Kano State Government Vs Kannywood: Telling It Like It Is
Ever since the unfortunate incidence of phonographic video clip scandal that rocked Hausa film industry and the subsequent suspension of film activities in the state, the spectacles we have been treated to on the handling of the crises leaves much to be desired by any cynical observer. Watching the unfolding events, you would think that Hausa film-makers were Kano’s No. 1 problem, and which the state government is frantically working to stamp out. Hausa film makers are labeled with all sorts of names from infidels to agents of the Jews and anti-Islamic, etc.
Over the last few weeks, hostility to film makers has intensified with their arrest and attacks on their activities and homes by the self style Hisba guards masquerading as Sharia enforcers. And in the eyes of the state censorship board, Hausa film makers have become a threat and a convenient avenue for exploitation and political opportunism. Instead of a serious effort to address the other ills confronting the state, attention is directed only at film making while allowing political mercenaries and voices of hatred and bigotry to dictate Kano’s fate. The tragedy is that the citizens do not have the time, or the energy to question what they are being fed by trained politicians, and demagogues. Our type of existence makes us passive consumers by necessity, domesticated animals, naturally receptive to the games of a collection of buffoons wrapped in a populist mantle, who are well versed in the arts of oration, deception and manipulation. The oomph of hatred is today being directed against Hausa film makers under the guise of cleansing the society from the ungodly. No doubt an ominous climate is being created.
I have been following the debates on the propriety or otherwise of Hausa films, however most of the commentaries sometimes rooted on sentiments ended up either fueling the crises or simply rhetoric of propagandist. While agreeing totally that some of those films are not in tandem with our values, I do not believe it is a good strategy to impose a despotic regime of fear and demonisation against a particular set of people simply because they demand fairness, and not matching to the orders of some political opportunists and religious bigots. It is obvious that the world we are today requires more than just leaders who sit and believe that they are on messianic mission, and anyone who is not with them is against God. But rather, leaders who can realize the huge impending forces around us, and confront every challenge with a bifocal vision - how their decision impacts today and how it will impact tomorrow. The volatility of today’s global environment as a result of the forces of advance technologies has placed enormous responsibility on our leaders to rethink their strategies in dealing with contentious contemporary issues. Thinking profoundly about change is not easy, and this is why in the world we are today politics is too important to be left in the hands of political opportunists and religious zealots to set the parameters for our future.
The most tragic of it is that, while the entire world has focused its attention on how to avert the looming hunger and rising food crises, as well as developing specific policies for achieving the MDG’s targets of halving extreme poverty and malnutrition, achieving universal primary education, access to clean water and sanitary facilities, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, converting HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases, etc. We are locked into intense debates on the propriety or otherwise of local Hausa films. Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or cry when you listen or watch our state authorities filling the air with talk of Hausa films as an anathema to the state, as if Kano is the only Muslims state in the world. Perhaps, one may begin to imagine the possibility of our Mullahs coming up one day with the idea of building our own type of Berlin wall or Gaza fencing, just to protect us from the influx of anything foreign. The trouble is that even the terms through which we approach the global challenges shows our state of ignorance and poverty of leadership, intellectual aridity and stagnation.
Instead of articulating a serious vision for development as part of our response to the global challenges, using our vast human and agricultural potentials, we allow frivolous issues to dominate our political space. I doubt if the state Governor has taken a tour of the 22 dams in the state to see their condition, let alone the possibility of expansion and building additional ones for the development of agricultural activities in the state. I doubt also if the state Governor has ever muted the idea of embarking on intense campaign for people to go back to farm through Adaidaita Sahu with much zeal as in the current attacks, blackmail and incitement to hatred against Hausa film makers by the state authorities.
Rather than rethinking our terms and concepts, we insist on isolating ourselves from the web of changes in the world. Rather than encouraging our film makers to showcase our own side of story through soft loans and other incentives, we insist on castigating them on perceived wrongs in the society, which in actual sense is the result of our societal decay and the hypocrisy of our so-called puritans, who whip up religious, sectional and ethnic sentiments to self-serving ends. Bahaushe yace, ‘guntun gatarinka yafi sari kabani’. Rather than engaging peace loving citizens in street fighting, we expect the state government to be more proactive in sensitizing the film makers on the need to refocus their films to reflect our cultures and religious values through symposium and workshops.
In fact, it is amazing to see how our state authorities were lost in the euphoria of their puritan politics, yet they cannot address the menace of commercial motor cycle riders that has become a terrible phenomenon in the state, instead the government is busy doing the reverse. Nobody cares about the eminent dangers of the carbon emission of these motor cycles, which is threatening the city with an unprecedented heat and other related diseases. It is only a naïve who will not think that if there is a serious policy on agriculture, the state would have benefited more in channeling the energies of these Achaba riders into farming, than keeping them in this destructive and unproductive venture.
Similarly, if the state authorities really care about morality, why didn’t they promulgate a policy to check the unrestricted hawking of traditional medicine by various herbalists in the state around places of worship, markets, and other public places with their reckless talks of ‘a sai maganin karfin maza’ with all manners of description, not minding the implication of their sexual appeal to the society. Or can that be simply admitted as part of Hausa culture. I think we need to be serious with ourselves. We have to start thinking outside the box. There are so many pressing problems facing our society today than the so-called Hausa films. The advent of new communications technologies promise to change society in ways we are only just beginning to understand. Take for instance, the impact of mobile phones in our society, which has become the easiest way of promoting sexual abuse among the youth. Children now can use their phones and call their lovers and make appointment at will. Yet our state authorities do not really think that, instead they are only set on their familiar path of using religious rhetoric to demonize whoever holds contrary view.
There is something very odd about the way our so-called puritans view the emergence of any idea as inimical and an aberration and of no value whatsoever to the society, forgetting that ideas are the driving force of societies’ growth and development. The truth is that every phenomenon has two sides – the good and the bad. It is for you to exploit the positive aspect of it, instead of locking yourself out from the web of changes that are inevitable in today’s fast changing and complex world. The basic truth is that culture itself is not static. It grows overtime depending upon man’s capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations. Were culture static, maguzanci would have remained our culture, instead of Islamic culture. Were culture static, some of our so-called moralists wouldn’t have been talking of democracy now, instead they will remain as slaves of our traditional oligarchies, not to talk of assuming position of leadership. Were culture static, we would have remained using donkeys, camels and horses as our means of transportation, instead of our present rail, air and road transport system. Were culture static, we would have remained using pieces of stones to grind corns, instead of the machines in use now. Were culture static, we would have remained using wooden dishes and calabashes, instead of the present ceramic plates. Were culture static, our so- called leaders wouldn’t have state resources at their disposal to exploit and loot with reckless abandon.
In the same vain, you don’t expect our style of film, music and songs to remain static, especially in the face of rapid technological advancement that is changing the entire landscape. The challenge before our policy makers and all of us is to develop strategies and policies to convert their negative factors to positive as the only panacea for us to succeed in the present global setting, instead of destroying through obnoxious policies in the name of censorship.