Skip to main content

(65): Jamila, a Worth-Watching Hausa Film

Muhsin Ibrahim

Director:         Ali Gumzak
Producer:       Mukhtar Young Boy
Story:              Yakubu M. Kumo
Year:               2016
Company:      Kabugawa Productions

Let me make it clear from the outset that this is not a conventional film review. I am not writing this as an academic, but as an ordinary film viewer. I just found the story of the above titled film, its directorial work and thematic preoccupation worth writing on, hence this piece. It is very difficult and rare to come across an enthralling Hausa film, especially these days, whose motifs and subject matter is that serious, bold and absorbing.

Jamila is entitled after the leading character’s name, acted by A’isha Aliyu Tsamiya. Her mother, Hadiza Muhammad works as a housemaid in a mansion. Adam A. Zango is the only scion of the affluent family. His father has since died and left a huge wealth for him; while the mother pampers him with everything a son may need or wish. He has just returned after completing his studies in the overseas. Thus, as it normally happens, Zango is a spoilt kid: a chain-smoker, a drug addict and an alcoholic.
A snapshot from the film
Jamila is an orphaned girl helping her mother in carrying out the house chores. She is in a requitable love with Sadiq Sani Sadiq, the house’s guard. The two are planning to get married when Zango starts admiring her while she goes around the house, and soon enough declares his love. His mother is at first against it but she later gives up and agrees, for she can do everything to please her only son. In no time, Jamila’s mother forbids her from seeing her heartthrob and compels her to accept Zango’s proposal. And so she does against her freewill. Jamila is an obedient girl any mother would love to have, while her mother is a materialistic woman any good daughter would not like to have as a mother. 

Jamila outlines condition for their marriage that he must quit smoking and alcoholism. He accepts her conditions and the marriage is without any delay solemnized. But unknown to her, he resumes his old habit. A few weeks after the marriage, Jamila goes to see a doctor to check her blood pressure. Her mother comes to the house while she has yet to return. The drunken Zango rapes the mother. She returns and finds what happened. She is distressed beyond wording. The mother regrets everything and eventually dies due to excessive bleeding and sheer frustration. Jamila and her dying mother have resolved to not disclose what happened to all for the sake of her marriage and image. She also thinks a sober Zango would regret his doings and apologize but he declines any offence and refuses to apologise. Thus she resorts to cursing him day and night, praying for his tragic downfall. He later dies in a fatal car crash. She profusely wishes he had died in a more agonizing and humiliating way.

That is the synopsis of the film, though the plot is slightly different as it is weaved with flashbacks, suspense, dramatic and involves some secondary characters such as Jamila’s auntie, her friend and people from the neighbourhoods who come for the burial of Zango but later disperse after learning of his abominable deeds before his death. His mother pleaded but nobody stays.

I am particularly interested in the story following what is happening in our societies where rapists and murderous ritualists are on the loose. That makes it topical and timely. This is the kind of contemporary issues Kannywood filmmakers should (re)focus onto and produce films on, not the clichéd narratives of A loves B while C objects, or the familiar conflict between co-wives, or films on nonsensical, often trite, transvestites/effeminates and some petty prostitutes, and the like. Films, especially those made in a culturally-bound and Islamacate society like Kano or northern Nigeria, in general, should be purposeful, topical and could, yet, maintain their artistic, intrinsic quality.

I therefore salute the crew of Jamila, particularly the director, Ali Gumzak and the screenwriter, Yakubu M. Kumo for a job well done. The actors, too, deserve commendation, especially the central characters: Aisha Tsamiya and Adam A. Zango. Their flair of acting breathes sparkle and senses in the story. The lighting and the picture quality are also some things to write home about. Keep the ball rolling, guys.

Popular posts from this blog

(99): Ali Nuhu and Adam Zango’s Unending Dispute and its Implications on Kannywood

By Muhsin Ibrahim University of Cologne
The Hausa version of this article, with a slight difference, was published on the BBC Hausa website.
According to numerous accounts and lived experiences, rivalry is natural among both humans and animals. It is barely, if at all, avoidable especially between contemporaries. It becomes more probable when one of the lots becomes way more successful than the rest. Mr A may begin to envy Mr B and question why he is luckier or more much-admired than I. In response, Mr B may start feeling pompous, declaring to all that he is ahead of Mr A. Therefore his accolades and achievement are due to his hard work and talent. Again, the people around the two are sometimes yet another cause of the enmity. For one reason or another, they do all it takes to plant a seed of dissonance as they profit by getting favour from either person. There are more causes for strife, but I guess these are very typical.
In Kannywood, the relationship between the ace…

(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 realised 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 organisation. She also confided to me that she could not stretch the cultural perception and norms to seriously ask anyone to marry her. She would instead 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 u…

(96): Kannywood, a Film Industry in Need of Revaluation

Muhsin Ibrahim University of Cologne
As I wrote elsewhere, the relationship between cinema and the orthodox religious institutions is often marked by uneasiness if not outright hostility. From its very beginning, the Puritans see the raison d’être of visual art as only to entertain, which means to distract people from their duty to God and ethical undertakings. Until today, the accusation is all the more raging. How filmmakers handle the questions of morality, culture and spirituality is under censorship. Kannywood, the Kano-based, up-and-coming motion picture industry of and by the predominantly Muslim Hausa speaking people in northern Nigeria, is not an exception.
It is not news that Kannywood struggles with the culture-war message of several critics who see everything with them as corruption or dilution of the “prestigious” Hausa culture. However, with the ever-expanding rise (encroachment?) of globalisation, I think this feeling is, at best, empty and, at worst…