Kannywood Today Challenges, Prospects and Way forward
Posted on April 20, 2014
Abdalla Uba Adamu Department of Mass Communications Bayero University, Kano, NIGERIA canada drugs online generic retin a
What came to be known as Kanywood, the Hausa video film industry, started commercial life in March 1990 in Kano with the release of what was acclaimed to be the first video film in the industry, Turmin Danya
(dir. Salisu Galadanci). It faced stiff competion from the the TV Hausa operas and dramas that were produced and aired by the National Television Authority (NTA). popular at the time. These TV programs included Ƙulliya Manta Sabo
, Taskira Asirin Mai Ɗaki
, Kwaryar Ƙira
, Ɗan Kurma
, Karo Da Goma
, Kowa Ya Bar Gida
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, Purchase Ba'are Order , Ɗan Hakki, Jauro, Katantanwa
and Ɗan Malam.
Deciding to create its own gripping drama, NTA Kano commissioned revistas online pdf espanol Dausayin Soyayya
, although the drama was more popularly referred to as Jamila da Jamilu
, a made‐for‐TV feature film in 1986.
Using popular young artistes, it drew attention to the most iconic representation of Hausa romantic life—denied love. In the drama, the protagonist, Jamilu, falls in love with Jamila. However, her relatives had other ideas and did not approve of their relationship. Jamilu is subsequently beaten up and in frustration he exiles himself to the wilderness, always thinking and longing for Jamila. In a genre defining scene, he sings a love song for her. This is the first Hausa drama to feature an explicit Hindi film influence. It thus entered Hausa popular culture history in being the first televised drama to contain Hindi‐style singing from a lovelorn protagonist. The singing scene in Dausayin Soyayya
was to signal the beginning of the appearance of the Hindi film motif in Hausa drama, and subsequently, video films.
Challenges of the Hausa Video Film industry
From the historical account and subsequent development of the industry, there are a series of challenges facing the industry. These need to be addressed if the industry is go beyond. I will outline some of them.
F Buy ragmented leadership
The Hausa video film industry lacks a unified front to tackle its various problems. At the moment (2013), there are two main rival administrative groupings – Motion Picture Practitioners of Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) and Arewa Filmmakers Association (AFMA). Lack of effective practical working relationship amongst such leadership has contributed in creating 'camps' within the Hausa video film industry – which leads to mistrust and stunted the growth of the industry.
This fragmented leadership also exists at various State levels – where State chapters of various incarnations of the associations are being formed without recourse to the 'national' association.
Ineffective Marketing Structure
Lack of International Appeal
The Hausa video film marketers are not professional film marketers – they are general purpose merchants selling general goods, and video films happen to be merely one of them. They established their business on selling pirated foreign films and therefore had no conceptual map for marketing any film – whether pirated foreign or local. Further, the marketers, who initially shunned the Hausa video films, eventually moved in and took over and created a market‐driven political economy of the Hausa film production—which seems an overarching emphasis on commercial storylines. The individual studios that release the video films lack the capital and organizational focus to market their films; and still rely on the marketers for distribution. The only solution out of this is for the leadership of the industry to take over the marketing – including the advertisement – of the films on an organized basis.
Lack of Professional Approach
For most Hausa video film practitioners, the industry is 'kasuwanci' (business) not 'sana'a' (profession). This means that efforts are put in the industry only when there are chances for profit. On the face of it, this sounds like a logical move. Realistically, however, this approach dispenses with the concept of aesthetics and art – the main motive behind filmmaking. Perception of the industry as a business means that there is a perception of the huge capital outlay needed to produce a 'super hit', without recourse to the artistic merits of the filmic technique. This is why there is no difference at all in the narrative structure between a film which was claimed to have had NGN10 million ($62,000) spent or one which had only NGN100,000 ($620) spent in its production. There is still a lack of understanding of why the cinema evolved.
Poor Narrative Cinema
Based on the fact that the Hausa society is predominantly an oral society, the Hausa video film follows the pattern of too much orality and less action. Ideally, fictional film or narrative film is a film that tells a fictional or fictionalized story, event or narrative. In this style of film, believable narratives and characters help convince the audience that the unfolding fiction is real. Lighting and camera movement, among other cinematic elements, have become increasingly important in these films. Yet the orality of Hausa societies created a more didactic approach towards the entire concept of entertainment by the indigenous Hausa. Because the Hausa entertainment mindset is to 'educate' (ilimintar), and 'sermonize' (faɗakar) the narrative is laden with what I can 'talking heads' – too many close shots of actors (often the producers or actors specifically chosen by the financier to attract audiences) speaking too much, and often with as many as three characters all speaking at once. This type of narrative cinema cannot be understood by any person except Hausa – thus limiting the universal appeal of Hausa video films.
Scripts are still produced that are dialogue‐driven and lack directorial finesse that translate portions of the script into dynamic cinematography that visualize the narrative. I doubt if a non‐Hausa speaker would understand more than 10 minutes of any Hausa film without translation – and I doubt if the same speaker will stand the sight of an actor pontificating for 15 minutes in a single scene.
Hausa video films can only appeal to Hausa people – whether in Africa or in Diaspora, even with the subtitling. Although shown on Africa Magic subscription cable TV, nevertheless they appeal only to Hausa‐speaking diaspora because the central focus of their storyline is static and deals with issues only of concern to the Hausa – romantic relationships. The Nigerian film industry, Nollywood (which is 'Nigerian' by the virtue of using an official Nigerian language, English) has a wider Pan‐African appeal because it deals with the broad political economy of contemporary post‐colonial societies. Thus from South Africa all the way to Gambia, and in the Pacific and The Caribbean, Nollywood is seen to represent
'African cinema' because it communicates a universal African message in the same way post‐colonial literature of African writers is seen to represent Africa. Hausa video films, with their targeted internal audiences do not have such appeal. Ironically, even in the Hausa communities of Africa – such as Ghana, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo – Hausa video films are distributed via pirated networks, since the Hausa video film industry has not formal marketing, distribution and advertising networks in these areas.
Cheap Transnational Express
Finally, the Hausa video film is essentially a poor photocopy of the Indian film due to the historical attachment of Hindi cinema by the Hausa who see similarities between their two cultures, especially as they relate to interpersonal relationships. It lacks its own creative impulse and identity, preferring to either directly appropriate Indian films or base its narrative structure on Indian film storyline or filming technique. This restricts its audiences to essentially housewives and children – who were spoon‐sped on Hindi cinema by State TV stations in the 1970s to 1990s when cinema attendance declined, and therefore find ready resonance with Hausa films copying such techniques. African filmmakers dealing with distinctly African issues such as Ousmane Sembène, Djibril Diop Mambéty (Senegal); Idrissa Ouedraogo, Gaston Kaboré, (Burkina Faso); Souleymane Cissé, Manthia Diawara (Mali) and Mahamat Saleh Haroun (Chad) were not even known because their films – in French, although with English subtitles – were never part of the entertainment climate of northern Nigeria.
Strategies for Interventions
There are many areas requiring intervention. The main important ones are two:
- Training and re‐training in new film techniques and technologies
- Access to more effective production and post‐production strategies and facilities
Funding is another area; but unless the industry can create truly marketable films that have more universal appeals, it is not likely for agencies to simply provide funding for films that have restricted markets.
The fundamental problem of offering interventions for the Hausa video film industry is that it relies on outside forces to rejuvenate or provide it with a distinct direction. Many efforts have been made in the past by international NGOs towards providing quality intervention to the industry. Regretfully, these interventions do not have a sustainable mechanism, both on the part of the NGOs as well as the industry itself.
It is clear, therefore, that the area of capacity training is the most viable point of entry for any intervention into building up the Hausa video film industry.
November, 2013, Kano, Nigeria
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