Kano Film Village: An Elephant In The Room

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There is a problem here and no one wants to discuss it, yet, it is so obvious that it cannot be ignored! Whenever issues like this come up, some of the most frequently asked questions are; Are Hausa people, the only Muslim communities that produce flicks? Or Is Northern Nigeria, the only region conscious about Islam, especially in the filmmaking business? The answer is negative!

No doubt, the northern movie industry, popularly known as ‘Kannywood’ is one of the most celebrated motion picture industries, not only in the region, but in the country as a whole. It is an industry which braced itself into existence from the myriad sheer talents which abound among the ever bubbling, bursting and effervescent youths in the society. Before the advent of the home video in the north, most Hausa speaking communities engaged in watching foreign Hindi or Chinese action packed movies.

In the late 90s another trend came into being – the Hausa novel market – which served as the metamorphosis of the Hausa home videos. No doubt, both the Hindi movies and the Hausa literature plays very important role in building the blossoming Hausa movie industry, Kannywood as we have it today. Good enough and over the year, and the industry defined itself as established by its practitioners as one of the major employers of labour in the region, which has seen almost half of the teeming youths trooping in the industry and eking their respective daily survival from the industry; either on part-time or full time basis.

Though, there is no denying the fact that Kannywood established its ‘Wood’ tag from the famous ‘Hollywood,’ in Los Angeles. The ‘Wood’ today, has become a symbolic representation of an entity in the global movie industry. Just this year, the industry celebrated its silver Jubilee of 25 years of existence, which was marked and celebrated by the industry stakeholders and practitioners nationwide.

Throughout its existence, the industry has been in a pickle needing divine intervention from all corners. Streaming from Muslim clerics, society leaders and the general public, who hold the view that the industry is, but immoral, and thus, runs contrary to the teachings of Islam, as well as norms of the society, by promoting vulgarity and all forms of societal immorality.

Out of this humdrum response from the public domain, the past government in Kano State established a board to regulate the affairs of the filmmakers, which is a laudable intention of regenerating the flicks and censoring them accordingly; especially when and whenever they want was board. The board was tasked to serve as the regulatory body and manage affairs of the practitioners, but because of its hidden agenda to clampdown on the filming activities in the region, it took off with a knee-jerk approach to the issue. Expectedly, many of the players were believed to have wrongly persecuted and incarcerated. At the end of the day, the effort of regenerating the society through the motion picture activities became a mystery.

As of today, one simple but nagging question which stirs peoples’ mind is; If filmmaking is a taboo or anti-Islam? Of course, any society, be it Islamic or not, has its way of unwinding; after all, people visit other countries across the world to unwind. In most of the Arabian countries, for example, entertainment serves as one of the ways of relaxation. Aside that, many First World countries have successfully exploited the motion picture or celluloid technology a tool for public awareness and enlightenment. It is equally noteworthy that a several Islamic-oriented countries have repeatedly engaged their youths in public awareness and enlightenment through all forms of entertainment, with clear terms and guidance.

It is however regrettably, that is only in Nigeria that the whole thing is debauched; and the practitioners are seen to be naughty, wayward and rebellious! Just recently, the Federal Government in its effort to complement to the growth of the industry and improve the aspect of Hausa language in Nigeria, pledged the sum of 10 million US Dollars, approximately N3bn for a film village in Kano State. The centre is expected to create thousands of job opportunities and promote cultural activities for the entire northern region. But expectedly and typical of ‘All things Nigeria,’ the project encountered a brick-wall almost immediately.

One could imagine what comes first, is it the chicken or the egg? Why would people go out on the street to protest against something they know nothing about? Why is it that the learned clerics allow scoundrels take laws into their hands? They should know that the centre is set to regularise activities of filmmaking in the region. With a functioning and effective film village in place, the filmmakers would be tasked to operate within the ambit of the law, and produce well thought-out written and societal uplifting films. Not only that, they can also run profitable business for national development.

The miscreants who go against such establishments by the government should avoid waving a dead chicken!


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