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Hausa Language Movies In Northern Nigeria, And The Politics of Censorship

The Oasis Reporters

April 11, 2020

By Ibrahim Musa

Arewa 24 might have done something a bit outrageous for our conservative northern Nigerian society. And this is understandable, considering the evolutionary phases creative industries expectedly pass through.

In the early age of Indían Bollywood, men were assigned to dress and play the roles of women – because even the idea of seeing a woman performing in a movie was considered repulsive.

There is always bound to be tension between conservative and creative or progressive minds, which can degenerate to open altercations, clashes or even violent conflicts. We have seen how conservative groups such as Shiv Sena often resort to employing terror to scare producers into changing their movie contents. Societal norms can be very sensitive. In an attempt to preserve the norms, creative works could suffer a great deal of loss in structural fibres; first through the editor’s scissors (post production), and while passing through regulatory censorship.

I could remember when Kannywood’s movie titled “Malam Karkata” was shelved from release for no other reason than depicting a cleric in a culturally unacceptable manner. Sometimes even film actors and other celebrities get slammed by the film censors board’s sledgehammer. Typical examples are celebrities like Ibro (of blessed memory), Iyantama, Ala, Nazir Sarkinwaka, Oscar 442, etc, who were incarcerated on flimsy charges, for what many see as just political reasons. To buttress this point, Sani Danja’s shop in Kano was recently singled out and closed by the film censors board.

Now, what is the offence of Arewa 24?
I presume that a lot of people believe the station erred by airing a scene where men were shown grabbing the arms of a woman, in the last episode of its popular TV commercial (Kwana Casa’in). The men grabbed the woman’s arms in an attempt to rob her. Thus, for emphasis, it was not an erotic scene that should ordinarily draw the ire of the moral police. How else one can culturally depict a scene of armed robbery is something worthy of epistemological interrogation.

Ironically, scenes similar to the one shown in Kwana Casa’in were depicted several times in another popular TV program, “Dadinkowa”. Perhaps we might remember a scene where Gimbiya was pushed into the car by some men who kidnapped her?

A similar thing also happened to Kamaye’s daughter, among other potentially sensitive events in Dadinkowa. But Dadinkowa wouldn’t generate brouhaha in the government circle, because it’s content isn’t a source of worry to the political class.

In contrast, Kwana Casa’in’s main theme is focused on corruption, crimes and power tussle among politicians- which is quite unsettling to the ruling class. Little wonder the government was so quick to hide under this single slip to announce that the airing of Kwana Casa’in had been stopped, instead of seeking for a remedial action in the subsequent episodes.

It seems the way our local film censors board conducts itself is a bit draconian. I am of the opinion that minor (film) offences should not earn anyone a prison term. Rather, the punishment should be limited to a fine or in the extreme a ban/suspension from working in the industry. Also, there is the need to appreciate the limitations of provisions of the extant laws, from where censors board draws it’s powers.

The purview of Television commercials is uniquely different from movies and other entertainment stuff. The Satellite TV contents are produced mainly to improve TV rating points and adverts. They are not movies made for business in the cinema halls. There should be national and international regulations guiding such contents of satellite TV. However, I am not sure if the local film censors board fits in anywhere on the satellite ladder.

Certainly, resolution of this stalemate will enrich us about the relationship (if there is any) between local censors board and contents on satellite television.

Sani Danja, a Kannywoood Hausa language movies superstar

Ibrahim Musa is a medical doctor, consultant.

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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