Friday, 5 August 2011

Is a Hausa Film Industry (Kannywood) Necessary?

About 20 years ago, Hausa producers developed a film industry called Kannywood (named after Kano state where many of the movies are filmed) catering to a Hausa-speaking audience, despite the fact that Nigeria already has an established and popular film industry called Nollywood.

 





 Kannywood stars from top to bottom: Maryam Booth, Ali Nuhu, Jamila Umar, Ibrahim Maishunku

Many wonder why Kannywood is necessary. Doesn't Nollywood represent us all? Well, yes and no.

Firstly, the majority of Nollywood's film-makers and film-stars are from Southern Nigeria, so much of its storylines and themes are centred around the unique experiences of Igbos and Yorubas. But there is no common Nigerian culture, only dominant ones.

Secondly Nollywood is mostly Christian and westernised, whilst Northern Nigerians are mostly Muslim and Middle-Easternised. This means that Hausas often cannot identify with much of the motivations, interactions and morality in the films.

Kannywood movies are also more conservative in style, (modest dressing, almost no male and female touching) concentrate on Hausa-Islamic culture (e.g. polygamous marriages, the Qu'ran) and music and dance interludes are used as a storytelling device similar to Bollywood films. However, both industries share similarities in that marriage and familial relationships dominate plot lines and popular conventions like village life, religion, absence of child characters and respect for elders are integral.


Kannywood film with English subtitles: Uwar Miji
Starring Ali Nuhu, Hajara Usman and Zainab Yunusa Odariko
A domineering mother does everything she can to get rid of her son's virtuous wife


Kannywood is an expression of a Hausa-Fulani sub-culture within the Nigerian national culture, in the same way that the African-American TV channel BET exists alongside mainstream channels and the Black British MOBO awards exists despite the Brit Awards.

Criticisms of Kannywood for being tribalist are disingenuous because we are all aware of our cultural differences. 

Nigeria was a region populated by hundreds of tribal groups and leadership systems, where distinct kingdoms like the Benin, Oyo, Nupe and Sokoto empires lived independently from, and sometimes were at war with each other.

Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria's first Prime Minister said in 1948:
"Since 1914 the British Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one country, but the Nigerian people themselves are historically different in their backgrounds, in their religious beliefs and customs...Nigerian unity is only a British invention."

Eminent Politician Obafemi Awolowo said in 1947:
"Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. There are no 'Nigerians' in the same sense as there are 'English', 'Welsh' or 'French'. The word 'Nigerian' is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria and those who do not."
If Africa hadn't been colonised by Europeans, there probably would be over 2,000 countries in the continent due to the diversity of its peoples and their desire for autonomy; and the area called Nigeria would be made up of at least eight countries. In contrast to Western Europe which has 18 countries speaking around 18 languages, Nigeria alone houses 250 languages. 


Kannywood film with English subtitles: Alawiyya
Starring Aminu Shariff and Maryam Booth
A girl is raped and becomes pregnant and a kind stranger pretends he's her husband to avoid her parents anger

Although Nollywood and Kannywood both cater to Nigerians, Nollywood has a higher profile, generates more revenue and is increasingly collaborating with Hollywood and been viewed by an international audience.

But the two industries were never in competition with each other and I think Kannywood is content with simply entertaining its Northern audiences in ways they can appreciate.



*Quotes taken from 'The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence' by Martin Meredith

15 comments:

  1. Hello or should I say Sanu ? :-)

    I agree with most of what you say, where we differ is this:

    First off, I would claim Nollywood is mainly Igbo dominated, English language Nigerian movies. The Yoruba language film industry predates Nollywood, therefore I would say it is closely related to, but not a part of Nollywood.

    It is a bit like India's Bollywood, which Indians from other region regard as the Hindi-langauge film industry of northern India. The Tamil language films from southern India are regarded by Tamils as distinct from Bollywood. I think this attitude is across the regions/states of India with a distinct langauges.

    Within southern Nigeria, I would say the Yoruba, Edo, Ibibio etc language movie industry, are quite different from Nollywood. Although, I concede there might be some overlap, as in close wrking relationships. Almost similar to the Indian situation. I would therefor claim, that the Hausa, Yoruba, Edo, etc films represent regional film industries of Nigeria representing our differing ethnic-nationalities, whereas the English and Pidgin english genres represent our 'national' film industry, and by extension our collective consciousness.

    Secondly, I would regard Nigeria's age as 97 years. I would count from January 1st 1914, when Lord Frederick Lugard amalgamated the northern and southern protectorates to form Nigeria. So, 97 years since inception, but 51 years since independence.

    ciao

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  2. Sanu Anonymous, and thanks for your enlightening comments, especially about the ethnic sub-divisions surrounding the Bollywood and Nollywood film industries. I wasn't even aware that there was an Edo and Ibibio film industry!

    The idea of how we as Nigerians express our 'collective consciousness' is also fascinating.

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  3. Sanu again,

    Thanx for your comments. I am the same guy who responded to you on the 'Fake Nigerian' thread. Now, just as you were unaware of the Edo and Ibibio industries, there have been many southerners, who were unaware of the Hausa film industry(Kannywood). I believe there are many more ethnic film industries that we both don't yet know about, particularly as they don't do English subtitles ie the Edo film industry. One of the main reasons am aware of the Edo(Bini language mainly) industry is my former babers who were Edos. They always had a large stock of the latest Edo language films. As per the Ibibios, I have read about their films, and may have had also heard about them from Ibibio people. I think I may have also read/heard about Urhobo language and Izon(Ijaw) language films. I used to read the Nigerian entertainment magazines a few years ago and they were full of these types of information. I don't anymore though.

    I would expect there should be film industries in the following ethno-linguistic groups: Tiv, Nupe, Igala, Igbira(I think I have heard about this one), Idoma, Jukun, Kanuri. I would be very surprised if there wasn't.

    As per our 'collective consciousness', I have always regarded pidgin English as an expression of it.

    Anywayz, nice chatting with you again my Naija sister in Christ. .. :-)

    Stay blessed

    ciao

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  4. emem isong,the nollywwod producer/director is popular for making movies in Efik. for one there is a movie called uyai(meaning beauty)filmed in Efik language with subtitles, check it out might be on you-tube.cheers guys

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  5. Thanks Grace. And I LOVE the Omawumi song + video on your blog! Thanks for introducing me to her music :)

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  6. Regardless of the varying type of film industry produced in Naija, Nollywood is good enough an appellation. The Hollywood industry for example, does not represent only one culture (even though the urban Anglo-Saxon culture is dominant).

    The Cowboy films, blue-grass/Appalachian, Urban African American, Country/Southern-black, American Indian, etc are sub-ethnic cultures that are often represented in Hollywood productions (although these sub-cultures are not as vividly represented, consumers of Hollywood movies knows of them).

    Instead of amplifying the divisions within Nigeria by utilizing separate names and creating alienating-caucuses, we can have a representation of diversity under the same Nollywood umbrella. Producers in the South should make Movies with Northern appeal and vice-versa. This would educate those not familiar with such diversity and encourage nationwide appeal for the Nollywood industry. United we stand!

    Peace and love

    - obokun@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hmmmm...I think this is a great idea in theory, but in practice it might not work...

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  8. Barka da warhaka!

    Kannywood WAS there before Nollywood. I mean the word Kannywood was coined before Nollywood. The fact that Nollywood uses English and is seen by the govt as representing the Nigerian film industry makes it more poupular and all-inclusive.

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  9. Hello or barka dai
    i think this is a great idea elighting people about this but the truth is nollywood is not about culture but nigeria whereas kanny wood is abt the real culture of the nothern nigeria.but i think the best is to amalgamate but nolly and kanny wood together since the film industry can still work like that which will define nigeria in a whole country.nogode

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  10. Thanks Fulani-Nigerian for initiating such a constructive and necessary discussion. I and I'm sure many other Nigerians in the diaspora can get confused as to exactly is Nollywood?, what's Kannywood?, let along the rest of the world. The fact of the matter right now is that the term Nollywood is for the most part the most known term that's associated with Nigerian cinema. We'll have to wait and see how all this turns out as it is very early to have a well established definition and construct as other industries around the world. Even though I'm a little late to the party and this post is aging a bit, I'll be keeping and eye on the discussion and would refer hausafilms.tv visitors to this when introducing Hausa films. Thank you!

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  11. Thanks HausaFilms. Nollywood is definitely more well-known, possibly because they try harder to market their films abroad and because of the sheer volume of Nollywood production and consumers abroad too.

    I actually looked at your website during research for this post. Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for your feedback below. I will like to amplify your attention to the movie "Last flight to Abuja". The cast is mostly Southern Nigerian but there are several ethnic groups including Ibo,Yoruba, Efik, Edo, and at least one Hausa. The "Nollywood" movie was a block-buster that was directed by a Nigerian in the UK, featuring Nigerian Actors from all over; including a Naija-Hollywod actor. I was yearning to get to Naija and watch the movie when I suddenly encounter it on you-tube. If I was based in Naija, I would have done a few diversity projects. I have pondered on it for 15 years, at least.

    To buttress my point, I am Yoruba and have partook in a few Ghanaian-produced and directed movies here in Los Angeles, CA where I am based, with cast of people from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Zaire and Jamaica, including a few Asians and Americans. The movies were well received by diaspora Africans in California. You should check out the trailers of "my share in LA", “here comes the boom” and "absolute corruption" on you tube. Kudos for these producers and directors, who insisted on diversity. I am glad to be part of it.

    There is strength in diversity, especially in entertainment. It can be educating, uniting, as well as enhance revenue, if well utilized. Kan-wood, Lagos-wood, Enugun-wood, etc can exist in their cocoon, but production companies wanting betterment can incorporate these values into several movies per year, as exemplified by “last flight to Abuja”. From the two examples herein, hope you will agree that with sincerity, other Nigerian producers and directors can make it work in "practice”.

    Regards,
    obokun@yahoo.com
    ______________________________________________________________

    ReplyDelete
    Fulani-Nigerian20 August 2011 17:59
    Hmmmm...I think this is a great idea in theory, but in practice it might not work...

    Reply

    Anonymous17 August 2011 21:30
    Regardless of the varying type of film industry produced in Naija, Nollywood is good enough an appellation. The Hollywood industry for example, does not represent only one culture (even though the urban Anglo-Saxon culture is dominant).

    The Cowboy films, blue-grass/Appalachian, Urban African American, Country/Southern-black, American Indian, etc are sub-ethnic cultures that are often represented in Hollywood productions (although these sub-cultures are not as vividly represented, consumers of Hollywood movies knows of them).

    Instead of amplifying the divisions within Nigeria by utilizing separate names and creating alienating-caucuses, we can have a representation of diversity under the same Nollywood umbrella. Producers in the South should make Movies with Northern appeal and vice-versa. This would educate those not familiar with such diversity and encourage nationwide appeal for the Nollywood industry. United we stand!

    Peace and love

    - obokun@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. As a kenyan with some Nairaland reading done, I think that Kannywood is good for the backwoods provincials of the north, but I don't think the north has ever been good for the rest of the country, or that they even try! Like aaaaalll muslims everyhwere that they don't set the rules, they are miles up their own asses about their culture, only taking their heads out to let the Arab s stick it in. I freely admit that the Niger/Congo region has a richer cultural heritage than the semi-nomadic subsistence cultures that litter the Rift Valley to Malawi, but at this point only a balkanisation of the "rich wife and poor husband" that is Nigeria, that depressing geographic expression, will heal West Africa of it's Nigerrhea, and give it its true potential.

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    Replies
    1. what you said is totally not fair. you are ignorant about the northern nigerians because you wasted your time reading one side of the story(Nairaland), is a website where 90% of the users are from the south, how could you judge by that. if you want to know us, come to the north, i assure you that you will find us fascinating

      Delete