associations for the board's processing and registration.

He pointed out that the registration processes would be carried out because the law mandated the board to do so, adding that registration of authors is normal everywhere in the world.

"The National Film and Video Censors does register its stakeholders, so also guilds," he said.

Malam Rabo said whoever does not accept what the board is doing should challenge it in court.

He said: "We are determined to enforce the law because we are law agents. We are established by the law and we must abide by the law because it is the primary yardstick, the primary tool binding the board and the stakeholders together. Anything contrary to the law is not condonable and it is very unbecoming of a law or agency like us to outrage or to operate or to breach the law."

The censors board had waged a long-drawn battle against filmmakers in the state after the sudden appearance of the Hiyana sex clip last year, banning the movie industry for six months and sending leading artistes and producers to jail.

Its current decision to register authors has opened a new theatre of war against the creative arts in the state, a decision the authors seem to be committed to fight in any way they can.


Published in LEADERSHIP on Monday, July 28, 2008

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Saadou “Bori” Abdullahi – Pioneering Innovator of Hausa Disco Music

By Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu
Chairman, Center for Hausa Cultural Studies,
Kano, Nigeria

It was with absolute shock and sadness that I learnt of the death of Saadou, the Nigeriene modern Hausa musician along Maiduguri road on Thursday 26th June 2008. He was returning from a concert which he gave in Maiduguri.

Saadou, born in 1966 in Niger Republic was best known as Saadou Bori, after his best selling solo album, Bori, released on tape in Nigeria in 1990. I learnt of the tape, and subsequently the musician, after I returned from US where I rediscovered African music. On returning to Kano, I made a direct beeline for the Bata roundabout where a series of Nigerienes keep shops selling music and video items from Francophone Africa. Amidst the tapes of Ami Koita, Nodibo Kone, Zoni Diabate, Salif Keita, Ali Farka Toure, Oumou Sangare, Djenba Seck, Kandia Kouyate, and Inna Baba Coulibaly, there sits Saadou’s Bori – standing as the one out of the mélange of Malian wassolou singers and African blues guitarists.

Bori turned out to be the biggest selling tape-album of 1990 in Kano and other parts of Hausa northern Nigeria. It came at a time when there was simply no Hausa modern music. And the traditional music was relegated to the background of aristocratic palaces and the elegant edifices of the fabulously wealthy merchant class.

Modern music in northern Nigeria was introduced by non-Hausa artistes such as I.K. Dairo and His Blue Spots (Tuwo Da Miya, Mu Tafi Damaturu) in the 1960s. In The Sudan, the Hausa diva, Aisha Fallatiya, demonstrated the power of women in modern Hausa music with Muna Maraba da Sardauna Sakkwato, a welcome song composed for the then Premier of Northern Nigeria, Alhaji (Sir) Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto on a State Visit to the country. Backed by the “sound of Sudan”—predominantly string quartet of sorts with an accordion, and as popularized by Sudanese male singers such as Hamza Kalas—Fallatiya’s lyrics—sung in Hausa, found a ready niche in the radio plays and urban clubs of northern Nigeria. Some musicians merely use Islamic iconography to appeal to Muslim Hausa club punters. For instance, Ofo & The Black Company’s Allah Wakbarr (sic) as well as I.K. Dairo’s Hungry for Love endeared themselves to Hausa Muslim listeners due to their use of religious expressions. Ofo’s composition consists of repeated chanting of “Allah Akbar” accompanied by a scintillating funk guitar rhythm, while Dairo’s more sober high-life approach was captured in the initial start of Hungry for Love with the lyrics, “Wayyo Allah (Hau. Oh my God), I feel hungry, not for food, but for love” repeated over and over.

The 1970s brought more Hausa modern music principally from Ghana and Niger Republic. In Ghana Sidiku Buari—trained as a professional musician in the U.S.—pioneered the Hausa disco sound as in his debut album Buari—a composition straight out of Kool and the Gang, Ohio Players, The Fatback Band, Earth Wind and Fire, Chic and Brass Construction disco sound of the 1970s. This was sustained much later by Maurice Maiga with Kudan Gida (Hau. housefly) employing disco and highlife sound of Ghana and Togo.

In northern Nigeria modern Hausa music was pioneered by Hausa Christian entertainers such as Bala Miller & The Great Pirameeds of Africa and Sony Lionheart – both from Zaria. With extensive Church training in the use of guitars and the organ, their preferred musical language was Hausa, if only to indicate that not all Hausa are Muslim and not all Hausa musical entertainment is based on Hausa indigenous instruments. Bala Miller’s compositions such as Sardauna Macecinmu (Sardauna our Savior), Karya Ba ta Ta Shi (The lie does not last), Ikon Allah (The will of God) and Sony Lionheart’s Zaman Duniya (This life) became club anthems particularly in Kano, Kaduna and Jos. These modern Hausa musical traditions were sustained in clubs by small bands around Jos and Kaduna such as The Elcados and Super Ants who although predominantly singing in English, nevertheless forayed into Hausa lyrics—all using what can be called domesticated Hausa soul music, with not a single indigenous instrument – kalangu, sarewa, kukuma, kakaki, kwarya, shantu, etc – in sight. The mainstream Hausa youth soon became consumers to these globalizing currents, preferring them, in most part over “the real” music from African American stars. I remember our attempts to copy the Elcados sounds at the Kano State College of Advanced Studies Auditorium in the early 1970s with Yusuf AbdulLateef, trying to create a “Kano modern” sound – which did not work out at all!

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Funmi Adams caused a massive sensation in uniquely adapting a Hausa folktale – Labarin Gizo da Koki (Story of the Gizo the Spider and his wife) – to modern music. What made it more enchanting was a video clip that accompanied the audio tape, giving a rich background to the simple tale of morality for young children.

This fusion music, interestingly enough, was not wholly embraced as an entertainment form by mainstream Hausa youth. This was caused by two factors. The first was the religious and cultural divide. The modernized “Hausa” music of non-ethnic Hausa was seen predominantly as “Christian” and “southern” Nigerian (kade-kaden ‘yan kudu). Secondly, such musical adaptation appealed basically to club circuit patrons—an exclusive class of civil servants far removed from the street level reality of urban youth.

Hausa traditional musicians had always occupied a lowbrow status as maroka (praise-singers) and this had the effect of discouraging the musicians from either training their own children into the craft—for it is considered an occupational craft—or even encouraging “students” to learn the craft and sustain it (rarely do Hausa occupational and craft guilds accept outsiders, are referred to as “shigege”_. A typical example is this response by Alhaji Sani Dan Indo, a kuntigi musician who responded to a question on whether he wanted his children to succeed him:

Unless it is absolutely necessary. I definitely don’t want my son to become a musician. I have seen enough as a musician to determine that my son will really suffer if he becomes a praise-singer. You only do praise-singing music to a level-headed client, and it is only those who know the value of praise-sing that will patronize you. Those times have passed. I certainly would not want my own son to inherit this business. I would prefer he goes to school and get good education, so that even after I die, he can sustain himself, but I don’t want him to follow my footsteps, because I really suffered in this business. Therefore I am praying to Allah to enable all my children to get education, because I don’t want them to become musicians like me. (Interview with Sani Dan Indo, a Hausa popular culture kuntigi musician, Annur, Vol 1, August 2001, p. 48).

However, Saadou changed this perception with the release of the tape-album, Bori (Hau. Spirit possession ceremony of the traditional Hausa) in around 1991, earning him a nickname, as he subsequently became known as Saadou Bori.

The tape-album was a mega hit in northern Nigeria. Filled with heavy disco funk and Jazz rhythms, and with tracks sung almost entirely in Hausa language, it proved for Hausa musicians on both sides of the postcolonial divide that Hausa music can be “modernized”, indeed evidenced by the fact that in 1994 Saadou teamed up with Moussa Poussy and released an extended version of Bori as Niamey Twice.

Saadou’s Bori – The New Age Hausa Disco Sound

Bori redefined Hausa dance music and provided a paradigm shift in the evolution of modern Hausa music. Not only does it provide a dance floor series of numbers, it also neatly meshed modern with traditional in its lyrical forms. Maintaining a heavy disco beat in all the compositions, it uses elements of Hausa call-and-response mechanism in many of the lyrical renditions, where a choir of female (‘yan amshi) echo a specific refrain.

The tape-album version of Bori had eight tracks: Side 1 – Dango, Yelleru, Badossa, and Boudje; Side 2 – Hadiza, Bori, Soyeyya, Maidawa.
Of these eight tracks, two became Saadou Bori’s “bakandamiya” (defining masterpiece) and ultimately signature tune. These were Yelleru (from Side 1), and Hadiza (Side 2). Both were well composed with tight horns and musical arrangement. Yelleru offered a new perspective to Hausa fusion music because it contained lyrics in pulaa (Fulfulde language of the Fulbe). Simple and catchy, it tells the story of a how the economic hardships befell the Fulbe who may have to give up their cattle and nomadic lifestyles for a settled farm life. A pure dance floor composition, it contain at least three midsections that provided the backing musicians opportunities to display their skills with drums and horns.

Hadiza hit the spot more directly with Hausa women. It tells the story of a new bride (amarya) in a two-wife household. The song extols the virtues of the amarya thus:

Kai mata, Oh, women
A rike darajar aure da kyau Hold fast to the values of marriage
A bar hushi da ikon Allah Stop being annoyed with Allah’s will
Dan ikon Allah ya wuce hushi For all that Allah wills is beyond your anger

Zama da kishiya tilas ne Living with a co-wife is inevitable
Ba don Uwargida na so ba And not because the Senior wife wants it

Gyara gida, Hadiza Look after the house
Duk na ki ne It is all with your purview
Gyara wuri, Hadiza Fix the places in the house
Duk na ki ne It is all with your purview
Gyara wurin ki, Hadiza Fix your own apartment
Duk na ki ne It is all with your purview
To ladabi biyayya With respect and obedience
Duk na ki ne It is all with your purview

Ki ba ni ruwa, Hadiza, Fetch water for me, Hadiza
Sai ta durkusa She brings it and courtesies
Ki ba ni hwura, Hadiza, My porridge, Hadiza
Sai ta durkusa She brings it and courtesies
Ki ba ni tuwo, Hadiza Bring my dinner, Hadiza
Sai ta durkusa She brings it and courtesies
Ruwan wanka, Hadiza, Fix my bath, Hadiza
Sai ta durkusa She brings it and courtesies

This song created three mixed reactions. The feminists hated it because it was a reaffirmation of what some of the more militant amongst them perceived as the servitude of women in a male dominated society. Similarly, Senior wives were not too keen on it because it is like rubbing salt in the wound – first being told they have to live with a co-wife, and second the beautiful virtues of the co-wife are being extolled; as if they were the opposites of their own behavioral patterns. A third reaction was from young male husbands who took to playing the song with glee (and I am speaking from an ethnographic experience!) whenever the Senior wife and their amarya are together.

The title track from the tape-album, Bori, is a celebration of the Hausa bori cult medicine. However, it was very clear from the lyrics that Saadou perceived bori not as a form of worship, but as pure entertainment – a process more related to its actual function.

Mace kucaka ba ta bori, A woman of easy virtue does not do the bori
Mace kazama ba ta bori A slovenly woman does not do the bori

Iya bori abin (wa) tsoro Bori is truly frightening
Aljani abin (wa) tsoro Sprits are frightening

Kai bori manyan sarakai Bori really is for important people
Yara kanana ba su yi nai Children cannot do it
Ali aboki na na da bori Ali my friend does it
Kai Bello aboki na na da bori Bello, my friend does it
Ee, Madu aboki na na da bori Yes, Madu my friend does it
Ee, ni na sa kai na bori Yes, I have the bori

In these lyrics – which appeared in a different sequence in the song from here – the stereotypes of bori amongst the Hausa are being reversed. Suddenly, it is glamorous to be a “bori” – evidenced by singer himself. Even album cover photo of the singer – wearing a headband made from cowry shells, one of the many unknown hallmarks of bori practitioners – speaks volumes about bori as an entertainment, rather than a serious religious advocacy of the traditional Hausa cultural anthropology.

Saadou subsequently released other tape-albums, but none had the stunning success of Bori, which even won an award in Niger republic during a festival of Hausa modern music (although I can’t recall the year). In place of the tape-albums — which were easy targets for pirates anyway – he spent the last few years working on what I call the “ceremony circuit”, putting shows for “big” people (politicians and other rich people) during the wedding ceremonies of their children.

Saadou was an innovative songwriter, arranger and vocalist. His creative works appeared in the slack transition period between the when Christian and mainly southern Nigerian musicians used the Hausa language to appeal to the Muslim Hausa (from the 1960s to end of 1980s), and when the video film soundtrack genre (called Nanaye – term for female children’s playground songs – because of its predominant gender base and call-and-response structure must use female voices) emerged from mid 1990s.

With the death of Bala Miller in February 2003, Saadou indeed represented the last breed of truly innovative Hausa musicians and composers with a focus on using real instruments to present their craft. In the mid 1990s, the Yamaha synthesizer became available to the young Hausa filmmakers interested in reproducing the multi-instrument sound similar to that of Hindi films which Hausa filmmakers avidly and religiously appropriate into Hausa language versions. With neither skills to compose music, nor understanding of the relationship between the different musical instruments and sounds, the new breed of musicians rely heavily on sound samples stored in the synthesizers, and the sequencing facility provided to arrange tunes to produce a melody.

In this respect, and without any formal music curricula in the schools for the teeming Hausa Nanaye composers, Saadou Bori remained the last of the great composers of Hausa modern music on World Music level. He practiced music with the true attention to detail of a professional composer and arranger – aware of the relationships between tune and harmony; and inter-twining Hausa mindsets and world views in his lyrics.

Saadou “Bori” Abdullahi was born in Maradi, Niger Republic in 1966. He died in June 2008 in Maiduguri, Nigeria. He is survived by one wife and five children. He will be surely missed as an innovator in modern Hausa disco music.

Brief report on the state of film industry in Kano State, Nigeria

Monday 18 February 2008

National Vice President
Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN),
Kano, Nigeria


Motion picture industry in Northern Nigeria popularly known as Kannywood was founded in 1990 when the first Hausa home video titled "Turmin Danya" was produced. The industry was brought into being and nurtured to the present level by the practitioners themselves. Today, the industry employs the services of more than fifty thousand people and supplies 35% of Nollywood movies. It generates over N20 million to the Federal Government annually through National Film and Video Censorship Board (NFVCB). In Nigeria it’s been argued that our film industry alone generates over N30 billion worth of economic activities. This implies that Hausa Film industry generates about N9 billion (about 35% of 30 billion) worth of economic activities.

The following are the existing guilds and associations recognized by Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) in every state:

1. MOPPAN State chapter

2. Film makers Association

3. Film Producers Association

4. Guild of Directors

5. Guild of Artistes

6. Guild of Cinematographers

7. Guild of Script writers

8. Guild of Editors

9. Guild of Production designers

10. Distributors/Marketers Association

11. Association of Film Exhibitors

12. Association of Musicians and Lyricists

Aims and objectives

a) To promote and encourage the interest and advancement of its members in all manners affecting them, as professional Motion Picture Practitioners’.

b) To promote and encourage any activity whereby members will be held qualified in their particular field within the Motion Picture industry in Nigeria.

c) To regulate the relationship between its members and the public based on professional ethics and the Associations code of conduct as may be regulated and modified from time to time.

d) To facilitate professional growth in the art, practice and techniques of the Motion Picture industry by holding seminars, conferences, workshops and film festivals, at national and international levels.

e) To collate and tabulate statistics and publish information useful to its members, and to issue suitable literature and publications, including an official journal to assist in attaining the objectives of the Association.

f) To advance by any legal means deemed fit the standard of technical work in the Motion Picture industry, thereby improving the knowledge, skills and experience of the Associations members generally or individually.

g) To, on behalf of it’s members, liaise with the Nigerian film cooperation for the purpose of patronizing and putting in to effect, usage the technical infrastructure already available in Nigeria i.e. colour film processing laboratory, sound dubbing studio, production and editing facilities and also negotiate rates and credits for the usage of those technical infrastructure in favour of its members in order to boost Motion Picture production In Nigeria.

h) To acknowledge and also reward professional merits and achievements made by Motion Picture Practitioners in Nigeria who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields, and related creative arts.

i) To work towards the promotion of, distribution, exhibition and utilization of Motion Picture throughout Nigeria, African continent and the world at large.

j) To offer its services in resolving any differences that may arise between its members and to defend their various interest as part of the promotion of Motion Picture production.

k) To promote the welfare of the members of the Association in such a manner, as shall be deemed conductive and expedient, but subject to the overall interest of the general public.

l) To cooperate and associate with, or be a member of or to affiliate the Association to any organization nationally or internationally having similar objectives, or whose interest in anyway connected with the aims and objectives of the Association.

m) To undertake all other things as may be considered incidental to or conductive to the attainment of all or any of the objectives of the Association.

Report on cell-phone pornographic clip involving a popular Hausa film actress


Six months ago, there had been several media reports both locally and internationally regarding the above subject matter. Therefore, it had become extremely necessary for MOTION PICTURE PRACTIONERS ASSOCIASTION OF NIGERIA (MOPPAN) to provide a clarification on the subject matter. Following the massive dissemination of this immoral content which was started by some disgruntled elements within the Hausa film industry, MOPPAN instituted investigation to find out the truth of the matter. The Association was interested in the followings:

1 Whether the said incident really occurred.

2 Who are the people involved and their level of involvement?

3 To establish the extent of the spread of the issue within and outside the industry.

Some of the executive members of the Association were assigned to investigate these issues and report to the Association.


After careful investigation the Association was able to establish the following facts;

1 The said incident really occurred some time in early 2006 in Lagos involving a (Yet to be) Hausa film star.

2 The artist involved, Maryam Usman was actually in Lagos on a private trip to Lagos, to meet a male friend, who turned out to be the one who used his cell-phone to record their private sexual activity.

3 That though this incident occurred some 21 months earlier, it did not become a public content until late July 2007 when Maryam Usman acted and become a notable star in a film titled ‘Hiyana’ a year ago, through one of the artist’s female friends within the industry, substantially out of envy.

The Issues

The Association established that this content was massively distributed on cell-phones, CDS, Video cassette, Internet, and Computer flash disk throughout Kano state and possibly beyond. The extent of the spread of this content generated serious controversy within the Kano community especially taken cognizance of the state’s Shari`a policy and the apparent popularity of the film star involved. Prior to this, a Lagos based magazine early this year had published this information. This resulted in the misconception that;

A A pornographic film was made.

B Filmmaking is immoral

C All artistes engage in immoral acts and as such are negative role models on the society.

D Appeals for Government to ban filmmaking.

E Calls for the head of Maryam and others suspected of engaging in acts of immorality.

F Active media discourse on the issues above especially in Kano.

Decision / Resolution

As a result of these developments, especially the way and manner some members of the general public started expressing their concern and disapproval over the clip, stake holders from the film industry convened an emergency meeting of all the Guilds and Associations under MOPPAN. The meeting took stock on activities within the industry and the following decisions were taken in the interest of filmmaking as a reputable profession.

1 The Actress involved, Maryam Usman, was suspended for a period of five years for causing disrepute to the profession.

2 17 other members identified by an investigative panel with different unethical conducts (Not related with Sex) capable of bringing the film profession to disrepute were also suspended for different periods of time.

3 The Kano State Government, through the Kano Censorship Board endorsed the ban on the affected practitioners and call on all production companies/studios to register or revalidate their registration status with the Board immediately.

4 The National office of MOPPAN here endorsed the resolutions of the Kano Censorship Board in tandem with other Guilds and Associations in the state.

5 The National office also resolved that film production practice be suspended for a period of three months during which codes of practice for different guilds shall be distributed and explained to members.

6 MOPPAN will also update its membership register during this period.

Above is for your information, support and assistance please. Be assured of our total commitment to the development of filmmaking in Nigeria and beyond while we remain truly yours.

Banning of all location activities and imposing of new guidelines

The state censorship board broadcasted and distributed a press release in which film activities were further banned for the period of six months and new guidelines for the film practitioners were as circulated without our consent. The Board also urged all the film makers in the state to go and register with them which is the sole responsibility of the guilds and associations. We as well challenged the banning and thought for clarification of the new guidelines which the Board depended in line with the Shari’a system. We lay our complains to the bodies concerned but all in vain. Below is the translated version of the guidelines under which we must practice when the ban is lifted

Guidelines for film censorship in Kano State films must comply with the following guidelines to conform to Islamic Shari’a

1 Singing and Dancing is prohibited.

2 Actresses are prohibited from appearing in trousers, skirts or short tops.

3 Dressing in see-through or tight costumes that expose body features is prohibited.

4 Male Actors are prohibited from appearing in tight fitted clothes that expose their features or haircuts that do not fit with our culture.

5 Actresses are prohibited from combing or exposing their hair.

6 Indecent utterances and seductive actions or immoral dialogue are prohibited.

7 Ridiculing of any religion, tribe or a section of the community is prohibited.

8 It is prohibited to use children in films that are prohibited.

9 Re-inserting expunged scenes from an already censored film, and taking such film into the market is a major crime.

10 Fetish activities and the wrong use of weapons are prohibited.

11 Producers are prohibited from releasing posters and trailers without the permission of the board.

12 Films must have a clear meaning (message) with appropriate names.

13 No films can be produced in Kano, or brought in for sales or exhibition without the permission of the board.

14 All Actors or Actresses and other filmmakers are prohibited from doing film business without obtaining license from the board.

15 Sleeping overnight at film locations with males and females are prohibited.

16 No films shall be made without censorship of its script.

There is a mobile court attached to the board to arrest, harass, detain and prosecute members of the motion picture practitioners’ association of Nigeria including all its 12 affiliate guilds and associations in kano. The Board is also making a serious media campaign misleading the public by making inflammatory utterances portraying filmmakers as anti-Islamic dissident and declaring that hausa filmmakers are pornographic filmmakers. The association organized end of year stakeholders’ forum the communiqué of which is below:


The Kano Film Industry Stakeholders Forum was held on Sunday 30th December 2007 at Mambayya House. Major stakeholders were invited to the meeting. They include all the professional guilds and associations operating in the industry, MOPPAN, national head quarters, the State Censorship Board, The Nigerian Film Corporation, National Film and Video Censors board, the Nigerian police, Office of the Advisor on NGOs, State Ministry of Justice, the State Ministry of Information, Nigerian Copyright Commission, National and international media organizations and some Local and international Human rights organizations. The objective of the meeting is to review the issues and events which affected the industry over the last twelve months with a view to moving the industry forward.

Four papers were presented at the forum covering several areas of great significance to the operations of the industry. Based on the presentations, and after careful deliberations on the issues rose, the meeting took the following resolutions:

1 the Forum agrees to continue respecting and abiding by all the laws and regulations (both state and national) relating to the operations of the industry and encourage practitioners to demonstrate their commitment to this pledge.

2 that there is the need to Islamize film making such that its content conforms with the Islamic heritage and need to our good cultural values

3 that film can be an effective medium for shari’ah advocacy programs,

4 that there is a need to hold an interactive forum between shari’ah bodies and the Industry stakeholders with a view to allowing the practitioners benefit from the abundant resources available in such organizations

5 that relevant governmental organizations should be more concern with educating the public concerning the type of film content they should watch.

6 that the industry was not accorded it’s right status due to the Government failure to hold audience with them as was the case with other organizations of lesser importance to the state economy and social development,

7 that never was a pornographic film produced in this Film Industry,

8 that the forum demand the state government to explain to the stakeholders reason behind the suspension of film activities for a period of six months in the state,

9 that the forum decried the state censorship board’s deceptive attitude, prior to this day the Executive Secretary pledged to stop his insinuating media campaigns against the industry but only to dishonor his pledge. This is quite embarrassing to the government he represents.

10 That the suspension order resulted to about 8.5bn Naira loss in the industry. If Government could pay compensation to the bird flue victim which is a natural disaster, we equally demand compensation from the state government to the industry as to alleviate the suffering caused by Government’s suspension order.

11 The forum also calls for government’s consideration to include stakeholders in any policy formulation in all issues of concern. The previous action where Government constitutes a task force committee on the film industry without our representation was bitterly decried.

12 The forum also notes the need for the state government to come up with means of empowering the industry in conformity with SEEDS policy.

13 That the forum demands that Government should stop the draconian tribunal; instead a disciplinary committee by the professional bodies should be formed, lest we forget that this is a democratic dispensation.

14 The forum calls the state censorship Board to reconsider their position of censoring films already produced prior to the new regulation.


We would like the world to know that our fundamental human right is seriously tempered with as our members (especially marketers and producers) are being arrested, harassed, detained and prosecuted. Most of the practicing artistes, producers, directors etc have fled Kano to other states to exercise their right of earning a living. The local media is restricted from broadcasting or writing our own version of the case. In fact, our lives are in danger as any attempt by us to challenge the Government is termed un-Islamic which exposes us to stigma and even attack from the public.

Thank you very much.