Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Kannywood Movie Review: There’s a Way

Production:    Jammaje Productions
Producer:       Abba El-Mustapha
Director:         Falalu A. Dorayi
Year:              2016
Cast:              Nuhu  Abdullahi, Hajara Jalingo, Abba El-Mustapha, Zainab Booth, Sani Mu’azu, Umar Malumfashi and others

God bless the dichotomy between the rich and the poor, or as the socialists call it: the gap between the lower, the bourgeoisies and the upper classes. If it did not exist, the arts would, perhaps, have to invent one for stories to have conflict, upon which many films, novels, dramas, etc rely to intrigue us. This has been the trend since the Victorian Age, or before, with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist down to Femi Osofisan’s Marxist-influenced plays, and so on and so forth. Class consciousness is sadly here to stay with us.

Hausa film industry is equally not short of films based on this global theme. There’s a Way is just another addition to that archive, though in a new style: its language is no longer the ‘local’ Hausa one but the global English. This is one of the reasons why I had to preview the film prior to its release.

As I said in the preview, numerous Hausa films are flagrantly, poorly subtitled in wrong English. The subtitles oftentimes serve a contrary purpose: those with little or no grasp of Hausa language end up puzzled. The shoddy subtitles also expose the educational level of the people in the industry, and by and large, their region. Worse still, the actors, in other times, use ‘Eng-ausa’, a hotchpotch English-Hausa code-switching and mixing. But all that will soon be a history with the emergence of the second (Wasila [English version] is actually the first ever, but that was done more than a decade ago) Kannywood film in ‘Standard’ English language.


 (Warning: this section contains spoilers)
There’s a Way does not only present the lower and upper classes struggle; the predatory nature of some university dons is equally bared. As a token, the women issue is not left untouched, thus it is used to set the story afloat. The film opens from a court scene where a woman, abused by her husband, is questioned by the judge. The husband allegedly forces her to abort pregnancies six times. Isham (Nuhu Abdullahi), as a secondary student, witnesses the hearing and becomes interested to study Law in order to assist the poor such as the wife who is evidently harmed. His dream is not meant to be realized easily.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

(80): Kannywood Movie Review: HIJIRA




Director:         Iliyasu Abdulmumini Tantiri
Producer:       Naziru Dan Hajiya
Story:              Iliyasu Abdulmumini Tantiri
Language:      Hausa
Year:               2016
Company:      Kumo Production

Introduction

The Hijra (migration/exodus) of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his companions from Makkah to Madinah is an epoch in the history of Islam. It is featured notably in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet. Although the Prophet was born and raised in Makkah and had preached for many years there, persecution forced him along with the few that believed him to migrate. The Islamic Hijri calendar began from that time. The choice of the title for the film cannot be unconnected to the Prophet’s Hijra.

Oftentimes, the bond between cinema and the orthodox religious and cultural institutions is marked by disquiet. Many people reject film, seeing it as a subtle way to debase their religion and culture. Presentations of bedroom scene, or virtually anything denoting sex or other tabooed subjects, for instance, are still frown at in Kannywood. Several filmmakers are, therefore, relentless in their efforts to counter this argument, to correct the (mis)conception. Some have gone far and recently adapted the famous story of As-Habul Kahfi (The Seven Sleepers) from the Qur’an. There are quite a number of other films meant for Islamic evangelism. The epic drama, Hijira is arguably one of such.

Plot Summary
The film is a mixture of a quite romantic comedy and adventure. It begins from a scene of mass burial of the victims of an infectious plague that ravages the village of Madaci. As they bury some corpses, more are brought forward. The King calls for an emergency meeting. There is disagreement as to whether to stay in the town or leave. The Chief Imam is of the opinion that everyone should remain, basing his point with the Islamic injunction that says when there is a an outbreak of plague in a land, nobody should enter it; and if the plague breaks out in a place one lives in, do not leave. The King accepts this, thus goes, along with other chiefs, to address the townspeople. 

Sunday, 4 December 2016

(79): The Reign of Bigotry, Disunity and Provincialism in Nigeria

Muhsin Ibrahim
@muhsin234

This is a compilation of the 2 posts I made on Facebook on December 3rd, 2016 on two related and burning national issues. Enjoy:

On the Deaths of Corps Members

There was a furore in the news Friday (02/12/2016) that a female corps member, Ifedolapo Oladepo, died in the Kano orientation camp. No doubt, her death is unfortunate and very heartbreaking especially for her loved ones, but how the story was/is told left me dumbfounded and shocked. The whole saga was territorialised, regionalised, and localised as if the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme was a state business. Thus, Kano is blamed. It’s, after all, Nigeria, and the North is almost always portrayed in bad light. To some southerners, nothing comes out of this ‘Almajiri-populated’ enclave.


My suspicion was corroborated with the reaction ‘generated’ by yet another death of another female corps member identified as Miss Elechi Chiyerum. This occurred not in the North but at the Bayelsa orientation camp. There was/is silence; no uproar, no condemnation of either the state or even the federal government. Rather, the deceased is blamed for “non-disclosure of ailment”. The NYSC officials in Kano said the same as the cause of Miss Ifedolapo’s death, but her mother, sister and largely the public disagreed. Therefore, many, including some highly educated people on the social media, are blaming the state, and, technically, the people of Kano.

I believe such myopic look at national problems will not help us a bit. If there is a broken health care system in the Kano camp, the same is very likely to be obtained in all other camps. I served in Katsina in 2011. I swear the camp felt a lot like one was in Enugu, or Rivers or any other southern state for, we, the northerners, were the significant minority. Likewise, if it’s the drills given to the Otendos (the new corps members) by their soldier-trainers, the same/similar is what others all over the country go through. And, if, as also alleged, it was the absence of a doctor to attend to her at the local hospital she was rushed to at Gwarzo LG was the cause, it’s a general, even normalised practice, a wrong one though, that doctors don’t stay in the rural hospitals except during work hours, etc. There is no rationale, whatsoever, to shift the blame squarely at the state. Let us, rather, talk about the overall problem bedevilling the nation, and seek for ways to address them squarely.

Friday, 18 November 2016

(78): Rationalising the Trump Phenomenon

Muhsin Ibrahim
@muhsin234

This is a Herculean job. I have read and listened to several political commentators saying that Donald Trump’s triumph is a logic-defying, demystifying puzzle and a record breaking event in the political history of not only the US but the world in general. For those not very familiar with this character, Trump is a bigot, a racist, a protectionist, a misogynist, an Islamaphobic, and, above all, a very ignorant billionaire businessman. That is why, perhaps, almost all pre-election opinion polls indicated that his opponent, Hillary Clinton would win the election, but he did.

A particular disgruntled analyst, Tom Freeman, has gone to the extreme in his quest for meaning of Trump’s victory. He wrote an article that contains only a word all through: F**k. The writer couldn’t be more descriptive and rational, for this is just it. Yet, curses, yells, despair, etc. cannot change the reality that Trump is the president-elect of the world’s super power, the mighty United States of America. Needless to mention, the US is a country more than a country. The value of its currency, the dollar, for example, affects the lives of billions around the world; thus, its politics is the world’s politics. What goes on in the US does not only stay there; it spills over into your room, your market, your school and virtually everywhere else.

But, is this victory accidental, coincidental or incidental? It is, as far as I can see, incidental. In other words, the victory was due to a number of things, some of which I will discuss below. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

(77): ABU, Zaria Titbits

Muhsin Ibrahim
@muhsin234

I was at the prominent Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria for a 7-day internship on Radio and TV Production Process from 25th Sept. to 1st October, 2016. As a budding writer, critic and a public commentator, I have seen and observed plethora of things sufficient enough to write a book on. I have already chronicled some of these on my Facebook page. This article consists of at least two such status updates. Here you go.

On Self-Reliance
There is a centre under the Department of Theatre and Performing Arts of the University called Centre of Excellence. A lady sells snacks, soda and other fast food stuff in its entrance. She dresses well, smiles at her customers and other passers-by who care to say hi. I often did that and she friendlily responded. I doubt if anyone among us, both the staff and the students, had ever bought anything from her, and that was where most of the internship lectures were conducted as it houses the non-broadcast studio for TV for practical, and classes for lectures.


There was a session that was supposed to be handled by a staff of the Department who was however absent. All the other staff members there present were hesitant to give the lecture, for one or another reason. The exercise was temporarily stalled. And then, one of them said okay, let’s call Miss Mariam. She could do it, he assured me, for she has recently finished her master’s degree, he further explained and sent for her. I didn’t know who that was, but I know she wasn’t part of the program.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

(76): Girl-Child as ‘Endangered’ Human in our Society

Muhsin Ibrahim

“Muhsin”, Shamsiyya (not a real name) called my attention. I answered, and listened. “Come and marry me”, She finished, retorting my allegation that she was still unmarried not because she lacks suitors, but for her being too choosy. It was later that I pondered on our lengthy conversation and realized that I was wrong. Many men are afraid of successful women like her. She is from a wealthy family, has two degrees and works with an international organization. She also confided to me that she could not stretch the cultural perception and norms to seriously ask anyone to marry her. She would rather continue to wait for Allah’s choice. I was left in a daze.

I came back home, sat down and ruminated over our chit-chat. I then recalled Dr. Muhammad Tahar Adamu aka Baba Impossible’s lecture back in our freshman year in the university. He one-day spent many minutes of his period admonishing the ladies in the class on relationship and marriage issues. He was upfront, as usual of him, while warning them that they should accept any marriage offer from any serious-minded suitor even during their studies. Once they finish, their certificate intimidates prospective husbands. The irony, which he also stressed on, is that: without the so-called Western education, they lack much value, at least in some instance. Baba Impossible cannot be more correct, for I have witnessed several such cases.


Mardiyya (not a real name) is a girl from a poor family. Both her immediate elder and younger sisters are married, while she is not. As could be expected in a traditional setting, pressure is mounting on her that she should bring forth a suitor. But fact be said, there is little or nothing she can do save to respond to whosoever comes and says he loves her. A few months ago, she nearly fell into the trap of two different men: a young, posh guy who borrows cars to come to her house, and a man who is old enough to be her father. At the initial stage of the latter’s courtship, he told her that she was voluptuous. After hearing about that, her sister cautioned her seriously and told her to be extra alert. He alas, the next day, attempted to grope her in the name of love, and that was the end of it. 

Monday, 29 August 2016

(75): On the Proliferation of English Learning Centres in Kano

Muhsin Ibrahim
@muhsin234

The trending entrepreneurial business in Kano used to be the so-called Computer Learning Centres a few years back. There is, nonetheless, a remarkable shift today to the so-called English Academy, English Learning Centre or other variant names. I am not against the idea in its entirety, but I am not happy with the vogue for some solid reasons.

If you can remember, at the noontime of computer centres in the state, many a times a student would obtain a certificate, a diploma or even an advanced diploma on computer without knowing, or knowing very little on, how to use as simple as the Microsoft Word, Excel and other elementary computer applications, for the business was hijacked and stalled by quacks. They plunged and polluted it for their desire was just to make one thing: quick money. In no time, many people realised that they were indirectly being largely duped. They stopped their patronage. Nowadays, several people are self-taught computer literates. Computer Centre business is significantly dead and buried.

The English centre business, too, faces a similar existential threat. I am neither an owner of, nor a teacher at, any such centres. But I have been actively involved in learning and teaching of the language for approximately a decade. That's why most, if not all, proprietors of the earliest centres around Kano are my teachers, relatives, friends or students. That is why I have been, for long, following what is going on with regards to the centres. It is a commonplace fact that their number is rapidly on the increase – typical way Kano people do business as I will explain later.