(139): After 16 years, Germans vote for Merkel’s successor

  By  Muhsin Ibrahim German Chancellor Angela Merkel doesn’t need any introduction. Divorced and with a doctorate in Physics, Merkel, 67, has been a leader of Germany for sixteen years. She is the first woman to lead Europe’s economic powerhouse and the beacon of democracy. Chancellor Merkel wanted to leave in 2016. However, many people, including world leaders, encouraged her to stay. With Donald Trump coming to power in the US, Brexit knocking on the door of the European Union and the smoke of refugee crises still smouldering, almost everyone knew that Merkel was the best in that crucial position. Thus, she re-contested in 2017 and, expectedly, won. But, whatever has a beginning has an end. Germans go to poll tomorrow, Sunday 26, 2021, to elect Merkel’s successor. The electorates are practically voting for parties, not a particular candidate for the chancellery. The parties would, of course, want to have the majority to form a government, but it does not happen. Often if not always,

(138): Kannywood and its Unending Scandals (III)

Muhsin Ibrahim The maxim that says “actors and scandals are cousins” cannot be more accurate if one looks at the northern Nigerian-based Hausa film industry, Kannywood. This is the third of the series I started a couple of years ago. I have, of course, skipped writing about several other scandals for one reason or another. However, the ongoing ones are too prominent to escape my radar. Therefore, I will write about only two. The first one is a bolt from the blue. The conflict between the multitalented Kannywood actor Adam A. Zango and the up-and-coming actress, Ummi Rahab shocks followers of the film industry. Ms Rahab was Zango’s mentee about a decade ago. She was a child actor when Zango and Jamila Nagudu featured as her parents in a movie titled Ummi . The girl disappeared soon after the film. Why that happened remains a subject of debate, and it’s not the concern here.   A decade later, Ummi Rahab, now a gorgeous young lady, resurfaced in 2021. Her former men

(137) Dear Netflix Naija, there are films and filmmakers in northern Nigeria

By Muhsin Ibrahim Nigeria’s diversity cuts across many things, chiefly cultures, ethnicities, religions and regions. Although several commentators consider the northern part more Islamic and the southern one more Christian, Muslims and Christians, followers of traditional belief systems and non-religious folks may be seen everywhere. Due to these complexities, the country is a house to two significant film industries – Kannywood and Nollywood – with many smaller ones operating under these brands.   Kannywood , the name given to the “local” Hausa film industry with Kano State as its epicentre, is a distinct and autonomous film industry in northern Nigeria. Nollywood has its root in the South, has mainly Christianity and Western-influenced motifs as themes and produces films primarily in English or other southern Nigerian languages. For Kannywood, however, Islam is arguably the trademark, and the East remains their vital source of influence and inspiration.

(136): From Kano to Cologne: My First, Lasting Impression

I knew nobody in Cologne, Germany, when I came in late August 2017. Although that was the second time I travelled to a foreign country, the first time was completely different. I was with my wife and a friend, while other friends in Punjab, our destination, were waiting to receive us. Thus, there was no confusion whatsoever. However, at the Cologne airport, I felt adrift. I spoke with a kind friend living in another city not far from Cologne. He tried his best to guide me on what to do, but I felt more tangled. Finally, unsure of where to go, I dragged my bags to the exit.   A frail-looking old man, raising an A4-size paper with “Barka da zuwa, Malam Ibrahim” written on it, approached me. I didn’t know about his coming, and I wasn’t used to being addressed as “Ibrahim”, my surname. His smile and his “hi” halted my bewilderment. He spoke to me in faltering Hausa, adding to my surprise, and asked to hold one of the bags. I respect old age, so I declined. As he insisted, I let him.

(135): Towards True, Practical Change [in Nigeria]

  Muhammad Muhsin Ibrahim   [Appeared in Onumah, C. (Ed.) (2020). Remaking Nigeria: Sixty Years, Sixty Voices.  Abuja: Premium Times Book. Pp. 340-345] Recently, headlines and social media hashtags featured Nigerians in negative light. In both the USA and UAE, some Nigerians involved in online fraud were arrested. At the same time at home, Boko Haram resurfaced in Borno, in the Northeast, and expanded their operational theatre to neighbouring countries in the Lake Chad Basin. This further dented the image of the country. Add to this, the ubiquitous “Nigerian Prince”, the ever-present title in many email scams that have been traced to different countries in West Africa.   Unfortunately, after 60 years of independence, this is not a good time for the Nigerian identity, especially overseas. By default, we are suspects of potential online scam, terrorism, among other related crimes. It is not surprising, therefore, that some Nigerians outside the country li

(134): Interview: "10 Questions for Muhsin Ibrahim"

The following is my interview with the Blueprint newspaper (Nigeria) on writing, reading and related issues. You may see it on their website or the print edition of 30.01.2021, page 25. Thank you. How did your amity with writing start? What triggered it? Writing is, often, a result of reading. I started reading novels by, usually, Nigerian authors in 1999. However, I wondered why couldn’t I find books by northern Nigerian writers? There were only a very few of them such as Zaynab Alkali ( The Stillborn , The Virtuous Woman , etc.), Muhammad Sule ( The Undesirable Element ) and Auwal Yusuf Hamza ( Love Path ) in the market or the one I went to. I vowed to become a writer to tell our stories.   How was it honed? You hone your writing skills by reading and practising writing. I think there is no other better way. I read a lot, mostly when I was younger; when I had less engagement and responsibilities. I didn’t have any specific favourite genre. I read almost whatever came my way

(133): Top 10 Kannywood Films of 2020

Muhsin Ibrahim University of Cologne   The article was written for, and published by, the BBC Hausa service. Here is a link to a slightly different Hausa version published on their webpage:  Fina-finan Kannywood mafiya shahara a shekarar 2020. The year 2020 is unlike any other in recent history. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world. We now have lockdown in countries; we also have to keep social distancing, wear a facemask, among other protocols. The virus batters the entertainment industries from Los Angeles to Lagos, Mumbai to Mombasa, Cairo to Kano, forcing several cinemas to shut down. Thus, shooting and showing films had to stop. Nevertheless, that boosts TV and video on demand (VoD) content and opens a gate for new ‘genres’ of YouTube series and serials. In northern Nigeria, these include Kwana Casa’in , Gidan Badamasi , Labarina , Izzar So , A Duniya , Na Ladidi , among many others. Kannywood began the year auspiciously with a box-office hit, M