Thursday, August 6, 2009

Right of Reply: Hausa Films, Not Preserving Northern Cultures

From JIbril M. Ibrahim
(Published in LEADERSHIP Newspapers, July 25, 2009)
I have been reading your articles on the possible ways of restructuring Kannywood. They are quite interesting, educative and well researched. Al-Amin Ciroma, I really commend your effort on this. Before I embark on my criticisms, however, I want to highlight briefly my perception about movies.
In a simple definition, a movie is a series of images that are projected onto a screen to create the illusion of motion. Therefore, it is referred to as motion pictures, in the sense that it enables people immerse them in an imaginary world for a brief period of time. It is one of the most popular means of enterinment. If produced well, movies teach people about history, science, human behaviour and many other sucjects.
When a film is produced, the lameman views it as magic, but ordinarily, a motion picture is just an individual photograph. But when they appear rapidly in suceccssion, the human eye does not detect that they are separate images. This results from persistence of vision, a phenomenon where the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after the source has been removed.
A notable filmmaker, Ola Balogun, in his works, noted that although we do not experience the images in individual photographs, we notice the difference between them. The brain then perceives these differences as motion. According to him, a movie must have an accompanying sound.
Many types of motion pictures, but the most significant categories are features, documentaries and animinatons. He said, many people contribute their skills and talents to the making of films. The stars and actors who appear on the secreen, are only part of the story, most of those who work on a production do not appear on camera.
Accordingly, a lot of filmmakers are of the opinion that the most prominent roles behind the scenes are the directors, producers, scriptwriters, unit production managers, casting directors, designers, sound editors, music composers. All of these people are collectively called the cast and crew. Because film is a unique project, these role may overlap or differ, depending on the individuals involved.
Before we judge this industry and its products in the North, an answer to this question is relevant. Do Hausa films portray and preserve the Northern cultural heritage? The answer could be negative. The movies are not faring well and a lot of them portray Hausa Indian cultural relations. Sometimes, I feel ashamed of myself seeing these films. The facts represented in the movies are usually poorly researched with the sequence and the art not convincing. There are too many repetitions of the same storyline in different titles, the most annoying being that a simple story will unnecessarily be stretched into many parts and worst of all, productions are made for monetary gains without recourse to the social impact of the movies.
In one of the trips to Europe, I went with a Hausa flick. Although subtitled in English, I convinced my Arab friend, who is based there, see it. 30 minutes into the film, we realised that the remaining sequence was just a repetition of what we earlier saw in the first segment, followed by a pile of advertorials and several other unnecessary attractions.
Again, a lot of them Soyayya (love). The worst of all is that many of the films lack original storyline. Whenever you see a Hausa film, it must have something to do with an Indian flick. Is it that we don't have our original stories? Nigeria is a dynamic state with diverse cultural backgrounds; we have beautiful stories to tell. Even in the North, the region constitutes one of the largest geographical entities in the country, which signifies why we should be original. We must not follow other people's ideas, we have our own rich cultural background and our ways of life is totally different. Competing with Hollywood should not be our goal, we should not feel arrived simply because Nigeria is rated second largest producer of movies. In every 10 movies produced, one hardly can find two meaningful ones.
In essence, film could influence human behaviour, both in leadership and followership circles, and attains aesthetic and commercial success if the rules are followed. On several occasions, the artistes have passed comments in the media that Kannywood has attained its best and is fast developing. There is no doubt about that, but it is not yet uhuru for the industry. How many actors have been able to carve a niche of professionalism for themselves in Kannywood? When you talk of dynamism, you only point out Ali Nuhu and Sani Mu'azu who are more or less the only prominent Hausa artistes who are flexible in both the Hausa genre and English movies. What about others?
I call on the practitioners to come together and define their status. Though, a few are to be commended, but majority of them are ignorant. Northern cultures may best be addressed if and only if the players are well informed.

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