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

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 actor Ali Nuhu and his versatile counterpart, Adam A. Zango dates back to more than a decade. The former is older age-wise and in the industry than the latter. Although there are several other brilliant and successful actors and actresses, the duo of Zango and Ali, today, stands as the face of Kannywood. This is the nature of life. A popular saying captures it all that all fingers are the same, but not equal. The same is the case in all other film industries around the world as well as walks of life in general. It is, however, unfortunate that the two stars do not see eye-to-eye for quite some time now, and the competition is escalating.

Globally, artists and scandals are cousins. It helps them attract more media attention. Normally, popularity makes an artist a celebrity. In line with the natural cause of life, misunderstanding abound when people come to live, work, etc. together. Therefore, numerous actors are rivals in, for example, Bollywood, the Kannywood’s great-grandmother film industry. However, as their cinema is bigger in all indices, the actors’ professional rivalries or personal tiffs are by and large curtailed or even controlled. Therefore, it barely affects its growth and success. The story is, nonetheless, different when it comes to their great-granddaughter.

Kannywood is a small film industry that, for the most of its nearly three decades of existence, struggles with critics who see everything with them as corruption or dilution of Hausa culture and Islam. Given this fact, scandals, animosity and disunity can only but drag its already chequered image into the mud. For over a decade now, the Hiyana outrage is still referenced and discussed. This, thus, calls for peace, cooperation and resilience in the industry. However, the Zango vs Ali face-off, first and foremost, stands as a proof for the critics to cite as an example for their incapacity and lack of a moral standard to do anything good for their audiences whom they often claim to admonish (fadakarwa) or even educate (ilmantarwa).
Socially and morally, the heated arguments and exchanges of innuendoes and sometimes insults among their supporters on the social media, mainly Instagram is embarrassing and uncalled-for. As I mentioned previously, this, arguably, exposes the calibre of the Industry members, starting with the duo. Both, as well as some of their defenders and accusers, have followers in hundreds of thousands. Therefore, it becomes all the more a bad PR and cast doubts on the acceptability of their products.
Aesthetically speaking, the fact that the feud has almost divided the industry into two is damaging. There should be a cross-pollination of actors from one “camp” to another as far as the actors fit in any given role. Nevertheless, some actors are today denied roles only because of their allegiance to either of the duo. In short, this leads to wrong casting, further pulling down the bar of the poor quality of acting, directing and producing, even distribution and marketing that bedevilled Kannywood film industry.
There are more negative sides of this fallout. Although this write-up is not meant to blame or exonerate anyone of them, it is appropriate to mention that be it as it may, there is seniority even at the tavern, as a popular saying goes. Therefore, Adam Zango should rebuke and warn his fans who think it alright to insult Ali Nuhu. On his part, Ali Nuhu should break up his stoic silence and caution his (fans) who do the same, for, if nothing, Adam Zango has been his ally and friend long enough to be his brother. Both should act as real role models. Both should categorically caution their warring followers that should anyone of them renege, that is the end of their association.
The association, as well as the elders of Kannywood, should be more organised, concerned and commanding enough to caution anyone against planting and watering discords among its members. It is sad and disappointing to see that the recent peace talk spearheaded by the director and actor, Falalu Dorayi and overseen by the censorship board director, Na’abba Afakallah broke down too soon. This is the result of not categorically outlining possible punishment for whoever is found guilty of violating the agreement. Therefore, more hands should be on the deck for lasting peace and unity between the two heavyweights. After all, the industry is more important than both rolled together, and it should outlive them.
The warmongers should be exposed, shamed and penalised should they not stop causing rifts. Some, in fact, will never want to see peace reign in the industry, for they are not talented enough to be cast in any serious film but for their subservience and undue acclamation towards their bosses. The culture of extolling he who brought you to the industry and showing contempt for others is unhealthy and should be discouraged. It attenuates the industry, making it look like an amalgam of people without a common goal, even a common sense. I understand that it is good to be grateful to whoever helps you, the others, too, by way of respect for elders and colleagues, deserve your regard.
Kannywood has had enough. As some people may argue, I am aware that there has been a feud in Bollywood and Hollywood among actors for decades. Of course, the Bollywood famous 3 Khans are in constant competition since the 1990s; many female actors fight over boyfriends, casting, awards, etc. However, as explained above, their industry still stands tall and unaffected. Ours is not like that; it has a long way to reach that height, perhaps not in our lifetime. For this reason and more, different stroke calls for different folks. So, may peace trump fight, amin.

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